All posts tagged corruption

Integrity Commissioner Finds More Wrongdoing, But Is It Enough?

After reading with interest the March 2013 report of the Public Sector Integrity Commissioner, Mario Dion, regarding misconduct at the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), we would like to congratulate him for finding and substantiating a whistleblowing situation.

On the positive side, Dion’s office received the report on May 11, 2012 and initiated an investigation four months later on Sept. 5, 2012. It was concluded on Nov. 9, 2012. This proves that when the commissioner wants to, that investigations can be done in a timely fashion. Furthermore, there was a clear-cut finding of wrongdoing.

But while this is encouraging, we at Canadians for Accountability still have concerns. Based on the information provided, it appears that CBSA had already recognized the problem, at least in part, and chose to do nothing but incorporate the relevant observation into the employee’s annual review. In addition, these actions have should have triggered a security review for the officer involved by CBSA. This would have involved the RCMP, and based on what we now know, would certainly have led to a revocation of the officer’s security clearance—and resulted in him being removed from his job.

This leads us to two questions: Why did CBSA management choose to ignore a criminal association by one of its border officers, and why did the integrity commissioner not sanction them?… Read the rest

UBC Institutes Allard Prize for International Integrity

The University of British Columbia is now in the nomination phase of its inaugural Allard Prize for International Integrity. This award is going to be presented to a person whom they feel best meets the criteria of leadership and courage, and works toward greater  accountability, transparency, anti-corruption and the rule of law. It comes with a prize of $100,000.

This award is an important step in changing the way the world works. By rewarding those who strive for the common good in the face of great adversity, they are encouraging others to do the same and making a warning to those who are corrupt and anti-democratic. This is needed even in Canada, as it remains a dangerous place for whistleblowers. Those laws that exist are either ineffective or are largely ignored. This gives employers free rein to make reprisals that can range from simple harassment to firing – and even arrest on trumped-up charges. Culturally, Canadians intellectually accept whistleblowing as valuable, but prejudices remain deeply rooted.

The story of the Canada’s Office of Public Sector Integrity Commissioner is an excellent example. Christiane Ouimet, the first Commissioner, was forced to resign in disgrace after she was found to have made reprisals against her own whistleblowing employees.… Read the rest

Does Canada need patronage?

Every now and then I come across a column or editorial that surprises me with its audacity. The one linked below is an excellent example. Written by Jordan Press, a Parliamentary journalist and self-acclaimed news literacy junkie, it builds a case on the merits of patronage in Canadian politics. He draws on experts in the field such as Donald Savoie and Robert Bothwell. In essence his argument boils down to one point: as long as merit still counts, then patronage helps keep our political system functioning smoothly.

Sadly, he misses two crucial points. First, he draws on the words of Sir John A. MacDonald. Now, I won’t deny that our political system is still stuck in the 19th Century – but I wouldn’t say that’s a good thing. 60% of Canadian voters are represented by about 45% of the seats in Parliament, which means they have about 5% of the control of government’s agenda. People know this, thus low voter turnout at elections.

Secondly, patronage is inherently, fundamentally corrupt. No ifs, ands or buts. If merit matters, then appointments can be made without it. Only when merit is not the main point is it needed. My favourite example of this is Sheila Copps’ defence of the appointment of Jean Pelletier as head of VIA Rail because he rode the train a lot.Read the rest