Fired ombudsman says he’s moved on

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Daniel MacEachern
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Fraser March focuses on consultancy career

Fraser March

Former provincial ombudsman Fraser March maintains he did nothing wrong, but says he’s moving on and concentrating on his consultancy career.

Last month, March — fired by the the provincial House of Assembly in December 2005 over questionable travel and cellphone claims — wrote to The Telegram taking issue with a mention of him in a column castigating him (among others) for refusing to admit any wrongdoing. March says he was fired for falling out of favour with the provincial government, but his subsequent lawsuit to have his dismissal overturned failed, and a 2009 report from retired provincial judge John O’Neill declared the firing justified.

March said that while he’ll still defend himself against accusations and assumptions of guilt, he’s given up fighting his dismissal in court. He also asks why, if he’d been fired with cause, he received payment of $18,000 for unused leave and expenses.

“After Justice O’Neill wrote his report, I just gave it up,” he said. “You can only fight city hall so long. An individual can only fight the state so long. You know you’re not going to win against the state. … I just got tired of it all.”

Many of those who supported March at the time of his dismissal — or at least said March should have the right to defend himself instead of being summarily fired, such as then-provincial Liberal leader Gerry Reid and then-provincial leader Jack Harris — are no longer even in the House, said March.

“Governments change and people change, and thank God for that,” he said.

And March has gone back to what he was doing before becoming ombudsman.

“I have a consulting business, the same one I had before I was appointed ombudsman,” he said. “I do work for various unions and a couple of employers. I do a lot of work in Canada Pension appeals for individuals, and I do a few workers’ compensation cases.”

The issue of his firing rarely comes up in his work, he said.

“It’s pretty well dead,” he said. “Every once in a while, I’ll meet an old friend at somebody’s funeral — because I seem to spend a lot of time going to funerals these days — they ask the same questions you’re asking. There’s a group of people who are absolutely sure I’m innocent, and there’s a group of people who are absolutely sure I’m guilty as sin.”

If the accusations at the time were true, said O’Neill, then there was no excuse for the government not to have him charged and the case brought to court.

“I should have been charged if I’d committed fraud. Not only was I not charged, I was paid for all the expense claims they claimed I cheated on. So I really haven’t got a complaint. I didn’t lose anything, except I got contrary and decided to fight the government, and that cost me some legal fees which I’m still paying off.”

His consultancy work is keeping him busy, he said.

“I had five bypasses two years ago, so I’ve kind of just wiggled back into the system again,” he said. “For a 68-year-old, I’ve got as much work as I want to do.”

dmaceachern@thetelegram.com

Twitter: @TelegramDaniel

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