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Published: Saturday 21 September, 2013

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The Liberal government is poised to defang two of its toughest watchdogs Ombudsman Andr Marin and Environmental Commissioner Gord Miller by not offering to renew their contracts, the Star has learned.



With mere weeks left in fiveyear terms that expire March 31, both Marin and Miller, who have repeatedly made headlines with criticisms of Premier Dalton McGuintys administration, have not been asked to stay on, sources say.



McGuinty confirmed Wednesday the government is looking for new blood in the environment commissioner and ombudsman roles. At some point in time youve got to make a change, he said, noting there are a lot of Ontarians interested in doing the jobs.



A review process is being set up with members of all three parties that could lead to new people in the two roles as the Liberals head toward next years provincial election campaign.



The Liberals insist Miller and Marin are not being frozen out.



The incumbents are open michael kors cheap michael kors cheap watch watch to applying, said Government House Leader Monique Smith, who last Thursday quietly set in motion the review process.



But the lastminute effort is raising eyebrows at Queens Park after Information and Privacy Commissioner Ann Cavoukian was appointed to an unprecedented third term last year amid complaints then from New Democrat MPP Peter Kormos that a similarly rigorous review was not followed.



It does smell a little fishy, Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak said Tuesday.



I am concerned that Dalton McGuintys motivation may be that just over a year out from the election campaign hes interested in silencing those who have been among his strongest and most effective critics.



Both the ombudsman and environment commissioner serve as independent officers of the Legislature. They are chosen by an allparty committee with appointments going to a vote of MPPs in the House, giving the final say to the majority Liberals.



Millers latest report in December took the government to task for not doing enough to curb greenhouse gases for the province to meet its emission reduction targets.



Marin has been more vocal and has proven adept at ge michael kors cheap watch tting splashy media coverage, moving away from the tradition of a single annual report to conduct 21 special investigations in five years on highprofile issues like lottery wins by insiders, property tax assessments, colon cancer drug coverage and the care of disabled children. His recommendations have been widely implemented and his criticisms pointed, such as calling the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation an arrogant, cutthroat agency.



Ms. Cavoukian has enjoyed a reappointment without hesitation from the government, said Kormos Welland, his partys justice critic.



She has been very capable but has not made the government a lightning rod for its own misdeeds as Mr. Marin has done. That exposes the governments motive.



Smith said the review that will begin soon is similar to the vetting Miller went through when he was appointed to a second term five years ago.



This is not unusual, she said.



In an aside that may not bode well for Marin, Smith noted no provincial ombudsman has ever been appointed to a second term and called the review for his job and Millers fair and open. Ombudsmen were appointed for 10year terms until 1999, when the term was reduced to five years.



Their terms are what they are. They will be advised . the process will move as quickly as it can, Smith said.



But with five weeks until the terms expire, NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said the government appears to be using the review to telegraph a chill.



The message is simple: If you give us too much trouble, be wary, because we may not be reappointing you.



Miller declined comment, although a source said he is interested in a third term in the job that pays him $159,122 annually. Marin said he first told the government 11 months ago that he would like to stay on in the post, which paid $228,821 last year.



But he learned only Monday night after the Star started making enquiries that the review was being launched.



If there is a competition I can guarantee I will be there. My work is an open book, said Marin, a former Ottawa Crown attorney who headed Ontarios Special Investigations Unit and was the Canadian Forces ombudsman before taking his current post.



I dont think that at this stage we need a noisy, distracting competition. If it aint broke, dont fix it.



Some senior Liberals have grumbled for years that Marin is a grandstander who likes the spotlight, although McGuinty has credited him for doing a good job.



His job is not to lend comfort to me or to the government or to any government of the day. His job is to expose areas where were coming up short and I think hes been pretty effective at that, McGuinty said in 2007.



With March 31 fast approaching, Smith said the government can make interim, sixmonth appointments to the jobs until fulltime appointees are found to serve fiveyear terms. michael kors cheap watch

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