Jim Watson (Canadian politician)
Jim Watson in 2018
|Mayor of Ottawa|
|Assumed office |
December 1, 2010
|Preceded by||Larry O'Brien|
|Preceded by||Jacquelin Holzman|
|Succeeded by||Allan Higdon (interim)|
|Member of Provincial Parliament for Ottawa West—Nepean|
October 2, 2003 – February 1, 2010 (resigned)
|Preceded by||Garry Guzzo|
|Succeeded by||Bob Chiarelli|
|Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing|
October 30, 2007 – January 12, 2010
|Preceded by||John Gerretsen|
|Succeeded by||John Gerretsen|
|Ottawa City Councillor|
|Preceded by||Lynn Smyth|
|Succeeded by||Inez Berg|
James Alexander Watson
July 30, 1961
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
|Political party||Ontario Liberal, 2003 – 2010|
James Alexander Watson (born July 30, 1961) is the current mayor of the City of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. He was a former Ottawa city councillor (1991–1997) and mayor (1997–2000), and subsequently represented the riding of Ottawa West—Nepean in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario from 2003 to 2010. He served in the Cabinet of Premier Dalton McGuinty in the portfolios of Consumer and Business Services (2003 - 2005), Health Promotion (2005 - 2007), and Municipal Affairs and Housing (2007 - 2010). He resigned in January 2010 to successfully run for mayor in the 2010 Ottawa municipal election. He was subsequently re-elected mayor on October 27, 2014 and on October 22, 2018.
Watson was born in Montreal, Quebec to Frances (née Murdoch) and Beverley "Bev" Watson. He grew up in Lachute, but his family moved a few times during his childhood for his father's work, taking him to Beaconsfield, Thornhill, and Sarnia. He graduated high school from Northern Collegiate in Sarnia. Watson later moved to Ottawa to attend Carleton University and graduated in 1983 with a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communications from the Faculty of Public Affairs. He first got involved in the political sphere during his second year of studies in 1982, when he served as the President of the Rideau River Residence Association (RRRA). Watson began his career working in journalism for a few local newspapers, and later entered the federal public service, where he rose to the position of Director of Communications for the Speaker of the House of Commons.
Municipal politics in Ottawa
Watson first entered public office in 1991 when he was elected to pre-amalgamation Ottawa's City Council as councillor for Capital Ward. He was subsequently re-elected to Council in 1994. In 1992 Watson championed a roll-back of salaries and operating costs at the city level. His first direct action against excessive city spending was his unilateral decision to donate his yearly 2% salary increase, totalling $700, to charity. In addition, as part of the re-election process Watson donated his severance pay of $5200 to four local charities after moving from Regional to City Council in 1994. During his second term as councillor, Watson reduced his own salary by 13% from $51,000 to $45,000 while voting to reduce the mayor's office budget and salary. In 1996, he supported Dalton McGuinty's bid to lead the Ontario Liberal party.
First mayoral term (pre-amalgamation)
In 1997, Watson sought election as Mayor of Ottawa, winning 83 per cent of the popular vote to become Ottawa's youngest-ever mayor. During his term as mayor, Watson's emphasis centred on ensuring that the City adopt sustainable fiscal management policies which would enable overall operating costs to go down while reducing budget deficits and the city's debt burden. In conjunction, Watson managed to freeze property tax rates for two consecutive years. He also championed a plan with two other councillors, Peter Hume and John O'Neil, to save the historic Aberdeen Pavilion from being torn down.
After municipal politics
Watson resigned as mayor on August 14, 2000 to become president and CEO of the Canadian Tourism Commission. During his time with the federal crown corporation, Watson secured additional funding for the industry following the 2001 crisis of the 9/11 attacks and the softening of the global tourism industry.
Watson has served on the board or as honorary chair of several community organizations including the Riverside Hospital, the National Arts Centre, the Central Canada Exhibition Association, the Christmas Exchange of Ottawa and the Forum for Young Canadians. He served as chair of the United Way's 2002 campaign, which raised a record $21 million.
