The Horrible Governance Capital Of Canada: GRAY


ken.gray .logo


The last week has shown that Ottawa’s municipal government and associated precincts are an abysmal failure in administration, public policy, democracy and the journalism covering it.

Administration? The City of Ottawa admits that the St. Laurent charging station for our so-called zero-emission buses can’t be served with enough electrical capacity to satisfy the needs of the new fleet. Staff then buries the two gigantic generating stations in the depths of a report without giving any context. A couple of sentences. It turns out the two generators can power a city the size of Brockville. City staff is reluctant to say how the generators will be powered leaving the public hanging on could it be diesel, natural gas, high-fibre supplements, kale or Jeff Leiper on a bike? City staff says it is negotiating with Hydro Ottawa to increase capacity for the area.

Isn’t it a bit late in the game to be negotiating capacity? Isn’t that something you do first or is it the same twisted logic as in I just bought a hugely expensive car but I can’t get the special gas for it?

So here’s what we know. Hydro Ottawa doesn’t have the capacity to charge the buses at some level. Negotiations are underway to solve this problem if it can be solved. Instead of having capacity or telling the public how much electricity (as a percentage of total needs) the generators are pumping out, and how much greenhouse gas will be created, OC Transpo is building giant natural-gas generators to power the electric chargers without any details of what they entail. Negotiations? Maybe. Use the generators into perpetuity? Maybe. Probably. The problem is that staff and politicians have lied so much to the public that you just can’t trust them. And for a second opinion on the honesty of city hall, reference the provincial LRT inquiry. The same clowns who created the light-rail scandal (save the three ring-leaders) are still running city hall using the same unethical and hopeless mismanagement style as during LRT implementation.

And as an important aside, the main point of the provincial LRT inquiry was that city staff didn’t exercise its legal responsibility to keep city council informed of vital information on the $6.4-billion project. Two months after the final inquiry report, city staff didn’t tell council (not that it would care) about giant gas generators associated with the clean-energy $1-billion e-bus plan in the unseemly rush to get the buses approved at committee and council.

City staff calls the gas system a backup. No that’s semantics. This project looks as though it will pump out a huge amount of fossil-fuel greenhouse gas and that gas generators are the primary source of electricity for the buses. Furthermore, the gas will come from a company that council doesn’t want advertising on its property. Happy to use its product however, because the city has no alternative.

So just to make the point crystal clear … taxpayers are forking out $1 billion plus interest on electric buses that must be charged with generators that use a greenhouse-gas-spewing fossil fuel.

That is an absolute outrage.

This is the biggest scandal since the $2.2-billion light-rail project didn’t work. Or the $2.2 billion light-rail project repeatedly derailed. Or the $2.2 billion light-rail project went through axles (and maybe still does) the way squirrels go through nuts.Or the $6.4-billion light-rail project is monstrously late. We could go on. You’ve got an LRT fiasco and a real and pending e-bus scandal. That’s $7.4 billion of highly questionable spending on two projects that won’t put the smallest dent in the worldwide climate problem.

Rather than having the taxpayers of Ottawa try to end global warming single-handedly, maybe we could get a transit system that works and moves people. The dirtiest diesel bus is much more climate-friendly than a traffic jam of former transit riders driving cars.

These generators are from the people who told you light rail was “on-time and on-budget”.This from the people who were condemned by the provincial LRT inquiry for not exercising their legal responsibility to inform city council (and thereby the people of Ottawa who are paying for this mess) of all the information surrounding the project so that council can make intelligent decisions … if that is possible. And this from the people in the rush to pass the motherhood-and-apple-pie project who weren’t told that the buses would need to be charged by fossil-fuel burning generators.

No wonder the City of Ottawa can’t get senior managers to come here. The municipality is perceived as being career armageddon. Who would want to work with a bunch of lying or lying-by-omission people who can’t get it right … repeatedly?

Did staff not know that the buses would need to have gas-generated electricity? Or were they not just saying … two months after the LRT inquiry condemned staff and some politicians for lying by omission. That means that the senior people at the City of Ottawa were either lying or incompetent … again. Yes, $1-billion worth of lying or incompetence. Furthermore, staff and council didn’t learn a thing from the LRT inquiry. Bad business as usual.

And what about our democratically elected politicians? They didn’t do their homework … again. Did they just think you stick a plug in the wall for huge amounts of electricity and the power just comes on like when they use their toasters? Why didn’t staff inform council and the public about gas generation? Furthermore, would council have listened? Would council have understood? This glee club of a council was fiddling with Nickelback tattoos, naming snow plows and making Ottawa the shawarma capital of Canada. Is it possible to be anymore petty?

One other thing. That $7.4 billion of poorly spent money for transit could sure help some of those homeless people piled up like cord wood on Murray Street. Council and staff are lousy stewards of our tax money. Good intentions gone nuts.

Transit commission on Monday was one of the worst displays of governance in my 2.5 decades of covering Ottawa municipal affairs. Staff gets it wrong and won’t tell or tries to cover it up. Councillors don’t know, don’t care, don’t pay attention or don’t want to hurt their re-election chances.

