Friday, April 26, 2013

Chief Theresa Spence & Danny Metatawabin Contact Mayorgate

What is Chief Theresa Spence up to? Much of the public circus of her “hunger strike” has been forgotten. Chief Spence did threaten to journey to the United Nations, but other than the threat to do so little else has been heard.

Mayorgate published two articles dealing specifically with the issues of the Attawapiskat reserve and with Chief Theresa Spence. Both the articles raised serious questions as to irregularities with financial statements filed on behalf of the Chief and Council. An email was sent to Danny Metatawabin on February 11th, a copy was posted with the article. The email raised two questions for Chief Theresa Spence, though there were many others that required clear answers.

A great deal of time had passed and it appeared that Chief Theresa Spence, and her spokesman Danny Metatawabin had ignored Mayorgate's request. On April 9th, some 58 days later, Danny Metatawabin sent this email, “On behalf of Chief and Council, may we get a copy of the article that you may have published regarding the noted below.”

Danny Metatawabin did not answer the questions raised in the original email to him, nor did Chief Theresa Spence. In fact he ignored the questions and asked for a copy of the article that had been published and read for almost two months.

Chief Theresa Spence decided to bring a public smear against all of Canada in a circus that she called a “hunger strike.” During her “hunger strike,” Chief Theresa Spence regularly visited a local hotel. It is anyone's guess as to what happened in the hotel, as the only ones present were her devoted entourage. Theresa Spence said she was willing to die for her people, but it appeared, as proof was later to be uncovered, she was less willing to spend any money for her people. The Attawapiskat Council and Chief Spence were sitting on a trust account set up by DeBeers at over $10,000,000.00.

World media was used to paint a picture of Canada as a non-caring nation allowing horrid conditions at the Attawapiskat reserve. People gathered in groups carrying signs of support all the way to Australia. At the same time as Chief Spence played the media game, the truth was brushed aside. Much attention was directed at the financial audit conducted on behalf of the federal government. A national protest group of First Nations people sprung up to grab public attention. In addition to Chief Spence, another FN personality appeared, Chief Nepinak not only publicly supported Chief Spence, her “hunger strike,” but he made a public threat against all of Canada and Canadians. Grand Chief Nepinak threatened to bring Canada to its knees with the IDLE NO MORE movement.

It is only in Canada such a public threat can be tolerated against its people. Still Chief Theresa Spence continued with her circus, she continued to be chauffeured to the hotel, and she continued with her demands. Opposition parties saw an opportunity to play politics against PM Harper. At the time Liberal interim leader Bob Rae visited Attawapiskat and declared that it was equivalent to a third world here in Canada. Charlie Angus of the NDP played the media game declaring Chief Spence a hero. All kind of ex-public figures saw an opportunity to have their faces on television screens and front pages once again. Advice and condemnation came from such luminaries as ex-PM Martin (famous for the Gomery Inquiry), ex-PM Mulroney (famous for brown paper envelopes stuffed with cash), and ex-Governor General Jean (famous for something that's to be sure).

Truth was not what anyone was interested in. After all who wants to know that the jungle boy from the circus in fact sits with a GameBoy between shows. Or that the bearded lady has chafed skin on her chin from the glue. When CTV had an opportunity to interview Chief Theresa Spence at the studio, interviewer Kevin Newman spent more time on asking questions about her five daughters. Sun Media's hero of the people Ezra Levant carried on in his usual diplomatic style. In amongst the two extremes reports were beginning to surface which proved how much of a circus the Chief Theresa Spence medicine show really was.

Kevin Libin of the National Post in an email to Mayorgate dated January 29th 2013, said “the public's impression of Spence is not positive at all.” Mr. Libin went on to mention a report by Jonathan Kay where Kay debunked the idea that a “greater majority live in horrendous conditions.” Some facts began to emerge, yet Canada's media avoided to ask the hard questions of Chief Theresa Spence. Was it fear of being labelled racist in what should of been a demand for the truth? Or was it simply fear of everything that relates to First Nations' issues?