In the 2003 provincial election, Watson defeated Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario incumbent Garry Guzzo to become the Member of Provincial Parliament (MPP) for the Ottawa West-Nepean riding and was appointed by Premier of Ontario Dalton McGuinty as Minister of Consumer and Business Services on October 23, 2003. He became Ontario's first Minister of Health Promotion on June 29, 2005.
Minister of Consumer and Business Services
Watson worked alongside the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) to create a "Fraud Free Calendar" in order to help protect consumers, particularly seniors, from high pressure sales tactics, which often lead to impulse purchases. In the spring of 2004, the Federal and Provincial governments signed a joint service delivery accord, creating a "one stop shop" in many communities for provincial and federal services. This accord later included municipalities, in order to provide many government services in one location, for example Ottawa City Hall. Upon inheriting a massive backlog in birth certificate applications, Watson took action to streamline the delivery process for online applicants. After a cabinet shuffle, Dalton McGuinty and Gerry Phillips implemented a money-back guarantee to individuals who do not receive a birth certificate within 15 days of the online application, which Watson had initiated.
Minister of Health Promotion
Watson initiated a study designed to help Ontarians quit smoking. STOP – Smoking Treatment for Ontario Patients – offered free nicotine replacement therapy to 14,000 smokers across the province. On May 31, 2006, the Smoke-Free Ontario Act came into effect, banning all smoking in public areas in the province, including in restaurants, bars, casinos, etc. Watson was recognized for its implementation. In June of that year, Watson unveiled a $10-million Healthy Eating and Active Living Plan. The plan took aim at childhood obesity, which included a pilot project in Northern schools, offering fruits and vegetables to the students and a program that looked to develop and improve safe biking and walking to and from schools. In 2006, the Ontario government launched a project which provided financial assistance to Ontario athletes looking to perform at the national and international levels. Quest For Gold is now part of the Ontario Athlete Assistance Program (OAAP), funded by the Government of Ontario, through the Ministry of Tourism, Culture & Sport. The Program provided direct financial assistance to Ontario athletes through an "Ontario Card" designation. The intent of the OAAP is to provide funding to individual athletes based on their demonstrated commitment to high performance sport, allowing them to pursue athletic excellence at the highest levels of national and international competition.
Minister of Municipal Affairs
After the 2007 election, Watson became Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. During his tenure as Queen's Park's official liaison with Ontario's municipalities, Watson was able to implement substantive policies to alleviate fiscal pressure on cities. In February 2008, Watson brought forward the Rental Opportunity for Ontario Families (ROOF) program that helps low-income families with funds to pay rent over a five-year period. In October of that year, a policy designed to support the uploading of property tax supported programs from the budgets of Ontario's municipalities to that of the Provincial budget was implemented. Under this policy, the province took back $1.5 Billion worth of programs funded by Ontario's municipalities, reversing previous downloading of provincial responsibilities which occurred during Mike Harris’ tenure as Premier. The provincial government assumed responsibility for Ontario Works social assistance services, paramedic services, public health, transit, drug benefit programs, the Ontario Disability Support Program, court services, and property tax assessment. In addition, Watson signed the Federal-Provincial Housing Agreement in 2008, the largest housing agreement of its kind to date.
Summary of Cabinet Portfolios
|Ontario Provincial Government of Dalton McGuinty|
|Cabinet posts (3)|
|John Gerretsen||Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing
October 30, 2007 – January 12, 2010
|New position||Minister of Health Promotion
June 29, 2005 – October 30, 2007
|Tim Hudak||Minister of Consumer and Business Services
October 23, 2003 – June 29, 2005
Second mayoral term (New City of Ottawa)
Upon taking office, Watson froze his own salary and cut his office budget by 10%. As mayor, he committed to limit tax increases to no more than 2.5%, and did so, bringing in the lowest rates in a number of years. He also enacted a set of integrity and transparency measures, including hiring an integrity commissioner, launching a lobbyist registry and requiring that elected officials’ office expenses be posted online. He also froze community recreation fees for four years, and reduced the size of the city's workforce twice, the first time it had been done since amalgamation.