Had real former councillors such as Gord Hunter, Alex Cullen, Diane Deans or Diane Holmes (and former mayor Bob Chiarelli) been at that transit commission meeting, they would have kicked staff’s butts so hard the owners would be wearing them for earmuffs.

And on top of all this, The Bulldog late last week and on the weekend drew a paint-by-numbers picture of $1 billion wasted or in jeopardy. Yet the other media didn’t follow it. Here’s how you do it, mighty journalists. Paint in the spaces between the lines and follow the numbers between those lines to get the colours right.

Council is dysfunctional. Staff is dysfunctional. The auditor general is dysfunctional. The transit system is a shambles. The roads are so bad that the potholes knock the fillings out of your teeth. And huge traffic jams are made larger by thousands of people who have given up on transit.

Instead of attempting to solve the very serious problems facing this city, councillors want to name snow plows, get Nickelback to perform or declare Ottawa the shawarma capital of Canada. Fiddling while Rome burns.

Let’s call Ottawa The Horrible Goverance Capital of Canada.

Your agent called for this weeks ago. More recently the very respected Voter on The Bulldog called for it. Your agent is now calling for it again.

For the love of God, Premier Doug Ford, get a commissioner, board and a herd of real auditors in here to run this city until the next election and clean up this goverance and public-policy fiasco on Laurier Avenue.

Bulldog editor Ken Gray has been a journalist at five major Canadian newspapers over a career that has spanned four decades.


If only our Ottawa City Council Glee Club was as talented as this one.


Heritage Buildings Or A Dump? MULVIHILL

City Steps Up Radioactive Water Pollution Testing

Ottawa Burns Gas To Power Electric Buses

Everything Ottawa      Full Local     Bulldog Canadian
Opinion    Comments    Breaking News    Auto
Ontario   World    Get Cheap Gas   Big Money
Pop Gossip   Your Home    Relax …   Tech
Bulldog Weather    Full Local Sports
TV/Movies   Travel
Page 2   Page 3   Page 4   Page 5   Page 6


Other features:    Full Bulldog Index    Return to Bulldog Home

6 Responses

  1. Peter Karwacki says:

    …but democracy!

    All the incumbents that ran were re elected by their constituents.

    “Council is dysfunctional. Staff is dysfunctional. ”

    This is because the people that elect them are also dysfunctional.

    only 38% of eligible voters actually cast a vote a municipal elections.

    As a result this becomes a kind of popularity contest by name recognition instead of a real consideration of competency and ability.

    In any case, can any councillor handle the workload? all the briefs, delegations, memos, constituent calls, meetings, minutes, motions – and proceed? they need help.

    I think the staff will sometimes purposely overload them with crap and obfuscate important points . Its a kind of overload diversion.

  2. Andrew says:

    Is anyone making the link to the Provincial government bringing in Gas generators instead of renewable/storage sources. Mr Ford has said no city will get one of these big polluters (generators) unless they want them.

    Many other cities have proactively voted no to the pollution. Here, in Ottawa, we were silent. Why?

    Could it be that we had a convenient bus charging”need” so no council vote would be required, or offered. And it fits the Ford government plans to put this pollution source where he has no votes. As a result, I bet it will run most of the summer and peak times the rest of the year, exactly the same as the Napanee gas generators and the ones by CHEO.

  3. Kosmo says:

    @Peter Karwacki, that worklaod sounds like a regular day workday to me and they have office help.

  4. Been There says:

    Could there be a link between the need for natural gas at the St Laurent depot and this CBC news story about rebuilding the aging Enbridge pipeline on St Laurent Blvd.. Coun. Tim Tierney , a member of the Transportation Committee, seems very concerned for his constituents.
    Did he know something about the need for natural gas in that area that the other councillors didn’t?

    This is the best I can do without posting a link.
    Search Denied Enbridge pipeline Nov 23 2023 for the CBC story.

    Here are a couple of quotes from the article.

    “The utility is preparing a new application to rebuild part of the infrastructure along St. Laurent Boulevard after the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) rejected its plan in May 2022, in part because of an intervention prepared by Ottawa city staff — but also because it felt repairs or retrofits could be enough. ”

    “Tierney said he supports the city’s intentions, but after speaking with Enbridge he became concerned that stalling the pipeline replacement could put his residents at risk of a catastrophic power loss. “

  5. The Voter says:

    And let’s not forget the councillor who was up to his armpits in both the LRT fiasco and the electric bus acquisition. None other than Kanata South’s Allan Hubley. As the then-Chair of the Transit Commission and celebrated Jim Watson lapdog, he participated in the LRT secret whatsapp group. He’s been a model for many years of how not to represent your residents but, as pointed out above by Peter, they couldn’t be bothered to get out and vote in a more qualified individual so we all get to have his presence at the Council table.

  6. Neil says:

    I’m not convinced. I listened to the Transit Council meeting, and I believe these are backup-only generators. (I think we all can agree that OCT needs a backup system on hand, in the event of a power disruption )

    I wouldn’t argue with your overall thesis of governance, but i don’t believe it is accurate to say that our ZEV buses are going to be powered by natural gas generators other than as a backup source.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Paid Content

Home   Full Bulldog Index