Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Cracks in city council's position of solidarity

As we wait for the Jan. 14, 2009 City Council meeting to complete their in-camera session--going on seven-and-a-half hours now--here is a briefing of the recent developments within council, which they will have spent at least some of this marathon in-camera session discussing.

The first sign of stresses within City Council's solidarity came after union members voted 75 per cent against the city's most recent offer, after which Transit Committee Chair and Bay Ward Councillor Alex Cullen suggested that the city may need to "reassess" their position on the strike. From a report in the Ottawa Sun:
"This will be Day 36 and we need to reassess how we are handling the strike," said Cullen. "We are not at the table and there is no end in sight. We want the strike to end.


"It [the City's strategy] has to be discussed," he said. "It's been a contest between two players (O'Brien and union president Andre Cornellier) and this is not conducive to settling a strike. I don't want to undermine the mayor but we have to reassess what works and what doesn't work."

In the same Sun story, Capital Councillor Clive Doucet had some harsher words for Mayor Larry O'Brien and his tactics:
"I want him out of there. I have been betrayed by his leadership," said Doucet.

Doucet is also calling for new city negotiators."We have negotiators that are out of touch and it's not something you joke around with."
Doucet was also quoted by the Ottawa Citizen in saying he and the rest of council were "misled" by O'Brien, and had some even more pointed comments on
"He comes out of the private sector, he's never worked in a unionized environment before, he's never worked in the public sector environment before," he said. "We've got someone who not only is a politician but clearly maladapted to the situation he finds himself in."
There were rumours of potential legal action against Doucet for, according to Orléans Councillor Bob Monette, weakening the city's bargaining position, but--pending the outcome of the current ongoing in-camera session--there has been nothing pursued against the councillor. According to, however, Doucet may face sanctions from some of his council colleagues:
"City council went behind closed doors shortly before noon to discuss possible sanctions against Capital Ward Coun. Clive Doucet and other matters related to the transit strike. By late afternoon, councillors had still not emerged."
And that's about where we sit right now, waiting for council to exit their in-camera session so we can find out what they may have been talking about, and what they may have decided or be deciding publicly.

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