André Marin

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Ontario's sixth Ombudsman, André Marin

André Marin LLB (born January 12, 1965) is a former Crown Attorney, University of Ottawa law professor, Director of Ontario’s Special Investigations Unit and Canadian Armed Forces Ombudsman. On April 1, 2005 he was appointed as Ombudsman of Ontario by the Ontario Legislative Assembly and was reappointed on June 1, 2010 to a second five-year term ending on May 31, 2015.[1][2] On May 28, 2015 the Ontario Legislature voted to extend Marin's term until September 14, 2015 while a panel reviews 60 applications from candidates for a new five-year posting.

Career[edit]

After graduating from the University of Ottawa's National Program with civil and common law degrees, André Marin worked as an assistant Crown attorney and as a part-time professor of law in Ottawa, Canada.[1][2]

From September 1996 until June 1998, he served as the Director of Ontario’s Special Investigations Unit (SIU).[1][2] During his tenure at the SIU, the office initiated over 300 investigations, laid 5 charges resulting from those investigations and obtained no convictions. Marin was sued twice by police officers for malicious prosecution.[3]

In June 1998, André Marin became Canada’s first military Ombudsman, responsible for investigating complaints from members of the Canadian Armed Forces.[1][2] He created a “Special Ombudsman Response Team” (SORT) which investigated broad systemic issues, such as post-traumatic stress disorder among soldiers and compensation for the families of soldiers who are killed or wounded.

A 2006 workplace assessment conducted by the Canadian Department of National Defence (DND) and commissioned by Marin's successor, Yves Côté, in the wake of Marin’s seven-year tenure found that he left a dysfunctional workplace, rife with complaints and 150 staff departures.[4] The report found the human resources department under Marin "may actually be contributing to inefficiency in the organization” and that "adversarial investigations were anticipated and encouraged" during Marin's tenure.[4] On Marin’s departure, the report stated that staff expressed “overwhelming relief . . . to see the new leadership take its place.”[4] In 2010, upon learning of the DND’s negative report on Marin’s tenure as the Canadian Military Ombudsman, Marin’s predecessor as Ontario Ombudsman, Clare Lewis, commented that he would not have supported Marin’s appointment.[4]

Ontario Ombudsman[edit]

As Ontario Ombudsman (2005-Present) Marin’s personal expense practices have been the source of controversy. In 2010, the Globe and Mail publicized some of Marin’s claimed expenses, including his personal grooming products, a $38 toothbrush and a $2,000 for a flat screen TV for his Ottawa home.[5] The Star revealled that he had awarded more than $140,000 in untendered contracts to his mentor law professor and now Ontario Court of Justice, David Paciocco to help him write his reports. [6] In April 2015, Marin’s expenses came under scrutiny again for billing Ontario taxpayers an average of $14,800 in three months for housing expenses so he could maintain residences in both Toronto and Ottawa, sometimes spending more than $2,000 a month in rent while in Toronto, with an estimated total $592,000 since being appointed in 2005.[7] Many Ontario Ombudsman staff had similar complaints of Marin as the DND Ombudsman staff. Many human rights and labour complaints have been filed against Marin and his management team and a support group of 35 current and former employees called Coalition Against Discrimination at Ombudsman Ontario (CADOO)was formed during Marin's first term.[8]

