"You have correctly identified a problem
but now propose to make it worse."

                                                          -Bob McKinley, RCOC President





Watson proposal threatens democratic representation

Mayoral candidate, Jim Watson's proposed reduction in the number of councillors is seen as a further reduction in ratepayer representation, while unaccountable bureaucrats reign supreme.

Watson Proposes Drastic Reform At City Hall

By Kenneth Gray - Ottawa Citizen - August 23, 2010 - The Bulldog: Blog posting of the release from the campaign office of mayoral candidate Jim Watson:

News Release:    Watson Proposes Smaller, More Effective Council
For Immediate Release
August 22, 2010

Link: Watson Proposes Drastic Reform At City Hall

Response from Bob McKinley, President of the Rural Council of Ottawa-Carleton:

----- Original Message -----

From: Bob McKinley
Sent: Monday, August 23, 2010 12:37 PM
Subject: Reduced Representation

Dear Jim:
I am somewhat dismayed by your latest campaign position advocating a further reduction in representation at the Ottawa Council table. I share your view that there has been a growing sense of drift and detachment towards City Hall since amalgamation. Likewise I agree that local issues require greater levels of community input and self determination. 

You have correctly identified a problem but now propose to make it worse.

May I remind you that "The Fewer Municipal Politicians Act" otherwise known as "amalgamation" was stimulated by the same misguided thinking you now advocate.

Your background evaluation of the issue suggests cost savings as a projected outcome as though the work load now born by our elected officials will magically evaporate by reducing the number of people available to respond to the public. While you were at Queens Park others, including me, struggled with the representation deficit amalgamation caused.

I feel compelled to challenge your position as both ill considered and probably illegal.

Amalgamation produced its desired effect by reducing the number of elected officials, but clearly failed to result in net cost savings. Ottawa's administrative costs have sky-rocketed while unelected and unaccountable bureaucrats overwhelm our councilors with an avalanche of red tape. Bureaucrats are not connected to their communities and when they fail to respond to community concerns they enjoy the benefit of immunity.

That's where the primary "disconnect" exists and flourishes.

Rural voters have successfully battled attempts to reduce their voice at the Council table. Effective representation is our right not a privilege. We will fight for it again if necessary.

Members of Council, are less than perfect but without exception they sacrifice their own private lives undoing problems. The job of being a City Councilor has become so unattractive, that a host of talented men and women are not prepared to make the sacrifice that comes with winning a campaign. That's bad for democracy.

The suggestion that a Borough system is an alternative lacks the required statutory support to be implemented. It's a campaign promise you can not keep. Since being honest appears to be important to you, I'm disappointed!!

You fail to recognize the "Real Golden Rule" - "he with the gold makes the rules".
Centralized control of taxation and spending has no hope of being changed.

This campaign for mayor was yours to lose. I planned to stay out of it. I don't think I can do that any more.
Best Regards,
Bob McKinley

RCOC Note:                                                                      August 26, 2010

In the interest of balanced reporting, the RCOC points out that mayoral candidate Watson has subsequently clarified that his position is that he does not propose eliminating any of the current rural wards.

In an interview with The EMC Newspaper on August 25th, 2010, Mr. Watson stated:

“I do not support reducing the number of rural wards because of the court decision and sheer size of the wards. The rural wards would be protected under my plan.”

The Rural Council will continue to monitor the situation and report accordingly.


 The Stittsville News

EDITORIAL:                                                                                   August 26, 2010

Reducing the size of council is not the answer

City of Ottawa mayoralty candidate Jim Watson has come out with a proposal to reduce the size of Ottawa city council should he become mayor. We doubt that Mr. Watson, considered the leading contender for the mayor’s post, would come out with such a platform plank unless his personal polling had shown that it would prove popular.

There have been some comments made that representation from the rural areas must not be affected by such a reduction in council size. We do not see this happening, mainly because rural representation is so bare-bones already. It cannot get any less in our view.

But we would hope that Stittsville residents will tread lightly regarding this proposal. It may affect how much support Mr. Watson generates in the community but you can be sure that if the size of council is reduced, Stittsville will no longer be a separate ward. It will be lumped in with part of Kanata.

This Stittsville/Kanata area, which now has three councilors (two in Kanata and one in Stittsville), will undoubtedly be reduced to just two councilors (there’s the one third reduction in this part of the world).

If this is what people want, then Mr. Watson’s proposal is for you.

But if you value the community standards and spirit that is Stittsville and want to preserve the community’s identity, then you had better think long and hard about a mayoralty candidate who is committed to a reduction in the size of council.

In our view, the size of council is not the issue. It is the caliber of the elected councilors and their tendency to micro-manage things, especially ward matters.

Candidate Watson thinks that reducing the size of council and implementing a borough system which will deal with matters like stop signs will suddenly make the councilors all visionaries and policy wonks who will not get tied up in local issues. Well, think again, Mr. Watson. Councillors by nature follow the votes and as long as local ward issues ate vote grabbers, the councilors will be right in there, right up to their elbows.

So, we think that talking about the size of council and its possible reduction is a quagmire that should be avoided.

And as for the possible two million dollars in savings, who is Mr. Watson kidding? The reduced councilors will argue that they have more territory to look after. They will claim to have more committee work due to their lesser numbers. They will also point to their borough duties as increased work. They will thus argue that they need more staff and resources. These proposed savings will quickly be eaten up as the lesser number of councilors lament their increased workload and their need for more financial support. There will be no savings.