“Whistle Blowers and Public Service Governance” – A talk by the Hon.David Kilgour.

I am very lucky that many of my friends and colleagues are truth tellers, and we give each other support- along with those whose stories we tell – knowing full well the ramifications that come with doing so.

Truth does not always come without a cost,personal or professional.

However, these men and women have not not allowed themselves to be bullied, nor silenced, nor do many Canadians know their incredible stories.

This is a phenomenal piece,  detailing four Canadian lesser known heroes and how the Canadian government shafted each of them in an effort to silence the truth they bravely came forward to tell.

Originally posted at : http://www.ansleyandcompany.com/WHISTLE__BLOWERS_AND_CANADA_with_photos.pdf , reprinted here with permission of Clive Ansley, Ansley and Company.

WHISTLEBLOWERS AND PUBLIC SERVICE GOVERNANCE

Hon.David Kilgour

OTTAWA SOUTH ROTARY CLUB

Hunt Club Golf course clubhouse

16 July 2012

 

Canada has witnessed no shortage of major corruption scandals; the following come readily to mind:

􀁸Tainted Blood, in which about 60,000 Canadians were infected with hepatitis C, some of them fatally.

 􀁸The Gun Registry, in which a program with a budget of $2 million spent $1 billion without authorization or adequate reporting of cost overruns to Parliament.

 􀁸The Sponsorship Scandal, in which millions of dollars of public money were diverted illegally to government-favoured advertising agencies.

Other advanced democracies have adopted whistleblower protection partly as an anticorruption strategy. The U.S. is the pioneer in the field, and took the first steps more than 30 years ago. The UK has had effective legislation in place for more than a decade, which covers its entire workforce. This includes a tribunal system that has processed more than 7,000 whistleblower cases.

 The history of such legislation in Canada is one of foot-dragging by politicians and officials alike. Successive governments have promised whistleblower protection for years. We still have no legislation that works effectively and no agency that reliably protects public servants at any level of government, or in the private sector, or in any part of the country. In terms of protecting conscientious and courageous employees from reprisals, Canada is still largely a wasteland.

 Westminster Governance

Our Westminster system of government itself has a serious structural flaw in terms of modern best democratic practices. With the fused executive and legislative branches, our Executive Democracy encourages legislators to defer excessively to party leaders, whether prime ministers, premiers or opposition leaders. In turn, public servants in both national and provincial capitals answer to deputy ministers, not to the general public good or taxpayers.

 This institutional and cultural reality is a major reason why, among related governance problems, there has been so little development of effective whistleblower legislation across our country.

 Four National Heroes

 Joanna Gualtieri

As a property specialist in the Dept. of Foreign Affairs and International Trade starting in1992, lawyer Gualtieri exposed gross waste and extravagance in the procurement of accommodation for some of our diplomats abroad. In Tokyo, for example, government owned residences valued up to $18 million sat vacant while large sums were spent renting other accommodation senior diplomats preferred. She also discovered that luxury living in violation of Treasury Board policy was the norm in the Americas. Rather than correct the policy breaches, managers retaliated, harassing her and eventually forcing her out of her job in 1995. Both times she attempted to return to her job, she faced the same hostile environment and refusal to allow her to do her work. In 1998, she left the department for good.

Despite acknowledgement in internal documents that her case had merit, the ministry publicly asserted that nothing wrong had been done. When Gualtieri sued, Justice Department lawyers used a range of tactics to drag out her suit for 12 years, forcing her, for example, to answer more than 10,500 pre-trial questions. The strategy was clearly to ruin her with massive legal bills and break her spirit.

  In the end, the government settled, virtually at the court house in early 2010, thus avoiding a public trial which would have exposed incompetence and waste. Gualtieri now has her life back, although she was harmed from the loss of almost twenty tears in an unequal legal battle seeking to make an example of her as to what happens to public servants who fail to tow the management line.

As part of the settlement, she is today subject to a gag order, preventing her from speaking about the misfeasance she put her career on the line to expose.

