2011 Ombudsman in the News

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A case where Niagara officers failed to notify Ontario's police watchdog about a prisoner's hospitalization is noted in a recent report by the province's ombudsman.
Levi Schaeffer died pursuing his dream. Schaeffer suffered from schizophrenia. In pursuit of a quiet life, he took on a monumental journey — bicycling from Peterborough to Osnaburgh Lake, north of Thunder Bay, looking to buy land where he could live in peace.
Ontario's ombudsman has just issued a 63-page report that exposes how police forces across the province are sabotaging the Special Investigations Unit, the independent civilian watchdog created to keep cops in check. The scathing document by Andre Marin, titled Oversight Undermined, provides a litany of ways in which police services have thumbed their noses at the SIU, failing to report serious incidents involving officers and refusing to respond to questions.
Nothing undermines public confidence in the administration of justice more than evidence there is one law for the police and one for everyone else. Ontario Ombudsman Andre Marin’s latest report suggests not only is this a reality, but the Ministry of the Attorney General wants things to stay that way.
TORONTO - Ontario’s government has hamstrung its supposedly independent police watchdog, squelched its director’s concerns and frustrated reforms, provincial ombudsman Andre Marin said Wednesday. “The ministry (of the attorney general) has failed the SIU (Special Investigations Unit), and by doing so, it has failed the public and the police,” Marin said in releasing a report called Oversight Undermined.
New laws are needed to bolster the province’s Special Investigations Unit because the ministry of the attorney general actively undermines the police watchdog, charges Ombudsman André Marin. In a scathing 63-page report, entitled Oversight Undermined, Marin said Wednesday that Premier Dalton McGuinty must push legislation to empower the SIU, which probes police-related deaths and serious injuries.
TORONTO - Ontario's ombudsman says the government has ''actively undermined'' its independent police watchdog despite his calls to strengthen the Special Investigations Unit with legislation. André Marin says government officials "systematically" discouraged the SIU director from speaking out about unco-operative police officers and dismissed concerns about the vetting of police notes by lawyers.
Under the mantle of Chris Bentley, who was shuffled out of the job after the October election, the department lost its way. When police departments across Ontario systematically snubbed the Special Investigations Unit, which is mandated by law to investigate police shootings and woundings, Bentley looked the other way. Or looked to others to lead the way.
Ontario is moving forward with legislation to replace the controversial “G20 secret law” in the New Year, the Star has learned. Community Safety Minister Madeleine Meilleur said Thursday the bill is a top priority and she is hopeful the minority Liberals can gain support from the Progressive Conservatives and New Democrats when it is introduced in the parliamentary session that begins Feb. 21.
London city council has voted to meet the information requests from a provincial watchdog probing its confidential vote to evict Occupy London – but politicians won't be waiving their legal right to withhold some details.