Cases & Issues

Canadians for Accountability is interested in any issues that pertain to whistleblowing and accountability, and tries to follow all whistleblower cases in Canada. Although our efforts are still limited by our resources, the pages in this section of our website underline those we have been able to focus on.

Cases We’re Following

Canadians for Accountability has been approached by over 30 whistleblowers in the past year and a half – some even preceding our incorporation in June 2008. While we try to give all the attention they deserve, we currently have only our volunteers to assess each case as it comes in. Nonetheless, we have worked to make a difference and have developed a priority handling system and case analysis template.

Some of our more prominent cases include:

  • The NYC: A Consultant Facing Reprisal for Making Findings of Mismanagement at Manitoba Hydro
  • Jim Black: An Ontario Teacher Punished for Speaking Out Against Child Abuse
  • Perry Dunlop: An Honest Policeman Punished for Speaking Out Against Child Abuse
  • Mark Halfacree: Canadian Pari-Mutual Agency Whistleblower
  • Hugh Danford: Transport Canada Aviation Safety Whistleblower
  • Kevin Gauthier: Air Canada Whistleblower

This does not complete the list of Canadian whistleblowers, though. Many have not approached us or have primary contact with the Federal Accountability Initiative for Reform (an organization which advocates for whistleblowers in the federal government).

A fuller list with links to more information can be found below.

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The NYC: A Consultant Facing Reprisal for Making Findings of Mismanagement at Manitoba Hydro

Hired to help Manitoba Hydro better manage its financial risks, the NYC worked for over four years with Manitoba Hydro officials. In the middle of her contract, the NYC e-mailed the Manitoba Hydro CEO and reported results which, using her models, showed that the Crown corporation had sustained over $1.1 billion in avoidable losses in recent years. The NYC’s contract was promptly terminated. When the findings became public, Manitoba Hydro management responded vigorously, using tactics which are typical of responses to whistleblowing worldwide: they hired friendly/self-appointed auditing firms to refute the NYC’s findings and attacked the NYC’s character and credibility. They also appear to be attempting to “out” the NYC, and using intimidation to stop employees coming forward. This is also a common tactic.

The NYC was recently denied intervener status at Manitoba Public Utilities Board hearings. Canadians for Accountability believes that this is contrary to the public interest as it will allow Manitoba Hydro management to make unrefuted claims at will with no measure of credibility or competence.

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Jim Black: An Ontario Teacher Punished for Speaking Out Against Child Abuse

Jim Black approached Canadians for Accountability in early 2009, looking for help. A retired Ontario teacher with 30 years of experience, he appears to have an excellent reputation amongst his peers: in 2002 he was nominated for the Prime Minister’s Award in teaching and he served on the Ontario College of Teachers Council from 2002-2003. We evaluated his situation and determined that he fit the criteria of a whistleblower in difficulty.

Mr. Black was contacted by the Ontario Ministry of Education in 2004 and asked to provide a critique of the Ontario College of Teachers. As his experience there was troubling, he produced a four-page report that was very critical of the College – notably in its allowing sexual offenders back into the classroom – and recommended some significant changes. Following this, he reports a series of escalating reprisals. He retired in 2006 and made his report more public. This resulted in media attention, which in turn led to disciplinary action by the College.

Mr. Black went through a Kafka-esque pseudo-legal nightmare, charged with vague offences and threatened with fines and suspension – despite the fact that he has now retired.

Canadians for Accountability prepared a letter of support and sent it to the former Registrar of the Ontario College of Teachers, Mr. Brian McGowan. This letter, linked below, asked for Mr. McGowan to consider abandoning the disciplinary process now under way and re-evaluate the case. The letter also contains details of the case.