 

Brian McAdam

A career immigration officer, McAdam learned in 1991 that our immigration office in Hong Kong might have been penetrated by organized crime, allowing criminals to immigrate to Canada. His exposure of corruption, missing blank visas, fake embassy stamps, reports about organized criminals known as Triads, penetration of top-secret files in the computer system, inappropriate gifts to staff, and revelations about Chinese party-state espionage activities were poorly investigated.

 Rather than correct serious problems, senior managers instead turned on McAdam,  eventually forcing him out of his 30 year government service. As well, they stalled, blocked and undermined subsequent inquiries into his allegations. Much evidence he provided to a joint RCMP-CSIS investigation was destroyed; CSIS top management shredded ‘Sidewinder’,the report confirming his concerns in 1997. The government ignored an Auditor General report corroborating McAdam’s concerns about the computer system, a serious rebuke by the RCMP Review Committee, other agencies intelligence reports, and one of the largest espionage probes ever done in the U.S.

 Zabia Chamberlain

In 2007 and 2008, Chamberlain, a manager at Human Resources and Skills Development Canada, experienced repeated sexual and aggressive harassment at the hands of the executive to whom she reported and an excessive workload from managers above him. Instead of disciplining the harasser and moving her, senior management opted to close ranks and deploy the familiar tools, “deny, delay, devalue and discriminate”, breaching workplace human rights and safety policies.

Chamberlain’s doctors diagnosed severe post-traumatic injury and requested that she be relocated to a new organization and position. This was refused despite her strong 20-year job performance. A number of officials from her department and Treasury Board even asked her to remit an assault-form and sign a declaration that the harasser was a “third party”, although he remains today in his position. Chamberlain brought her case to adjudication in the spring of 2009, asked for reassignment help and tried on her own to look for other positions. Her time before the Public Service Labour Relations Board will soon total 35 days without any resolution on the horizon (She is in hearing today).

 She has lost her two-decade career; yet the perpetrators of the harassment, breaches and stalling remain, highly-paid, in their public service jobs.

Sean Bruyea

In 2005, former Air Force intelligence officer Bruyea realized there were serious flaws in a new proposal for injured soldiers. It would end the comprehensive life-long benefits provided to injured veterans and replace them with a one-time lump sum payment of much lower value.

Not personally affected, Bruyea nonetheless became an outspoken critic. He also advocated the creation of a veterans’ ombudsman. Veterans Affairs Dept. officials attempted to punish him by seeking to cut off treatment and benefits while distributing in briefing notes distorted interpretations of his medical condition to persons who had no clear need to know.

 Bruyea had suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and other psychological and physical injuries as a result of his service in the 1991 Gulf war. The briefing notes were given in their entirety or formed the basis of briefings given to cabinet ministers, staff in the prime minister’s office, a parliamentary secretary, his Member of Parliament as well as to dozens of the most senior managers within Veterans Affairs Canada.The notes and associated briefings falsely suggested that Bruyea was mentally unstable.

 Bruyea has now received more than 20,000 pages of documents through Privacy Act requests, which were held by more than 400 departmental officials. The Department’s own internal review determined that out of the 614 officials who accessed his computer based files, 54 “did not have a valid reason for access[ing]” those files.

 The notoriety of the violations resulted in the Harper government issuing Bruyea, on October 26, 2010, one of only two official apologies given to Canadian individuals in more than twenty years. The Veterans Affairs media relations director has confirmed that not a single official involved appears to have been formally disciplined.

 Conclusion

These and many other cases share similar features: hostility towards honest employees whose work threatened to expose shoddy conduct; workplace reprisals; justice long denied by legal and procedural stratagems ; and oceans of tax dollars spent protecting alleged wrongdoers and pursuing truth tellers.

 The House of Commons should give priority to improving the governance of our national public service. A logical first step would be to draw on the experience of countries such as the U.S. and U.K. to enact effective whistle blower legislation without further delay.

The complicated and costly whistle-blower system created by the Accountability Act has been a complete failure. Whistle-blowers are being persecuted just as fiercely under the Harper government as they were in the past. The Conservative promise to protect truth-tellers now looks like a cynical election campaign ploy. In order to show good faith, the government should immediately stop stalling on whistle-blower cases that are before the courts, and take steps now to strengthen this country’s whistleblower protection legislation.

