Statement from the Ombudsman on the Release of His Report on Governance

March 28, 2017

 

Today I release a report titled The Case for a Permanent and Independent Ombudsman Office: The Defence Community Deserves No Less

This report to the Minister of National Defence makes one recommendation:

It is recommended that the Minister of National Defence support the enactment of legislation aimed at giving the Office of the Defence Ombudsman organizational permanence and independence from the Department of National Defence with respect to all functional authorities.

This recommendation, if accepted, will finally position the organization as a totally independent voice on behalf of all members of the Defence community.

Over the past 19 years most all of those who have held this Office, at some point in their tenure, have come to the same conclusion.

The working relationship with the department has and continues to be the cornerstone on how we work together to move things forward.

To have the recommendations concerning National Defence personnel elevated to Parliament shows both transparency and willingness.  Transparency to have issues facing national defence personnel and their families raised at the national parliamentary level, and willingness to honestly and openly speak to the concerns raised by the community and to promote fulsome timely responses to these recommendations.

To close, as all finance and human resources authorities are delegated through the Deputy Minister of National Defence, this places unrealistic and bureaucratic restrictions on this organization.  Whether intended or unintended, applying a bureaucracy that mirrors the processes and approaches of a $20 billion organization to an organization with an operating budget of $6 million makes little to no sense at all.  Examples that this cumbersome process has on the operations of this organization have been provided, in detail, to the Minister of National Defence for consideration.

This report is not about me. I have always publicly stated I am a one-term Ombudsman. Additionally, the Minister has indicated on multiple occasions that the acceptance and implementation of recommendations do not reflect on the individual Ombudsman himself, but the need to right wrongs.1 I could not agree more. This is about how best to position this office to serve the interests of the defence community for the coming decades. They deserve no less.

Should the Minister agree with the recommendation, I am fully committed to working with him and the Department of National Defence to fulfill this commitment prior to the expiration of my mandate. This will allow the next Ombudsman to work under a legislated mandate from day one of his term.

I look forward to the Minister’s response and as always will keep my constituents and the Canadian people advised as we move forward.

 

Gary Walbourne
Ombudsman

 

1 From the 40th Meeting of House of Commons Standing Committee on National Defence (March 9, 2017)

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