2024 Conference


The Registration Desk will be located in the Palm Court of the Fairmont Empress Hotel.

Don’t miss this opportunity to network with colleagues from all levels of government, education, banking, private corporations, health care and a variety of other organizations.

Ombuds On Edge

This year’s theme is Ombuds on Edge:  Tackling Challenges, Evolving Practices, Enduring Principles and will include two and half days of keynote presentations, concurrent learning sessions, a panel discussion, Welcome Reception and Dinner. 

Keynote Speakers

Marion Buller
Chancellor, University of Victoria

Rob Behrens
Parliamentary and Health Services Ombudsman, UK

Ghizal Haress
Former Ombudsperson, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan

Marc-André Dowd
Protecteur du citoyen du Québec


Rob Behrens
Former Parliamentary and Health Services Ombudsman, UK

Rob Behrens, CBE is an Ombudsman and public servant. He began his career as an academic before joining the UK Cabinet Office where he was involved in training and development and contributed to the bilateral agreement to create a post-apartheid public service in South Africa. His assignments included the development of 200 liberation movement cadres, and work for the Constitutional Assembly and the (new) Ministry of Public Service, for which he was thanked personally by President Mandela.

After further international development work, Rob was appointed Secretary to the Committee on Standards in Public Life, the body advising the Prime Minister on ethical standards. Rob left the civil service in 2006 to become Complaints Commissioner to the Bar in England and Wales and was then appointed Higher Education Ombudsman in England and Wales a position he held for 8 years. At the end of his second term, Rob was appointed Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman, a post Rob held between 2017 and 2024. Rob was elected to the European and World Boards of the International Ombudsman Institute between 2020 and 2024 and played a leading role in creating Ombudsman peer review and the IOI European Learning Academy.

In addition to a range of non-executive Board positions in government and university sectors, Rob has been awarded honorary degrees by Worcester University and Coventry University. He is an Honorary Life Member of ENOHE, and was made a CBE in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours list in 2015.  Rob is a lifelong supporter of Manchester City Football Club.

Marion Buller
Chancellor, University of Victoria

The Honourable Marion Buller is a member of the Mistawasis Nehiyawak, a Cree First Nation in Saskatchewan. Ms. Buller was a lawyer, practicing criminal and administrative law for six years before being appointed as a BC Provincial Court judge.

Ms. Buller was the initial First Nations woman to be appointed as a judge in any level of British Columbia courts. She presided in Provincial Court in many locations across BC, including the northern circuit court. Ms. Buller founded and presided in the First Nations Court, in New Westminster, BC. This was the first Indigenous Court in BC. She also built the foundation for BC’s first Indigenous Family Court.

After presiding in BC Provincial Court for twenty-two years, Ms. Buller was appointed as the Chief Commissioner for the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. The National Inquiry was the first truly national inquiry in Canada and created precedent-setting procedures and practices. The National Inquiry’s strongly-worded Final Report and Calls for Justice have attracted both national and international attention.

After the National Inquiry, Ms. Buller returned to the practice of law. She is also the Chancellor of the University of Victoria.

Ms. Buller has been Director and President of the Indigenous Bar Association. She has served as Director for numerous other organizations, including the Law Foundation of BC.

In recognition of her work, Ms. Buller has received several awards, including an Honourary Doctor of Laws degree from Thompson Rivers University. In 2022, Ms. Buller was appointed as a Member of the Order of Canada.

Marc-André Dowd
Protecteur du citoyen du Québec

Marc-André Dowd assumed his duties as Ombudsman on March 27, 2022. Mr. Dowd is a lawyer who has been a member of the Bar since 1997. He holds a bachelor's degree from Université Laval and a master's degree in management of public organizations from the École nationale d'administration publique (ÉNAP).

He began his career as vice-president of the Permanent Youth Council. He then worked for 13 years at the Human Rights and Youth Rights Commission where he was successively articling student, litigator, executive assistant to the president to the Chairman, Director of the Quebec City office and regional authorities and, finally Vice-President of the Commission, responsible for the application of the Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms. He then joined the ranks of the Québec Ombudsman as vice-protecteur à la prévention et à l'innovation, where he oversaw the institution's systemic interventions.

He has also been a guest lecturer at Université Laval's Faculty of Law in the fields of administrative law, constitutional law, human rights and freedoms, and public administration.  In March 2017, he was appointed Commissaire à la déontologie policière (Police Ethics Commissioner), another opportunity for him to take concrete action on human rights, this time in the context of law enforcement interventions.

Ghizal Haress
Former Ombudsperson, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan

Ghizal Haress is an Afghan constitutional lawyer who was forced to leave the country after the Taliban's takeover in 2021. She now resides in Canada and works as a Visiting Scholar at the University of Toronto, engaging in research and teaching. Ghizal was Afghanistan's first Ombudsperson and the first woman to lead a law enforcement institution in the country. She also served as a Commissioner for Afghanistan's Independent Constitutional Oversight Commission. Ghizal has over a decade of experience as an Assistant Professor and has been the Chair of the Law department for three years at the American University of Afghanistan.

Concurrent Learning Sessions

In addition to our Keynote Speakers, we are pleased to offer over 20 outstanding concurrent learning sessions during the FCO/ACCUO joint 2024 conference.

Welcome Reception – Tuesday, October 22, 2024 (18:00-20:00)

Join your colleagues for delicious appetizers, drinks and conversation.

Gala Dinner – Wednesday, October 23, 2024 (18:00-21:00)

Let's celebrate getting together!!  Join your colleagues for dinner at the Fairmont Empress.

For registration enquiries, contact the FCO office:
Email info@ombudsforum.ca