 A recent media release by FAIR, the whistleblower NGO, (FAIR Media Release, 29 June 2012)) noted that the Government whistleblower watchdog has failed to deliver after five years.  “After five years of bureaucratic charades, taxpayers have essentially nothing to show for more than 30 million dollars spent on the Integrity Commissioner’s office and the associated Tribunal,” said David Hutton, executive director of FAIR. “Not a single wrongdoer has been sanctioned and not a single whistleblower has been protected. It is time for a root and branch reform of this law.”

 The new Integrity Commissioner Mario Dion has to date uncovered only one case of wrongdoing out of more than 320 complaints submitted over the past five years. The government has also failed to initiate the five-year review of the Whistleblower Act as legally required.

The time for white horses and transparency promised in 2006 in the cause of better public service governance is long overdue.

 Thank you.

12 thoughts on ““Whistle Blowers and Public Service Governance” – A talk by the Hon.David Kilgour.

    1. Laila

      Indeed,I was flattened to hear the stories I did not know, and outraged to see the blatant disregard for ethics and integrity by our federal governments. How appalling that our country treats those who step up and do the right thing in this manner. Not surprising few come forward or do so anonymously to writers like myself. The consequence is that the government will likely try to ruin your life, and crush your spirit.

      We must support these people and share their stories when they come forward,stand with them in solidarity, and assist in exposing the truth of the kind of values our federal government holds dear. Deny,deflect,conceal and destroy.

      Like

      1. It’s sickening the actual face of deceit, lies and corruption rampant in all levels of government and public offices, having it continuously rubbed in one’s face as there’s nothing we can do until election time.
        These people “whistle-blowers” should be getting medals, not gag orders.

        Another is the “deferring” of accounts by BC Hydro in order to show “profit” thereby allowing the management to receive bonuses they wouldn’t have had they not lied and hid the actual debits that existed.
        That’s freaking fraud. Yet they all are still employed and still have the bonuses. Why?

        Not right, and the fact opposition does nothing also is very telling at the vast quantities of people corrupted across many different party lines, and almost literally not a one (other than the brave people and others like them) are not willing to come forth or voice an opinion different from their masters.. oops, party leaders, keeping the lower echelons from rocking the gravy boat.
        Time we did it for them.

        Like

  1. nonconfidencevote

    These individuals are all owed a debt of gratitude for their perseverance. One wonders how many other whistleblowers out there have capitulated after 5, 10, 15 YEARS of harrassment afterthey came forward.
    Sad.
    The Canadian parlimentary system gives the Prime Minister more political power and authority that the President of the United States …… Think long and hard about that.
    A majority govt in Canada, whether its federal, Provincial, etc basically gives the party in power carte blanche to do whatever they want.
    Disgusting.
    And the main stream media are either too gutless to risk the loss of advertising dollars or too complicit in their friendships with govt officials to have any objectivity what so ever when covering a story.
    Disgusting.
    We need real prison sentences and ELECTED judges, ELECTED crown prosecutors, ELECTED Police chiefs, etc. that will work for the taxpayers of this country.
    NOT the pathetic appointed judges,crown prosecutors, and police chiefs that are too busy covering their own asses politically to secure convictions of corrupt politicians that may or may not have appointed them.
    can you say “conflict of interest” ?
    I knew you could.
    🙂

    Like

    1. Laila

      I agree,and can’t imagine what these men and women have gone through. They say information is power and nothing is more powerful than the truth,when you hold that information you become a dangerous person to many.. there is no limit to how far the ones exposed will go to keep that information hidden,or discredited. Finances are the biggest power tool they use. The make you bankrupt and break your spirit. These are sickening examples, each for different reasons,of a prevailing attitude in some government arenas that accepts such blatant excess, such bad and unethical behavior, that one wonders what else is going on that we dont know about, because people are too afraid to come forward.

      It is alarming how little ability the people have, or other parlimentarians for that matter, to impact or stop what Harper is up to and little accountability he has to the people who allegedly elected him.

      I agree, there is an urgent need for accountability across the board with people in these positions, in particular the RCMP and judges.Conflict of interest is becoming more a condition of operation rather than something to avoid.

