All posts tagged abuse of authority

Recent Julian Fantino misstep shows some of what’s wrong in Ottawa

The latest mini-scandal in Ottawa involves some overtly partisan letters by Julian Fantino (or, more accurately, his staff writers) which were posted on a publicly funded CIDA website. This is against Treasury Board rules and so resulted in a complaint. The letters were taken down, but opposition critics are arguing that it was no innocent mistake.

This little incident is illustrative. The original letters were prepared for publication in newspapers, and were probably written by government employees – something that is allowed to a point. The dividing line between what is partisan and what is simply the government’s position has become increasingly fuzzy in recent decades.

Once it would have been out of bounds for a minister to ask bureaucrats to write a letter attacking opposition MPs, or to collect data on military helicopter usage by opposition critics, or to ask them to stop a potentially embarrassing access to information request from being processed. But attitudes have slowly changed, and now such requests are routine. What the press reports is just the tip of the iceberg.

Combined with this is the tendency for bureaucrats to simply do what they’re told – even lie – when ordered to do so.… Read the rest

Another blow to accountability in the federal government

Last week the Supreme Court dismissed an application to appeal a rejected grievance filed by a former government executive, Zabia Chamberlain. Ms. Chamberlain’s grievance was that she was sexually harassed and physically intimidated at work by her boss. The facts of the case were not in question – the man did these things repeatedly and boldly. The point of dispute was that he wasn’t appropriately disciplined for it (he only had to go a training session) and he wasn’t removed from her work space.

To make matters worse, it was Ms. Chamberlain who was in fact punished, being stripped of her position and labelled as a troublemaker.

Ms. Chamberlain found the grievance process to be useless. This is not a surprise: senior management controls the process and, in effect, used it as another way to punish her – by frustrating her at every step.

The fact is that the government’s grievance process is completely broken. I myself sat in a grievance hearing where a Director General adjudicated a grievance in which she was a respondent. With abuses of power like that, it’s no surprise that the average worker has no faith in the process any more.

Indeed, the boldness with which managers manipulate the process suggests that they know what they are doing, feel entitled to do so and expect no consequences.… Read the rest

There’s no accountability at Veterans Affairs Canada

The article below was first published in Ottawa’s Hill Times on February 27, 2012

By Allan Cutler and Ian Bron

Three weeks ago, John Larlee, chair of the Veterans Review and Appeal Board, responded to an op-ed written by Sean Bruyea. Bruyea’s comprehensive evidence and testimony effectively called Larlee to account for the failure of the Veterans Review and Appeal Board (VRAB) to provide dignified and adequate recourse for veterans as guaranteed by Canadian law.

What struck us as most curious about Larlee’s letter was its near complete lack of a substantive rebuttal to Bruyea’s original article. And since then, a scandal has arisen inside the VRAB which challenges Larlee’s missive.

To begin with, Larlee ignores the fact that in the last five years, the board has voluntarily and reluctantly granted permission for only two files to be returned to the Minister of Veterans Affairs for reconsideration. In the three years of Larlee’s tenure as chair, the board has not granted a single compassionate award allowed for in the legislation, another glaring shortfall in Larlee’s accounting of VRAB.

Hearing the story of VRAB member Harold Leduc, who was awarded $4,000 by the Canadian Human Rights Commission because of ill treatment by his colleagues, it makes perfect sense.… Read the rest