by Robert Kirwan
I have always maintained that it is absolutely necessary for City
Council and now the School Boards to have some kind of independent third
party that was authorized to investigate complaints made by the public.
I am definitely in favour of using the Office of the Ontario Ombudsman
as our independent investigator when complaints are made by the members
of the public. That is not the question, so don't take the following
comments to mean that I do not want an Ombudsman in place for the City
of Greater Sudbury.
However, what the Ontario Ombudsman, Andre Marin has done, and we must
remember that he is a lawyer licensed in the Province of Ontario, and
hence subject to the Law Society of Upper Canada Code of Conduct, is
really giving me cause for concern about his own personal and
professional integrity and ethics.
Andre Marin is not particularly enthralled with the current council.
Everyone knows that he has been in a bitter fight with Council since
they terminated his contract in 2013. But the comments he made on
Twitter about a recent decision made by City Council about the Auditor
General's office would appear to have stepped over the line with respect
to his legislated authority. He has not been asked to investigate the
decision so his comments were completely personal and off the record.
However, as a Provincial Ombudsman he must be held to a higher standard
This is not the first time that Ontario Ombudsman Andre Marin has used
Twitter to attack our City Council. And until now, nobody has taken him
to task on this. They have simply allowed him to ridicule and complain
in a public debate in the media.
Here are his latest comments on Twitter.
“Hearing that the (Sudbury) office is the latest municipal AG to go up
in smoke,” Marin tweeted. “Senior 'independent auditor' now rolled into
city finance and AG appointment revoked (at least temporarily).
“Greater Sudbury joins the ranks of the other 6 or so municipalities to
have axed their AG.”
The truth is that the AG was not "axed". The AG, Brian Bigger, was given
a leave of absence to run for the position of Mayor. His appointment was
not revoked. Mr. Bigger asked for a leave of absence. So what Mr. Marin
has stated in his public tweet is deliberately and intentionally false
and misleading and has caused much embarrassment and damage to the
public image of our City.
LOOK AT REGULATION 865
Regulation 865 of the Ombudsman Act, Section #3 states: A member of the
Ombudsman’s staff carrying out Ombudsman functions under the Act, shall
not express to anyone, other than to the Ombudsman or to his or her
authorized delegate, his or her opinion, recommendation or other similar
comments respecting the decision, recommendation, act or omission
purported to have been committed by or on behalf of the governmental
organization in question or respecting anything else arising out of the
investigation of the complaint by the Ombudsman and the Ombudsman’s
staff. R.R.O. 1990, Reg. 865, s. 3.
Mr. Marin has in the past overstepped his authority and his role with
the City Council after he makes his report and recommendations. The
protocol is for him to make his recommendation to the City Council, make
his recommendations public, and then leave it with the City Council to
decide what to do. He is not supposed to be critical of Council when
they decide to disregard or alter his recommendations.
The Ontario Ombudsman web site explains Mr. Marin's powers:
"The Ombudsman recommends solutions. Although he has strong
investigative powers, he has no power to enforce his recommendations."
I point out. The Ombudsman recommends solutions. He has strong
investigative powers, but he has no power to enforce his
I am not taking sides on this issue with respect to the decision made by
City Council to suspend the activities of the Auditor General's office
until after the election. But I do take offense as a citizen of the City
of Greater Sudbury to the inappropriate interference in our City's
political campaign by Mr. Marin, who after the election will become our
This is the kind of bullying tactic that I have witnessed being used by
lawyers in Family Court recently and I can tell you that it disturbs me
when I see a person who holds a provincial office like the Ombudsman
using social media to denounce decisions made by our City Council -
right or wrong. This is our City Council and we will deal with what they
are doing in our own way. Mr. Marin can mind his own business and read
his Code of Conduct before he finds himself disbarred. He is misusing
his position knowing that if the City Council answers him or challenges
his comments, he could make things look bad for them when he does his
next investigation. No matter how bad a job people think our current
City Council has done, we should not be allowing Andre Marin to come
into our City and think that he can do whatever he wants without fear of
reprisal. What he has done is not right and it is not legal according to
the Ombudsman Act. Where do we go to complain about the Ombudsman?
Valerie Kirwan Oh yes, I can see very fair decisions
coming down for our fair City once Mr. Marin is hired back LOL! It
appears that we every day commoners are held to a different standard
when it comes to following laws/legislation, but heaven forbid lawyers
should be expected to follow the rules/legislation laid out by the Law
Society! I guess their motto should be "rules are made to be
broken....but only if you are in a position to bully people because no
one will hold you accountable"! Been there, done that over the past 18
months, and am sick of them all. Sorry, I'm sure there must be some
great lawyers out there who practice law to actually help people, but I
haven't run across any in Family Court.
Ryan Minor I'm not a fan of Marin. He's too bombastic in
my opinion. I also find his opinions on certain matters extreme such as
what constitutes a "meeting" for the open door meeting rules.
