André Marin

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Ontario's sixth Ombudsman, André Marin

André Marin (born January 12, 1965) is a Canadian lawyer and Ombudsman. He was appointed as Ombudsman of Ontario by the Ontario Legislative Assembly on April 1, 2005 and was reappointed on June 1, 2010 to a second five-year term. Before 2005, he was the first Ombudsman for the Canadian Armed Forces[1] and Director of the Ontario Special Investigations Unit. In the 2009 book Provincial and Territorial Ombudsman Offices in Canada, academics Stewart Hyson and Gary Munro describe him as “the model for Ombudsmanship in Canada." [2]

Early career[edit]

After graduating with civil and common law degrees from the University of Ottawa's National Program,[3] Marin worked as an assistant Crown attorney and part-time professor of law in Ottawa, Canada until 1996. From September 1996 to June 1998, he was Director of Ontario’s Special Investigations Unit (SIU), Canada’s only independent civilian agency for investigating incidents in which police officers have caused serious injury or death.[4]

In June 1998, Marin became Canada’s first military Ombudsman, responsible for the investigation of complaints from members of the Canadian forces. He created the “Special Ombudsman Response Team” (SORT) for investigating broad systemic issues, such as post-traumatic stress disorder among soldiers, compensation for the families of soldiers who are killed or wounded, and chemical agent testing during World War II.[5]

Ontario Ombudsman[edit]

Marin is the sixth Ombudsman of Ontario since 1975 and the first to be reappointed. He reorganized the office to handle some 14,000 individual public complaints and inquiries as well as about half a dozen major systemic investigations each year. His "Special Ombudsman Response Team" (SORT) — a team of investigators who conduct large-scale field investigations into high-profile, complex issues — has raised the public profile of the Toronto-based Office of the Ombudsman and led to government reforms affecting millions of Ontarians.[6] SORT investigations have prompted major overhauls of, among other things, the province’s procedures for newborn screening, its property tax assessment system, funding for the disabled and special-needs children, out-of-country medical treatment, crime victim compensation, legal aid and the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation.[7]

Marin’s direct language, his investigation model and his promotion of technology and transparency have “reinvigorated the Ombudsman idea in Canada” and “set a standard for the rest of the country,” authors Hyson and Munro state in Provincial and Territorial Ombudsman Offices in Canada.[8] They note that since Marin’s appointment, “the Ontario Ombudsman has had a very high public profile that has generated considerable news coverage because the office has fulfilled its role expectations like never before. Marin has often been sharply critical of government; even so, the government has generally accepted his recommendations.”[9] Marin coined the term “rulitis” to describe a government bureaucracy’s slavish adherence to rules at the expense of common sense.[10]

Marin has also advocated for greater openness and transparency in government,[11] and made his office the first in Canada to introduce social media and a web app as tools for communicating with the public.[12]

In May 2007, Marin was elected to a two-year term as President of the Forum of Canadian Ombudsman, representing public and private ombudsmen across the country. He has also served as North American Regional Vice-President of the International Ombudsman Institute[13] since July 2006, and he is a member of the board of directors of the Association des Ombudsmans et Médiateurs de la francophonie (francophone ombudsman association).[14]

Marin also shares his office’s expertise with other oversight agencies across Canada and around the world. Since 2007, he has conducted an annual training course in Toronto called “Sharpening Your Teeth: Advanced Training for Administrative Watchdogs”, which has been attended by several hundred administrative investigators and ombudsmen from Canadian federal and provincial agencies, U.S. states and federal departments, as well as from across Europe, the Caribbean, Australia, South America and Asia.[15] The course has also been delivered at the International Ombudsman Institute headquarters in Vienna, Austria and by invitation in many other countries, always on a complete cost-recovery basis.[16]

On August 8, 2013, the André Marin launched a review of police tactics for defusing heated situations in the wake of public outcry over the death of Sammy Yatim, a decision that was condemned by the Toronto Police Association.[17]