Watson and the Ottawa City Council also invested $340 million in infrastructure renewal projects such as roads, sidewalks, pathways and sewers and record amount in cycling initiatives. Watson helped advance two major city-building projects that had stalled for a number of years: the revitalization of Lansdowne Park and the introduction of light rail transit. In October 2012, the city council approved the final Lansdowne Park plan, an agreement with the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group that saw a new stadium built, increased green space, and housing and retail added to the site. In December 2012, City Council voted unanimously to move forward with the Confederation Line, a 12.5 km light rail transit line from Tunney's Pasture in the west to Blair in the east, to be fully operational by 2018.
Watson also helped create Invest Ottawa, the city's economic development agency, whose programs and initiatives increase entrepreneurial momentum, wealth and jobs in Ottawa.
Third mayoral term
Watson won the mayoral race in 2014 with 76.20% of the votes, defeating eight other candidates.
International economic trips
On November 16, 2015, Watson lead an economic mission to China and Thailand with hopes of promoting Ottawa as a leading innovation hub in Canada, to draw investment for Ottawa businesses, and to encourage tourism to the nation's capital. Watson and fifteen local business leader began the mission in Beijing, Ottawa's only sister city, where he signed an "Exchange and Co-operation Agreement" with Beijing Mayor Guo Jinlong, establishing key common goals in business, trade, and municipal administration. The agreement states the mutual support of local enterprises to invest in each other's cities, as well as enhanced co-operation in the high-tech industry. A year later, on April 17, 2016, Watson led a delegation of 35 leaders in the business and tech industries to generate investment opportunities in technology, education, film production and tourism. In addition to seizing the significant economic growth opportunities in India, the trade mission also afforded the City of Ottawa and Invest Ottawa the opportunity to leverage the experience of many successful, local Indo-Canadian business leaders. The mission's resulting list of Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs), strategic partnerships and mutually beneficial agreements between Ottawa companies and their Indian counterparts has an estimated total value of more than $80 million.
Since 2014, Watson has led many significant projects in the city. Set to become one of the largest infrastructure projects in the city's history, the city secured more than $1.15 billion from the federal government to help the expansion of the Light Rail Transit (LRT) network of the completed Confederation Line, which will move the public transportation further east, south, and west. Watson pushed to have the Mayors of Ottawa and Gatineau to join the Board of the National Capital Commission (NCC) in 2016. That year, Watson and Gatineau Mayor Maxime Pedneaud-Jobin were invited to join as ex-officio, non-voting members.
The city has invested a record $80M since 2014 for cycling and pedestrian structures. City council unanimously approved downtown Ottawa's second segregated bike lane in 2015 and built the 2.5-kilometre north-south cycling spine between Parliament Hill and Lansdowne Park on O’Connor Street. In addition, the NCC worked alongside Watson, as well as Nathalie Des Rosiers and Elizabeth Moore Aubin, to open another segregated cycling lane on Mackenzie Avenue, creating a safer environment for cyclists in the Ottawa region. Watson played a key role in the opening of the Innovation Centre at Bayview Yards, the new home for Invest Ottawa and an entrepreneurial hub for the Ottawa region. It is expected to engage over 1200 businesses within the city, assisting them to grow and develop their products, as well as create over 280 jobs within the capital region. Watson and the City of Ottawa have been working in conjunction to reduce the impact of sewage overflows and storm water on the Ottawa River. The Ottawa River Action Plan (ORAP) is made up of 17 individual projects which aim to enhance the health of the Ottawa River and to protect Ottawa's water environment. Watson supported the arts community towards redeveloping the Arts Court and expanding the Ottawa Art Gallery. The project is part of a vision for the revitalization of the downtown core in Ottawa. The project includes environmentally-controlled exhibition and curatorial spaces, event and education facilities, a café and a gift shop.
As Canada celebrated its 150th year since Confederation, the City of Ottawa created a group in charge of putting together a full year of activities and events. The Ottawa 2017 Bureau, under Guy Laflamme, was responsible for organizing signature events throughout the year, attracting millions of visitors to Ottawa to experience them. Over the course of year, the city played host to a number of successful events including the 2017 Red Bull Crashed Ice downhill skating competition, the Juno Awards of 2017; La Machine (production company), a four-day show that attracted over 750,000 people, Ottawa Welcomes the World, a series of celebrations at Lansdowne Park to promote tourism in other countries and strengthen ties with those nations, the 105th Grey Cup at TD Place, and the 2017 NHL 100 Classic, an outdoor game between the Ottawa Senators and the Montreal Canadians that recreated the first ever NHL game almost 100 years later.