Chief Theresa Spence diverted attention away from the real questions by attacking the federal government's financial audit conducted by Deloitte. The real questions lay in the financial statements recorded and presented annually by the Attawapiskat First Nation. As Chief Spence declared, on two separate occasions, a state of emergency, she and the Council had at their disposal millions of dollars. Financial statements for the Attawapiskat Trust brought to light the annual payments by DeBeers of $2million and an accrued balance of some $10million. A Schedule of Equities for the Attawapiskat Trust showed investments in Exxon Mobil Corp, China Mobile Ltd, Enbridge Inc, Pembina Pipeline Corp, and other oil and gas corporations. Chief Spence was banging the drum against Bill C-45 and the whole Mother Earth thing at the same time.

Declaring a state of emergency, showing not only the nation, but the whole world photos of supposed deplorable conditions Chief Spence won massive public reaction on her side. Amnesty International came forward in support and public condemnation of Canada on behalf of Attawapiskat and Chief Theresa Spence. Others joined in such as Canadian Friends Service Committee (Quakers), KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives, and a whole bunch of self-serving ex-politicos. Former Governor General Jean said, “we have a third world in Canada, and it's with our aboriginal peoples.” Now Chief Spence had achieved hero status. No one wanted to know the truth, or was it convenient to ignore it for self-interest?

Even the media ignored the really serious questions. Most of the reports centred around the Deloitte Audit. Chief Spence and her handlers made excuses and then branded the audit as the government's tool to divert attention from what they claimed to be the real issues. Kevin Libin of the National Post in his email of January 29th 2013 said “Her (Spence's) financial mismanagement and misrepresentation has received broad coverage, including in our newspaper...” That was not true. No one asked Chief Theresa Spence questions in relation to the Consolidated Financial Statements filed on record for the Attawapiskat First Nation.

Massive amounts had been declared as expenditures that made no logical sense at all. The Consolidated Statement of Financial Activities and Accumulated Surplus for 2010 showed Wages and Employee benefits under Expenditures as $10,015,528. That figure on the 2011 Consolidated Statement changes to $9,810,586. A list of Elected, Unelected, Education Authority and Administration showed only 39 names with a total coming to only $980,391. A shortfall from the declared amount of $8,830,195 and that has never been questioned or explained. Kevin Libin of the National Post was wrong when he claimed that “her financial mismanagement and misappropriation has received broad coverage, including in our newspaper.”

These massive shortfalls appear also in the 2008 Consolidated Financial Statements. For years 2009 and 2011, the Consolidated Statements as posted have specific information missing and careful examination is not possible. Mayorgate also asked how such reported figures could go without question.

It was not only the media who had ignored what appears to be fraudulent reporting. Prime Minister Harper's government faced public pressure as the media played along with the Spence circus. A financial audit commissioned by the federal government produced serious irregularities, even though Chief Spence and her crew condemned it. Still it was up to the federal government to ensure that equality was enforced in this country. No other individual could commit such intentional acts of financial misappropriation of public money and walk away from any consequences. Prime Minister Stephen Harper sold out the ideals that are equally expected by all Canadians by not taking action in the case of Chief Theresa Spence and the Attawapiskat First Nation.

Was it cowardice on the part of Prime Minister Steven Harper, or was it political expedience? Aboriginal Affairs Minister John Duncan was sacked not long after the much publicized meeting between PM Harper, his working team and representatives of the First Nations. Prime Minister Steven Harper and his government are well known for their hypocrisy on environmental issues. After all Bill C-45 hacked environmental legislation so as to remove any obstacles for energy projects. Canada dumped the Kyoto Accord knowing it could not meet its obligations on greenhouse gas emission targets. Canada, more recently, walked out on international talks on desertification, claiming it was a waste of money. Environment and the sustainability of the future with climate change are not what PM Harper, Environment Minister Peter Kent, and Canada's government care about.

Could PM Harper and his government have made a deal with the First Nations to leave Chief Theresa Spence free from a public judicial enquiry? Chief Spence became a public hero, the media helped to facilitate this, and the truth would be extremely damaging. Hypocrisy is a human trait, transcending all races and faiths. It is not only the playground of our elected officials.

