Feed Your Habit


Older than I'd like to be,younger than I'd like to be. Still raging against mass culture/conformity .. to be continued

Friday, December 15, 2006

Ron Stewart and The Auditor General

It’s old news now and it’s taken me a while to settle down and post some thoughts on Ron Stewart’s tenure as Ombudsman for the Office of Correctional Investigation (OCI).
The Office of the Auditor General of Canada conducted an audit into OCI affairs and concluded that Ron Stewart “had committed serious abuses and wrongdoing, some of which resulted in substantial personal benefit”

It appears that in addition to other allegations Ron Stewart did little or no work during the 6 years of the audit and claimed ‘cash out’ of annual leave, as he apparently never took a vacation in 14 years.
The full report actually makes fascinating reading and predictably it became a juicy news story for a few days.

The Vancouver Sun dutifully paraphrased the full report with a photograph supplied by Canwest News Service of Ron Stewarts’s cottage on Upper Rideau Lake. I can't find the link online for this story but here's the Ottawa Citizen follow-up and picture of the cottage.

For one thing only in Canada would you refer to a rather large summerhouse as a cottage. My initial reaction to the photograph of Ron Stewart’s “cottage” where he apparently spent most of his working hours was a derisive snort.
“Cottage” uh no that’s a “mansion”. Well hasty conclusions of that sort never bode well, which sent me to Google in an attempt to find the definition of cottage. Well as it turns out has a whole section devoted to the rather unique definition of cottage in Canada’s Cottage Country. If you own a property in Cottage country it can be considered a cottage even if it looks like a mansion.

Suitably chastened I embarked on an alternative train of thought.

Ron Stewart worked at the OCI for a long time, 26 years it appears yet the audit into his tenure only covered the last 6 years. Apparently he has unfairly denuded Canada’s treasury to the tune of $325 000. One can presumably conclude that he put his full working hours in at the office for the 20 years prior to the audit period.

What qualifications did he initially have in order to be an Ombudsman for federal offenders. At the very least a Social Work degree one would hope. It seems odd that a highly successful running back for the Ottawa Rough Riders football team would be able to step into a post acting as ombudsman without some background in criminology both practical and theoretical. It took some digging but I finally found this Ottawa Sun article defending Ron Stewart written by Earl McRae mentioning that he was a Law graduate from Queens University.

Ron Stewarts’ lawyers are vociferously denying the Auditor Generals allegations and maintaining that his reputation has been unfairly maligned in the court of public opinion.

It’s highly ironic if the allegations are proven to be valid, that the Ombudsman of the OCI would have been entrusted during his 26-year tenure with the welfare of federal prisoners some of whom were presumably themselves serving long sentences for financial offences.