Jim Watson (Canadian politician)

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Jim Watson
Jim Watson, MPP (cropped).jpg
Then-MPP Jim Watson speaking at the 2009 Ottawa Folk Festival
Mayor of Ottawa
Assumed office
December 1, 2010
Preceded by Larry O'Brien
In office
Preceded by Jacquelin Holzman
Succeeded by Allan Higdon (interim)
Ontario MPP
In office
Preceded by Garry Guzzo
Succeeded by Bob Chiarelli
Constituency Ottawa West—Nepean
Ottawa City Councillor
In office
Preceded by Lynn Smyth
Succeeded by Inez Berg
Constituency Capital Ward
Personal details
Born James Alexander Watson
(1961-07-30) July 30, 1961 (age 55)
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Political party Ontario Liberal Party

James Alexander "Jim" Watson (born July 30, 1961)[1] is the current mayor of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. He is 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 was a Minister in the Cabinet of Premier Dalton McGuinty until he resigned in January 2010 to successfully run for mayor in the 2010 Ottawa municipal election. He was re-elected mayor 27 October 2014.

Early life[edit]

Born in Montreal, Quebec,[1] Watson grew up in Lachute and attended Laurentian Regional High School from 1974-1978. He later moved to Ottawa to attend Carleton University and graduated in 1983 with a Bachelor of Public Affairs degree from the School of Journalism and Communications. He entered the federal public service and rose to the position of director of communications for the Speaker of the House of Commons.

Municipal politics in Ottawa[edit]

City Council[edit]

Jim Watson first entered public office in 1991 when he was elected to Ottawa’s City Council as councilor 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, totaling $700, to charity.[2] 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 Councilor, Watson reduced his own salary by 13% from $51,000 to $45,000 while voting to reduce the mayor’s office budget and salary.[citation needed] In 1996, he supported Dalton McGuinty's bid to lead the Ontario Liberal party.[3]

First mayoral term[edit]

In 1997, Watson sought election as mayor of Ottawa winning 83 per cent of the popular vote to become Ottawa's mayor. During his term as mayor, Watson’s emphasis centered 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.[citation needed] In conjunction, Watson managed to freeze property tax rates in consecutive years, with only a marginal 3% increase, below the rate of inflation during this period, taking place during his entire tenure as mayor.[4][not in citation given]

He resigned as mayor on August 14, 2000 to become president and CEO of the Canadian Tourism Commission.[5]

After municipal politics[edit]

In 2003, Watson left public service to pursue a career in journalism as host of CHRO-TV's The New RO @ Noon. He was also a regular contributor to the Ottawa radio station CFRA and the Ottawa Citizen.

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.

Provincial politics[edit]

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 Municipal Affairs[edit]

After the 2007 election, he 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 a substantive policy designed to support the uploading of property tax supported programs from the budgets of Ontario’s municipalities to that of the Provincial budget. Under this policy, the province will take back $1.5 Billion worth of programs funded by Ontario’s municipalities by 2018, reversing previous downloading of provincial responsibilities which occurred during Mike Harris’ tenure as Premier.[6] As a result of this uploading of associated costs to the province, the estimated benefit to Ottawa is approximately $122 Million. Furthermore, the up-loads are projected to reduce Ottawa’s social program costs by over $18.7 Million.[7]

In addition, Watson signed the Federal-Provincial Housing Agreement in 2008, the largest housing agreement of its kind to date.[8]

Second mayoral term[edit]

On January 12, 2010, Watson resigned from cabinet in order to run for mayor of Ottawa in the Ottawa municipal election, 2010.[9] Watson won the election with almost 50% of the vote.[10]

As Mayor, he followed through on an election commitment to limit tax increases to no more than 2.5%, bringing in the lowest rates in a number of years[11][12][13]

Upon taking office, Watson froze his own salary and cut his office budget by 10%.[14][15] 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.[16]

Watson froze community recreation fees for three years,[17] and reduced the size of the city’s workforce twice, the first times it had been done since amalgamation.[18][19]

Watson and City Council also invested $340 million in infrastructure renewal such as roads, sidewalks, pathways and sewers[20] and record amount in cycling initiatives.[21]

