Written by Sue Sherring in the Ottawa Sun
Shortly after council approved membership on the city’s standing committees and chose the all-powerful chairs, three east-end councillors gathered behind closed doors to discuss their fate. None of the four east-end city councillors — Innes Coun. Rainer Bloess, Orleans Coun. Bob Monette, Beacon Hill-Cyrville Coun. Tim Tierney or Cumberland Coun. Stephen Blais — are chairing a committee, nor are they on what’s been dubbed the executive committee — the newly created finance and economic development committee.
Monette admits the lack of representation is a concern.
“Yes, I’m disappointed. We felt we should have had (at least) one representative at the senior level,” Monette said following the meeting with his eastern colleagues.
But Monette said while they don’t have a rep at the senior level, they still have plenty of representation on committees.
“I know Jim Watson did very well in Orleans, so hopefully as we move ahead, things can change,” he added.
Surely, when trying to please 23 city councillors with their committee picks, not everyone is going to be happy.
Take the two choices for deputy mayor, designed to attend functions he can’t and fill in chairing meetings.
The choices of West Carleton- March Eli El-Chantiry and Gloucester-South Nepean Coun. Steve Desroches were met with approval from their colleagues — both are well-liked and generally well-respected.
But surely Watson, with all of his mayoral charm and his emphasis on equality, could have convinced a woman to take one of those spots.
“I would have liked to have seen a woman,” said Gloucester- Southgate Coun. Diane Deans.
River Coun. Maria McRae agreed, though both feel the overall choices coming out of Wednesday’s council meeting — including several women chairing important committees — has the entire city well-represented.
Both are committee chairs: Deans will head up the transit commission, McRae is the chairwoman on the newly created environment committee.
As well, Kanata North Coun. Marianne Wilkinson will head up transportation and Somer-set Coun. Diane Holmes will lead the new health board.
Meanwhile, Alta Vista Coun. Peter Hume chairs planning and Osgoode Coun. Doug Thompson chairs agriculture and rural affairs.
While all choices for both committee and committee chairs have to be approved by council, the decisions were clearly made well before the Wednesday council meeting, with Watson attempting to bring both consensus and what he perceives as the right mix of representation.
Monette, an experienced city councillor who has said this will be his last term, suffered another disappointment when he wasn’t chosen as a committee chair — though he’d expressed that desire to Watson.
And to many people’s surprise, newbie councillor Mark Taylor was anointed as the new chair of the city’s community and protective services committee. Taylor is a Liberal like the mayor, and used to work for Watson.
Monette, a longtime diehard Liberal, took out a Tory membership about two years ago, upset with both MPP Phil McNeely and many of the Liberals’ policies.
And he did question Watson on whether his political about-face had anything to do with being snubbed.
He said he’ll take Watson at his word that it didn’t have anything to do with the decision.
“What’s done is done, for now, and we move on,” Monette said.
And Rideau-Rockcliffe Coun. Peter Clark lost his bid to sit on the new transit commission, a bit of a surprise perhaps given that he was once the chair of the commission before it was disbanded. He and Watson have already had a couple of run-ins.
Asked if the number of Liberals being given committee chairs held any concern to him, Clark said, “of course they’re Liberals, but it doesn’t concern me. It will if they start taxing and spending.”