All posts tagged Auditor General of Canada

Is the public sector integrity commissioner a friend or foe to whistleblowers?

This piece was first published in the Hill Times on February 20, 2017.

Last week, I wrote about the shortcomings of our government whistleblower protection system by examining the law itself. But that’s only half of the story: the efficacy of the program depends equally on those managing it, especially the Public Sector Integrity Commissioner.

This position, created in 2006, is a powerful one: the commissioner is an agent of Parliament, like the auditor general, with formidable investigative powers. However, unlike the Office of the Auditor General, the Office of the Integrity Commissioner (PSIC) does not have a proud track record—in fact it has been a troubled agency from day one.

These troubles have arisen, not because of the many shortcomings in the law but because of the actions of successive com- missioners, some of whom have consistently been criticized by the auditor general or the courts for neglecting their mandate and abusing their authority.

Over the past decade, all three successive commissioners have used similar methods which, by design or not, result in whistleblowers being discouraged or prevented from going to PSIC—and being denied protection when they do. Let’s look at a few examples.

The first two commissioners—In several cases  Ouimet and Dion—both took steps to water down or re-interpret PSIC’s mandate.Read the rest

Integrity Commissioner Dion should be replaced

Allan Cutler

Public Sector Integrity Commissioner Mario Dion

“Gross Mismanagement” “These are not my words but the words used by the Auditor General in his recent report on the Office of the Integrity Commissioner. “We found that the actions and omissions of PSIC senior managers (the Commissioner and Deputy Commissioner) in relation to this file amount to gross mismanagement “The score is now 2 for 2. Two reports by the Auditor General for two Integrity Commissioners. Both Christiane Ouimet and Mario Dion are batting zero.

Furthermore the Auditor General states that both the Commissioner and the Deputy Commissioner committed wrongdoings as defined in subsections 8(a) and (c) of the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act. A question now needs to be answered. Which is worse – internal abuse or external abuse? The abuse done to employees of the Integrity Commissioner under Ouimet or the abuse done to all those who have tried to expose federal bureaucratic corruption with Dion? Both Commissioners were former senior bureaucrats. Both appeared more interested in their position and protecting former colleagues than in helping others.

Gross Mismanagement: The two OPSIC cases reviewed by the Auditor General overlap the terms of both Commissioners. The Auditor General states that he did not expect 100% of the files to be managed without error.… Read the rest

Our 2014 Wish List

Allan Cutler

We now mark the beginning of a New Year, 2014. At this time it is worth pausing, thinking back to what was or was not achieved and looking forward with our wish list of what may or may not be achieved in the future.

Wish #1: That there will be a sincere effort to expose wrongdoing in the workplace and to protect whistleblowers.

I was recently sent a cartoon by a whistleblower. While the source of the cartoon was inadvertently left out, the caption struck a nerve. It read, “Do you realize that exposing the illegal things your government has been doing is illegal?” Unfortunately, there is more truth than fiction in this caption. We know of ‘gag orders’ that have been forced on some whistleblowers to prevent them from speaking out about wrongdoing. In fact, according to a reliable source, one of these gag orders was drafted by Office of the Integrity Commissioner of Canada (OPSIC) – the Office who should be encouraging whistleblowing.

From a whistleblowers viewpoint, OPSIC has been a dismal failure. While there is the appearance of small successes, they are few in number. There appear to be two goals in that office. First is to find a reason to reject an accusation.… Read the rest