Ontario Ombudsman mandate[edit]

Like all of his predecessors since 1975, Marin has advocated to have the Ombudsman’s mandate extended to key areas of the public sector that are outside his jurisdiction, although they are funded by provincial tax dollars: This is the so-called MUSH sector, comprising Municipalities, Universities, School Boards and Hospitals, as well as long-term care facilities, children’s aid societies and police. Ontario lags behind all other provinces in Canada in Ombudsman oversight of these areas; as mentioned in Hyson and Munro's text, "...the Ontario Ombudsman stands out as having the most limited range of activities among Canadian Ombudsmen… This has been a constant source of frustration for office holders over the years."[18] In his annual reports, Marin summarizes the hundreds of complaints that his office turns away every year from people who have had serious problems with these institutions.[19]

Although the Ombudsman has no general jurisdiction over municipalities, in January 2008, the office’s mandate was narrowly extended to include responsibility for enforcing the provincial law requiring municipal meetings to be open to the public. The Municipal Act designates the Ombudsman as the investigator for public complaints about closed meetings in all municipalities that have not appointed their own investigators – approximately 200 of Ontario’s 445 municipalities. To meet this responsibility, Marin created a team in the Ombudsman’s Office in called OMLET – the Open Meeting Law Enforcement Team.[20]

In October 2008, Marin published The Sunshine Law Handbook: Open Municipal Meetings in Ontario to assist municipal officials and the public in their awareness and interpretation of the requirements. The Handbook is distributed to every municipal councillor and clerk in the province and is also available to the public. Results of OMLET investigations are made public by the relevant municipalities and on the Ombudsman's website.[21]


In 2009, Marin was awarded the Ontario Bar Association’s Tom Marshall Award of Excellence, which, according to the Ontario Bar Association’s website, was “established to recognize, honour, and celebrate the outstanding achievement of lawyers practising in the province of Ontario in the public interest”.[22]

In 2011, he was awarded the Order of Merit by the Civil Law Section of the University of Ottawa's Faculty of Law. The University of Ottawa’s website states that the award is the Civil Law Section’s highest alumni distinction, recognizing alumni who have made remarkable contributions to the legal profession.[23] Also in 2011, he received the highest alumni honour of the Carleton University Alumni Association, the A.D. Dunton Alumni Award of Distinction.[24]

In 2012, Marin was awarded the Canadian Bar Association's John Tait Award of Excellence, a national award which recognized that his “unwavering commitment to public service, his advocacy skills and legal acumen distinguish him as an outstanding legal professional,” according to CBA President Trinda L. Ernst.[25] He was also named as an inductee for the 2012 class of the University of Ottawa Faculty of Law’s Common Law Honour Society.[26] As well, he was given the Ontario Bar Association's Award for Distinguished Service in early 2012. The Ontario Bar Association said in a statement, "In a vocation like law, there are countless members of the bar whose contributions to justice are exceptional and worthy of recognition. Each year, the OBA asks lawyers to nominate colleagues for the OBA Award for Distinguished Service whose deserve recognition for their career contributions and achievements to the legal profession, jurisprudence, development of the law or a significant law-related benefit to the residents of Ontario." [27] In October 2012, Marin also received an award for achievement in oversight by the U.S.-based National Association for Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement (NACOLE).[28]

In 2013, Marin was named one of Canadian Lawyer magazine's top 25 most influential Canadian lawyers. The magazine stated “Many Ontarians have come to see Marin as an honest and tenacious advocate who has been effective in pushing the boundaries to ensure they are treated fairly and their tax dollars are not wasted." [29] He was also named one of Toronto Life magazine's top 50 most influential Torontonians as "a tireless advocate for transparent, effective government and a champion of the so-called little guy".[30] He was named to the list again in 2014,[31] as a “highly reputable and responsive” official who “listens to the people” and takes action against “unfair policies” by Ontario government agencies.[32]


