Ombudsthingy Bingo: The trouble with Fiona

Even as the long-suffering underlings of deposed Ontario ombudsmidget Andre Marin crawl out of the shadows of his capacious self-regard, relief may prove fleeting.

Should Fiona Crean, currently emptying out her desk as Toronto’s ombudsthingy, succeed in her bid to replace Marin as feared, it’ll amount to a simple shuffling of the self-promoters.

Since her 2008 installation by Mayor David Miller (a soft landing from her rather abrupt ouster at the Ministry of Community and Social Services), Crean has easily proven Marin’s equal in the tireless pursuit of headlines over results.

Take her 2013 jihad against the scourge of red tape, “a significant barrier to the fair and equitable treatment that the citizens deserve,” she called it at one of her many news conferences. “Many people may think that red tape is a nuisance. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Such thinking minimizes the real-life experiences that residents face.”

Alas, when she loudly declared her impending retirement in March, Toronto Sun typist Don Peat inconveniently asked how the whole red tape revolution was going.

Crean allowed that in the 18 months since the big announcement, it had, er, “gone down the list of priorities.”

Not Fiona’s fault, of course. As she repeatedly reminded everyone, beancounters at City Hall chronically undercut her performance by starving her office of resources.

After all, $1.63 million doesn’t go very far – especially once you subtract Fiona’s $220K salary (not bad for a champagne socialist!–ed.) and another $135K for her number two, Kwame Addo, to actually run the joint.

Also adding budget pressures, PR contracts for John McGrath, the former CBC Queen’s Park hack, to browbeat city hall reporters into giving her ink coverage (2014 award: $70,000) and farming out the production of her glossy annual report, featuring multiple pics of Herself, to Campbell Symons Design Inc. ($40,000).

Marin’s 2014 pay packet for running the entire province’s complaints department, $230,733, wouldn’t constitute much of a bump to Fiona’s take-home, but with a total budget of $11.4 million, she’d have a much mightier megaphone to broadcast the Gospel of Fiona.

Praise be!

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