Clive Doucet’s bid to become the next mayor of Ottawa and to dethrone incumbent Jim Watson came to an end on Monday night, but he says he is proud of the race that they ran and that their campaign shone a light on some serious issues at city hall.
“We were defeated tonight, but we didn’t lose. We didn’t lose,” said Doucet. “We actually gave Ottawa an agenda for change. […] We exposed the developer-controlled vision that Mr. Watson has. We’ve given voice to all those communities across this fine city who feel oppressed.”
Watson won his third consecutive term as mayor with 71 per cent of the vote. Doucet won just over 22 per cent of the vote.
The loss marked the end of a campaign that was, from the get-go, an unlikely long shot. But it was an unlikely long shot that, if nothing else, made a race for mayor where none existed before. “The campaign was kind of a miracle,” said Doucet. “I declared at the very last minute, because there would have been no election. There would have been a couronnement.”
Some had called Doucet’s campaign a Bernie Sanders-esque movement, and there’s some credence to those comparisons. Doucet galvanized a coalition of voters who often feel underrepresented at city hall: young people, minorities, and low-income folks among them. His campaign operated on a shoestring budget — Doucet’s staff ballparked it that Watson had raised seven times as much money as they had.
Going into election night, Doucet’s campaign manager James Brunet said that they were staying hopeful. More people seemed undecided than not, they said, right up until the final vote. Early polling had put Doucet’s support at around 13 per cent, but the mood on election night was that they would just have to see where the chips fell.
Still, the result was a bit of a bitter pill for Team Doucet. “I thought we’d do better,” said Brunet, after the dust settled.
Doucet said now that the race was over, that he was going to go to his house in Cape Breton and “watch the sea roll in.” He says that his campaign helped push the needle in Ottawa, and that he hoped that in four years that would pay off. “What’s going to have to change is what people of Ottawa want. Hopefully this will help them change their ideas on how they want to move forward,” said Doucet.
He also said that he thought parts of what he was advocating during the campaign would still become a reality under a third Watson mayoralty. “I think he’ll probably get regional rail going, because it makes so much sense. I think you’ll see a bits of our platform.”
“This formula works for him,” said Doucet, of Watson. “He had many times much more money than I did, and the old expression money talks and people walk. So I think we’re going to have to wait four years.”
“We did everything we could.”