You Want To Debate, Your Worship? The Bulldog Will Debate


Mayor Jim Watson wants to confront Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk over his LeBreton Flats arena proposal.

This is because Melnyk has been musing about whether LeBreton is the right place for his arena. If Watson had spent 10 minutes in the business world instead of drawing a lifetime paycheque from taxpayers, maybe he would recognize that’s called a negotiation tactic. In the public sector perhaps, hard-nosed deals aren’t made in the same fashion as in the private world. That’s why governments usually get hosed when they go P3 or sole-source a proposal.

That’s how Watson’s city government got its clock cleaned by Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group in the outrageous Lansdowne deal. No word if that OSEG agreement includes getting a 30-year lease on Ottawa City Hall at a nominal charge. But then maybe the city went willingly to that slaughter, too. That said, you’ve got to admire OSEG’s business acumen on this one.

But back to Melnyk. Here’s a man who wants to pour hundreds of millions of dollars into this city through building a new arena … a huge project. So what does Watson do, apparently on behalf of the taxpayers of Ottawa? The mayor confronts Melnyk.

And why does Watson want to take on Melnyk? Because Melnyk is a tad unpopular in town now and by berating Melnyk, Watson thinks he can be popular. After all, city business is never about the city. It’s about Watson.

Want a library? Yes? Got the money? No. Is this good for Watson? Yes. Debt, debt debt. One wonders how long taxpayers will pay for his King Kong-sized ego? Time will tell.

Watson is putting hundreds of millions of dollars of Melnyk investment money at risk. But then what’s new? Watson turned down hundreds of millions of dollars of investment in a Kettle Island Bridge and left thousands of people in Lowertown at risk of being hurt by dangerous trucks full of things like gasoline. Hundreds of millions of dollars. That’s hundreds of millions of dollars more than Watson’s much-touted Invest Ottawa has brought to the city. Invest Ottawa? Yet another Watson paper tiger.

Oh yes … the confrontation with Melnyk. Yes Watson negotiating with Melnyk. Watson has an illustrious history of negotiation. Remember LRT being tunnelled down the Macdonald Parkway? Watson escaped those negotiations wearing nothing but his undies. The NCC got everything it wanted but Watson declared victory. Lucky the public didn’t see him scampering down the parkway in his Harvey Woods.

Why Watson has not only been a person who can screw up the big projects. He can throw a stick into the spokes of small business, too.

Take The Bulldog for example. Watson blacklisted The Bulldog from city press releases … the same stunt the late Rob Ford pulled on The Toronto Star. Apparently Watson was using Rob Ford as a role model. Then he blacklisted The Bulldog from city advertising despite placing the same in The Bulldog’s competitors. The fact is that The Bulldog, with its large civic affairs readership, is the logical place for the municipality to advertise. Except if you criticize the mayor and we’ve done that now and then.

In both instances, Watson has tried to put the wee Bulldog at a competitive disadvantage in the marketplace. In other words, he tried to squish The Bulldog with his big municipal foot. Strangely, he has even failed at that.


No word where Mayor Jim Watson’s ego fits in this equation.


Hello, Your Worship. We’re still here.

Watson has also blacklisted The Bulldog from his Twitter account, but that really doesn’t matter. The mayor doesn’t have enough REAL followers to make it worthwhile to discuss. Curious what you can buy these days.

So there must be a point to all this and here it comes. You want a confrontation, Your Worship? You won’t get that from me but you will get a spirited debate.

In fact, here’s what I’m offering. The Bulldog will debate you on this or any other topic any time, anywhere, and any place. No editing, no time limit, no nothing. Just debate. You’ve never been in a debate, Your Worship, until you’ve gone mano a mano with The Bulldog. Bring it on. I’m game. I was born ready. And put some thoughts behind those lips for a change, big guy.

You see, Melnyk probably doesn’t have time to confront you. He has businesses to run, hard work to do, all in the private sector where you have to hustle to make the tax money that pays your salary.

I, on the other hand, have all the time in the world to debate you. And that’s because I know I will win. You’ve got a tiger by the tail, Your Worship.

Name the spot and the time, Your Worship.

