The Ontario Ombudsman, André Marin lobbied unabashedly for the expanded oversight and some considered his approach unseemly and threatening. The Globe and Mail reported:
An attempt to expand the powers of Ontario ombudsman André Marin has sparked a bizarre turf war between Mr. Marin and two other high-profile accountability officers. The row even led the outspoken ombudsman to troll the other watchdogs on Twitter – calling one “Chicken Little” – in a break from political decorum.When the legislation passed, the Toronto Star observed, "A swaggering Ontario ombudsman André Marin is eager to flex his new legislative muscles.”
* * *That doesn’t sit well with Toronto ombudsman Fiona Crean, who told a legislative committee this week her city should be exempted from Mr. Marin’s scrutiny because she already has it covered. Provincial Auditor-General Bonnie Lysyk told MPPs that Mr. Marin should focus more on investigating individual complaints, while leaving larger systemic issues to auditors.
Mr. Marin promptly fired back.
“Your apocalyptic, doomsday scenarios are big on fantasy & light on reality. #ChickenLittle,” he tweeted at Ms. Crean. Meanwhile, he decried Ms. Lysyk’s committee testimony as “astoundingly inept.”
* * *In an interview, Mr. Marin said he has no intention of stepping on Ms. Crean’s toes should he receive oversight of municipalities.
Instead, he said, he would leave day-to-day investigations to her while focusing on bigger structural problems.
“We don’t want to be chasing potholes and street lights,” he said. “We would be looking at systemic issues.”
Aside from the dust-up with the Toronto Ombuds Crean, there has been little discussion of the Ombuds at twelve public universities in Ontario coming under Marin's purview -- universities that have robust Ombuds offices:
- Algoma University
- Algonquin College
- Brock University
- Lakehead University
- McMaster University
- Queen's University
- Ryerson University
- University of Ottawa
- University of Toronto
- University of Waterloo
- University of Western Ontario
- York University
One possible outcome could be that more universities (and other organizations) adopt Ombuds programs to reduce the number of complaints that might be investigated by the Ontario Ombudsman.
(Bill 8, Public Sector and MPP Accountability and Transparency Act, 2014; Toronto Star; Globe and Mail.)