On May 28, 2015 the Ontario Legislature voted to extend Marin's term for three and half months until September 14, 2015 to allow him to wrap-up investigations. Over 60 people applied to become Ontario's next ombudsman, including Marin and outgoing Toronto ombudsman Fiona Crean.[9] However, the day before his extension was announced, Marin appeared to be nervous he would not be granted an extension as he had expected.[10] He took to Twitter to lobby for his job, which was widely reported by all major news outlets.[10] He was highly criticized for using the official Ombudsman Ontario Twitter account to call on people support his candidacy for the job and for the content of his tweets.[9][10][11][12][13][14] His actions were widely seen to have jeopardized his chances of gaining an unprecedented third term with many followers sending Marin negative tweets accusing him "narcissism" and improper use of his office.[12][14] Opposition House Leader Jim Wilson of the Progressive Conservative Party, commented that Marin's action “probably wasn’t helpful” and "I just don’t think it was a wise move."[9][14] The National Post wrote "You know something is not right when the watchdog needs a babysitter" and described his actions as "teenagerish."[11] While the Globe & Mail called Marin "daft" and accused him of going "rogue" and of shredding "public respect for himself and his office." [13] Marin fully participated in the social media frenzy that followed, using the official Ontario Ombudsman twitter account to re-tweet support and attacks on the Liberal government and Premier Wynne, attacking and blocking opponents.[14] Marin shocked followers and the media when he made a sarcastic comment via Twitter aimed at Globe & Mail columnist Adam Radwanski's late father after Radwanski commented that his Twitter feed was being clogged tweets aimed at Marin.[10] He similarly raised eyebrows when he endorsed tweets calling Wynne's government a “banana republic” and asked “Who's more corrupt and needs oversight #FIFA or @Kathleen_Wynne?”[13][14] Andrea Horwath, leader of the Ontario New Democrats was the only MPP to support Marin's Twitter use.[10][14] On July 29, 2015, Marin gave a press conference on the release of his 2014-2015 annual report. He was asked no less than 7 questions about his use of Twitter and his behaviour in general, including: whether he regretted his aggressive behaviour, if he had learned from his mistakes and "were you tweeting drunk by chance?" Marin responded that his tweets against the Premier "happened erroneously" and he compared his mistakes to those of the Pope [15]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Canadian Who’s Who 2011. Orillia, Ontario: Third Sector Publishing. 2011. p. 792. ISBN 978-0-921173-27-4. 
  2. ^ a b c d Hyson, Stewart, ed. (2009). Provincial and Territorial Ombudsman Offices in Canada. University of Toronto Press. p. 200. ISBN 978-1-4426-4067-2. 
  3. ^ "Ontario ombudsman wrong person to lead SIU probe, critics say". National Post. 
  4. ^ a b c d Bruser, David; Welsh, Moira (June 2, 2010). "André Marin left dysfunction and discontent as military ombud". Toronto Star. Archived from the original on 2015-03-06. Retrieved February 28, 2015. 
  5. ^ Howlett, Karen; Radawanski, Adam (August 23, 2012). "Tables are turned as Ontario Ombudsman's expenses come under scrutiny". Globe and Mail. Retrieved 4 February 2015. 
  6. ^ Bruser, David (July 11, 2010). "André Marin gave contracts to friend starting in 2001". Toronto Star. Retrieved 18 February 2015. 
  7. ^ Csanady, Ashley (22 April 2015). "Why are taxpayers forking over hundreds of thousands of dollars for the Ontario ombudsman’s pricey commute?". National Post. Retrieved 22 April 2015. 
  8. ^ Welsh, Moira; David, Bruser (May 28, 2010). "Staff say Ombudsman André Marin’s office plagued by ‘culture of fear’". Toronto Star. Retrieved 1 May 2015. 
  9. ^ a b c Ferguson, Rob (May 28, 2015). "Ontario ombudsman André Marin’s job extended". Toronto Star. Retrieved 1 June 2015. 
  10. ^ a b c d e Csanady, Ashley (May 28, 2015). "Ontario Ombudsman tweets his case to keep his job as the competition piles up". National Post. Retrieved 1 June 2015. 
  11. ^ a b "National Post View: Something is not quite right when Ontario’s watchdog needs a babysitter". National Post. June 1, 2015. Retrieved 1 June 2015. 
  12. ^ a b Smith Cross, Jessica (May 28, 2015). "Ontario Ombudsman asks followers to ‘make some noise’ to help him keep his job". Metro. Retrieved 1 June 2015. 
  13. ^ a b c "Ontario ombudsman goes rogue. Government smiles". Globe & Mail. May 31, 2015. Retrieved 1 June 2015. 
  14. ^ a b c d e f Morrow, Adrian (May 28, 2015). "Ontario’s Ombudsman starts Twitter flame war as end of term approaches". Globe & Mail. Retrieved 2 June 2015. 
  15. ^ "Annual Report 2014-2015: Press Conference". You Tube. Ontario Ombudsman. Retrieved 30 July 2015. 
Legal offices
Preceded by
James M. Stewart
Director of the Special Investigations Unit
1996–1998
Succeeded by
Peter A. Tinsley

External links[edit]