Sutcliffe Goes Full Trump: THE VOTER

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I am fascinated by Mayor Mark Sutcliffe’s claim that, since he doesn’t see a conflict, there is no conflict and therefore no need to refer the matter to the ethics commissioner.

News Flash, Mr. Mayor – you are not the person who gets to define “conflict” when it’s about you.

We have, of course, a shining example of “It’s not wrong because I say it’s not wrong!” in the public statements of an individual in the country to the south … Donald Trump. Among other things, those statements feature in a number of court cases involving that individual and his associates. I’m not sure the mayor really wants to put himself in the group of politicians who follow that particular credo.

If he needs a couple of examples closer to home, might I direct him to the sagas of councillors Jan Harder and Rick Chiarelli in the last term of Ottawa City Council? Both of them thought their behaviour was perfectly okay and, to this day, deny any wrongdoing. Because a set of mores other than their own was applied to their actions, they were found to have violated the standards that apply to councillors in this city.

To say that it’s tikkety-boo because his predecessor got away with the same things does not in any way make it alright. Perhaps he should take a close read of the report from the LRT public inquiry. Are we going to discover later that the mayor is participating in secret WhatsApp groups along with other questionable practices of the previous holder of his office? After all, Jim Watson did that too so presumably Sutcliffe is also entitled to follow his lead in that sort of activity.

As an aside, the trip to Amsterdam that Sutcliffe cites is the one that dictated the (premature) opening date for the LRT which we all know led to multiple complications and huge financial losses for the city as well as impacting the lives of thousands of transit-using residents. Not a connection I’d be putting out and drawing attention to as comparable to the London marathon expedition.

Setting up Watson’s actions as your standard shows a lack of understanding of the level of integrity that most of us seek and expect to find in our leaders. Watson has been exposed as someone who, to our ongoing detriment, put his own goals above those of the population he supposedly served. He substituted his own ethical and moral standards for the ones he was sworn to uphold. He is not someone people will be holding up to their children as a role model for them to emulate. In fact, his legacy at the city will be as a cautionary tale of how it shouldn’t be done. It would show some wisdom on the part of Sutcliffe if he were to distance himself from Watson rather than use him as the standard to which he aspires.

Why does he not just submit his intentions to the Ethics Commissioner and get a ruling? Enough people have raised questions that he should be able to see that there is a take on the matter other than his own. Maybe the commissioner will agree with him and then he’s home free but, if not, surely it’s better to find that out before rather than after your actions are in breach of the requirements of your position.

Among other things, he needs to share with us what he told the people who run the London Marathon that prompted them to issue him with an entry months after the applications were closed and the entries were assigned. Is his entry as “Mark Sutcliffe, private citizen”, or in some other capacity? Did he play the “mayor-of-a-capital-city-on-an-official-visit” card? Did Ottawa Tourism or their London equivalent play any part in his getting a place in the marathon?

Will his participation in the marathon take place out of the public eye or will media be covering it? Had he not had a free plane ticket and other benefits from the Ottawa Tourism junket, would he have entered the marathon this year? He has clearly stated that he entered only after he saw that the dates matched up to enable him to be in London for both.

We need to know who is accompanying the mayor on this trip. Will his wife or other family members be there? Will any members of his staff be accompanying him and how does this fit into their taxpayer-funded jobs? Where will he be staying and will his entourage be in the same accommodation? Who is covering the expenses of his entourage including any staff or family who will be in London at the same time? Will his staff be travelling with the Ottawa Tourism group to and from London or will they extend their stay to match the mayor’s? Who will pay their expenses during any extension?

There are a lot of questions around this venture and the mayor needs to respond to demonstrate that there is neither a conflict nor the appearance of a conflict. He should be well aware that perception of conflict can be as serious as an actual conflict. Refusing to acknowledge that will make this story last a lot longer than it should and, more importantly, it will overshadow any good that may come from Ottawa Tourism’s work trying to develop better tourism outcomes for the city.

It’s time to come clean, Mr. Mayor, and show us that your ethical standards match the job you have. Send this over to the Ethics Commissioner and clear the air now before you jet off on this excursion.

The Voter is a respected community activist and long-time Bulldog commenter who prefers to keep her identity private.


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4 Responses

  1. Ken Gray says:

    The Voter:

    Brilliant comment. Thank you.



  2. Phil McBride says:

    Even if it’s on the up and up the optics are bad! These people JT, Jimbo and Sutcliffe should ride on their own expenses. Just saying!

  3. sisco farraro says:

    I am fascinated by a scary new word has slipped into the current vernacular, “transparency”. It is intended to be a synonym for honesty. What the new word conjures is the thought that people are stupid and can’t see through the lies we are all being told by our leaders because they are being transparent . Call me old fashioned, but I’d rather deal with honest people any day of the week, ones who admit that they make mistakes just like everyone else. Let’s move away from “new speak” and get back to basics.

  4. Ron Benn says:

    Brilliant situation analysis Voter.

    Mr. Sutcliffe appears to be in the “it is easier to get forgiveness than permission” club. My response to the first person to use this line in my presence was to point out that he was divorced.

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