The mayors of Ottawa and Gatineau have the National Capital Commission in their crosshairs and are calling on Prime Minister Stephen Harper to change the makeup of its board of directors.
During a joint news conference on Wednesday afternoon, Mayors Jim Watson and Maxime Pedneaud-Jobin demanded to have a seat on the board and aired their frustrations that local projects were hitting roadblocks because of the Crown Corporation.
Of the 15 members, eight are supposed to be from cities outside Ontario and Quebec (since there are a few positions reserved for people specifically from those regions).
"No disrespect for people who live in Gimli, Manitoba or New Brunswick who currently sit on the board, but the fact is they can make a decision, get back on a plane and not live with the consequences," Watson argued, adding that eventually, he wants the majority of members to be from the National Capital Region.
In a letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, the two mayors write that when it comes to certain projects, the NCC acts as "relentless obstruction" and "an intrusion." In his comments, Watson said there was a "democratic deficit" since members are appointed by the federal government.
"Can you imagine an unelected, unaccountable body saying no to Toronto City Council, 'You can't have that subway extension where it makes the most sense?'"
Watson is referring to the ongoing spat between the NCC and the City of Ottawa over the planned western LRT route. The NCC wants a 500 metre section that runs parallel to the Sir John A. Macdonald Parkway buried, but the city says it's too expensive.
Pedneaud-Jobin shrugged off a reporter's question about whether publicly calling out the NCC might result in more roadblocks for the two municipalities.
"The NCC has very few friends, so the possibility for it to backfire I think, for me is very little...We need a solution to the situation we're in, we're proposing one and I think it has to be welcomed, it has to at least start the discussion," he said.
But the federal government appears cool to the demands from Watson and Pedneaud-Jobin. Rick Roth, a spokesperson for Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird, wrote in an email to CFRA News that "the idea of putting city officials on the board is an idea this and the previous government have not endorsed."