All posts in category C4A Editorial

Less pretty words, more substantial action needed for military families

General Jonathan Vance

Hill Times photograph by Jake Wright

This piece was first published in the Hill Times on May 31, 2017.

They have been called our “best kept secret.” Will the current government’s defence policy review and decades of tight-fisted budgets continue to relegate the centres that serve our nation’s military and veteran families to social and fiscal obscurity?

It has been more than 30 years since the current 32 Military Family Resource Centres (MFRCs) began to take shape. The initiative was born in opposition to the failure of Canada’s military bureaucracy to acknowledge the importance of military families, long labelled dependants.

Spouses who showed bravery that even the military had to begrudgingly admire, fought in the courts and political arena to have a say in how the military affects the lives of military families.
Arguably, spouses still have little voice on military matters affecting the lives of their families. MFRCs were not created, and arguably still do not operate, to address their needs. Although mandated to be “managed independently of the chain of command,” reality still hinders MFRCs’ arm’s length aspirations. As Dr. Deborah Harrison, Canada’s leading expert on the impact of military life and culture on families, points out in her 2016 book, Growing up in Armyville, MFRCs are still an “arm of the CAF [Canadian Armed Forces] and, as such, their overriding goal is the operational readiness and retention of CAF members.”

True, each MFRC operates as a charity, governed by a board that must include at least 51 per cent civilian spouses of military members.… Read the rest

It’s not easy to report wrongdoing in the federal government (part 2)

We pick up the story from where we last left off. In trying to report wrongdoing, the employee has already encountered many obstacles that discourage him/her from proceeding. These include a non-responsive management, an ethics adviser more interested in protecting a department and their own career, and the written information that is on the Public Sector Integrity Commission’s website. In an effort to report the corruption, he or she now is going to fill out the disclosure form that is required by the Integrity Commissioner before any discussion can take place.

Let’s see, I have to provide my name, job title, address, and telephone number. The form restates that the commissioner does not accept disclosures via email due to security and privacy concerns. What do they mean by this? Is an email from me sent to them not secure and private? I really don’t understand this reasoning or why I can’t email them from my own Gmail account.

Wait a minute; it states the majority of communication will be via regular mail or telephone. Now I understand, they can phone me but I can’t phone them. What a curious philosophy when I am the one who wants to help.

The next question asks who I’m represented by.Read the rest

Do the right thing, how to blow the whistle on wrongdoing in the government: it’s not easy (part 1)

This piece first appeared in the Hill Times on March 20, 2017.

Whistleblowers are not well understood. They are under tremendous pressure and are faced with resolving their own personal belief in doing the right thing with survival. This affects them at work and at home.

The whistleblower may be faced with a number of situations: from blowing the whistle perhaps on the use of chemicals that have polluted the water table of neighbours, to blowing the whistle on financial fraud, to blowing the whistle on major and critical problems, such as in the Phoenix pay system.

The following is written from the perspective of a person who could be facing this type of dilemma and who is trying to decide what to do.

What should I do? I tried to bring up the problem to my manager. He listened, promised that action would take place but nothing happened. I know that he is concerned about taking a stand as that could end his career.

I am alone, isolated with no one to talk to or willing to support me. Since I spoke up, I am watched, my work closely scrutinized. Every word that I say can be used against me.Read the rest