All posts in category Whistleblowers in Canada

The Operations Committee leaps into action to protect whistleblowers – or does it?

This piece was first published in the Hill Times on February 13, 2017.

Whistleblower protection advocates across Canada were celebrating last week when the news broke that Hon. Scott Brison, President of Treasury Board, had suddenly asked the Government Operations Committee (OGGO) to conduct a review of the federal whistleblower protection law (the PSDPA). This review, which by law should have taken place 5 years ago, has been steadfastly blocked by Treasury Board since 2012. Why the sudden change of heart? No-one knows.

The big question now is whether members of OGGO can find the time, determination and resources to do justice to this very important task, handed to them at very short notice.

Hearings began on Tuesday, and on Thursday morning three civil society witnesses were called – Allan Cutler, David Yazbeck and myself. We presented damning testimony regarding the dysfunctional nature of both the law and the Integrity Commissioner’s office. We pleaded with the committee to call a wide range of follow-up witnesses – outside experts rather than those running the system – in order to obtain a proper understanding of how badly broken the current system is. And we offered detailed suggestions on how to fix it.… Read the rest

When I first started 10 years ago, whistleblowing was a dirty word

It has been 10 years since the Liberals’ Sponsorship Scandal and my elevation to be known as “The Whistleblower.” This was not my choice. Leadership comes in various forms. The most common is those who seek to be the leader. The least common is being forced to be a leader by representing something of importance. That is the role that I was assigned and not the role I chose.

Once identified, I had options of what to do with the label “The Whistleblower” given to me by the media during the Sponsorship Scandal. I could ignore it and fade into the background or use
it to try and make changes. The latter was my chosen route.

For the last 10 years, I have been representing whistleblowers and giving suggestions on how they might want to address their situations. The decisions are always theirs. Some, learning
what they face, have retreated and allowed corruption to continue. Fortunately, the majority have
had the courage of their convictions and have fought the good fight—usually unsuccessfully.

I have continued speaking and writing about whistleblowing—what it entails and how corruption is allowed to exist. I point out that there are only three types of participants in a corrupt situation—the abuser, the fighter (whistleblower) and the enablers.… Read the rest

Time to turn a new leaf with whistleblowers

We are now about six months into the new Liberal government mandate. It’s a good time to stop and take stock. From a whistleblowing viewpoint, has anything changed under the new regime?

There are some indicators of a positive change. In November 2015, scientists were reported to have been “unmuzzled.” We’ve also heard from public servants speaking off the record about a positive change in culture inside government; impartial advice is again valued. The new government has also dropped several legal cases—for example, one in which the previous government tried to silence Cindy Blackstock and her efforts to get fair funding for aboriginal education.

On the other hand, there are also negative indicators. While the Liberals promised to be open by default with information—and continue to reinforce this message—they have recently announced that reforms to the Access to Information Act will have to wait until 2018. This is a major disappointment for advocates. They believe that good recommendations for change already exist and simply have to be enacted. So why the wait? After 10 years of Conservative government, none of the skeletons in the closet will belong to the Liberals. There are still significant delays in obtaining information from departments under the ATI.… Read the rest