Today, Founding Director of Democracy Watch Duff Conacher, FAIR Executive Director David Hutton and Canadians for Accountability President Allan Cutler refuted a claim made by new federal Integrity Commissioner Mario Dion's on CBC TV's Power and Politics show yesterday.
Dion claimed that he did not say in a meeting last March that he would not apply for the Commissioner job while serving as Interim Commissioner because it would cause a conflict for him as he would be perceived to be trying to please Prime Minister Harper and his Cabinet in order to win the Commissioner position, and that would make whistleblowers less likely to trust him.
Conacher, Hutton and Cutler not only remember Dion saying at the March 9th meeting that he would not apply for the job because of the conflict issue, they also remember saying to Dion that they were pleased with his decision.
Just before the meeting, Dion's conduct created further concern regarding conflict of interest and failure to earn the trust of public servant whistleblowers. It became public through documents released to a House Committee that Dion had informed Privy Council Clerk Wayne Wouters that Wouters was named in a wrongful dismissal lawsuit that had been filed against the Integrity Commissioner's office.
Also at a meeting on March 9th with Conacher, Hutton and Cutler, Dion said he had notified Wouters because he was an old friend. Conacher, Hutton and Cutler expressed deep concern about Dion's actions, pointing out that informing Wouters could be seen as a violation of the privacy protection required under the federal whistleblower protection law (Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act) given that the lawsuit was, in effect, a complaint by a whistleblower filed with the Integrity Commissioner office.
Dion's other questionable actions in his year as Interim Commissioner include finding no cases of wrongdoing, and refusing to conduct a full audit of the more than 220 cases dealt with by disgraced former Integrity Commissioner Christiane Ouimet. Dion made the decision not to do a full audit even though Deloitte stated clearly in its report prepared at the request of Dion that it had only completed a partial, “paper” audit of the cases. As well, Deloitte’s partial audit found 70 cases with problems, but Dion decided that a full re-investigation was not needed of most of these cases.
FAIR, Canadians for Accountability and Democracy Watch and the Government Ethics Coalition all raised serious concerns about Prime Minister Harper's appointment of Dion. Unfortunately, Conservative and opposition MPs and senators rolled over and rubber-stamped Dion's appointment -- with only Green Party MP Elizabeth May publicly stating on December 14th that she opposed the appointment.