Chief Spence and the IDLE NO MORE movement banged the drum of protecting Mother Earth. In their rhetoric they spoke of our water, air and land in relation to the butchery of environmental legislation. At the same time as protesting Bill C-45, Chief Spence and the Attawapiskat First Nation made investments into oil, gas and pipelines. The Financial Post carried an article on January 25th 2013 titled First Native Oil Sands Deal. It was a story of the “remarkable career” of Blaine Favel, a former Saskatchewan Indian Chief and the oil industry's only aboriginal CEO. As the chief executive of One Earth Oil & Gas Inc. he had brokered a 50-50 joint venture with the Gift Lake Metis Settlement in the Peace River area of northwest Alberta to develop the Gift Bluesky heavy oil project.

First Nations people used tax payer dollars to fight the planned pipeline from Alberta to the BC coast. As they played out their public attacks, First Nation people were preparing to develop Alberta's oil sands, and rip the Earth for profit.

Chief Theresa Spence chose the public stage to set up her teepee. Spence claimed to be willing to die for the ideals of her people, she then made regular visits to a hotel and had an account opened up in her name for contributions. This account was administered by her common law partner Clayton Kennedy, with no disclosures made public as to how much Chief Spence collected.

Financial Statements are official documents and presented on record. A certified accounting firm prepared these documents and is responsible for the information presented. Ross, Pope & Co. was contacted by Mayorgate with two emails dated January 21st and 23rd regarding the serious irregularities that appear in the Consolidated Financial Statements they prepared for the Attawapiskat First Nations. Ross, Pope & Co. refused to respond to any questions.

Mr. Clayton Kennedy, Chief Theresa Spence's common law partner, swore an affidavit: “I am owner and operator of Moo Shum Enterprises Inc. a consulting company serving First Nations and providing expertise and advice primarily in the areas of finance and management. In addition the services I have provided to the First Nations, I have been employed or retained by several other First Nations since 2000, in relation to finance, project management and administration.”

In his affidavit Clayton Kennedy further states that his duties as co-manager were to, “implement procedures for the completion of annual audit requirements, achieving month end cut off; the monthly review, analysis and information sharing of financial statements and associated reports; and for a system of accountability.”

Where is the accountability? Ross, Pope & Co. are responsible as a certified and licensed accounting firm to examine all documents before preparing the financial statements. Ross, Pope & Co. have refused to answer any questions. Clayton Kennedy in his own sworn affidavit states he is responsible for the “completion of annual audit requirements” and the “sharing of financial statements.” Clayton Kennedy is Chief Spence's common law partner.

KAIROS, the Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives group which unites churches and religious organizations in faithful action for ecological justice and human rights on January 10th 2013 said, “While the audit does show that some paperwork is lacking, this does not prove fraud or waste...” Will the experts at this collection of churches and religious organizations make the same defensive observation or analysis relating to the millions of dollars unexplained in the Consolidated Financial Statements? Do these financial statements, prepared by a licensed accounting firm, on behalf of Attawapiskat First Nations which prove huge amounts of dollars missing, “prove fraud or waste...” Some of these financial documents placed on record carry the signature of Chief Theresa Spence.

Nothing about Chief Theresa Spence makes sense, not the farce of her 'hunger strike', not the declaration of emergency at Attawapiskat, and not the suffering of a few to be allowed as others benefited from dishonesty. Chief Spence and the Band Council sat on some ten million dollars as they paraded around the news media images of squaller and suffering. How do they explain this? Tens of millions of dollars have disappeared and no questions raised by Prime Minister Steven Harper or his bunch. Media simply played along, and the Opposition sold a little more of their dignity perpetuating further the monstrous lie. In the end it was Canada and Canadians who paid the ultimate price.

Danny Matatawabin received emails from Mayorgate providing an opportunity to explain what had happened. He decided to ignore them for some 58 days. Chief Theresa Spence, Danny Matatawabin and members of the Attawapiskat Band Council all would of read the two articles on Mayorgate. Now on “behalf of the Chief & Council” Danny Matatawabin, makes his strange request, though Danny Matatawabin, Chief Theresa Spence and the Band Council ignored the questions raised.

Mayorgate's response is clear and simple. Questions, very serious questions demand answers, and Chief Theresa Spence, together with her spokesman Danny Metatawabin are given the opportunity to do so again.

