Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Governments like lapdogs, not watchdogs

Andre Marin is outspoken, irascible, controversial — and a pain in the backside. And you, as a taxpayer, should thank him for that.

In his term as ombudsman, he’s been the scourge of politicians and torn heartless bureaucrats limb from limb on your behalf.

In his words, he’s been the “skunk at a garden party.”

In the 10 years since he took on the job, Marin’s gone to bat for property taxpayers who were unfairly gouged, tackled fraud in the lottery system and was the only lifeline for Hydro One customers who were overbilled by thousands.

Had it not been for him, the giant utility would have simply brushed aside complaints by beleaguered homeowners.

Liberal house leader Yasir Naqvi used the government’s majority to sidestep the committee process Tuesday and announced the cabinet appointment of deputy ombudsman Barbara Finlay as interim ombudsman — an extraordinary move given that they could just have left Marin in place until the legislative committee looking for a replacement appoints someone.

“As Mr. Marin’s term in office and subsequent extension are expired, Mr. Marin was no longer able to act as ombudsman and the office became vacant,” Naqvi said in a letter to house leaders.

In the legislature, New Democratic house leader Gilles Bisson said this sets a “dangerous” precedent.

“Cabinet can only seek an order in council in the event that the house is not in session, not because the government couldn’t get their way,” Bisson said.  (more...)

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