We often disagree with the Toronto Star’s Rosie DiManno, but her “Activist ombudsman trumped by police” in the paper’s June 24th edition fell on our side of the fence.
Ontario Ombudsman André Marin has lobbied for years to have oversight of the MUSH sector (municipalities, universities, school boards, and hospitals), and the provinces new Accountability and Transparency Act passed last December did just that……or so Mr. Marin thought. The Star’s Rob Ferguson reported a few days before Ms DiManno’s column appeared that the provincial government had quietly excluded police boards from the ombudsman’s jurisdiction.
A provision in the Act allows the government to claw back what’s already given, but in the case of police boards, Treasury Board president Deb Matthews claims there was no loss of oversight but rather police boards were just not added. Marin’s office was provided some time back with a list from the government, naming about a dozen agencies that would be excluded under the Act….like library administration…..but police boards were not on that list. It was the intervention of a number of police chiefs, including Toronto’s, that caused the province to enact the regulation exempting police boards from the Ombudsman Act.
This is a bad move. Our letter to Premier Wynne points that out.
July 1, 2015
Kathleen Wynne, Premier,
Toronto, ON M7A 1A1
Re: Accountability and Transparency Act
Dear Premier Wynne:
Sorry, Premier, it’s not good enough!
That police services boards were excluded (or, “it’s that it wasn’t added”, as Deb Matthews said) from Ontario Ombudsman André Marin’s oversight just doesn’t cut it.
The Toronto Police Services Board, the Ontario Civilian Police Commission, the Special Investigations Unit, and the Office of the Independent Police Review Director, along with municipal and provincial politicians, seem to tuck neatly into our police chiefs’ back pockets.
Tell me Premier Wynne, if all these bodies provided what was needed, why then does an organization such as John Sewell’s Toronto Police Accountability Coalition exist? Why are we getting newspaper reports every week of judges criticizing police practices? Why? The TPSB, et al, are not working on behalf of the people, from whom all authority flows.
It’s time to stop fearing our men and women in uniform, and begin giving our police services the direction they deserve.
Charles H. Klassen