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Saturday, April 20, 2013

Earth Day hits the wall of reality

Environmental issues have filled news headlines time and again, resulting in nothing more than empty and hollow rhetoric as response from all political parties. It has become increasingly difficult to understand where does our future rest. No one can deny the facts surrounding climate change and its consequences, or the need to stem the flow of contaminates, whether it is into our landfills, our oceans or the air we breathe. Conservation of the various species of life that we share this planet with as an issue of serious consideration has raised the eyebrows of a number of journalists around the world. Sadly those eyebrows simply grow tired and bored with little left than the echoes of anguish from slaughtered beasts.

Where are we really reaching as man? We are intelligent and resourceful. Today we no longer can fall on the defence of ignorance. Our media alone has thrown enough catchy phrases at us such as “our eco-footprint,” and more. Recycling has become a colour-coded art form, and eco-friendly products of varying types have paraded the runways of even our fashion magazines. Yet the reality is more alarming, we have changed very little. True our governments have provided environmental laws and legislation for public consumption. But enforcement has found itself influenced more by economics and political connections, rather than by a need to protect the very fabric of our future.

Today a new industry has risen through the ashes of public opinion. Hypocrisy has become a prominent trait and not only in government. A case in point is the US government with President Obama, rather than playing a violin he instead prefers the daisy petals, with 'he will, he will not' in relation to the Keystone XL Pipeline. In Canada the federal government under the helm of Prime Minister Stephen Harper takes the Clarke Gable attitude from Gone with the Wind. The Kyoto Accord dumped; desertification and its encroachment too expensive to think about and dumped; climate change and greenhouse gas emission targets treated like a nagging child and ignored; environmental protection hacked with the Omnibus Bill; and endangered or species at risk left open to slaughter for sport. Stephen Harper and Canada's federal government stands on a record to be proud of.

North America is not alone on the world stage of hypocrisy. South America is selling off its forests to China because of massive debt. In Africa a government has decided that decriminalizing the slaughter of Rhinos for their horn was the easy way out of enforcement of the law. Europe's unity couldn't find unity on the question of whether the oil from the Alberta oil sands was indeed bad for the whole issue of greenhouse gas emissions. They have deferred a decision in favour of more scientific evidence to appear. Although nature lashed out in its immense fury at Japan, it was greed and economics that helped facilitate a nuclear disaster that has had effect on neighbours across the Pacific Ocean along the west coast of North America. Then there is China, demanding all the rights to do as they please as an emerging economy, claiming that after all they did save the Panda from extinction.

Our environmental warriors have little to crow about. These organizations that put out the plate of donations, telling everyone who drops 10 or 20 bucks in that they will make a difference with their donation and save the future, have much to answer for. Public giants like David Suzuki take walks in the park with provincial political candidates, and then stroll through the clouds with federal political candidates. Dr. Rick Smith has taken his rubber ducky and dumped Environmental Defence to join the NDP think tank Broadbent Institute, but not before endorsing an NDP candidate in a political boxing match as the Executive Director of Environmental Defence. Our conservation giant the WWF had decided that there was not enough scientific data to protect the polar bear from being slaughtered for sport and trophies. Yet they all still have the collection plate out barking out how much they can do for our future and our environment.

A question should be raised to the brave anti-Keystone warriors such as Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Bill McKibben. How did they arrive at the protest rally? Was it on foot, and how did they leave the jailhouse after arrest, was it on a bicycle? Hypocrisy truly has become the currency in the name of environment.

Reality cannot be ignored simply because it is far from pleasant. In the melting pot of humanity, the silent majority still has immense power, it is only the will that needs to be ignited. Even in the dash for cash by our governments, big business and profiteers, the average individual can play an important role in the future of our Earth.

Earth Day began as an attempt to shine a light of awareness. Our modern society has evolved to a level that even the greatest idea dies a dismal death without promotion and advertising. Word of mouth simply cannot compete with the speed of modern technology in spreading a good idea. Each and every individual can contribute to a sustainable future through their own actions. Often the first steps are the smallest, at times shaky and unsteady, but together they are the beginnings of greater strides.

Our landfills are reaching capacity and we must rethink how to handle the enormous volume of waste we produce on a daily basis. Recycling is a key, plastics in particular cannot break down but can be reused. Attacking water bottling companies is simply based in hypocritical self interest, and in turn counter productive. It is all plastic whether it is water, pop or juice that needs to be recycled.

