EDITORIAL: Cranky city council needs a chill pill

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It seems somebody has peed in council’s corn flakes.

Over the past couple of weeks the behavior of city politicians has taken a cantankerous turn. What used to be healthy discussion and dissent has become outright angry and mean-spirited on more than a few occasions.

Take Wednesday’s city council meeting, where council approved 557 Wellington St. as the site of a new $168 million central library.

The road to 557 Wellington St. was a tough one and still harbouring issues with the selection process, Rideau-Rockcliffe coun. Tobi Nussbaum left the room before the vote.

His colleague, Cumberland coun. Stephen Blais gave him the Trump treatment on Twitter by calling him a chicken.

In many workplaces, calling a colleague names may land you in HR. At Ottawa city council, it is apparently an acceptable form of dissent.

Is this the point we have reached in politics?

Nussbaum, as with any elected representative, is able to make decisions on how he does, or does not, vote. If his council colleagues have a problem with that, they can find ways to express their disagreement without resorting to petty name-calling.

Speaking of Twitter, not long ago Mayor Jim Watson mounted a campaign on the platform lambasting the non-serious suggestion to build the new central branch of the Ottawa Public Library in Confederation Park.

The mayor’s bizarre campaign actually made people think this was a serious proposal and Confederation Park was in imminent danger of being paved over for the building if they didn’t all tweet out #saveconfedpark.

It was an awful lot of energy for the mayor to expend campaigning against a half-hearted, non-serious idea. Watson was particularly testy on this topic and ended up arguing with library advocate Emilie Taman over whether she personally and seriously proposed the site.

Gloucester-South Nepean coun. Michael Qaqish seemed to take personal offence when Somerset coun. Catherine McKenney proposed making Ottawa a “sanctuary city” whose municipal services are available to undocumented immigrants without threat of deportation.

“It’s a slap in the face to what we have been doing,” Qaqish told the Ottawa Citizen, referring to Ottawa’s work welcoming Syrian refugees. He is the city’s special liaison for refugees.

He accused McKenney and other councillors who supported the idea of  “grandstanding” and being “out of touch,” the Citizen reported.

It doesn’t make sense to claim McKenney’s proposed motion, which would arguably make Ottawa an even more welcoming place, is somehow a “slap in the face” to ongoing efforts. Qaqish is entitled to speak out against it if he disagrees, but his indignant response showed a lack of respect for his colleague.

Perhaps everyone needs to take a chill pill. Let’s talk this out. Devyn Barrie, editor. 


OttawaStart Staff

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