      Like

  2. harry lawson

    we need whistle blower protection for all citizens , including the most vulnerable.
    I served as a director of a major mental health non profit in bc.

    I have witnessed first hand what happens to clients who complained about staff or other issues like a WOMEN BEING ASSAULTED, EMPLOYEE THEFT, ETC.
    theese people who complained about the above actions have been harassed and denied services and blackballed and threatened with family services.

    A staff member can write whatever they want and it becomes part of their pemanant record.No matter how inaccurate it may be.

    At the present time there is no official complaint procedure for issues against goverment contracted non profit services.

    The workers have union protction and the complaining client has no protection,

    I AM LOOKING FORWARD TO THE DAY THAT I CAN TESTIFY UNDER OATH,and
    honour those with the courage to whistle blow.

    Like

    1. Laila

      This is very tragic Harry, in particular with those least able to protect themselves. I have always advocated the use of citizens grand juries for one method of holding those in power accountable. Imagine that here in BC? We could have convened a grand jury for those in the BC Rail case. We could have convened a grand jury for the officers involved in Robert Dziekanskis death. There are many uses where such an entity would be the difference between a power based and potentially pressured office deciding charges… and an independently sworn citizens grand jury.

      It might just smarten those up in power if they knew they could face a grand jury for their misdeeds.

      Like

      1. harry lawson

        good point however a grand jury would only be good for crimminal matters.

        the other issues i have witnessed need to be adressed by public policy and legislation. a obudsman may be helpful , an office like the police complaints commissioner for complaints against service providers and goverment deptartments

        i am proud to be a whistle blower and yes i have payed a price however not the price that the people i wrote about payed.

        Like

  3. Julie

    Canada reeks with corruption. This is why the young people don’t vote. They say if you are honest, you are soon got rid of. Their contempt of government runs deep in them. Especially the Campbell/Clark BC Liberals and Harper.

    Such as Canada’s top scientists. Harper got rid of them. Now we have “Harper’s scientists”, doing a study on the tar sands. Harper and scientists? What a crock. All this means is, the fix is in.

    William Corbett of Elections Canada, who was investigating the robo-call cheat, suddenly resigned. Harper installed one of his own, Yves Corte, in Corbetts place. I smell a rat.

    Same with the election riding disputes. Harper has installed, two new Conservative judges. What are the odds one of Harper’s new judges, throwing the election disputes out of court?

    Harper hired a many times convicted criminal Bruce Carson. He played the godfather to Harper and Premier Redford. He was the push for, Canadian Petrol products on, Harper and Redford’s behalf. http://www.theepochtimes.com Has an excellent post regarding this event. Harper’s words, I don’t know why I didn’t know Carson was a criminal. Harper did know Carson was a criminal, and hired him anyway. Criminals come in handy for Harper. Just ask Gordon Campbell.

    Like

  4. nonconfidencevote

    Laila, its a shame you decided to go to the Huffington website.
    I liked your site because it wasnt an “assault” on the senses.
    Too many ads and uniteresting infotainment ‘stories” BLARING for your attention!
    Too long to download.
    I have to use Facebook or Twitter to leave a comment? WTF?
    A shame you needed the advertising revenue.
    Just when it seemed you readership was beginnnig to balloon.
    I cant stand websites like that. Reminds me of the National Enquiror
    Your opinions are excellent.
    a shame I wont be reading them anymore

    Like

    1. Laila

      Thank you for the very kind words Nonconfidence, but no need to miss out, I am continuing to post here as well. re you kidding me? This site has been here for 7 years and it isnt going anywhere anytime soon. There has never been an intention to only blog there,it is an extension of what I do here.

      In fact, I wasn’t sure how to handle the crossposting issue ( should I post only special Huff blogs for their site, or should I post them both here and there? ) I am in control of that decision and based on your comment and complaint I have definately decided to cross post anything I write for the Huffblog, here as well, likely a day later though. How does that work for you?

      Posting to Huff has nothing to do with advertising revenue, but has everything to do with giving my work far greater exposure to a much larger audience than I have here. Yes, my audience has grown phenomenally in the last couple of years, and this will boost it even more for those really fantastic investigative pieces I do… and that can only be a win win for myself and for the people of BC.

      Like

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