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
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
“Feds rooting out wrongdoing in the public sector”
That’s what the headline reads in several newspapers. The basis of this claim is a report by the Office of the Public Sector Integrity Commissioner, where Mario Dion is the Commissioner. In it, he claims that the office is receiving more complaints of wrongdoing.
How journalists leap from “more complaints” to “rooting out wrongdoing” is beyond us, particularly as most complaints received still aren’t being investigated and only one instance of wrongdoing has been found. To make matters worse, that solitary case included no sanctions for the wrongdoer (who had left the public service) or the people who were supposed to be supervising her. She wasn’t even named. Parading this sole case as a triumph is, frankly, laughable. Furthermore, expecting public servants to be impressed insults their intelligence. They won’t be fooled, nor surprised: such propaganda-like overstatements are commonplace in the bureaucracy.
While Dion is a huge improvement over his predecessor, the disgraced Christiane Ouimet, it is our opinion that he is still the wrong man for the job. He showed a lack of integrity in accepting the post – which he had promised not to seek, and then denied making the promise.… Read the rest
Posted by Ian Bron on June 25, 2012