The Ontario Liberals are mounting a smear campaign against outspoken ombudsman Andre Marin in order to sabotage his chances of keeping the post, opposition critics charged yesterday.

While the government flatly denied the claim, New Democrat Peter Kormos pointed to media reports of Liberal insiders questioning Marin’s expenses as proof there’s a plan afoot to rid the government of one of its most vocal critics.

“It’s very disturbing because the campaign being conducted, the comments — the slanderous, the malicious, the scurrilous comments being made about Mr. Marin — all with Liberal sources, appears to be an effort on the part of the government to derail Mr. Marin’s bid to be reappointed,” Kormos said.

The government is also sabotaging the hiring process by disclosing information about an all-party panel tasked with selecting the ombudsman, Kormos said.

Government house leader Monique Smith confirmed over the weekend that the panel reached an impasse and couldn’t agree on who should get the job.

The competition may not have attracted enough qualified candidates because it appears that the job wasn’t advertised very long, she said. So she’s asked Speaker Steve Peters to form a new panel and post the position more broadly.

Smith’s concern about the ads is puzzling when the government has admitted that about 50 people applied for the job, Kormos said.