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Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Ombudsman Criticizes Politicians

Grey Bruce | by Bayshore News Staff  

Bruce County Council, Owen Sound Council criticized for closed door meetings.

Ombudsman Andre Marin is critical of Bruce County Council and Owen Sound Council for closed door meetings. Marin called for consequences for councillors who defy the law by meeting in secret. 

Ontario ombudsman Andre Marin has some harsh words for municipal politicians who meet behind closed doors, and he highlighted Owen Sound and Bruce County councillors.

In his report issued Tuesday, Marin noted politicians should face consequences when they ignore the law and meet in private, about public business.

The Ontario Ombudsman received a complaint in May of 2014 about a closed session held by Owen Sound City Council more than three years earlier to discuss withdrawing a funding pledge to a local hospital for the purchase of an MRI machine.

Marin concluded that the meeting was illegal because Council wrongly applied the personal matters exception to shield disclosure of the name of an individual who was acting in a professional capacity.

The Ombudsman also found that Council improperly discussed the MRI funding and voted illegally behind closed doors.

Marin also slammed Bruce County Council for meeting behind closed doors for eight years to discuss the disposal of nuclear waste with a government agency.

Marin says he can't think of a case where there would be a greater urgency to meet publicly.

Ontario's Ombudsman slammed the investigation by Nigel Bellchamber, into those closed door meetings by Bruce County saying their handpicked investigator issued a wishy-washy report.

Marin says some municipal councils illegally twist the rules that require almost all their meetings be open to the public, because they know there is no punishment for closing the doors.

From September 1st, 2013 to August 31st, 2014, his office received 149 complaints and inquiries about municipal meetings.

He calls the current system laughable and he is setting up an Ombudsman accreditation for review officers who can produce something of quality not something riddled with mistakes.

Ontario's Ombudsman called for consequences for councillors who defy the law by meeting in secret.


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