The Mayor, City council and the casino debate: Lansdowne 2.0?

The Mayor, City council and the casino debate: Lansdowne 2.0?
Posted on August 24, 2013 | Ian Lee | Written on August 24, 2013
Letter type:

Dear Ottawa residents,

By now, citizens of Ottawa are aware of Ottawa's next boondoggle - the Mayor's desperate search for not one but two casinos - notwithstanding the well-known objections based on evidence based research documenting the dangers of gambling to some people.

But that is not what caught my attention. No, it was a sense of what Yogi Berra called "déjà vu all over again". We have seen this train wreck movie before. In the Lansdowne debate, a competitive process approved by Council, was killed behind closed doors in the middle of the night to create a sole sourced contract.

To be fair, this time Mayor Watson and Council did not even attempt to create the illusion of a transparent, fair, open competitive process. They jumped in repeatedly in attempts to gerrymander the process to fix the outcome.

Council needs to stop Mayor Watson's rush to judgment and establish meaningful consultation and allow those opposed to any casino as well as those opposed to particular locations for a proposed casino to be heard - before any decision is announced. Moreover, all studies and background information must be provided to the public in order to reveal the economic and social costs and benefits of a (two) casino - before consultations take place.

The Mayor and Councillors need to put aside their Putinesque machismo and act like - well, democratically elected and responsible politicians. Surely, they will find this helpful when they face their fate in the 2014 election.

Ian Lee, PhD
Sprott School of Business
Carleton University
Ottawa, Canada

About The Author

Ian Lee's picture

Lee earned his PhD in public policy at Carleton University in 1989. Previously, he was employed in financial services in the 1970s in Ottawa.

He has appeared multiple times before the House of Commons Finance... More


Exactly Ian. Only god knows why the City of Ottawa hates public consultation so much, but we all know City Council would benefit from some sober second thought.


They do so because they can. And people fall for it.
They have enough of a marketing/PR machine around things that they can just give contracts to whomever they feel "inclined" to do so to.
THey have enough of a legal support system that they can bury anyone who wants to have a discussion (re. lansdowne 2.0 paid by us the taxpayers at ridiculous rates but hey no expense spared).
And they'll have lots of developer funding to promote their puppet mayor.

Lansdowne showed them they can ignore people. Think of it as the dry run for the real stuff.

Well said. There is no need to expand gambling facilities in Ottawa. Casinos do not generate beneficial economic activity but suck money out of the community and away from other merchants. Plus, they unfairly tax those with a predisposition to gambling addiction and place an enormous strain on individuals, families and the community as a consequence.

City of Ottawa has been taking comments and having meetings on this since October and you claim no consultations? People are complacent, they complain about policy yet do nothing about it. Then cry foul when something doesn't suit them and cry out corruption.

Where is it stated that "a competitive process approved by Council, was killed behind closed doors in the middle of the night to create a sole sourced contract"?

OLG is being investigated by the Auditor General for its actions regarding modernization. If you are going to point fingers - start there.

Perhaps you should listen to some of the councilors and for that matter the people opposed who do not believe they have had the chance to press its case.

The issue is not with OLG - but with a process that looks similar to the Lansdowne process. Perhaps you did not follow it. I did from the get-go - including 3 Op-eds and appearances before city council and two or three subcommittees.

And yes the city did cancel the design competition. We later learned the City Chief Administrative Officer did so on the orders of the former mayor. This is all on the record. You are free to look it up.

Ian Lee