You might scare your little councillor friends but you don’t scare me.


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9 thoughts on “You Want To Debate, Your Worship? The Bulldog Will Debate

  1. Ken:

    I absolutely agree with your comment regarding why governments get hosed when negotiating business deals.

    The people in government (politicians and staff) are, most often, people who have never worked in the real world. That includes people who failed in the real world and of course – my favorite – are those who went straight from school into government.

    This is why we get contracts that can’t be enforced, contracts that give the supplier more wiggle room than a snake, contracts that always go over budget and contracts that overpay the supplier. (supplier includes CEO, CFO etc. as well as suppliers of things like, dare I say, asphalt)


    1. Chaz:

      Good points.

      You know that Mayor Jim Watson and city manager Steve Kanellakos have sole negotiating power for the city on LeBreton.

      Could you imagine Watson negotiating with the NCC and Melnyk? The mayor already got hosed by the NCC on the Macdonald Parkway LRT route. Yes, must be tunnelled down a park.

      No Watson isn’t interested in negotiating. He’s interested in stopping the downtown arena because he doesn’t like Melnyk and his Lansdowne partners don’t want the Senators as competition in the core.

      And oh yes, the city got hosed in the most major of ways at Lansdowne.



    2. What has always bothered me is how departments at city hall manage their annual budgets.

      If money remains in the coffers the month before fiscal year end, hammers are purchased at a cost of $500 per unit (a slight exaggeration but not by much), servers that are never intended to be deployed are purchased and stashed in dark warehouses, etc. Department heads complain that if they don’t spend all the money they received this year they won’t receive as much next year (so they can buy more $500 hammers at year end?). We always complain about the councillors but this is where fixing city hall should begin, with the city manager. I hate to see my money going to waste
      As for Melnyk and Watson, Melnyk can move the team or sell to suitors in cities such as Kansas City, Cleveland, etc. at pretty much any time. I doubt if Gary Bettman really cares if Ottawa has a franchise or not and then Ottawa hockey fans can join their brethren in Montreal who are still waiting for the Expos to return to town.

      1. Sisco, I’d be interested to see what you’re basing the comments on about year-end departmental spending at the City. If you have a look at the city’s budget, you’ll see that it’s not uncommon for departments to come in above or below budget in any given year and there’s not necessarily a correlation between that and the allocation for the subsequent year. Can you provide actual examples of a city department that has had out-of-the-ordinary spending at year-end or is this an apocryphal story?

        1. The Voter,
          I can’t speak about your city but I can tell you that in my experience I caught many a department manager’s spending frenzy at year end.
          I even caught a few who were able to get a supplier to date an invoice as March for goods or services that were not supplied until April, May or even June. The excuse was that this is the way all governments keep their budgets up and the managers actually saw nothing wrong.
          Well, not on my watch. The first type got warnings, the second type got immediate firing and the supplier got thrown off the list of approved vendors.
          It does happen.

  2. Oh Ken! I had a good laugh at this one knowing full well that Watson would never, ever go into the debating ring with you. Talk about a mismatched pair – Watson doesn’t even bring a knife to that gun fight, more like a nail file. (Before you get too puffed up, it’s not necessarily that you aren’t the best debater in the country, just that you’d be going up against a man of such negligible skill.)
    Why do you think he’s quashed debate at Council meetings? It’s not just that he doesn’t like to hear dissenting voices but that he can’t carry on an informed discussion on a whole lot of topics. The problem with debates, for him, is that you sometimes lose and then people begin to notice your clay feet.
    I would hope that this nonsense he’s putting forward now will spark councillors to re-examine their decision to put him in charge of the Lebreton negotiations. I can’t help but think that Kannelakos would be very glad to see that happen so that he and his team can get on with the work of finding agreements with both the NCC and Melnyk’s crew without having to deal with the grandstanding. You have to wonder how much time Kannelakos is spending in the background mending fences that Watson is breaking down.

    1. Voter, as I read your comment, a line from the Mary Tyler Moore show came to mind, where Murray (the news writer) says something to the effect of “… having a battle of wits with Ted Baxter (the anchor man) would be like fighting an unarmed man.”


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