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.[22] In October 2012, City Council approved the final Lansdowne Park plan, an agreement with the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group that will see a new stadium, increased green space, and housing and retail added to the site.[23][24] 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.[25]

Electoral record[edit]

2010 Ottawa municipal election, Mayor
Candidate Votes  %
Jim Watson 131,323 48.70
Larry O'Brien (X) 64,862 24.06
Clive Doucet 40,148 14.89
Andrew S. Haydon 18,914 7.01
Mike Maguire 6,618 2.45
15 other candidates 7,775 2.88
Total votes 269,640 100.0  
Source: "2010 municipal election results". City of Ottawa. 
Ontario general election, 2007: Ottawa West—Nepean
Party Candidate Votes % ∆% Expenditures
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
Green Martin Hyde 2,903 6.17 +3.51 1,064.61
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
Turnout 47,383 57.51 −4.62
Eligible voters 82,397   +3.55
Ontario general election, 2003: Ottawa West—Nepean
Party Candidate Votes % ∆% Expenditures
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
Green Neil Adair 1,309 2.66 +1.71 2,684.09
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
Turnout 49,437 62.13 +3.24
Eligible voters 79,576   −2.72
1997 Ottawa municipal election, Mayor
Candidate Votes  %
Jim Watson 54,148 81.56
Robert G. Gauthier 8,037 12.11
Alexander Saikaley 4,209 6.34
Total votes 66,394 100.0  




  1. ^ a b Elizabeth Lumley. Canadian Who's Who 2008: Volume 43. 
  2. ^ Ottawa Citizen, July 13, 1992.
  3. ^ Ottawa Citizen, 2 December 1996.
  4. ^ "http://ottawa.ctv.ca/servlet/an/local/CTVNews/20100112/OTT_Watson_100112/20100112/?hub=OttawaHome"", January 12, 2010 2009
  5. ^ "Mayor Watson moving on". cbc.ca, July 6, 2000.
  6. ^ Ottawa Sun, August 18, 2009
  7. ^ Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund 2009 Allocation Notice http://www.fin.gov.on.ca/en/budget/ompf/2009/pdf_release/0614.pdf
  8. ^ "http://www.cmhc.ca/en/corp/nero/nere/2009/2009-04-24-1400.cfm"
  9. ^ "Watson running to be mayor of Ottawa". Ottawa Citizen, January 12, 2010.
  10. ^ "Watson wins Ottawa mayor's race". CBC News. October 25, 2010. 
  11. ^ "Draft budget proposes 2.09% tax hike". Ottawa Sun. October 24, 2012. 
  12. ^ "Ottawa mayor Jim Watson true to his promises". Ottawa Sun. November 2, 2012. 
  13. ^ "Mayor Watson". CBC News. October 25, 2012. 
  14. ^ "http://ottawa.ca/en/city-hall/budget-and-taxes/budget/budget-2011-highlights"
  15. ^ "Watson's access to protocol budget renders integrity policy opaque". Ottawa Citizen. December 28, 2012. 
  16. ^ "Watson reacts to Ford decision". Ottawa Sun. November 26, 2012. 
  17. ^ "http://ottawa.ca/en/budget-2013"
  18. ^ "Draft budget sets Ottawa tax increase at 2.39%". CBC News. October 26, 2011. 
  19. ^ "2013 draft budget has tidbits for everyone". Ottawa Sun. October 24, 2012. 
  20. ^ "http://ottawa.ca/en/city-hall/planning-and-development/transforming-ottawa/list-projects"
  21. ^ "http://ottawa.ca/en/city-hall/budget-and-taxes/budget/budget-2012"
  22. ^ "Most people are on board, so far". Ottawa Citizen. December 30, 2012. 
  23. ^ "Final Lansdowne deal passed by council". CBC News. October 10, 2012. 
  24. ^ "Council gives final go ahead to Lansdowne project". Ottawa Citizen. October 11, 2012. 
  25. ^ "Confederation Line LRT project approved by council". CBC News. December 19, 2012. 

External links[edit]

Provincial Government of Dalton McGuinty
Cabinet Posts (3)
Predecessor Office Successor
John Gerretsen Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing
John Gerretsen
New position Minister of Health Promotion
Margarett Best
Tim Hudak Minister of Consumer and Business Services
Gerry Phillips