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Toronto's ombudsman’s fate put off until new council is elected

Toronto ombudsman Fiona Crean speaks at the City Council meeting in Toronto on Oct. 31, 2012.

Peter Power/Peter Power/The Globe and Mail

The fate of Toronto's ombudsman will be left until the next term after councillors voted to put off a decision on her future.

Fiona Crean's contract runs out in November of next year. And although the terms of the motion that council passed on Thursday are confidential until a contractual agreement is reached, several sources told The Globe and Mail the vote pushes the final decision on re-appointment until next year at the earliest.

The decision is a victory for councillors on the left, who spent the past several months lobbying to keep Ms. Crean in her job. It is also a blow to Mayor Rob Ford – a vocal critic of the ombudsman – as well as the centre-right councillors who had hoped to let her contract expire.

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Ms. Crean has been controversial throughout her tenure and has sparked the ire of Mr. Ford. Her report on human resources practices at Toronto Community Housing led to CEO Eugene Jones's resignation.

"It's a delay tactic," Councillor Michelle Berardinetti said of council's decision. She wouldn't comment on the specifics of the motion, but said, "it likely won't be back here at this council."

Next month's council session will be the last one before the October municipal election.

The first official meeting with a new council – and possibly a new mayor – will be in January, 2015.

"I believe in renewal," said Ms. Berardinetti, who moved a motion that failed 3-35 to re-appoint the ombudsman – but only to demonstrate that Ms. Crean no longer has the confidence of council.

"I'm not saying that this current ombudsman has an entrenched vision, but the whole point of having a renewal is so that they don't have an entrenched vision," she said.

Meanwhile, Councillor Maria Augimeri declared the council decision a victory for herself and other supporters of Ms. Crean.

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"I believe that Fiona Crean has done an outstanding job in the public sector," she said.

"She doesn't cower to authority, and I'm a big fan. I'm a big fan of standing up to bullies, too."

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National Food Reporter

Ann Hui is the national food reporter at The Globe and Mail. Previously, she worked as a national reporter and homepage editor for theglobeandmail.com and an online editor in News. More

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