At the mayoral level, it’s vision or style
I read today’s Ottawa Sun’s editorial (Time for Doucet and Haydon to call it quits) on the mayoral top contenders and couldn’t disagree more with it.
First of all, Andy Haydon and Clive Doucet cannot withdraw of the race now. That decision had to be made by 2pm on September 10, 2010. If they “pull out” now, their names will still remain on the ballot therefore on voting day, such an announcement by either or both will make no different.
The editorial should have focused on telling its readers what the differences are between the campaigns and why someone would vote for one candidate over the other.
Andy Haydon has proven to be a spoiler in this race not because he lacks ideas but because his campaign has limited reach. He is relying on radio, debates and community meetings to get his message out. He is missing the larger percentage of the voting public who will not hear what his plans are and therefore will not get their vote.
I went to a community meet and greet session in River Ward where every candidate was given a table and some space. Serious candidates showed up with a small team to help man the tables and record supporter information. They had printed material to give to the undecided voters. Mr. Haydon had none of this. His table was empty. He had no signage and he had no one else with him. He talked to a portion of voters who there but not enough to win a plurality of vote in River Ward. To most, at the voting booth, Andy Haydon’s name will not be much different than that of Fraser Liscumb.
The three remaining leading candidates are all viable candidates and fall into two categories. The defining notion for voters will be do they want to vote for vision or to vote for style. If you are voter who cares more about a long term vision for the city, the choice is between Larry O’Brien and Clive Doucet. O’Brien wants to put Ottawa on a path to become a large cosmopolitan city in the ilk of Toronto or Paris; a city that has lots of business growth and has an international flare that would draw in tourism, both corporate and leisure. Doucet wants growth more along the lines of Veinna or Oslo where the focus is on community building and the arts. Each of these candidates have viable visionary plans for Ottawa, but each is very different.
But if the style of the politician is paramount to the voter then their choice is between Larry O’Brien and Jim Watson. I don’t think I would be too far off to liken O’Brien’s style to that of a bull in a china shop. He tends to make many missteps before finding the right path to achieve his objectives. He makes waves but the result is he gets people talking about the issues. It’s not surprising to me that the interest by Ottawa residents in municipal politics has grown during O’Brien’s tenure. Watson is the safe and steady choice who will ensure that government runs as government should. He has the experience to interface politely with other levels of government and the manner that placates the public.
In my humble opinion, I would have preferred the Sun editorial to make a more realistic argument than suggesting that Doucet and Haydon withdraw from the race. I see the choice of voters of opting between style and vision. The top three candidates fit the bill depending on the voter’s preference.