Letter to past OCT Registrar Brian McGowan, dated February 20, 2009 (1.4 MB)

Mr. McGowan responded the same day we sent our letter. He does not address the substance of our letter or the public interest aspect of Mr. Black’s case. Read his reply here:

Letter to Canadians for Accountability, dated February 20, 2009 (133 KB)

In July 2009, Mr. Black was fined $1000 and suspended from teaching for 24 months. His name and case was published in the College magazine Professionally Speaking, which was circulated to some 220,000 teachers. Nowhere in the description of his case does it mention that the complaint was laid by an individual convicted of sexual offenses against students, and the standard of proof described is a travesty.

Yet, as far as we can determine, no action has been taken to address the problems that Mr. Black reported.

On December 17, 2009, Canadians for Accountability sent a letter to the Ontario Minister of Education, asking her to investigate and intervene in the process which was used to punish Mr. Black. In it, we make it clear that we believe the process failed to meet a reasonable standard for fair process or for evidence, violated the principles of natural justice. The letter was copied to Senator Roméo A. Dallaire, Ontario Conservative Party leader Tim Hudak and Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath. None of these officials responded.

The letter is linked below:

Letter to the Ontario Minister of Education, dated December 17, 2009 (1.3 MB)

On May 27, 2011, Canadians for Accountability wrote André Marin, the Ontario Ombudsman, to ask him to consider this case in his speech at the OCT annual meeting in June. He declined to do so.

Letter to Ontario Ombudsman, dated May 27, 2011 (53 KB)

In February 2012, Canadians for Accountability made a submission to Justice Patrick Lesage, for his review of the Ontario College of Teachers. We were highly critical of the handling of Mr. Black’s case.

Letter to Hon. Patrick LeSage, dated February 7, 2011 (93 KB)

Media Coverage of Jim Black’s Case

Teachers get licenses back despite sexual abuse
CTV, November 15, 2006

College of Teachers needs to step back and review its proceedings in the James Black Case
Tomorrow’s Trust, February 23, 2009

Ontario Teacher Punished for Speaking Out on Reinstated Sexual Offenders
LifeSiteNews.com, June 17, 2009

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Perry Dunlop: An Honest Policeman Punished for Speaking Out Against Child Abuse

Perry Dunlop was a police officer with two awards as Cornwall Police Officer of the Year. While investigating complaints of sexual abuse by prominent local citizens he faced resistance and reprisals – including threats against his family. A task force was formed to investigate the allegations, but led nowhere. Due to persistent efforts, the Cornwall Public Inquiry was finally convened to look into the handling of the case. The toll on his family and his health has been enormous, and groups and individuals still seek to tarnish his reputation.

On December 15, 2009, the final report of the Cornwall Public Inquiry was released. It placed a great deal of blame at the feet of a number of institutions in Cornwall and Ontario for failing to deal with the issue quickly, honestly or openly. Unfortunately, it also contains an implicit criticism of Perry Dunlop, without whose actions nothing would have happened. We strongly disagree with Commissioner G. Normand Glaude’s comments about Mr. Dunlop.

Canadians for Accountability sponsors the Golden Whistle Award, which in 2008 was presented to Mr. Dunlop to honour his moral courage.

For more information about Mr. Dunlop and his case, please visit Sylvia MacEachern’s website. She has covered Mr. Dunlop’s cause and persecution for years.

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Mark Halfacree: Canadian Pari-Mutuel Agency Whistleblower

Mark Halfacree tried to fix a problem with Agriculture Canada’s Canadian Pari-Mutuel Agency information – information used for horse race betting charts. Amongst other reprisals, he reports that he has been followed by a private detective for some time. He was recently fired, the last step in their reprisal.

In December 2011, Mr. Halfacree had his case heard at the Public Service Labour Relations Board. So far, his manager has had to admit using public funds to hire a private detective to spy on Mr. Halfacree. This is an extreme case of abuse of authority, and we look forward to the conclusion of the hearing in June 2012.

