An Empty Chair for Jim Watson at Mayoral All Candidates’ Environmental Debate

An Empty Chair for Jim Watson at Mayoral All Candidates’ Environmental Debate
Posted on September 20, 2018 | Ecology Ottawa | Written on September 20, 2018
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Author's Note:

Mayoral candidates and hundreds from the Ottawa community come together to discuss environmental issues, while incumbent candidate Jim Watson declines to participate



September 20, 2018 (Ottawa, ON) - Incumbent mayoral candidate Jim Watson has declined to attend an upcoming all-candidates’ debate on the environment. The debate, to be held at the Shaw Centre on Wednesday, September 26, will focus entirely on issues related to municipal environmental policy. It will be co-hosted by seven local environmental organizations: Ecology Ottawa, the Greenspace Alliance of Canada’s Capital, Healthy Transportation Coalition, the Ottawa Food Policy Council, Ottawa Riverkeeper, Walk Ottawa, and Waste Watch Ottawa.

“Jim Watson presents himself as a candidate with a strong environmental track record, but he won’t defend his ideas in a debate setting,” said Robb Barnes, Executive Director of Ecology Ottawa. “This is mayoral candidates’ premier forum to debate environmental issues, and our incumbent mayor is nowhere to be found. Democracy suffers when politicians shy away from vigorous public debate.”

The organizers of the debate are disappointed at Watson’s absence. Mr. Watson officially declined to attend the debate yesterday, after over 70 Ottawa residents wrote to him personally to invite him to the debate, and 300 people confirmed their attendance at the event.

Of the twelve candidates currently running in the mayoral race, eight have expressed their intention to attend the debate. 

“We are thrilled that so many mayoral candidates are participating in the upcoming debate on the environment," said Paul Johanis from Greenspace Alliance of Canada's Capital. "Municipal level politics and policy is absolutely integral to ensuring healthy ecosystems and healthy people. By choosing to engage on these issues, those candidates are showing us that they understand the importance of strong, progressive environmental policy.”

In recent years, the City of Ottawa has come under fire for failing to adequately fund action on climate change, in addition to controversies surrounding waste diversion, the green bin program, and the lack of safe and secure cycling infrastructure. These issues, among others, will be the focus of next Wednesday’s debate.

About the All-Candidates’ Mayoral Debate on the Environment:  Hosted by a coalition of seven prominent environmental organizations from across Ottawa, the All-Candidates’ Mayoral Debate on the Environment is to take place on Wednesday, September 26th at 6:30pm at the Shaw Centre (55 Colonel By). Tickets can still be reserved at




Contact: Robb Barnes

Ecology Ottawa

613.860.5353 (office)

613.276.5753 (mobile)



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Founded in 2006, Ecology Ottawa has grown to become the largest organization in the city focused on local environmental issues. The organization was created based on the belief that the City of Ottawa needs to become... More