Re: The Problem Is Jim Watson

Re: The Problem Is Jim Watson
Posted on May 9, 2013 | James O'Grady | Written on May 9, 2013
Letter type:


The Bulldog

Author's Note:

Author's Note:

My response to a blog post by Ken Gray today, on his blog Bulldog Ottawa.

The public consultations on Public Consultation the City put on last month were underwhelming to say the least. They got it wrong, right out of the gate. Instead of engaging some of the many governance experts in Ottawa or creating a binding policy on everyone in the City, including politicians, citizens and Staff, City staff are establishing guidelines for Staff only.

Public Consultation Guidelines created by powerless bureaucrats for bureaucrats, will be ignored just as they are now. Furthermore, the timeline for it to be completed is after the 2013 Budget is approved (just in time for the election campaign). So there is no way the next Budget will be properly debated.

What has happened to democracy at City Hall? Why are they (Mayor, Staff, Councillors) so afraid of public opinion? Is it because we have such a high intelligence level in Ottawa that they are afraid City Council will be embarrassed? Ottawans are well educated and more connected than ever. This is a government and high tech town after all.

When I attended the Barrhaven consultation on Public Consultation, I recommended the City focus on ‘Tapping into the Collective Intelligence” of Ottawa’s citizenry if it truly wants to be successful in its decision making. The best way to achieve it, in my opinion, is to create a governance model that enshrines public consultation as the first step in the decision making process. Come to us first before moving forward so you have sufficient guidance and a legitimate mandate to pursue a particular course of action. Seems simple, but right now its not happening.

The saddest part of all is the Mayor doesn’t need to engage in opposition suppression tactics like this in order to get his way. All he needs to do is to engage residents openly, transparently and put forward a solid argument. Tell us the truth and I think you’ll find most people will be able to connect the dots.

The dots I’m connecting right now tell me that City Hall has no respect for what Ottawa residents think. They have no desire or interest to engage us honestly, and as a result, we’re not getting the representative democracy we all assumed we would get at election time.

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About The Author

James OGrady's picture

I am a social media entrepreneur, communications professional, part-time school teacher and community leader living in Nepean, Ontario. I am also a hockey goaltender, political hack and most importantly, an advocate... More


Klaus Beltzner


Could not agree with you more on all the points you make.

So you have to ask yourself the question – what is in it for Jim Watson to act the way he does?

The answer is that he pre-empts any opposition and discussion – an outstanding dictator who guarantees his re-election.

The latest example: Walking the motion for a 2% budget increase onto the floor of Finance and Economic Development Committee to recommend to Council and Council to approve the next day. No time to think about it or ask penetrating questions to Staff.

Too bad, we all lose because of that.

With Staff constantly praised as the being the experts – hence we don’t need public input - I wonder why no Councillor asked Staff what they as the experts would do?

What options would they be considering based on the various financial pressures they know about? And which option would they recommend to Council if Staff, the experts, were so asked?

But no Councillor asked because no one wanted to hear the answer. All everyone wanted to know is whether the city could function for another year if held to 2%. After that it’s a new Council and they will be responsible going forward.

Next Council, watch Major General Jim Watson tell everyone why we need to raise taxes 10% in each of the next 3 years and no tax increase in year 4 because we need to finally tackle the infrastructure deficit and complete Phase 2 of the LRT project that is needed because Phase 1 cannot stand by itself. OC Transpo Ridership is crashing and Phase 1 construction and Phase 1 operations will only help that ridership downward trend accelerate.

Yes, Jim, there will need to be a tax increase...but just not yet as there is an election just around the corner.