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Robert Silver

Ontario ombudsman biases <br/>his G20 investigation before it starts Add to ...

During his messy reappointment process, I didn't write anything about Ontario ombudsman Andre Marin. The reason? I find him and his role boring. That's different from being unimportant; I just have no interest in him so the topic didn't catch my fancy the way it did some pundits.

As others have continued to go after him, I remained uninterested in Marin. Again, that doesn't speak to the validity of their concerns; he was just of no interest to me.

Then I noticed something he tweeted yesterday evening: "Obviously onto something. 24 G20 complaints when investigation announced Jul 9. Now 107 complaints."

There are two ways to view this tweet. The way that Marin claims he means it is a pretty harmless case of transparency - he responded to me on the Twitter machine he's "just updating on status of complaints." Right.

There of course is a second way to interpret his tweet. He's an officer of parliament. He's investigating pretty serious issues concerning the provincial government's actions in and around the G20. As an officer of parliament, his words have meaning. Just because there were 24 complaints on July 9th and 107 today doesn't mean "he's onto something" just as if he had 24 complaints on July 9th and not a single new one since then that his investigation is a "dud."

The quantity of complaints surely to God is in no way an indication of whether his investigation is "onto something" or not. Moreover, what other "investigator" provides regular updates on an ongoing investigation. Can anyone imagine Sheila Fraser tweeting "ooh, read some really scandalous spread sheets today.... you have no idea how screwed the government is next year!"

The tone and substance of his tweet is that of someone patting himself on the back. Look at me and how right I was to launch this investigation. How smart I was. Except of course that is not the job he's been trusted to do and certainly not before he's done his investigation.

If this were a formal judicial proceeding, Marin just provided a clear apprehension of bias from where I'm sitting. The fact that he's an officer of parliament instead of a judge doesn't change the taint that his investigation now holds.

Moreover, the issue is bigger here than Marin. I think getting some clarity around the G20 is important. That is a neutral comment - it may mean all governments and police are fully exonerated, it may mean that there are lessons learned, it may mean something more serious. Clarity though is important.

Marin with his reckless tweets - regardless of whether he tries to claim it was noble clarity - is helping to ensure that he has nothing credible to bring to the table. He's showboating at this point and should probably just be ignored.

 

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