All posts tagged Ontario Ombudsman

Access to information abuses show that Governments are still hoarding their secrets

There have been a series of stories about how the federal and provincial governments continue to abuse access to information laws (also known as freedom of information). These laws are supposed to give Canadians access to government records – records made by people whose salary they pay.

Of course, this isn’t happening the way it should. Governments departments, agencies and universities covered continue to find new and creative ways to deny information to requestors. Sometimes illegally, as it turns out. In Ottawa, the Privy Council Office and other departments have taken to the practice of encouraging people to accept accelerated processes which allow them to exclude documents without proper authority. The Information Commissioner has slapped them on the wrist for this, and many are calling for the legislation to be tightened and penalties made more severe.

Also in Ottawa, the government has basically killed a process that was set up to review and release documents relevant to the Afghan detainee controversy. There were about 40,000 documents to be reviewed – only 4,000 were released. Using this time-tested method – Jean Chretien used the same basic approach with the Somalia Inquiry – they now proclaim themselves vindicated.

In Ontario, the Ombudsman, André Marin, lambasted the provincial government for its secrecy.… Read the rest

Our letter to the Ontario Ombudsman, about accountability in Ontario schools

Below you will find the text of our letter to André Marin, the Ontario Ombudsman, expressing our concerns about the way the Ontario College of Teachers has handled its mandate to police the profession, and how it treated Jim Black, a whistleblower who spoke out against the reinstatement of sexual offenders.

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27 May 2011

André Marin
Office of the Ombudsman of Ontario
Bell Trinity Square
483 Bay Street, 10th Floor, South Tower
Toronto, ON  M5G 2C9

Dear Mr. Marin,

I am the Secretary and a founding member of Canadians for Accountability. Canadians for Accountability is Canada’s first truly national whistleblower organization. It was formed by a group of grassroots whistleblowers and accountability activists and was incorporated as a non-profit in 2008. Our mission is to advance integrity and accountability and helping and advocating for whistleblowers throughout Canadian society. Allan Cutler, the whistleblower of the Sponsorship Scandal, is our President.

As a whistleblower and an Ontario Certified Teacher, I am writing to you in the hope that your speech at the 2011 Annual General Meeting of the Ontario College of Teachers will address the important issue of whistleblower protection.

As you are probably aware, in Canada remains a dangerous endeavour requiring a tremendous amount of courage and resolve.… Read the rest

Police continue to cover up G20 abuses

I find it interesting that the Toronto Sun, which is generally regarded as a right-wing tabloid, is pursuing the 2010 G20 summit police abuses more vigorously than any other newspaper. Perhaps it’s because the Ontario government is a Liberal one – but then, the excesses seem to implicate the federal government as well. In fact, each level of government seems to be pointing a finger at the other.

In any event, their coverage is persistent and much needed in this age of the 3-day news cycle. They rightly observe the absurdity behind police claims that certain officers caught on film can’t be identified.

Ultimately, though, responsibility for excesses should not be dumped onto the shoulders of individual officers alone. There were many in the chain of command – from Premier Dalton McGuinty to the Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair to right down at the sergeant level.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: this needs an inquiry. But with nobody looking to start one, the closest we may ever get is the Ombudsman’s report and a few court cases.

Update (May 26, 2011):

It now appears that the officers involved in this will be named as part of a civil suit.This is another example of how accountability should not happen: that is, via a private individual’s actions and at his own expense, as opposed to through official accountability mechanisms – such as the SIU.… Read the rest