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
Posted by DavidH on March 6, 2017
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
Posted by DavidH on February 20, 2017
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
Posted by Allan Cutler on April 28, 2014