Ombudsman Ontario

Ombudsman Ontario

January 30, 2007 10:50 ET

Ontario's Ombudsman Asks: Who Will Police the New Police Complaints Process?

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(CCNMatthews - Jan. 30, 2007) -

ATTN: NEWS EDITORS

Ontario Ombudsman Andre Marin today urged the Standing Committee on Justice Policy to delete a section of the proposed Bill 103 which shields the new Police Review Director from the scrutiny of the Ombudsman's office.

"The Director will wield enormous power over chiefs of police, all Ontario police officers and of course, citizens who complain to him or her, but will enjoy a privileged enclave accountable only internally to the Attorney General," Mr. Marin warned.

Noting that the intent of Bill 103 is to create a new agency for public police complaints after years of problems including "allegations of bias, plodding bureaucracies and inefficiencies," Mr. Marin cautioned the Committee against excluding the Ombudsman.

"We can only hope that history will not repeat itself. But if it does, who will investigate this new super-agency?" Mr. Marin asked. "Who can the police or the public turn to if someone is dissatisfied with the delicate decisions this government body will make regarding complaints against the police?"

The Ombudsman's office oversees more than 500 provincial ministries, agencies, boards and commissions on behalf of citizens. "You should ask yourselves what causes the government to create an exception to this rule," Mr. Marin told Committee members. "Why should there be two different accountability regimes for the provincial government - one for the police complaints body and one for everybody else?"

Mr. Marin said the section excluding the Ombudsman is due to an "accident of history," stemming from the fact that the original Police Services Act of 1981 involved only municipal police and thus fell outside the Ombudsman's jurisdiction. "It has managed to cling on, unchallenged, from one era to the next."

Seven other provinces allow oversight of public police complaints. "If this bill passes, Ontario will have the dubious distinction of being the only jurisdiction where police complaints are outside the reach of parliamentarians," said Mr. Marin.

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Contact Information

  • Ombudsman Ontario
    Barbara Theobalds
    Media Relations Advisor
    (416) 586-3423
    or
    Ombudsman Ontario
    Linda Williamson
    Manager, Communications and Media Relations
    (416) 586-3426