The municipal election talk is picking up in Ottawa. So far, Alex Cullen is the only person to put his hat into the mayoral race. The speculation is that former mayor Jim Watson will announce his candidacy and former mayor Bob Chiarelli may even join the race.

The possibility of Watson and Chiarelli facing off against each other, again, reminded me of an event I was at 10 years ago. At the time, Watson was mayor and Chiarelli was regional chair (those were the days of multi-tier local government). The event was celebrating the launch of “Bronson People”, a citizen initiative organized by local artist Bhat Boy to reduce the speed of traffic along Bronson avenue, a city street that many consider to be an expressway despite the fact that it cuts through residential concentrations including Glebe/Dow’s Lake.

I learned something about politics that night when Mr. Chiarelli took the opportunity to launch a barb at Mr. Watson as part of his comments to the large gathering — comments that had nothing to do with the event and everything to do with a political difference-du-jour. Majic 100 radio host Kevin Nelson was the MC of the evening and introduced Watson by saying “And now for his rebuttal…”. Everyone laughed and Mr. Watson addressed the room. His comments were all about the good work of the community and his hope that their work would have a positive impact on traffic flow and pedestrian safety. Jim Watson didn’t respond to or even acknowledge the attack still hanging in the air.

I approached Mr. Watson afterwards and asked him how he could ignore the public hazing he had just received. He looked at me and said “My mother taught me that sometimes it’s best to turn the other cheek.”

[UPDATE: On reflection, I realize I should have titled this post Knowing how to respond. Damn!]