LANSDOWNE: Don’t Buy Something You Don’t Understand


Investor extraordinaire Warren Buffett is a very wise man.

Buffett is not a gambler in the stock market, he’s an investor. There’s a big difference. He’s also one of the richest men in the world.

That said, he’s full of common sense. He could own some high-rent rendezvous in Manhattan but he chooses to live in Omaha, Nebraska … the sun and fun capital of that state. He doesn’t drive a very expensive car, dines at the same restaurant he has liked for many years and enjoys the simple, and mostly inexpensive, joys of life.

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One piece of sage advice that Buffett dishes out is don’t buy something you don’t understand. If you don’t know exactly what Apple is about, stay away from it. Buffett did that for many years because he didn’t understand it. After he studied it, he bought a large part of it and he has done very well by that stock.

Meanwhile, community activist John Langstone, by all accounts, is a very bright man and someone who cares about his community. Those are good attributes.

Langstone doesn’t understand Lansdowne 2.0. He’s a fellow who should understand but doesn’t can’t get the fiscal side of it. Langstone finds it very confusing.

That’s not good. A bright community activist can’t understand it. Something wrong then with the proposal.

So the respected community activist sent an open letter the Capital Councillor Shawn Menard laying down the Lansdowne finances to the best of his knowledge. We published it Tuesday in The Bulldog.

So what should Menard do with this?

There’s enough to be concerned about that he should do something councillors did when they weren’t sure about a city plan. A number of them would pool some resources from their office budgets to hire a professional to give them an objective perspective on the plan. And write a simple, cogent and brief report that gives the councillors and taxpayers a professional view of the plan.

One is doubtful that many, if any, councillors understand what is in Lansdowne 2.0. If Langstone’s not sure, they most certainly won’t be sure. But councillors should vote with a clear view of what constitutes the fiscal side of Lansdowne 2.0. Councillors should be very careful about a project worth two-thirds of a billion dollars.

So Menard should throw ideology out the window to embrace practicality. If that’s not an exotic enough term, try utilitarianism. That should do it.

All councillors should embrace a professional and objective view. Menard’s job is to rise above his ideology and get a professional who can do this job quickly and fairly.

And if that report from the pro says what many of us believe, Menard should be working now to put together a bi-partisan group of councillors to defeat Lansdowne 2.0. Don’t alienate them. Get them on your side.

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If Lansdowne is wasted money, failure and cash for rich guys, then liberals, leftists and conservatives shouldn’t be hard to find if they believe in what is best for the city.

The time for moral victories by Menard’s group of leftists should be over.

A group of councillors should come together for what is best for the city.

And as for taxpayers, take Buffett’s advice. Don’t buy anything you don’t understand … like Lansdowne 2.0.

Ken Gray




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2 Responses

  1. Brian Tansey says:

    my sense from reading Menard’s very comprehensive ‘rejoinder’ to the staff report on Lansdowne 2.0 … is that he understands the whole business, such as it is, and as far as he can, given the City’s deliberate lack of $$ transparency. Langstone is incorrect in claiming that Menard is basing his approach and analysis on “ideology”

  2. The Voter says:

    But, but, Ken,

    Voting in favour of a previous proposal where they not only didn’t understand the proposal but were missing a lot of vital information worked so, so well for the previous Council when they were faced with major decisions around the LRT! What could possibly make you think that the same modus operandi won’t be as successful on the Lansdowne issues?? Particularly when so many of the same players are around the Council table with their accumulated ‘wisdom’.

    If you don’t want to look at a different area of Council malfeasance, you only have to look at the previous decisions that brought us Lansdowne 1.0. Again the same crew were around the table and their comprehension of the deal is so immense that most of them are completely unable to understand what they agreed to. A waterfall? What the heck is that? And that’s just the beginning.

    Certain people around that council table listened to the soothing, reassuring sounds of Jim Watson’s Pied Piper tunes while they were mindlessly voting in favour of LRT and Lansdowne. Are they still listening to Jimmy or has Mark Sutcliffe been taught the Piper’s songs so he can still get them and the newer councillors to follow the music?

    In spite of the community dissent and the provision of facts to the City, they are still saying the Lansdowne business case is “positive”. When I tested “positive” for covid, it was a bad thing. The only way the word “positive” can apply to the way the public interest is preserved and protected within the Lansdowne proposal is if it’s being used as a measure of toxicity. It may be “positive” in a good way for “someone” but that is definitely not the current and future residents of Ottawa who will be left carrying the can for this continuing fiasco.

    Hmmm. I just noticed: “Toxicity” & “toxic city” – the difference? It’s only the merging of the words and the omission of a ‘c’ .

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