Ontario Ombudsman reports

Between a Rock and a Hard Place: Investigation into the parents of special-needs children being forced to relinquish custody in order to obtain necessary residential care (May 2005) [1]

From Hope to Despair: Investigation into the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care's refusal to fund the drug Cystagon for treatment of Batten's Disease (September 2005) [2]

The Right to be Impatient: Investigation into whether the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care has failed to properly administer newborn screening (September 2005) [3]

Getting it Right: Investigation into the transparency of the property assessment process at the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (March 2006) [4]

Losing the Waiting Game: Investigation into unreasonable delay at the Ministry of Community and Social Services' Ontario Disability Support Program's Disability Adjudication Unit (May 2006) [5]

Annual Report 2005-2006 (June 2006) [6]

It's All in the Name: Investigation into the Family Responsibility Office's ineffective enforcement using a writ of seizure and sale (August 2006) [7]

Adding Insult to Injury: Investigation into treatment of victims by the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board (February 2007) [8]

A Game of Trust: Investigation into the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation's protection of the public from theft and fraud (March 2007) [9]

Annual Report 2006-2007 (June 2007) [10]

Enlightening Closed Council Sessions: Investigation into Fort Erie Town Council closed meeting of January 7, 2008 (February 2008) [11]

A Test of Wills: Investigation into Legal Aid Ontario's role in the funding of the legal defence of Richard Wills (February 2008) [12]

Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me - Opening the Door on the Elton John Ticket Scandal: Investigation into City of Greater Sudbury Council closed meeting of February 20, 2008 (April 2008) [13]

Building Clarity: Investigation into how the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services represents its relationship with Tarion Warranty Corp. to the public (June 2008) [14]

Annual Report 2007-2008 (June 2008) [15]

The Sunshine Law Handbook: Open Municipal Meetings in Ontario (September 2008) [16]

Oversight Unseen: Investigation into the Special Investigations Unit's operational effectiveness and credibility (September 2008) [17]

Municipal Government By Stealth: Investigation into the Council of the Township of Emo's Closed Meeting of April 8, 2008 (January 2009) [18]

Investigation into the Council of the Township of Nipissing's Special Meeting of April 25, 2008 (February 2009) [19]

Investigation into the Council of the Township of Baldwin's Closed Meeting of July 14, 2008 (March 2009) [20]

The ABCs of Education and Training: Investigation into the City of Oshawa Development Services Committee Special Meeting of May 22, 2008 (March 2009) [21]

Pirating Our Property: Investigation Into the City Oshawa's Failure to Co-operate (April 2009) [22]

Annual Report 2008-2009 (June 2009) [23]

Too Cool For School: Investigation into the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities’ Oversight of Bestech Academy Inc. and Enforcement of the Private Career Colleges Act (July 2009) [24]

Too Cool For School Too: Investigation into Cambrian College’s administration of its Health Information Management Program and the oversight provided by the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities (August 2009) [25]

A Vast Injustice: Investigation into the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care’s decision-making concerning the funding of Avastin for colorectal cancer patients (September 2009) [26]

Annual Report 2009-2010 (June 2010) [27]

The LHIN Spin: Investigation into the Hamilton Niagara Haldimand Brant Local Health Integration Network's use of community engagement in its decision-making process" (August 2010) [28]

Caught in the Act: Investigation into The Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services’ conduct in relation to Ontario Regulation 233/10 under the Public Works Protection Act" (December 2010) [29]

Annual Report 2010-2011 (June 2011) [30]

Oversight Undermined: Investigation into the Ministry of the Attorney General's implementation of recommendations concerning reform of the Special Investigations Unit (December 2011) [31]

Investigation into whether the Town of Amherstburg Council held multiple closed meetings in contravention of the Municipal Act, January 2012 [32]

Investigation into whether the City of Hamilton’s NHL Proposal Sub-Committee held an improperly closed meeting, February 2012 [33]

Investigation into whether the City of London’s Committee of the Whole improperly discussed “Occupy London” in camera on November 7, 2011, March 2012 [34]