Fourth mayoral term
On October 22, Watson won the 2018 mayoral race with 71.03% of the votes, defeating eleven other candidates.
"The Watson Club"
Since his re-election, many councillors have expressed concern over Watson's apparent stronghold over several other councillors. The urban-suburban split between councillors sees Watson siding with more-suburban councillors, whom he appoints to Chair every committee.
|2018 Ottawa municipal election - Mayor|
|Jim Watson (x), (*)||188,960||71.03|
|James T. Sheahan||1354||0.51|
|2014 Ottawa municipal election - Mayor|
|Jim Watson (x), (*)||189,253||76.20|
|Darren W. Wood||1764||0.71|
|Michael St. Arnaud||1628||0.66|
|2010 Ottawa municipal election, Mayor|
|Jim Watson (x)||131,323||48.70|
|Larry O'Brien (*)||64,862||24.06|
|Andrew S. Haydon||18,914||7.01|
|15 other candidates||7,775||2.88|
|Source: "2010 municipal election results". City of Ottawa. Archived from the original on 2014-02-19.|
(x): indicates elected.
(*): indicates incumbent.
2007 Ontario provincial election, Ottawa West-Nepean
|2007 Ontario general election: Ottawa West—Nepean|
|Liberal||Jim Watson||23,842||50.64||+3.60||$ 81,588.12|
|Progressive Conservative||Mike Patton||14,971||31.80||−9.44||67,155.94|
|New Democratic||Lynn Hamilton||4,564||9.69||+1.35||15,904.92|
|Family Coalition||John Pacheco||592||1.26||6,938.62|
|Independent||Robert Gilles Gauthier||207||0.44||−0.28||Unavailable|
|Total valid votes/Expense limit||47,079||100.0||−4.24||$ 88,988.76|
|Total rejected ballots||304||0.64||+0.09|
2003 Ontario provincial election, Ottawa West-Nepean
|2003 Ontario general election: Ottawa West—Nepean|
|Liberal||Jim Watson||23,127||47.04||+12.68||$ 67,833.00|
|Progressive Conservative||Garry Guzzo||20,277||41.24||−6.55||60,734.31|
|New Democratic||Marlene Rivier||4,099||8.34||−7.78||17,396.47|
|Independent||Robert G. Gauthier||353||0.72||Unavailable|
|Total valid votes/Expense limit||49,165||100.0||+2.90||$ 76,392.96|
|Total rejected ballots||272||0.55||−0.27|
1997 Ottawa municipal election, Mayor
|1997 Ottawa municipal election, Mayor|
|Robert G. Gauthier||8,037||12.11|
1994 Ottawa municipal election, Capital Ward
|Jim Watson (X)||8,851||89.18|
1991 Ottawa municipal election, Capital Ward
|1991 Municipal Election (Capital Ward)|
|Lynn Smyth (X)||1,817|
|Frank De Jong||482|
- Elizabeth Lumley. Canadian Who's Who 2008: Volume 43.
- "Mayor Jim Watson: After 40 years, I'm opening the closet door". Ottawa Citizen, August 17, 2019.
- "City Hall Blog: Frances Watson, 1930 – 2014 | Ottawa Citizen". December 29, 2014.
- "Fast food, long hours and a thousand handshakes: A day in the life of Jim Watson | Ottawa Citizen". October 19, 2018.
- "Mayor Jim Watson's father dies at 91 | Ottawa Citizen". June 13, 2016.
- "Meet your candidates for Ottawa mayor". www.cbc.ca. October 9, 2018. Retrieved 2019-08-17.
- "Great Grads". Carleton Alumni. Retrieved 23 January 2018.
- "Jim Watson". Carleton University. Retrieved 23 January 2018.
- Ottawa Citizen, July 13, 1992.
- Ottawa Citizen, 2 December 1996.
- "Mayor Watson moving on". cbc.ca, July 6, 2000.
