Accusations from government insiders that he was a tyrannical boss who abused a taxpayer-funded expense account took on tinges of McCarthyism, Andre Marin said yesterday after he was reappointed as ombudsman.
At first Marin declined to comment on the smear campaign, calling it “water under the bridge.”
But just moments later he made it clear the months-long ordeal had been hard to take.
“Of course it hasn’t been easy,” said Marin, who was reappointed to a five-year term.
“It’s been very difficult on me and my family and my office, but it’s part of the process.”
Marin was the subject of a campaign by unnamed Liberals to discredit him after the government announced it wanted a new process for hiring independent officers of the legislature. The opposition parties held firm in demanding Marin be reappointed.
Marin seemed the obvious target after the Liberals quickly agreed to reappoint Anne Cavoukian as privacy commissioner and Gord Miller as environmental commissioner. Marin was left dangling with just a six-month contract extension as ombudsman.
The attacks against Marin were generating so much attention that Premier Dalton McGuinty was forced to weigh in two weeks ago to tell Liberals to back off a man who had been doing a good job of pointing out faults with government — the job he was appointed to do.
Marin said he was glad he’d been nice to everyone in kindergarten, or we would have heard from them too.
“It took almost a McCarthyism turn of events, with everyone trying to outdo each other on trying to throw some mud,” said Marin, making a reference to the U.S. senator who led a campaign to out communists in the 1950s.
“But I’m very pleased that the premier intervened. I saw that as a major turning point.”
Marin went through a second interview yesterday, the only candidate to do so, and by mid-afternoon it was announced he would be reappointed with unanimous support of all three parties. Even Liberal house leader Monique Smith sang his praises in the legislature.