Ottawa City Councillor Diane Deans is calling on Mayor Jim Watson to renew a motion for a judicial inquiry into the city's LRT procurement after he apologized to her for cutting her microphone during a debate on the subject.
"The mayor apologizes to me for cutting my mic, but really what he did was shut down the democratic process and not allow a much-needed debate to take place on the floor of council," Deans told CityNews' The Sam Laprade Show on Thursday, October 14. "For that, I think he owes the public an apology and if he's sincere about his apology, then he should rectify it. And the way to do that is to allow that debate and a vote to happen at the floor of council at the next meeting."
Deans had her mic cut by the mayor at Wednesday's meeting before council eventually voted on a 'replacement motion' calling for an investigation into the light rail project by the city's own auditor general.
But Deans argues, a judicial inquiry can question members of council and the mayor, and that's where an audit falls short under current circumstances.
"We've heard the mayor say several times that the LRT has had a couple of bad weeks, but it was actually performing really well -- No it wasn't," the Gloucester-Southgate representative exclaimed. "[It's opening] was delayed four times; it was a year-and-a-half late; it was required, to be put into service, to have 12 continuous free-from-problem running days, which it never achieved. I mean, who forced the opening of a system that wasn't ready? I don't know."
Deans says there are too many unanswered questions and that's why she feels it would still be worthwhile to debate and vote on a judicial inquiry at the next city council meeting.
"Was this whole procurement contract wrong? Did we give too much power away? ... Who made decisions about what kind of wheels would be on that train, what kind of train it would be, were they just made to buy the cheapest product on the market?"
After a video clip of Deans' mic being cut at council was viewed more than 17,000 times on Twitter, the councillor believes residents are paying attention and LRT is set to be a top-of-mind issue when heading to the polls in next fall's municipal election.
"We will be building LRT in the City of Ottawa for many years to come... and I think we really need to take the time to learn from these lessons lest we repeat them."
Listen to Deans' full conversation with Sam Laprade: