All posts tagged workplace harassment

There’s a failure of leadership in the public service

Ian Bron and Allan Cutler

Three years ago, we attended a conference of government administrators in Victoria, B.C. Wayne Wouters, Clerk of the Privy Council and the most powerful bureaucrat in Canada, was a keynote speaker. Someone asked him what he considered the qualities of the ideal public servant. We expected an answer that included things like integrity, devotion to the public interest, competence, and non-partisanship. Instead, we were treated to his reminiscences of the flag debate in the 1960s.

This says much about the current state of leadership in the public service, how distant it is currently from golden age ideals and out of touch with modern public expectations. The latest federal government re-visioning exercise, Blueprint 2020, reinforces this reality. During Wouters’ recent testimony before a Parliamentary Committee, he patted himself on the back for doing such a fine job, arguing that there was no evidence of a morale problem in the public service. “I want to do a good job. I think I’m doing a good job,” he said.

Wouters is hardly neutral on the subject. However, is he really doing a good job? More broadly, are senior bureaucrats leading the public service well, and, by extension, the working in the public interest?… Read the rest

Allan Rock given another chance as U of O president

In a local Ottawa story that speaks to the state of universities across Canada, Allan Rock was recently reappointed for a second term as President of the University of Ottawa, despite the university being embroiled in one scandal after another since he assumed the position in 2008. This is a blow to accountability at the university and, given his administration’s actions, sends a clear message to dissenters. But at least it exposes the farce that is the appointment process.

For anyone unfamiliar with the controversies, here’s a list:

  • The firing of tenured professor Denis Rancourt, in violation of the principles of academic freedom. Emails which the university fought to keep secret also showed that they employed a student to spy on him.
  • The arrest and banning of student activists from the university.
  • The nomination of the then-dean of Education as worst workplace bully in the university the university newspaper- she quietly moved on soon afterward.
  • The debacle of the Anne Coulter visit, in which Rock pretended he wasn’t involved. Later emails showed that he was the driving force behind “discouraging” her visit.
  • A multi-million dollar lawsuit involving three Saudi doctors who were discriminated against, which was exposed in emails leaked to the entire university administration.
Read the rest

There’s no accountability at Veterans Affairs Canada

The article below was first published in Ottawa’s Hill Times on February 27, 2012

By Allan Cutler and Ian Bron

Three weeks ago, John Larlee, chair of the Veterans Review and Appeal Board, responded to an op-ed written by Sean Bruyea. Bruyea’s comprehensive evidence and testimony effectively called Larlee to account for the failure of the Veterans Review and Appeal Board (VRAB) to provide dignified and adequate recourse for veterans as guaranteed by Canadian law.

What struck us as most curious about Larlee’s letter was its near complete lack of a substantive rebuttal to Bruyea’s original article. And since then, a scandal has arisen inside the VRAB which challenges Larlee’s missive.

To begin with, Larlee ignores the fact that in the last five years, the board has voluntarily and reluctantly granted permission for only two files to be returned to the Minister of Veterans Affairs for reconsideration. In the three years of Larlee’s tenure as chair, the board has not granted a single compassionate award allowed for in the legislation, another glaring shortfall in Larlee’s accounting of VRAB.

Hearing the story of VRAB member Harold Leduc, who was awarded $4,000 by the Canadian Human Rights Commission because of ill treatment by his colleagues, it makes perfect sense.… Read the rest