All posts tagged Allan Cutler

Whistleblower protection: who really pulls the strings?

This piece first appeared in the Hill Times on February 27, 2017.

When examining the sorry track record of the Public Sector Integrity Commissioner’s Office, it’s easy to overlook those primarily responsible: it was Privy Council Office (PCO) and the Treasury Board Secretariat (TBS), working mostly behind the scenes, who—intentionally or not—set up PSIC to fail. Here’s how it was done.

The Role of Treasury Board:
Treasury Board drafted faulty legislation

Given the wide range of serious shortcomings in the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act (PSDPA), it’s difficult to believe that the drafters intended it to work—unless they were completely oblivious of best practices and other jurisdictions’ experience.

The most glaring example of this is the absence of a ‘reverse onus’ provision. The PSDPA puts the onus on whistleblowers to prove that the actions taken against them were reprisals—an almost impossible task. Effective whistleblowing laws shift the burden of proof to the employer to show that adverse actions were not intended as reprisals. This has been well understood for literally decades—since the disastrous experience of the Merit System Protection Board (in the U.S.) in the early 1980s. Without a reverse onus, of the first 2,000 whistleblowers who submitted claims of reprisal, only four prevailed.… Read the rest

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