All posts tagged Margaret Haydon

The Ethical Bureaucrat’s Dilemma

Ian Bron

Several weeks ago I published a piece on the Hill Times website commenting on the failure of the federal government’s ethics program. It could be interpreted as suggesting that the phrase “public service ethics” is an oxymoron.

It isn’t, of course. There are many in government today who are highly ethical, who come to work every day with the best of intentions. Most do meaningful work for the benefit of Canadians, stoically enduring the scorn of a public all too ready to accept the notion that public servants are lazy and overpaid. Reports by right-leaning think tanks aside, public servants generally clock long hours and get paid at a level appropriate to their education (which is generally higher than average). Job security is also a thing of the past.

Even the most ethical people must find a way to get by in the institutions in which they work, however. Institutions are powerful, and if its values are different than the ones an employee holds, the employee must frequently accommodate his or her values to that of the institution. What many people develop is two sets of ethics – one for work and one for their personal lives. As long as work reflects the ethics of broader society, there is nothing wrong with this.… Read the rest

Has the federal government’s ethics program failed?

As 2013 comes to a close, it is  time to take stock of the state of the federal government. It  has been a year of years, with the Senate Scandal dominating. It wasn’t the only story involving dodgy ethics, either. Former Justice Canada lawyer Edgar Schmidt was pushed out of the Department for challenging a policy which lets the Conservative government propose any law unless a legal analysis shows a 95% chance that it will be ruled unconstitutional. Sylvie Therrien was fired for speaking out against an unethical government policy in which EI auditors were given quotas (see our earlier post on this).  There are more, simmering below the surface, either pushed aside by bigger stories.   or they have  become so routine that the media barely notices them anymore.

For those of us at Canadians for Accountability, this is a serious issue that goes beyond mere occasional scandal. Is the government ethics program a failure?

When unethical behaviour is unchecked – and even rewarded, for example with promotions – administrative evil is the result. Canada has seen its share in residential schools and eugenics programs (which Alberta had until 1972).

Fighting this tendency is a challenge as old as government.… Read the rest

No place to hide for Canadian whistleblowers

(Published in the Hill Times on August 14, 2011)

Why does Canada treat its whistleblowers so badly? Even though only it has been just a few years since the Sponsorship Scandal, which was exposed by Allan Cutler and another anonymous whistleblower, it’s a question that needs to be asked.

Why? Because, yet again, Canadian whistleblowers have been successfully persecuted as an example to deter any potential ethical dissenters.

On Monday, August 8, the Public Service Labour Relations Board (PSLRB) upheld the dismissal of Shiv Chopra and Margaret Haydon. Chopra, Haydon and a third Health Canada scientist (Gerald Lambert, who was reinstated) were fired in 2004 for insubordination after they defied industry pressure and management orders to approve drugs for livestock that they determined to be potentially harmful to human health. The axe fell after they testified at Senate Committee. The Senators who heard from them did nothing to stop the reprisal.

This abuse of power has been sustained and has undoubtedly cost millions of dollars. Exact figures are impossible to obtain, because such expenses are considered subject to solicitor-client privilege. (And if you, the real client, are wondering why you don’t have a right to know how much is being spent defending the indefensible, you’re in good company.)

PIPSC, the union representing Chopra, Haydon and Lambert called the decision “a bad day for whistleblowers”.… Read the rest