The Editor, Sir:
I write to thank you for my wide-ranging interview by senior writer Gary Spaulding last Friday. I took the opportunity to discuss with him the reasons for what he has described as the "staggering backlog" in cases being handled by this office, as well as other challenges which, please God, we intend to overcome.
Pity it is that an otherwise fair report in your Sunday Gleaner contained an egregious blemish. For I am said to have "refused to put up with many a weary travellers (sic) who ventured to our door as a place of last resort." Of course, what I was at pains to convey was that many weary travellers come to our door as a place of last resort or of refuge from governmental maladministration: that they should therefore be received with respect, empathy and courtesy.
Suggesting the opposite
Further, that they have a right to our prompt, courteous and efficient service upon which they should insist, but politely. The passage quoted, therefore, suggested completely the opposite. What is becoming institutionalised mantra merits recognition not contortion.
Nor did I refer to previous "public defenders". For there has been only one such, my distinguished predecessor and learned friend, Mr Howard Hamilton, QC. To be sure, I did pay fitting tribute to him as well as all previous parliamentary ombudsmen, of whom he was the last. The others were Mr Errington G. Green, the first and great exemplar; Mr Justice Owen Marsh (ret'd), a quiet but profoundly effectual champion of utility consumer rights, and the Honourable Mr Justice James Kerr (ret'd), a revered former judge of appeal who became an iconic figure in Western ombudsmanry.
Small wonder then that in acknowledging their immense contribution to the ongoing work of this office I should pray, and humbly so, that with the support of a passionate new deputy, Ms Lorna Errar, the former senior resident magistrate; Mr Lindberg Simpson, a new and skilled director of investigations, devoted veterans, the current crop of officers and agents and an increasingly informed and discerning citizenry, the "staggering backlog" will be dealt with satisfactorily and we, too, yet make our mark.
I am, etc.,
W. Earl Witter, QC, JP