Greenhouse gas emissions are very real and the affects of climate change can be devastating. Our society is completely dependent on the production of oil. Alternatives have proven to be less popular. At the same time each and every individual carries the same responsibility. As we continue with our demand for oil, both business and government will continue to satisfy that demand. Without hesitation it is a vicious and dangerous whirlpool leading our Earth to potential disaster. All the conferences and good intentions have failed to date. Whether it is RIO or RIO+20, whether it is the Kyoto Accord or another unenforceable collective agreement, none have seen success. It will take courage for a leader to step forward and lead by example. At this time the European Union has an opportunity to take such a step, but it seems to also be faltering. Until such a leader is found we will continue to ride the whirlpool.

We share this Earth with many other living creatures, providing a balance between nature and man. Conservation and protection of life often faces angry demands of traditional rights, and even superstitious beliefs. At other times it is the simple blood lust that has remained a human trait since the dark ages. As we evolve and grow so does our understanding that the natural balance needs to be protected.

In the end it is a simple thought that can motivate man into action. The question to answer is what do you wish to hand over to the next generation? Our children will follow us into the future, and their future will be built on the past that we provide. It is a hand-me-down that we can be proud of. The decision is in our hands.

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Thursday, April 4, 2013

OMLET – or simply broken eggs

The Office of the Ontario Ombudsman was established in 1975 as an independent officer of the provincial legislature in Ontario, Canada. He has the authority to oversee and investigate public complaints about the government of Ontario, including more than 500 provincial government ministries, agencies, corporations, tribunals, boards and commissions. His slogan is a catchy one, “Ontario's Watchdog,” although the Ombudsman is still on a leash of sorts.

Andre Marin was appointed as Ontario's sixth Ombudsman in April 2005, and although he likes to lay claim to the fact that government actions were as a result of investigations conducted by his office, still there are what he calls “MUSH sectors.” The Ombudsman's office still has no oversight in municipalities, universities, school boards and hospitals, as well as children's aid societies and police. Not to forget that the Ombudsman has no authority at all to investigate the Ontario Cabinet or any elected members of government regardless of how serious a breach has been committed by any such individual.

Upon instalment as the sixth Ombudsman of Ontario in 2005, Marin created SORT, the Special Ombudsman Response Team. This is a special team of experienced investigators who handle the large investigations such as the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation, legal aid and the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation, to name a few.

In January 2008 the Ombudsman's jurisdiction was expanded a little to a new responsibility. Now it was the Ombudsman's authority to enforce the Ontario Municipal Act and its requirement that all municipal councils, committees, and most local boards keep their meetings open to the public. Though it must be stressed that it is only this one requirement of the Municipal Act and no other that now falls into the Ombudsman's jurisdiction. The leash has only been slightly loosened though not released.

A new team was created under the title of OMLET – the Open Meeting Law Enforcement Team. This new team was to specialize in investigations of closed meeting complaints by municipal councils, committees and local boards. The show was ready to start and Andre Marin published a program guide titled, The Sunshine Handbook – Open Municipal Meetings in Ontario.

Prior to the new “sunshine law” if municipal politicians decided to meet behind closed doors improperly the only avenue for a challenge was through the courts. Ontario's Municipal Act enforces little if anything in relation to breaches by those elected into any public office. For instance accepting illegal campaign contributions, though considered illegal under the Elections Act, has a free get out of jail card. Simply give the money back when caught and voila continue business as usual. On the surface the new “sunshine law” seemed a little refreshing.

As anything with government, particularly in Canada, scepticism is not only healthy it is imperative. Some municipalities have their own investigators appointed where Ontario's OMLET may not interfere. In all other municipalities across the province of Ontario the Ombudsman's OMLET has the authority to interview all members of a council, committee or local board, including mayors to gather information once a complaint is received.

Although the Ombudsman appears to have authority in fact he has none. It is up to the individual municipality to cooperate or not. An example was the City of Greater Sudbury where 10 out of the 13 elected members of its council refused to be interviewed during a June 2012 investigation. Other municipalities such as the City of Hamilton and the City of London, Ontario had councillors with their lawyers in tow criticizing publicly the Ombudsman's office and its procedures.