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Hugh Danford: Transport Canada Aviation Safety Whistleblower

Hugh Danford was a Transport Canada Civil Aviation inspector with decades of experience in the aviation industry. Following a 1999 crash in Davis inlet which killed 22 year-old Damien Hancock, Mr. Danford prepared a report documenting Transport Canada management’s failure to act against the pilot (the Hancock report). This pilot had already crashed four times and had a long history of other violations. The Hancock report also noted that Transport Canada was not implementing a Transportation Safety Board recommendation and that Transport Canada was negligent and in part responsible for the death of Damien Hancock.

As punishment for speaking out persistently, Transport Canada senior management employed a tactic which has been well described in literature on whistleblowing: dubbed the “nuts and sluts” approach, there was a concerted effort to represent Mr. Danford as mentally unstable (women are sometimes represented as promiscuous). He was also described as insubordinate. At one point, Transport Canada management ordered him arrested on unfounded allegations that he had made a death threat. The charges were dropped shortly thereafter, but the point had been made to Mr. Danford and other employees of Transport Canada. Ultimately, he was forced out of Transport Canada. Since then, other aircraft crashes have occurred and similar concerns raised about Transport Canada oversight.

Mr. Danford has made many attempts to have his concerns and the reprisals addressed, all without success. Most recently, Canadians for Accountability accompanied him in a meeting with the Interim Public Sector Integrity Commissioner, Mario Dion.

To read more about the issues Mr. Danford tried to raise – and other aviation safety issues – visit the URCOMBOT website.

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Kevin Gauthier: Air Canada Whistleblower

Kevin Gauthier is a former Air Canada pilot who raised concerns about practices that could lead to uncontrolled rollbacks by aircraft at air terminals. For raising this issue, he has been persecuted out of his job. No effective action to address the problems he raised has been taken, however.

Mr. Gauthier is not the only employee of an airline to come to us about safety concerns. For this reason, we encourage Canadians to take an active interest in Transport Canada’s Safety Management Systems.

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Other Canadian Whistleblowers

There are many other whistleblowers who have not contacted us, whose cases are much older, or who have instead made primary contact with the Federal Accountability Initiative for Reform (FAIR). Where possible, links will direct you to more information.

  • Allan Cutler: raised concerns about the Sponsorship Scandal as early as 1996, yet noting was done until the media got the story. He suffered reprisals which included having his responsibilities taken away and being forced to sit in a tiny room with no work for hours each day.
  • Ian Bron: a former naval officer, he reported wrongdoing at Transport Canada, including gross mismanagement of marine security and unethical practices by management. The Deputy Minister gave the report of wrongdoing to implicated individuals and left the response in their hands. A reprisal was planned and executed, including investigations into Mr. Bron’s conduct and poisoning his new work environment with false allegations. So far as we can determine, no independent investigation into the substance of his report was conducted.
  • Joanna Gualtieri: exposed waste and lavish expenses by Department of Foreign Affairs officials overseas, and is currently locked in a 10 year legal battle with government over the reprisals she has suffered. She founded the FAIR to advocate for whistleblower protection in the federal public service. Read more on the FAIR website.
  • Brian McAdam: uncovered evidence of corruption at the Canadian consulate in Hong Kong and the infiltration of Chinese organized crime members and spies into Canada. He was ostracized, pushed into a dead-end job and finally retired. Read more on the FAIR website.
  • Dr. Shiv Chopra, Dr. Margaret Hayden and Dr. Gerard Lambert: refused to yield to management pressure at Health Canada to approve bovine growth hormone and blew the whistle on the drug approval process. All three were fired in 2004 and are still fighting to get their jobs back. Read more on the FAIR website.
  • Dr. Nancy Olivieri: fought a multinational drug company who wanted her to bury research results that indicated health danger with a new drug. Legal action was initiated against her, with the University of Toronto (her employer) refusing to intervene on behalf of academic rights. While the suit was eventually settled, the drug company initiated a new lawsuit against her in 2009. They accuse her, among other things, of being responsible for a Wikipedia article which is critical of the company.
  • Luc Pomerleau: concerned about the implications of changes to the federal government’s food inspection regime, shared an inappropriately classified document about the changes with his union. For doing so, just weeks before the 2008 listeriosis outbreak that killed 22 people, he was fired.

