All posts tagged Privy Council Office

Whistleblowers need not apply

Published in the Hill Times on October 24, 2011

It was last October that Christiane Ouimet resigned as the first Public Sector Integrity Commissioner. In three years, with a staff of over 20 with a budget of over $6.5 million, she was unable to find a single whistleblower in a public service over 400,000 employees.

In contrast, our organization, Canadians for Accountability – with a very limited budget and staffed only by volunteers – managed to meet and validated of over 100 potential whistleblowers in the same period. Not surprisingly, some of them had tried to report the situation to the Integrity Commissioner with disastrous results.

Recognizing the need to help people, I let it be known that I would be applying for the position of Integrity Commissioner when the opportunity presented itself. I felt that I could offer the right perspective in the job as very few people understand whistleblowing other than from a legal or academic viewpoint. And, on the other hand, many who do understand the issues don’t have the background or knowledge of the process and legal framework.

However, having now seen the Selection Criteria for the new Integrity Commissioner, I have decided not to apply.… Read the rest

Here’s the real skinny on how power works in Ottawa

Published in the Hill Times on September 19, 2011

We should be forgiven if we believe that ministers, or in the case of this government, the Prime Minister’s Office is in complete control of Ottawa. This dogma of the Westminster model of government stands in the way of reality. Given the need to restore Canadians’ faith in our federal government while managing the inevitable cutbacks requires we fully
understand Ottawa if we are to make its powerbrokers truly accountable.

The reality is that the senior mandarins are the ultimate arbiters of power in Ottawa. They exercise control through departmental agendas and complex Treasury Board processes that often have little to do with the public their
namesake institution claims to serve.

It has become a near truism that the Prime Minister’s Office under the Harper government has carried out unprecedented centralization of our federal government. This does not mean he is in control. Even with 130-plus
staffers, the PMO is vastly outnumbered by 1,000 or so public servants in the Privy Council Office.

Beyond that, there are less than 500 mostly inadequately experienced political staffers to direct, control and oversee almost 400,000 public servants. These are odds more akin to the Fellowship of the Ring fighting the armies of Sauron.… 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