In the end Ontario's Watchdog can only bark on a leash and refrain from biting. There is no real consequence for any municipality or elected official in breaking the new “sunshine law.” The Ombudsman can only report the results of his OMLET team's investigation to the municipality, or local board or committee that was under investigation. He can make recommendations on how to redress the situation. It is up to the municipality, local board or committee to accept or reject his recommendations. In his own words from the 2011-2012 OMLET Annual Report, the Ombudsman says, “My only power remains the power of moral suasion.”

An annual budget of $10.75 million for 2011-2012, a staff of some 85 and a bunch of acronyms such as SORT and OMLET and the final result is simply “moral suasion.” Ontario's Ombudsman has no real authority whatsoever and lags behind US jurisdictions dramatically. In the US courts can levy serious penalties if proven that the Sunshine Law has been broken and meetings had been closed illegally. In Arizona and Iowa, such violations of the Sunshine Law can result in fines against elected officials, and removal from office. In Illinois violation of the Sunshine Law is a criminal misdemeanour, with a maximum 30 days prison sentence and or a fine of $1500.00 as a penalty. Ontario's Ombudsman can only lament on this in his annual report (page 4, Truth and Consequences, Ontario Ombudsman 2011-2012 OMLET Annual Report), and offer “moral suasion.”

In today's world morality seems far more passe and “moral suasion” simply a cute term for a colourful dude for the consumption of media. His own words make it quite clear, “I cannot enforce the implementation of my recommendations. In municipal cases, councils reign supreme.” (OMLET Annual Report 2011-2012, Watchdogs Have Teeth page 11). Andre Marin may fall back on the excuse that it is the lack of legislative authority that holds him back. Canada is absolutely reluctant to provide any watchdog with real oversight powers. Here watchdogs are merely spaniels or chihuahuas on short leashes. Yet what can be said when the 'watchdog' perpetuates the secrecy he claims to investigate?

That is exactly the situation in relation to Ontario's Ombudsman and a recent report he released regarding an investigation of the Niagara District Airport Commission. In his report the Ombudsman found breaches of the Sunshine Law, making his recommendations on a number of points for redress. Outgoing Niagara District Airport Commission chair Ruedi Suter was reported as saying, “I'm really pleased the complaint filed was found to be not true. However, through the process they did find other procedural flaws.” (Melinda Cheevers, Niagara this Week, February 28, 2013).

Recommendation 1 from the Ombudsman's report states: “The Niagara District Airport Commission should ensure that discussions that take place in closed session under an exemption to the Municipal Act's open meeting requirements are limited to those matters that the commission is permitted to discuss in camera under the exceptions in the Act.” The Sunshine Law frowns on the secrecy that too often appears to be demanded by municipal councils, local boards and commissions. These are public entities dealing with public business and secrecy rarely has any place in the proceedings.

The issue at hand is not the Niagara District Airport Commission or its outgoing chair Mr. Suter and his reason for resigning. It is the issue of secrecy, in particular that of the watchdog who is supposed to enforce the rules that break up secrecy. A former US Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandels had said that “Sunlight is the best disinfectant.” In relation to the Sunshine Law that would be refreshing and now it seems the Ombudsman of Ontario needs a gallon or two.

The Ombudsman's report on the Niagara District Airport Commission February 2013, page 7, point 31 states: “We were told during our interviews that the commission discussed comments made by a local mayor. These comments were made in the mayor's official capacity and the commission was considering how to respond in its official capacity. The discussion regarding the mayor's professional relationship with the commission does not qualify as personal information.”

Further in the report point 33 identifies by name an individual as, “Mr. Montgomery, who wrote the letter of complaint to the mayor about the commission...” This individual is not referred to by the Ombudsman as “a local resident,” or in any other form of camouflage. Yet the “local mayor” is not identified by name even though the issue refers to his comments in his official capacity as a mayor.

Nowhere in the 16 pages of the report is the identity of the mayor made public even though it is confirmed that the mayor had acted in his official capacity. Andre Marin has complained the lack of oversight he has over the “MUSH sector,” ie: municipalities, universities, school boards and hospitals. He has finally been granted jurisdictional oversight over the Sunshine Law and a big toe into the weird and wonderful world of municipal governance. In response Andre Marin joins the gravy train and further perpetuates the secrecy he and his team of OMLET chefs are expected to break up.

