Toronto city hall is getting a new babysitter
After more than three years of internal squabbling, scandals, embarrassments and late-night TV appearances, it’s understandable that Queen’s Park might want a bigger role in overseeing the activity of Ontario’s municipal governments. A new accountability bill being proposed by premier Kathleen Wynne would give the province exactly that, by empowering a watchdog.
Under the new bill, André Marin, Ontario’s ombudsman, would have his powers expanded to encompass municipal councils throughout Ontario, including Toronto’s. (He’s already responsible for investigating complaints about administrative unfairness at approximately 500 of the province’s subsidiaries.) He seems to relish the opportunity to add local politics to his plate. Here’s one of his tweets about the proposal:
Some Toronto councillors sqwaking about OO oversight. Yes, you'll be independently overseen and accountable.
— Ontario Ombudsman (@Ont_Ombudsman) March 6, 2014
And it’s true: councillors are raising objections to the plan. “I’ve got a number of questions I’m going to be asking the premier and other members of the government because I think there has to be a recognition that the city of Toronto has an ombudsman,” deputy mayor Norm Kelly told the Star. Toronto does have its own ombudsman, Fiona Crean. According to the Globe, Crean’s office would take precedence over Marin’s, but it’s not yet clear exactly how the division of labour would work. Most other Ontario municipalities don’t have ombudsmen, so Marin’s involvement will be new for them.
If the accountability bill passes the legislature, Marin will also be able to investigate universities and school boards. His expanded purview is sure to enable him to add many new classics to his already-impressive pile of creatively named reports.