Ontario's sometimes daft ombudsman, André Marin, put on a sideshow last week when he took to Twitter with an urgent message. His second five-year term was coming to an end on Friday, a replacement had not yet been named, and no one in government had told him whether or not to come to work on Monday.
"Yep," he tweeted hiply. "In less than 48 hours, u have no Ombudsman. Time to make ur voice heard. Unfortunately it's come to this. MAKE SOME NOISE PLEASE!" He then launched into a Twitter storm of tweets and retweets, alternating between lobbying for his job and personal attacks on the government and other critics.
A day later, the government confirmed his term is being extended until September, when an all-party panel will name a new ombudsman or give Mr. Marin an unprecedented third term. The storm passed, but not before Mr. Marin had damaged his campaign for reappointment, as well as his own office.
Using his public office as he did was wrong for an officer of parliament. He showed extremely poor judgment when he endorsed snarky comments that compared the Wynne government to a "banana republic" and asked "Who's more corrupt and needs oversight #FIFA or @Kathleen_Wynne?"
Earlier this year, after former Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair announced his intention to run federally for the Liberals, Mr. Marin tweeted "@JustinTrudeau should question Blair's handling of G20. What's with sticking ur head in the stand and ignoring reality?"
That's not the kind of sober oversight an ombudsman is supposed to provide. That he is willing to portray himself as "a shining light in a sea of corruption" – another Twitter comment he endorsed – raises valid questions about his impartiality. The job has gone to his head.
But as we said at the beginning, Mr. Marin's Twitter flameout was a sideshow. As bad as it was, it shouldn't distract from the main event, which is the government's plan to take Hydro One out of the purview of the ombudsman's office and that of other government watchdogs. Ms. Wynne is also trying to eviscerate the auditor-general's power to block partisan government advertising.
By going rogue, Mr. Marin shredded public respect for himself and his office. Yep. And that suits the government just fine.