Generated from an article in Northern Life on August 13, 2014

 Editorial 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 of behaviour.

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.


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 recommendations.

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 ombudsman again.

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 following.

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.


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