Watson’s Rift With Wynne



People who are in a difficult spot remember who their friends are and who didn’t show up when the going got tough.

I’m blessed by my friends because they have continually been behind me during unfortunate times. I’m the luckiest guy in the world. You learn who your friends are when people, who said they were your friends, run for the hills when trouble arrives. I know that from personal experience. And people who you trusted beyond all else, betray you. That’s not good.

There have been but a few bad friends in my time but you never forget them … or those people in whom you put great faith but they misused that faith. They are the worst.

So premier-designate Kathleen Wynne knows this, too. When she took over the provincial Liberals, the party was mired in scandal while she was learning the ropes. Her chances of winning the next provincial election were slim and none.

So what does Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson do? Well, mired in a battle with the Ottawa Senators over placing a casino at the Canadian Tire Centre, the ex-Liberal cabinet minister called on the new premier to designate two locations for a proposed casino. Those would probably have been at Rideau-Carleton Raceway and the CTC.

Except the request was woefully inefficient. The Ottawa area already has a gleeming casino at Lac Leamy in Gatineau and there were doubts about the viability of one casino in Ottawa let alone two, so Watson to get out of a political mess, asked for two locations in Ottawa. That would have raised the number of casinos in the national capital region to three.

Watson’s request was for political expediency to get him out of a difficult spot, not tax efficiency or doing what was best for the community or the province.

Wynne, already in an almost hopeless spot taking over a party alive with scandal, got this request from Watson. As she should, Wynne turned Watson down.

That allowed Watson to blame his casino problems on Wynne who would not allow him to do the ‘right thing’ and give him two casinos. In fact, Wynne did the right thing.

Wynne was a drowning premier trying to resuscitate her party while an ex-provincial-cabinet colleague Watson, threw her an anchor rather than a lifesaver.

So Watson’s letter of praise for the Wynne victory rings hollow. People who know him well understand exactly what he is like. He is your friend as long as it is in his interest to be your friend. You’ve seen people like that before. Cross him and he dumps you like rotten meat. Let me see … I remember The Bulldog blacklisting.

Watson does this so often that he has trouble keeping his friends: John Baird, the National Capital Commission, and yes the provincial Grits. Watson talks good relations with others, he just doesn’t practise it. He’ll charm you to get a thousand grip-and-grin PR photos, but when you are no longer of any use to him … bye-bye. I know. I was once one of his biggest supporters but I was seduced by charm like so many others. I eventually got to know the real Watson.

So Watson’s congratulations letter to Wynne last night rings hollow. Wynne was burned by him on the casino and his former colleagues and friends … including some of the most influential people in this community … know him, too. How long will it take the general public to discover this whopping character flaw? Before Oct. 27?

Here is Watson’s letter to Wynne from last night. Was it written for Wynne or Jim Watson?

Statement from Mayor Jim Watson:

I would like to congratulate Premier Kathleen Wynne on her re-election.

I look forward to a continued partnership with her government on key Ottawa priorities such as cleaning up the Ottawa River and extending light rail transit farther east, west and south.

The Ottawa River Action Plan and our City’s Stage 2 light rail plan were supported, in principle, by all the major provincial political parties. I know our newly elected members of provincial parliament, of all political stripes, will work together to ensure our city gets its fair share of infrastructure dollars, so Ottawa can continue to be the best place to raise a family and grow a business.

If Ottawa gets extra provincial funding for infrastructure projects, it will be because of people such as energy minister and former mayor Bob Chiarelli, not Watson.

And Kathleen Wynne? She won’t forget Jim Watson.

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1 Comment

  1. I think the first big test will come in early 2016 when the truck tunnel study, for downtown Ottawa, is delivered. Will Premier Wynne, who agreed to co-sponsor this $750,000 truck tunnel study with the city of Ottawa, be able to refuse to pay for a truck tunnel? (Wynne promised during this election that she would make the city of Ottawa’s infrastructure projects a priority.) If the truck tunnel solution is deemed “too expensive” by Wynne and she therefore declines to provide the necessary provincial funding, then where does that leave Watson? Will Watson then accuse Wynne of short-changing the citizens of Ottawa? Hudak may have the last laugh after all.

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