Official Ottawa -- the Hill, the bureaucracy, and especially the military, was so glad to see the last of His Excellency John Ralston Saul, the blowhard public intellectual and, in Paul Gessell's brilliant phrasing, "pop philosopher". Saul, to be blunt, was an asshole whose sense of entitlement was only surpassed by that of his wife. Saul has never produced a book that was readable or coherent. He hates yankees, which makes him popular in France. He throws the names of real philosophers around, the way Trudeau did, so stupid people would think he's smart. He's not. He's just really pretentious.
He wasn't just a consumer of the fabulous perks that come with Rideau Hall. He interfered in anything he could, pestering official Ottawa with his unwanted advice. He was hell to work with in Ottawa and torture to travel with, always demanding deference when none was due. His greatest moment came when, while Canadian veterans were celebrating their role in the liberation of the Netherlands, he demanded to be allowed into a private interview between Adrienne and the Queen of Holland and the Dutch told him to get stuffed.
There was no majestic arse that he would not creep. His wife was a token appointment, someone who spoke well but had really done nothing more than interview people on the CBC and do voice-overs of other people's documentaries.
It takes near-unmeasurable levels of gall to accuse Ottawa of a "colonial mentality" when you spent six years latched to the public teet as the spouse of Her Majesty's representative in Canada. The darling couple still collect Her Majesty's shilling, cashing those vice-regal pension cheques every month.
Yes, Ottawa public servants mistake timidity for professionalism. Ottawa is not a great capital. It could be, but people like Saul who pass through the place tend to leave nothing behind but a bad smell. Ottawa is a city where outsiders and transients make the decisions about the city's future. How, then, could it ever be great?