OMLET's Annual Report for 2011-2012 on page 11 brags in bold print “Watchdogs Have Teeth”. He goes on to say “while the Municipal Act carries no penalty, the Ombudsman Act does. Failure to comply with my lawful requirements is a provincial offence, punishable by a fine of up to $500.00 and/or imprisonment for up to three months.” Marin claims, “I am prepared to use all available means to ensure co-operation with my investigative process in future, to preserve its integrity and uphold the law.” Although he admits that he has never exercised his authority to lay charges for a lack of co-operation.

Laying claim to preservation of integrity and upholding the law equally applies to the Ombudsman as it does to those over who he has oversight jurisdiction. Yet Andre Marin simply shows off his flare with tags rather than acting out his own script. He has shown that secrecy is only wrong when it is not his own.

The true essence of the “Watchdogs Have Teeth” is best explained in Andre Marin's own words. “Whether my investigation is provincial or municipal, the last word always remains with the body under investigation. I cannot enforce the implementation of my recommendations.” In the end the bottom line here is that the taxpayer paid out almost eleven million dollars in 2011-2012, for semantics and a watchdog to whimper out, 'please sir.'

If questionable irregularities are identified in relation to the Ombudsman or any of his bunch, who has any oversight over Andre Marin? Now we approach an alarming situation. Ontario Ombudsman in fact swims in double osmosis rarefied waters. The Office of the Privacy Commissioner has no oversight authority. Our provincial government only selects the Ombudsman and provides the contract, oh and taxpayer's dollars. He himself is an independent officer of the legislature. Turning to the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario the left arm representing the Monarchy, would be as useful as asking the Governor General for help. Neither could offer anything more than tea, with the only possible difference being one serves loose leaf, the other tea bags. The Ombudsman handles complaints about the Ombudsman or his staff only.

A motion being prepared for the Council of the City of London, Ontario to dump the Ombudsman as the watchdog over breaches of the Sunshine Law further exemplifies the true value of the Ombudsman and OMLET. In this case the Ombudsman is investigating a complaint by some 60 citizens over a lunch by Mayor Joe Fontana, Councillor Steven Orser and five other councillors. Apparently the bunch met over burgers in a backroom of a restaurant. Councillor Orser said “If we want to go out for a cheeseburger with a colleague, why can't we.” (Patrick Maloney, QMI Agency, March 12,2013). Some twelve months ago Marin had investigated a pre-budget lunch by councillors from the City of London and even though he had not found any rules were broken at the time he did say that it was ill-advised and provided for “unsavoury-optics,” (more of Marin-semantics or simply Marin-antics).

In Canada watchdogs are simply mutts on a leash. Andre Marin has no authority to do anything even if he finds that laws have been breached. In the case of the Sunshine Law a municipality can simply dump the Ombudsman without consequence or explanation. The City of Sudbury has done so and now the City of London is planning to follow down the same path. More alarming is the fact that there is no oversight over the watchdog himself. Marin and his bunch can do as they please and not answer or explain their actions. Marin himself has said, “...elected officials must ultimately answer to voters for their conduct.” Who does Marin ultimately answer to?

In the case of the investigation into the Niagara District Airport Commission, Andre Marin states, “As a result of our investigation, we have determined that the commission contravened the open meeting requirements of the Act in a number of aspects.” This is section 15 of the Ombudsman's report dated February 2013. Outgoing chair Ruedi Suter can make his excuses and claim publicly that he was glad that “the complaint filed was found to be not true,” it may help him sleep more soundly. The facts are simple and on record.

Yet the Ombudsman who is there to ensure that the public are able to have full access to what's happening in their local government perpetuates the very secrecy he claims to break up. An official release by the Office of the Ombudsman June 17th 2008 in bold print claims, 'Backgrounder – Ombudsman's OMLET to crack open municipal meetings'. “Ombudsman Andre Marin's newest investigative team will specialize in probing municipal meetings that are closed to the public.” Now a new press release is in order in February 2013: Ombudsman Andre Marin and his newest investigative team OMLET left with egg on face and the yolk of secrecy intact.

An email had been sent to the Office of the Ombudsman requesting clarification as to why the name of the “local mayor” was withheld from the official report. No response has been received to date of publishing.

In the end Andre Marin has more in common with Dexter's omelette from Dexter's Laboratory than one would think.

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