All posts tagged Public Works and Government Services Canada

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

Actions speak louder than words

On Tuesday morning, May 21, 2013 at approximately 9:30am, Prime Minister Stephen Harper spoke to his caucus on the Senate expenses scandal. Like many Canadians, I listened and heard him say during his speech,

“I need not remind you that in 2006 this government was first elected to clean up the Liberal sponsorship scandal, to ensure the rules are followed and to ensure there are consequences when they are not.”

“Canada now has one of the most accountable and transparent systems of governance in the entire world and this is something Canadians are rightly proud of.”

Having listened to Prime Minister Harper’s speech, at 11:00am the same morning I attended the meeting of the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates. The discussion was to be the Integrated Relocation Program with witnesses from the Department of Public Works and Government Services (PWGSC). Anything to do with ethics and public procurement is always of interest to me. I wanted to listen to PWGSC explain that the rules would be followed. This meeting was held just 1 ½ hour after our Prime Minister stated that Canadians should be proud of the transparency and openness of the federal government.

PWGSC officials were scheduled to speak from 11:00am to 12:00pm and to be followed by another witness.… Read the rest

A sad lack of accountability on F-35s and transportation safety

In case you’re not Canadian or haven’t seen any news at all this week, the Auditor General released a report in which he blasts the Department of National Defence and Transport Canada. The Canada Revenue Agency also received criticism, but not quite as blistering.

Andrew Coyne has some spot-on comments about the government’s obviously conscious attempt to deceive Parliament and Canadians about the costs of the F-35, so I won’t repeat what he’s said – just go to the link below. Remember that he’s a right-leaning journalist, too, so if he’s damning, well, it’s got to be bad. (I have great respect for his work and commentary, by the way.)

I would simply add that while I believe that the Tories are complicit in this cover-up (and let’s be honest – how different would the Chrétien Liberals have been?) it’s the role of bureaucrats that I have greatest concern about. These people are supposed to be sober, neutral and honest. If anyone is going to take the big risks, it’s supposed to be the politicians.

But clearly they’re not. Clearly, that role of the bureaucracy has been undermined. And I don’t think that it’s just the fault of the Conservatives (and the Liberals before them).… Read the rest