- "2005 Annual Report" (PDF). TICO. Travel Industry Council of Ontario. Retrieved 23 January 2018.
- "CANADA AND ONTARIO LAUNCH JOINT SERVICE DELIVERY STRATEGY, Working Together to Help Save Money and Provide Better Service to Citizens". Government of Canada. Retrieved 23 January 2018.
- "Ontarians to Receive Free Medication to Quit Smoking". Inside Halton. Retrieved 23 January 2018.
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- ""Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-07-24. Retrieved 2010-08-16.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)"
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- "Watson wins Ottawa mayor's race". CBC News. October 25, 2010.
- ""Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-02-19. Retrieved 2013-01-12.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)"
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- "Draft budget proposes 2.09% tax hike". Ottawa Sun. October 24, 2012.
- "Ottawa mayor Jim Watson true to his promises". Ottawa Sun. November 2, 2012.
- "Mayor Watson". CBC News. October 25, 2012.
- "Watson reacts to Ford decision". Ottawa Sun. November 26, 2012.
- ""Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-01-21. Retrieved 2013-01-12.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)"
- "Draft budget sets Ottawa tax increase at 2.39%". CBC News. October 26, 2011.
- "2013 draft budget has tidbits for everyone". Ottawa Sun. October 24, 2012.
- ""Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-03-01. Retrieved 2013-01-12.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)"
- ""Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2016-01-20. Retrieved 2013-01-12.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)"
- "Most people are on board, so far". Ottawa Citizen. December 30, 2012.
- "Final Lansdowne deal passed by council". CBC News. October 10, 2012.
- "Council gives final go ahead to Lansdowne project". Ottawa Citizen. October 11, 2012.
- "Confederation Line LRT project approved by council". CBC News. December 19, 2012.
- "Watson Campaign Announcement". Ottawa Citizen. Michael Woods. Retrieved 23 January 2018.
- "2014 Election Results". City of Ottawa. Retrieved 23 January 2018.
- "Mayor Jim Watson Headed to China and Thailand". Ottawa Citizen. Joanne Laucius. Retrieved 23 January 2018.
- "Ottawa Mayor to Lead Business Delegation to China, Thailand". Metro News. Retrieved 23 January 2018.
- "Ottawa trade trip to India aims to draw business, tourists". CBC News. Retrieved 23 January 2018.
- "Economice Development Initiatives". City of Ottawa. Retrieved 23 January 2018.
- "Federal government commits to funding LRT Stage 2". CTV News Ottawa. Retrieved 23 January 2018.
- "NCC board invites mayors of Ottawa and Gatineau to participate in meetings". Ottawa Citizen. Retrieved 23 January 2018.
- "O'Connor's new bike lanes now open, ahead of schedule". Ottawa Citizen. Retrieved 23 January 2018.
- "Mackenzie Avenue newest spoke in Ottawa's cycling network". City of Ottawa. Retrieved 23 January 2018.
- "Bayview Yards Innovation Centre Announcement". Invest Ottawa. Retrieved 23 January 2018.
- "Ottawa River Action Plan". City of Ottawa. Retrieved 23 January 2018.
- "Ottawa Art Gallery (OAG) Expansion and Arts Court Redevelopment". City of Ottawa. Retrieved 23 January 2018.
- "Ottawa 2017". City of Ottawa. Retrieved 23 January 2018.
- "2018 Election Results". City of Ottawa. Retrieved 31 October 2018.
- Willing, John (4 September 2019). "ANALYSIS: Can a councillor make 'Watson club' stick during the fall session at city hall?". Ottawa Citizen. Retrieved 20 May 2020.
- Spears, Tom. "Ottawa Sun: 'WATSON CLUB': Council's urban-suburban split on chair for transportation board". Catherine McKenney. Retrieved 20 May 2020.
- City of Ottawa. "Council and standing committees". City of Ottawa. Retrieved 20 May 2020.
- Britneff, Beatrice (12 December 2018). "Ottawa councillors speak out against mayor's committee picks, Watson defends appointments". Retrieved 20 May 2020.
- "2018 Election Results". City of Ottawa. Archived from the original on October 23, 2018.
- "2014 Election Results". City of Ottawa. Archived from the original on September 20, 2018.