All posts tagged Public Appointments Commission

Trudeau can fix our broken whistleblowing system: here’s why and how

This piece was first published in the Hill Times on March 20, 2017.

The House Government Operations Committee deserves kudos for taking the bull by the horns in its review of Canada’s failed system for protecting government whistleblowers. This week the committee will hear from no less than four experts representing countries that have much better laws: the U.S., U.K., Australia, and Ireland.

The comparisons these experts can offer will be eye-opening, since the Canadian system simply does not protect whistleblowers from reprisals. In more than 10 years not a single truth-teller has been awarded a remedy by the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Tribunal (the only body that can do so), and not a single aggressor has suffered consequences for taking reprisals.

In Canada, it’s more dangerous to kick a dog than to destroy a whistleblower’s life. If you attack a helpless animal, someone might see you. A video of the incident might go viral online, and you might face public outrage and damage to your reputation, even your career. But if you destroy a whistleblower’s life in plain sight—through bullying and harassment, unfair dismissal and blacklisting—it’s unlikely that you will face any consequences.

Even if you are reported to our Public Sector Integrity Commissioner and he decides that reprisals took place (which he rarely does) he has the power (which he almost always uses) to block the tribunal from taking any action against you.… 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

The Failure of the Throne Speech

Ian Bron and Allan Cutler

The following piece ran in the Hill Times on October 21, 2013.

We had hoped that that the Conservatives would commit to protecting Canadians values through the Throne Speech. We had watched and waited for improvements in existing laws already designed to protect these values. But we did not waste time in false hopes. There appeared to be something for everyone offered in the Throne Speech unless you are an advocate of truth, honesty and transparency in government. In fact, we did not witness anything that promotes openness and honesty in government. The following details some of the significant ‘lacks’.

1. A commitment to strengthen the Public Servants Disclosure Protection ActThe PSDPA came into force in early 2006, fulfilling a key Conservative promise. However, the seven years since have shown it to be wanting. The first commissioner, Christiane Ouimet, refused to seriously investigate any cases. Second, the PSDPA, and by extension the tribunal it created, is unlikely to protect any whistleblower, since the burden of proof to demonstrate reprisal is much too high. Whistleblowers also have no right of access to courts.

There are deep flaws including unwarranted secrecy and jurisdictional limits that allow public servants to avoid sanctions simply by resigning or finding a job outside of the public sector.… Read the rest