SOCIETY: Randall Denley takes on the opposition — and his own boss

By Paul Gessell









Illustration by Alan King

Ottawa Citizen columnist Randall Denley has, for almost two decades, relentlessly hounded Bob Chiarelli during the latter’s various jobs (MPP, regional chair of Ottawa-Carleton, mayor, lobbyist), with more than 300 columns mentioning the Liberal politician since 1994. Most were critical, but in one, on July 16, 2001, Denley actually praised Chiarelli for being a “surprisingly artful politician.”

Chiarelli has, at least four times, responded to Denley’s attacks in letters to the editor or op-ed columns in the Citizen. On March 2, 2005, Chiarelli discreetly noted that a Denley column on the light rail plan was “one of the dumbest articles Randall Denley has ever written.’’



This fall’s provincial election sees the boxer and the punching bag face off again in the campaign for Ottawa West-Nepean. It will be a fight to the finish. If neophyte Conservative candidate Denley loses, he is to return to the Citizen and will undoubtedly find a new politician to pillory. If Denley wins, he surely would not use his Queen’s Park post to ridicule an unemployed senior citizen: Liberal Chiarelli turns 70 just before the election.

But Denley didn’t save his barbs only for Chiarelli. Before deciding to run, he also wrote a few dozen columns about his current boss, Conservative leader Tim Hudak. Though a few were complimentary, most were — well let’s just say we hope the new boss doesn’t take his candidate’s words too personally.

Here, a roundup of memorable Denley quotes on Bob Chiarelli:

Contemplating democracy: “You can forgive Mayor Bob Chiarelli for thinking that the voters are stupid.After all, they have elected him three times.” — Sept. 8, 2005

On a ho-hum mayoralty speech: “Over the past eight years, Mayor Bob Chiarelli has certainly conditioned us not toexpect lively oratory, but this week’s state of the city address was a wooly rambler even by his standards.” — Jan. 14, 2006

On Chiarelli’s comment that mayoralty rival Alex Munter is gay: “If the mayor thinks his heterosexuality is one of his strong selling points, he’s in even worse trouble than the polls indicate.” — July 8, 2006

Assessing Chiarelli’s mayoralty campaign: “Pinocchio on speed is the image that comes to mind.” — Oct. 28, 2006

Pondering Chiarelli’s return to Queen’s Park: “As a politician, Chiarelli’s future is clearly behind him.” — Jan. 19, 2010

On Chiarelli’s elevation to cabinet: “Bob Chiarelli’s appointment to provincial cabinet this week will be good for Bob Chiarelli, but it’s less clear why it will be good for the rest of us.”— Aug. 21, 2010

And here, a few barbs Denley directed at Tim Hudak before (natch!) he decided to run for office under the Tory banner. Denley is now being described as one of Hudak’s “star candidates.” Evidently, all is forgiven:


Urging John Tory to remain as Ontario Conservative leader: “Who else have the PCs got? Tim Hudak? Frank Klees? Give me a break.”— Feb. 26, 2008






Assessing Hudak’s debut: “New Ontario Progressive Conservative leader Tim Hudak managed to grab some media attention in his first couple of days on the job, which is pretty important considering that most people have probably never heard of him. Too bad what he had to say was the predictable, kneejerk stuff one has come to expect from opposition leaders.”— June 30, 2009

On the HST: “Premier Dalton McGuinty’s plan to stick consumers with an ill-timed sales tax increase is deeply flawed, but Opposition leader Tim Hudak’s tactics in opposing the plan have been juvenile and ineffective. Hudak plays politics like the Ottawa Senators’ Chris Neil plays hockey. There’s lots of banging and crashing, but not much to show on the scoreboard.”— Dec. 7, 2009