Ian Bron and Allan Cutler
Last week, the government announced that Stephen Harper had appointed a new Integrity Commissioner, Joe Friday, who has been with the office since 2008 and was the last Commissioner’s Deputy. This was not a surprise to us, but it is a disappointment. It is also a slap in the face of conscientious public servants looking for a safe place to report misconduct. They, as well as the Canadian public have a right to expect an aggressive, thorough, and competent Office of the Public Sector Integrity Commissioner (OPSIC).
Friday served under both previous Commissioners, Christiane Ouimet and Mario Dion. Ouimet’s tenure was an unmitigated disaster. Just three and a half years into her tenure, she resigned in the face of a damning report from the Office of the Auditor General (OAG) that concluded she had been engaging in the very kinds of acts she was supposed to be preventing – harassment and reprisals against staff believed to be speaking out about abuse and mismanagement in her office. She left with her pension intact and a $500,000 lump sum. When called before Committee in 2010, Friday denied seeing anything wrong: “Madame Ouimet was carrying that out in her role as commissioner, which would be appropriate.… Read the rest
Posted by Ian Bron on April 6, 2015
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
Posted by Allan Cutler on March 20, 2013
It appears that the more that things change, the more they remain the same. When Christine Ouimet was replaced as Integrity Commissioner under a cloud of scandal, Mario Dion was brought in as Interim Commissioner. A change of culture and approach was promised. Mr. Dion repeatedly made assurances that his office was doing work to the highest standard. He has also said that if he had any limitations on his powers, they were the result of the law that created the Office.
Yet last week a federal judge “slammed the investigative work” of Public Sector Integrity Commissioner of Canada (PSIC). Regrettably, this wasn’t news to us: Canadians for Accountability was already aware of this situation. Furthermore, this is just tip of the iceberg.
Through our work with whistleblowers, we have heard many tales like this. With permission, here are some details from whistleblowers who tried to work through the Integrity Office.
Don Garrett reported wrongdoing to PSIC in March of 2011. He tried volunteering additional information but was told that, although he was the one reporting wrongdoing, as he was not a civil servant they could not discuss his own report with him. Finally, in frustration, in August 2012, he emailed Mr.… Read the rest
Posted by Allan Cutler on October 24, 2012