Devin Arthur I love Marin. We need someone in government
who isn't afraid to speak his or her mind without repercussions.
You may not agree with everything he says but he is the bitter pill
these councils need or else they would be running amuck.
Amy Lavoie-Ducharme Our council is so corrupted and your
going to call out Marin. How about you put all your effort (as I'm sure
you did for this post) on making changes to our corrupted city council!
Robert T. Kirwan I will make the necessary changes when I
am on Council, but I will not allow anyone to break the law and think he
can get away with it. Andre Marin is guilty of going beyond his
authority and is acting outside the legislation that governs his office.
Read my post and look at the evidence.
If you want Councillors who are going to sit back and allow this kind of
thing to happen then you don't want me in there. I am not going to sit
back and let anyone come in and interfere with our city like this.
Andre Marin is an Ombudsman. He investigates complaints, then he reports
on those complaints, and then he leaves without comment or public
opinion. He does not debate City Council and ridicule them when they
don't agree with what he says. He does not make false statements on
Twitter thinking that he is invincible.
In this case he is not speaking his mind and that should be obvious to
anyone with an open mind. He is intentionally making false and
misleading statements to the rest of the province in an effort to
infuriate and instigate a public confrontation. There is no other way to
describe this behaviour as anything but being corrupt and unethical -
the same behaviour that you are accusing the current city council of
So how can it be right for Andre Marin and not right for city Council?
Do you want a fighter on City Council or do you want someone who is
going to run and hide with his tail between his legs when someone like
Marin oversteps his authority?
We will use the Office of the Ontario Ombudsman. I want that when I am
on Council. But I can tell you that if Andre Marin ever pulls something
like this when I am on City Council, I will take him to task with the
Law Society of Upper Canada even if I have to do it on my own. I've
dealt with bullies all my life and the only way to stop a bully is to
stand up to him. Andre Marin is trying to interfere with our election
process and that is not part of his job! This is our election. This is
our city. Our voters will deal with our city council. We don't need any
interference from an Ombudsman who is going to be able to come in and
investigate our actions after the election. He has no business getting
politically involved with our election simply because he is supposed to
remain independent and unbiased.
Amy Lavoie-Ducharme I appreciate your thorough reply.
Valerie Kirwan If it weren't so sad, it would be funny
how some people think it's okay to break the laws when they think
someone else is going to get nailed to the wall because they don't like
the job they're doing. Why is it okay for Marin to break the law? Is it
because there are so many people who aren't happy with our present City
Council, that they will go along with it in order to see them "put in
their place"? Why are their attitudes "sure, go ahead, screw our city
council, regardless of how it needs to be done"? What if you were on the
receiving end of his bullying tactics and disregard for the law? Would
you so willingly then say "go for it...it's okay to break those laws
that you take us to task for breaking"? If you don't like it, change it
in October. Don't condone anyone breaking laws! He's no better than the
rest of us, yet he feels because of his "title" he can say and do
whatever he wants to do, and no
one will take him to task.
Robert T. Kirwan Thank you, Amy. I hope you didn't take
offense to what I said. I get rather passionate when it comes to
defending the people of Valley East and the City of Greater Sudbury from
unjust and unfair attacks from the outside. I am just as unhappy with
how things have gone at Council during the past four years as anyone,
but that still doesn't give the Provincial Ombudsman to abuse his
position to trample all over us and interfere with our election process.
We can take care of our own family problems. Thank you again for your
input into this discussion.
Amy Lavoie-Ducharme I think the city is just fed up with
all the council's actions for the past few years. Nobody has stood up to
them except the Ombudsman (although he is bullying). I believe we just
want justice and now with these major tax hikes we just feel defeated.
Robert T. Kirwan I will never accept defeat. That is why
I decided that it was time for me to offer to represent Ward 5 on City
Council for the next term. I am confident that we can turn this ship
around and by the end of the next four years things will be a whole lot
different in this city.
Glenn Murray It appears to me that a lot of people get
themselves in trouble via twitter, Andre Marin being the latest. What is
it about this medium that causes supposedly intelligent people to come
out with the dumbest, and in this case, untrue statements? I am in total
favour of having an ombudsman but I think that this particular one
should be replaced. I'm looking forward to a council that is
co-operative with others as well as themselves. This does not mean a
rubber stamp council that always agrees with the standing committees
recommendations, but one that stands behind what they agree to in
council. For example, anyone who has taken the recent 'Green' survey
will note the reference to a Watershed Study that council had agreed
needs to be done before further development is allowed, this has not
happened. Uncontrolled development has created numerous situations that
left uncorrected will have dire affects down the road. Those of us
living in this city take a very cavalier attitude towards our water
shed. Ever think about where all that contaminated water goes after you
wash your vehicle? You should. We continue to allow the planners and
developers to set the agenda while council makes no significant attempt
to take the responsibility we've elected them to take. Get rid of the
attack dog mentality and remember how you got to council, who put you
there, and why.