Blocking stadium question 'a new low,' councillor says
Coun. Diane Deans denied chance to ask committee question about baseball lease
Coun. Diane Deans was blocked by the mayor and other members of Ottawa's finance and economic development committee Wednesday from asking a question about the city's money-losing baseball stadium, a move she called "a new low" at city hall.
Deans doesn't sit on the committee, and under municipal rules, committee members must agree to let a non-member pose a question during a meeting.
That's normally treated as a mere formality.
For them to deny a member of council the right to ask a question in the performance of their duty is really wrong.- Coun. Diane Deans
But on Wednesday morning, when Deans wanted to ask a question about the stadium lease, Mayor Jim Watson and the rest of the committee said no.
"This is a new low, in my opinion, from this committee," Deans told reporters after.
"It's a courtesy to members of council who don't sit on a committee to be able to ask any question they want … actually more than a courtesy, it's a right of members of council. And for them to deny a member of council the right to ask a question in the performance of their duty is really wrong."
Asked why he refused to allow Deans to ask her question, Watson told reporters it simply wasn't the will of the committee.
When it was pointed out that blocking a question at committee bucked city hall tradition, Watson replied: "There's a first time for everything."
Deans questions new lease
The city has terminated the stadium lease with the Ottawa Champions, which owes the city more than $400,000 in back rent, according to a city report.
City staff renegotiated the lease that will see the baseball team lease the stadium instead on a per-use basis — a plan that would allow the Champions to keep playing ball at the city-owned stadium.
However, Deans doesn't think city staff had the authority to renegotiate the lease, and believes the file should have come back to council for final approval.
Deans told reporters she plans to bring her concerns to council Wednesday afternoon.