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Toronto’s Ombudsman Attacked for Being “Politically Driven”

Tussle breaks out at city council over the integrity of one of Toronto's key accountability officers.

Toronto’s ombudsman, Fiona Crean, was scheduled to discuss her latest report with councillors today, in which she found that the mayor and his office compromised the public-appointments process in several ways. But as councillors were discussing the exact timing of that presentation, Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti (Ward 7, York West) rose to ask whether that report should even be discussed by council since it seemed to him that it was “politically driven.”

The ombudsman’s mandate, according to the City, is to address “concerns about the service you receive from the City of Toronto, and investigate complaints of administrative unfairness. The Office is independent from the city, impartial, and its services are both confidential and free of charge.” Any suggestion that the ombudsman’s work is compromised by political motivations, therefore, goes directly to the question of her integrity.

Fiona Crean was appointed in 2008 after a national search. The selection panel consisted of then-mayor David Miller, four councillors (Frank Di Giorgio, Shelley Carroll, Adam Vaughan, and Gloria Lindsay Luby), and Montreal’s ombudsman at the time, with the assistance of executive-search firm Kinley & Connelly. The selection panel’s decision was unanimous [PDF].

Several councillors rose immediately after Mammoliti challenged Crean’s report, calling on him to apologize. Gord Perks (Ward 14, Parkdale-High Park) read from the councillors’ code of conduct [PDF], which states that “All members of council have a duty to treat members of the public, one another, and staff appropriately and without abuse, bullying or intimidation, and to ensure that their work environment is free from discrimination and harrassment.” Ford-friendly councillor Frances Nunziata (Ward 11, York South-Weston) runs council meetings, and she repeatedly asked Mammoliti to apologize. He refused, and wound up leaving the floor of council in disgust.

He re-emerged upstairs in short order, in the press gallery, where the exchange with Perks shown in the video above took place. Shortly after, Perks returned to add this:

For the last year and a half there has been a constant and unyielding attack on the professional public service in this city. People like Gary Webster who have dedicated their adult lives to making Toronto a better place to live in have been driven out of their jobs. That pattern is continuing now as some councillors attempt to bully members of the public service for bringing their reports forward to us. We can’t stand for it. Torontonians have to make it clear to everyone that’s elected that we need to protect our professional public servants if we’re going to have the excellent services that make Toronto work.

Council will discuss other matters this afternoon. Crean will present her report on the public appointments process tomorrow at 9:30 a.m.

UPDATE 2:33 PM: Council resumed meeting a few minutes ago after a break for lunch. Giorgio Mammoliti, back in the council chamber, clarified his earlier remarks to say that he meant not that the Ombudsman herself was biased, but that the people she interviewed in the course of her investigation were. Gord Perks apologized for his behaviour.

Comments

  • Dan

    What an embarrassment Mammoliti is.

  • vampchick21

    Mammoliti is an embarassment to his ward and to the city, not to mention to the title “politician’ in general. Shameful.

  • http://twitter.com/Vidar_Hansen Vidar Hansen

    Why is it ok for Gord Perks to be a bully? He constantly does it, he breaks the rules himself and doesn’t apologize.

    He says one thing, does other things. If you don’t do things his way, he blocks you. He is incapable of listening to other points of views, he forces HIS PERSONAL views on others.

    He constantly goes on about local jobs and local communities, yet he want the suburbs to revolve their activities around downtown.

    For a moment forget the fact that he uses taxpayers money to buy votes and the amount of votes he got was less than 25% of residents in Ward 14. He lives in Ward 18 by the way.

    He applies the rules to Mammo differently than he does to himself.

    Mammoliti has EVERY right to challenge the Ombudsman, just like any Torontonian. Gord Perks needs to learn what democracy is all about.

    When ombudsman reports go Perks’s way…no one can challenge them.
    If the ombudsman report would of gone the opposite way, Perks would be first one to challenge it.

    Gordon, I will gladly tell you this in front of your face.

    • vampchick21

      Care to season your accusations with a little proof my dear? And be sure to look up what proof actually is before you present the little tale of your father’s brother’s uncle’s cousin’s former roomate.

    • http://paulosman.me Paul Osman

      Quick fact check: Gord Perks won 51.811% of the vote in Ward 14. Source:

      http://election.toronto.ca/epr/eprDetail.do?014,107,310,203,404,#1349288934568

      • Anonymous

        The Parkdale chapter of Ford Nation was largely still paralyzed by rage about Kyle Rae’s retirement party on election day. As a result, most of them couldn’t get out of bed and didn’t get out to vote, so they aren’t included in the figure you cited.

      • Anonymous

        It’s a standard right wing talking point. When Rob Ford wins with 47% or Stephen Harper wins a majority with just over 39% of the vote they have received an overwhelming majority mandate. When a left winger like Gord Perks wins with an absolute majority of the vote, they downplay it by measuring it not even against total electors, but total residents.

    • http://twitter.com/MandaLeeK MandaLK

      Perks apologized as soon as council returned for his behavoir.
      Perks got 51% of the vote in Ward 14 (a larger % of the popular vote than gave Mayor Ford his ‘mandate’, and 8 points higher than Mammoliti’s % of the vote in his ward.)
      Fun Fact: Neither Mr Perks nor Mr. Mammoliti live in the wards they represent.
      Mammoliti claims now that he didn’t “challenge the Ombudsman” (which he clearly did, and certainly has a ‘right’ to do, the trouble is when he does it in council, in way a that is so disrespectful and unprofessional, that he is asked to apologize or leave by his political ally, Nunziata).

      I am by no means a big Perks fan, but I do like facts quite a bit and facts are that Perks can certainly be a jerk on occasions, but Mammoliti can’t seem to ever be anything else.

      • http://www.corbinsmith.ca Corbin Smith

        “I do like facts quite a bit and facts are that Perks can certainly be a jerk on occasions, but Mammoliti can’t seem to ever be anything else.”
        Boom.

    • http://www.facebook.com/marshall.sean Sean Marshall

      Many councillors don’t live in the ward they represent. Rob Ford didn’t live in Ward 2 when he represented it (he lives in Ward 4, ditto Doug Ford).

  • raindogxx

    So, Mammo’s position is, basically, Crean is out to get Ford. That’s always the explanation isn’t it–whatever the criticism, no matter from whom, the Fords are always guiltless and everyone else is on a vindictive tear. Do these clowns really think citizens of Toronto–or anywhere else– are that stupid?

    • Anonymous

      They’re banking on it.

      • Anonymous

        Worked in 2010.

        • OgtheDim

          Not really. Ford ran against Miller then, without a record of his own. This is a very different kettle of fish.

          • Anonymous

            Ford had a long record as a councillor actually.

          • OgtheDim

            Given the ability of people to behave poorly and get reelected as councillors, I think people actually don’t follow what councillors do.

          • Anonymous

            He had a record. Ford gives his voters permission to be infantile and proudly ignorant. They love him for it.

    • http://www.facebook.com/marshall.sean Sean Marshall

      I seem to remember a rather famous right-wing talking head from Mississauga praising Fiona Crean for helping some poor landowner take on City Hall about some tree coming down.

  • Dennis Hanagan

    Parkdale Councillor Gord Perks should act like an adult. Oh, excuse me, Perks is not an adult; he’s a little boy.