All posts tagged government transparency

Letter to Committee on Internal Economy

The following letter was recently sent to the Parliamentary Committee on Internal Economy, in reference to recent reports requiring Parliamentary staff to sign a lifetime gag order.

To the Committee on Internal Economy:

It is our understanding that the Conflict of Interest, Loyalty and Confidentiality Agreement will be reviewed by the Committee on Internal Economy.

We understand the need for confidentiality. Discussions, whether in business, the public sector or in politics, are often considered confidential. There is nothing wrong with the premise. Should you want to regard your need for confidentiality as unique, “… the unique nature of my employment and, in particular, the politically sensitive and partisan environment…”, that is your prerogative. We would point out that everyone considers their situation has ‘unique’ circumstances.

However the policy, as written, goes well beyond the need for confidentiality. It is designed to cover-up any misconducts, abuse of process or people, corruption and wrong-doing. There are three items of concern.

1. According to clause 8, this is a life time prohibition. Most agreements have a sunset clause. Even the most confidential government documents are often considered open after fifty years. Many businesses have a limit of time placed on them. It would appear that a time of five years, similar to the lobbying situation, would be deemed acceptable.

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In Ottawa, every day could be Halloween

Sean Bruyea

The following piece was first published in the Hill Times online on October 31, 2013.

Ottawa is a scary place. It is so frightening that most Canadians avoid thinking about the blood-curdling, or is it blood-boiling, antics of Parliament and its bureaucratic minions. Much are the horrors of Halloween in Ottawa than the mere tricks and treats of Throne Speeches.

A politician’s costume is quite unremarkable. Most look like any of us on the outside. However, on the inside, some politicians have conjured the perfect stereotype: self-centred, lusting for power and holding on to that power whatever the cost. Many seek immortality in the pages of history no matter whom they must destroy or subjugate around them, many often charming or at least attempting to charm the unwary.

Halloween and horror give us a monster with the same traits: vampires. They are well-known for their power over death, and over the living for that matter. What disturbs and assaults our senses is the means to that power-filled end. Vampires in feeding their insatiable hunger, assault the body and soul, vanquishing both. Without compassion, vampires sacrifice the living so they may become undead followers of the fanged fiends, those who protect and preserve the vampire’s immortality.… Read the rest

Safety last – the story of the 2009 Ottawa boiler explosion

The links below takes you to the recent CBC story of the 2009 boiler explosion in Ottawa that killed Peter Kennedy. The boiler was operated by Public Works and Government Services Canada, which had received a scathing report on its safety practices just days before. In addition, Rino DeRosa, a plumber working for PWGSC, had been trying for years to get action on problems he had seen – notably the use of unqualified personnel hired in a foolish effort to save money. But management, apparently blinded by arrogance, wasn’t interested in hearing what a plumber had to say.

Frustrated by a lack of action, Rino approached us in 2008 with his concerns. Using information that he provided to us, we filed Access to Information Act requests to get to the bottom of things. The requests also serve another purpose: they inform an organization that we know there’s a problem, giving it the opportunity to fix things. Sadly, all too often management instead tries to bury things. It’s the strategy used by lesser and more corrupt minds, and often makes the potential scandal worse.

In this case, PWGSC began a game of cat-and-mouse with us, first claiming documents didn’t exist and then, when confronted, arguing they should be exempted because of national security concerns.… Read the rest