Last night, Canadians for Accountability bade farewell to two members of our organization. Imme Gerke and Jacques Drolet – who have been the driving force behind our Whistle Watcher support meetings – have decided to take the government’s offer and give up their positions as part of the cuts to the federal public service.
This ends their long and remarkable battle with incompetent and abusive senior managers at the Pest Management Regulatory Agency at Health Canada.
Indeed, Jacques and Imme have been canaries in the coal mine for what is happening in the public service and the likely impacts on public health, safety and security.
Hired to head units charged with guiding the use of pesticides in Canada, their efforts have been resisted at every step by both industry and self-interested executives – much as Canadian Food Inspection Agency inspectors faced a hostile environment when raising concerns about XL Foods and Maple Leaf Foods.
In case anyone has forgotten, contaminated meat from Maple Leaf Foods was behind the 2008 listeriosis outbreak that killed 22 Canadians.
Instead of bowing to pressure or retreating in disgust, Jacques and Imme made a point of reaching out to other whistleblowers and dissenters. Through their meetings, ethical individuals had a place to go and be understood – and to see that it was not they who were crazy.
We are losing them, but not their legacy. The meetings will continue, and for their part, Jacques and Imme will continue to work on the international stage.