Ontario’s hard-hitting ombudsman Andre Marin stays until September
Outspoken ombudsman Andre Marin took to twitter to push for clarity about his job status, has his term extended while MPPs decide whether to hire someone else
May 28, 2015
By Rob Ferguson
Ontario’s hard-hitting ombudsman will stay in the job until September while MPPs decide whether to keep him or pick one of 60 applicants for the $226,390-a-year watchdog post.
Politicians left Andre Marin on pins and needles for weeks until unanimously agreeing to the extension just hours before his contract was to expire Friday.
With the clock ticking down and rival applicants including Toronto ombudsman Fiona Crean putting her hat in the ring, Marin went on Twitter earlier this week to appeal for support.
“In less than 48 hours, u have no Ombudsman. Time to make your voice heard. Unfortunately it’s come to this. MAKE SOME NOISE PLEASE!” he said in one tweet.
“Many thanks to parliamentarians for your continued expression of confidence in my work,” he tweeted Thursday afternoon after the vote.
New Democrats had been pushing for a six-month extension for Marin, but the government insisted on Sept. 14, believing a hiring committee of one MPP from each party and Speaker Dave Levac will have a decision by then.
Government House Leader Yasir Naqvi repeatedly evaded questions about Marin taking to twitter, and his retweets of some critical comments from followers about the slow process.
“There’s an all-party panel that has received applications from many candidates, including the incumbent I believe, and I will let that panel do its work.”
MPPs also voted to name deputy environmental committee Ellen Schwartzel as interim commissioner for the summer, while another committee replaces recently retired commissioner Gord Miller, who now plans to seek the federal Green Party nomination in Guelph.
New Democrat Leader Andrea Horwath said she had no objections to Marin’s twitter activity.
“The ombudsman has had the experience of this government trying to rout him out of his job last time around so he’s trying to be pro-active,” she told reporters in a reference to Liberal smears of Marin’s office budget when he was seeking a second term five years ago.
“He knows where everything is buried in this province .... this ombudsman has been particularly effective,” she added.
His most recent report, issued Monday, slammed Hydro One for excessive billings of customers.
Progressive Conservative House Leader Jim Wilson said Marin’s twitter action “probably wasn’t helpful” to his efforts to secure a third five-year term.
“It’s a free country and freedom of speech and he can use social media as he sees fit. I just don’t think it was a wise move,” Wilson said.
“We’ve set up a fair process. He can reapply for the job. Members have varying opinions. We’ll see how he does in the hiring process.”