Annual Report 2011-2012 (June 2012) [35]

In the Line of Duty: Investigation into how the Ontario Provincial Police and the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services have addressed operational stress injuries affecting police officers (October 2012) [36]

2011-2012 Annual Report about Closed Municipal Meetings (October 2012) [37]

The Code - Investigation into the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services’ response to allegations of excessive use of force against inmates (June 2013) [38]

Annual Report 2012-2013 (July 2013) [39]

2012-2013 Annual Report about Closed Municipal Meetings (December 2013) [40]

Better Safe Than Sorry - Investigation into how the Ministry of Transportation administers the process for obtaining and assessing information about drivers who may have uncontrolled hypoglycemia (April 2014) [41]

Annual Report 2013-2014 (June 2014) [42]


  1. ^ Canadian Who’s Who 2011. Orillia: Third Sector Publishing. 2011. p. 792. ISBN 978-0-921173-27-4. 
  2. ^ Hyson, Stewart, ed. (2009). Provincial and Territorial Ombudsman Offices in Canada. University of Toronto Press. p. 200. ISBN 978-1-4426-4067-2. 
  3. ^ See the University of Ottawa's website, which lists Marin's degrees.
  4. ^ Website of the Ontario Special Investigations Unit.
  5. ^ See, for example, reports "The Way Forward" and "Systemic Treatment of CF Members with PTSD":
  6. ^ “Ontario Ombudsman on winning streak,” The Globe and Mail, March 27, 2007.
  7. ^ “We’re lucky to have André Marin on our side,” Toronto Sun, March 9, 2008.
  8. ^ Hyson, Stewart, ed. (2009). Provincial and Territorial Ombudsman Offices in Canada. University of Toronto Press. ISBN 978-1-4426-4067-2. 
  9. ^ Hyson, Stewart, ed. (2009). Provincial and Territorial Ombudsman Offices in Canada. University of Toronto Press. pp. 189, 199. ISBN 978-1-4426-4067-2. 
  10. ^ “Ontario’s Ombudsman uses moral suasion to push accountability and the public interest,” Professionally Speaking (Ontario College of Teachers), September 2011.
  11. ^ “Ontario must get with the times on transparency, watchdog says,” Globe and Mail, June 21, 2011.
  12. ^ “Ombud opens door to complaints via social media,” Law Times, August 22, 2011.
  13. ^ Website of the International Ombudsman Institute,
  14. ^ Website of L’Association des Ombudsmans et des Médiateurs de la Francophonie,
  15. ^ “Public Protector gets help from Ombudsman of Ontario, Canada (news release, South Africa Public Protector):
  16. ^ “International Ombudsman Institute ‘Sharpening Your Teeth,’ (news release, Gibraltar Public Services Ombudsman):
  17. ^ Gallant, Jacques (9 August 2013). "Sammy Yatim shooting: Ombudsman calls look at de-escalation techniques a ‘win-win’". Toronto Star. Retrieved 12 August 2013. 
  18. ^ Hyson, Stewart, ed. (2009). Provincial and Territorial Ombudsman Offices in Canada. University of Toronto Press. p. 192. ISBN 978-1-4426-4067-2. 
  19. ^ “Why Ontario’s Ombudsman needs to go to school,” Toronto Sun, May 3, 2011:
  20. ^ Ontario Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing:
  21. ^ Ombudsman Ontario website, Municipal Meetings section,
  22. ^ “Ontario Ombudsman André Marin receives award of excellence” -
  23. ^ Article on the University of Ottawa's website: "Une contribution exemplaire"
  24. ^ Website of the Carleton University Alumni Association,
  25. ^
  26. ^
  27. ^
  28. ^
  29. ^
  30. ^
  31. ^
  32. ^
Legal offices
Preceded by
James M. Stewart
Director of the Special Investigations Unit
Succeeded by
Peter A. Tinsley

External links[edit]