“Ontarians need the Ontario Ombudsman looking into municipalities. Full investigative powers. And it’s not just Mississauga. This is for all Ontario municipalities.” MISSISSAUGAWATCH deputation to MISSISSAUGA COUNCIL
November 26th, 2009
We’re up for air and back online.
Only purpose for this Blog is to document, for the record, a video that MISSISSAUGAWATCH showed at yesterday’s Mississauga Council meeting to oppose Mississauga Council hiring an Integrity Commissioner. MISSISSAUGAWATCH made it clear to Mississauga Council that “Ontarians need the Ontario Ombudsman looking into municipalities. Full investigative powers.”
Our good friend (and sometimes colleague), citizen-activist Donald Barber also called for Mississauga Council to determine how the Ontario Ombudsman might play the (invited) role of Integrity Commissioner for the City until such time as the Province Gets Real and expands the Ombudsman’s Office jurisdiction into the MUSH sector ([M] of MUSH is “Municipalities).
So here is the video we showed —video weaving clips of the December 6, 2006 Bill 130 Standing Committee Queen’s Park deliberations with “The Mississauga Muse” inside Council Chambers, four years later —on November 11, 2009.
Followed by the transcript.
Video: “INVITE THE ONTARIO OMBUDSMAN IN AS YOUR INTEGRITY COMMISSIONER” MISSISSAUGA COUNCIL URGED” (5:51 min)
(Click here to go directly to the clip on YouTube)
Video taped at Queen’s Park regarding Bill 130 Municipal Statute Law Amendment Act Standing Deliberations, December 6, 2006.
Mr. Duguid: —this is in keeping with some of the recommendations that came forward from the Ombudsman in discussing the need that these duties be carried out in an independent manner. And that’s what this particular motion is designed to do. It clarifies that the ombudsman is to function in an independent manner.
The Chair: Very good. Any speakers to this? Mr. Hardeman?
Mr. Hardeman: I guess I say it in a kind of negative way but, it seems to me from the government’s side —saying it doesn’t make it so. And from having an amendment that says we’re changing nothing about how it’s done but the Ombudsman says we should have an independent ombudsman or investigator —to just put that in and say they should be independent — unless it gives some direction of what independence means, I don’t know how anyone would take comfort from this being sure it’s going to be independent.
If it still allows that independent person, that’s doing it now independently, to be an employee of council, I don’t know how the public could see that as independence.
MISSISSAUGAWATCH: I really would like to think that most citizens aren’t stupid enough to accept an Integrity Commissioner that a municipality itself decides to hire. I mean there are 440 municipalities in Ontario. Some of them have to be corrupt!
And you’re gonna somehow say that we’re going to deal with this corruption by hiring our own Integrity Commissioner? What?!
Mr. Hardeman: Of course because of the whole nature of the bill, there will be no avenue for the public to be involved in whether it’s independent or not, because the very fact that the individual is appointed prohibits that person from going to the Ontario Ombudsman to ask for an independent review.
There needs to be more direction as to how independent they must be, that they must be appointed separately from council, that it can’t be, as was suggested on a very negative note by the Ombudsman, it can’t be just hiring a lawyer who’s — no disrespect to lawyers — who is in fact, obligated to work for the people who hire them.
So obviously, an independent investigation by a lawyer hired is not going to suffice for the public—
MISSISSAUGAWATCH: And here’s something else. If these people had done a minimum amount of homework, as far as checking the Code of Conduct and complaints system that they have passed in April 2008—if they have looked into that, and had examined what’s been happening since that one was implemented, they’d realize how important it is to get substantial complaints away from municipalities and into the Provincial realm.
Mr. Duguid: —There are a variety of interpretations to the wording in this motion that could provide some degree of difficulty for municipalities down the road, and we’d rather not complicate that. We have confidence that municipalities will — in fact, when we had AMO before us during the hearings, Mr. Reycraft made it very, very clear municipalities are not going to appoint somebody as an ombudsman who is not independent, and would not get an employee of the company, or of the corporation or the city or town or village or region to do that.
But there are issues in terms of definitions of “employee” that I think we’d rather not get into.
Mr. Hardeman: I recognize that the president of AMO, on behalf of all the member municipalities of AMO, was making a presentation and suggested that he would never, nor would any municipality, do anything that would be contrary to the best interests of the people who were being impacted by their decisions.
MISSISSAUGAWATCH: And then the other thing about this report, it doesn’t deal with prior problems and any complaint —you’re only allowed six months.
Most people don’t know how badly they’ve been screwed over —for years! It took me about two years to figure out about Freedom of Information!
Mr. Hardeman: At the same time, I think, if you’re going to have a third party review for decisions that they make, I think the public would expect that third party review to be by an impartial third party. I think if we don’t do something like this, we’re going to have the old adage about “You can’t fight city hall” is going to be true, because the judge is going to be somebody at city hall, and I don’t think that’s an appropriate way.
So I think this is one that should be passed, and I do request a recorded vote on it.
MISSISSAUGAWATCH: Most people don’t have the resources that I have here or the time that it’s taken me to really understand why you can’t have an Integrity Commissioner. You need —Ontarians need the Ontario Ombudsman looking into municipalities. Full investigative powers. And it’s not just Mississauga. This is for all Ontario municipalities.
They need help. You need something else, because everything else is just —pretense. Absolute pretense.
End slide: “saying it doesn’t make it so” Ernie Hardeman (PC) MPP Oxford, December 6, 2006.
NOTE: This video transcript differs from the official Hansard records and I have no idea why.
The (Ontarians need the Ontario Ombudsman looking into municipalities. Full investigative powers. And it’s not just Mississauga. This is for all Ontario municipalities.) Mississauga Muse