Council takes heat over ombudsman firing
Sudbury council opts to oust Ontario Ombudsman, despite flip-flop by some councillors
Posted: Feb 27, 2013 8:40 AM ET
Last Updated: Feb 27, 2013 3:25 PM ET
In the face of heckling from dozens of angry residents Tuesday night, Sudbury city council re-affirmed its decision to fire the Ontario Ombudsman — but not before some councillors changed their minds on the controversial closed-door meeting investigator.
The confrontation between politicians and the public was a face-to-face version of what's been happening on the phone and by email since council first voted on the matter two weeks ago.
City councillor Fabio Belli wanted that decision undone.
"I'm fully responsible for my actions. I'm sorry, because at the end of the day it was a mistake that I made,” he said.
Other councillors also changed their minds after initally voting to replace Ombudsman Andre Marin with investigators from a private firm.
"I wouldn't call it flip-flopping. I'd call it a rewind,” Coun. Joe Cimino said. "I say we keep him in place and see where we go from here."
But the majority did call it flip-flopping and refused to do it. They voted 9-to-4 to dump the Ombudsman, who they repeatedly called "unprofessional."Sudbury Mayor Marianne Matichuk voted to keep the Ontario Ombudsman as council's overseer of closed door meetings. (Yvon Theriault/Radio-Canada)
Controversy ‘has got legs’
Mayor Marianne Matichuk once again supported the Ombudsman.
Speaking to reporters afterwards, she said she believes this will become an issue in the municipal election next fall.
"I think this has got legs. I think this is bigger actually than Elton John,” she said, referring to a scandal that saw councillors jumping the queue and scooping up tickets for a concert held locally in March of 2008 by the famous musician.
“I've never seen that many people calling my office, emails. [I’ve] never seen that."
Belli, Cimino and Coun. Doug Craig were the three who changed their vote from two weeks ago and supported bringing back the Ombudsman.
Private firm Amberley Gavel is now the closed door meeting investigator for Greater Sudbury.
Coun, Jacques Barbeau, who voted to ditch Marin, spoke of the “abuse" he's been getting from residents and about how negative the community seems to have become.
"If you fell out of a freaking spaceship and you landed in Sudbury and you read one of the media, boy you'd want to get the hell out of here in a hurry,” Barbeau said. “And that's not the true picture."
After the vote, dozens of people in the audience grumbled as they left the council chambers. One person shouted: “See you in 2014” as a reminder of the next municipal election race.
Latest Sudbury News Headlines
- Concrete fell months before Elliot Lake mall collapse
- Testimony at the inquiry looking into the fatal roof collapse at the mall in Elliot Lake has raised questions about whether some at city hall put financial concerns ahead of safety. more »
- Boaters not getting message about life jackets: OPP
- Boaters are still not getting the message about life jackets says OPP Inspector Mark Andrews. more »
- Construction to start on Sudbury water sports centre
- Sudbury's canoe club is preparing for what it hopes will be the last summer in its current building, as construction is expected to begin on the multi-million-dollar Northern Water Sports Centre. more »
- Federal Court won't remove MPs over election robocalls
- The Federal Court didn't throw six MPs out of their seats over allegations of widespread vote suppression through automated robocalls in the 2011 federal election. But Judge Richard Mosley did find that fraud occurred, linked to the Conservative Party's database. more »
Top News Headlines
- Royal Bank pledges not to outsource jobs for cash savings
- Washington police blame bridge collapse on Alberta trucker
- Man accused of killing child in patio crash granted bail
- Senators' unlikely playoff run ends in Game 5 disappointment
- The Ottawa Senators can't hang their heads after a 6-2 loss in Game 5 ended their improbable run to the second round of the NHL playoffs, but questions abound whether their 40-year-old captain will hang up his skates. more »