For more whistleblower stories, visit the FAIR website.

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Issues We’re Following

Canadians for Accountability has an interest in all accountability and whistleblowing issues. Sometimes, however, we pay special attention to topics we consider especially relevant or important. Some of these topics include:

  • Accountability in the Canadian Armed Forces: following revelations of sexual assault in the spring of 2014. We are now conducting a survey of companies that do business with the CAF, or hire former military personnel, to gauge their attitudes on the issue.
  • Strengthening and broadening whistleblower protection laws: We believe that laws to protect and encourage whistleblowing should be expanded to the private sector, with stricter penalties for retaliation.
  • Industry self regulation in food safety and transportation: We believe that easily identifiable flaws in these regulatory frameworks put Canadians at risk. This includes food safety and Transport Canada’s Safety Management Systems. In fact, Canadians for Accountability was a key participant in the Air Safety Round Table held on Parliament Hill in April 2009. The round table is evolving into an alliance, details of which can be found at SafeSkies.ca.
  • Access to information rights: We believe that access to information is fundamental to open democracy and government. Recent reports suggest that access rights have been eroded in recent years.
  • Attitudes and Understanding of Whistleblowing: We surveyed candidates during the 2008 federal election to better understand their points of view. This will help us in our education efforts.

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Accountability in the Canadian Armed Forces

Canadians for Accountability is appalled by the reports, in spring 2014, of widespread sexual assault in the Canadian Armed Forces. Maclean’s magazine reported estimates that as many as five women were being assaulted every day. To make matters worse, these allegations first came to the public eye in 1998. At that time, the government was assured that the problem would be dealt with. Instead, it appears that the problem was allowed to fester. Canadians for Accountability supports removing the authority to investigate and prosecute sexual assault, as well as other non-military offences, from the jurisdiction of military authorities. This would put them in line with other NATO countries, such as Great Britain, where a civilian prosecutor is employed.

The second issue, that of the treatment of military personnel with mental health problems, has also received widespread coverage. Of primary concern is the stigma attached to PTSD and depression, usually arising from time in combat theatre but also from other circumstances such as sexual assault. Critics argue that the CAF has failed to provide adequate treatment, and even where it exists, personnel are afraid to request help as they believe it will have career-ending consequences. Evidence suggests that this is a valid concern.

To get an idea of how employers, the public and military personnel themselves view the issues, Canadians for Accountability has developed three surveys. The survey for businesses has already been sent to 40 companies that do business with the CAF or are known to hire former military personnel. We look forward to hearing their views.

We are also interested in your views, and ask you to complete the survey (or surveys) you feel is most relevant to you. Results are confidential, and if you have concerns about anonymity, do not use a work computer.

If you have any questions or suggestions, email us at info@canadians4accountabilty.org.

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Safety Management Systems

The April 2009 Air Safety Round Table

Kirsten Stevens
Kirsten Stevens

Kirsten Stevens, an Advocate for the Safety of Workers Transported by Air, lost her husband to a preventable crash in 2005 Since then, she has worked as an advocate for greater accountability, better enforcement and effective safety laws for the aviation industry. She, like Canadians for Accountability and many others, is deeply concerned by Transport Canada’s move to Safety Management Systems (SMS).

Kirsten arranged an Air Safety Round Table for Tuesday, April 21, 2009. This event was hosted by Dennis Bevington, Member of Parliament for Western Arctic and NDP Transport Critic. Following the Round Table, a press conference was held on April 22. Mr. Bevington was joined by Mr. Greg Holbrooke, Chair of the Canadian Federal Pilots Association, Mr. Ian Bron, Secretary for Canadians for Accountability and Ms. Kirsten Stevens. They were joined by Peter Julian, former NDP Transport Critic.

See the details of the Round Table – including transcripts and video – on the SafeSkies.ca website.

SMS: Description and Flaws

Wikipedia describes SMS as “…A move away from prescriptive regulations (in which regulatory requirements are set out in detail, and require strict adherence to specific criteria) to performance-based regulations (in which the objective is set out, and the regulated entity is only measured against achievement of the objective). In practical terms, it requires that the industry institute policies and systems designed to reduce risk, such as by implementing reporting systems for the reporting and correction of shortcomings. The regulating authority would then change emphasis from direct operational oversight to oversight of the organizational systems and their effectiveness.”

In order for performance-based regulatory frameworks like SMS to be effective, several conditions must be met:

  • The industry/operator must already be mature and have a high degree of compliance
  • The initial safety assessment for the operator must be conducted at arm’s length
  • There must be a safe environment for people to bring problems forward and have them dealt with in a transparent manner
  • There must be no conflict of interest between oversight and the business end of operations
  • Performance standards must be developed and measured by the regulator
  • The regulator should have sufficient resources and expertise to properly inspect all aspects of operations

Airframe of the floatplane that killed Dave Stevens and four others. Families of the deceased, unsatisfied with Transport Canada's response to the crash, are preparing to deliver it to private forensic aviation investigators.
Airframe of the floatplane that killed Dave Stevens and four others. Families of the deceased, unsatisfied with Transport Canada’s response to the crash, are preparing to deliver it to private forensic aviation investigators.

Canadians for Accountability does not believe that the conditions for a successful implementation of SMS are in place. In particular, the proposed legislation leaves out whistleblower protection and keeps crucial information from the public.

Equally disturbing is the lack of transparency with which recent crashes have been handled by Transport Canada – the crash which killed Kirsten’s husband being an example. There are concerns that Transport Canada itself may not have the requisite safety culture to properly oversee SMS.

It should also be mentioned that Transport Canada has conducted no risk assessment of SMS, making this a massive experiment with human lives at stake. The results of this experiment are predictable, however: Transport Canada implemented SMS for the rail industry several years ago. It has not been a resounding success.

More Info on SMS and the Movement for Air Safety

For more information on SMS and its flaws, visit the Federal Accountability Initiative for Reform website.

For more information on the roundtable and the emerging aviation safety alliance, visit the Safeskies.ca website.

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2008 Federal Election Candidates’ Survey

Canadians for Accountability has completed its 2008 Election Survey on Whistleblowing. This survey was intended to raise awareness of the issue of whistleblowing, to stimulate debate, and to determine each candidate’s and party’s position and intentions.

Candidates were quite consistent in their responses. Nearly all saw a link between accountability and whistleblowing, and most agreed that whistleblowers act out of genuine concern and at great personal risk.

One area we were particularly interested in was how candidates would determine whether a person was a whistleblower. They were given a choice of subjective criteria.

  • Many identified several of these criteria as factors in considering whether a person was a whistleblower, and how to respond.
  • However, a number also noted that each case had to be determined on its own merits.

This is significant as many whistleblowers are immediately identified as lone, disgruntled employees, their concerns dismissed and their careers ruined. This occurs not just when targeted by ministers, CEOs or other very senior managers, but when intermediate managers falsely represent the motives and character of the whistleblower to their superiors. In fact, the latter is far more common.

We hope that candidates that were elected will keep this in mind. Subjective criteria, while worth consideration, are susceptible to manipulation. A neutral examination of the facts is a safer course.

Most candidates polled supported stronger laws to protect whistleblowers and to penalize those who retaliate against them, both in government and in the private sector. At present, there are almost no protections for private sector whistleblowers.

Most also agreed that:

  • whistleblowers forced into legal action should have their legal costs supported by the government,
  • bureaucrats found guilty of retaliation against whistleblowers should be forced to pay legal fees back to the government, and that
  • past whistleblowers should be compensated for their losses and suffering.

We hope that the survey gave all participants reason to reflect, and look forward to the successful candidates bringing real protections to whistleblowers in the public and private sectors. There are a number of whistleblowers in government still facing harassment and long battles in court, and many others who have given up the fight.

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Created: June 17, 2009

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