The Federal Court’s recent ruling on shoddy investigations carried out by the government’s whistleblower watchdog is devastating, setting out a litany of violations of procedural fairness. But it was refreshing to see the learned judge confirm in plain language what we have been hearing from whistleblowers for years — because regrettably, this is not an isolated case.
Since the Public Sector Integrity Commissioner’s office was established our small charity has received calls from more than 30 whistleblowers and their lawyers who have tried to use this agency. Nearly all have voiced the same frustrations: this office is a “black hole” into which they deposit serious allegations but hear nothing back — and nothing happens as a result.
They are kept in the dark, given false assurances, jerked around and treated with disrespect. Above all, their allegations do not seem to be properly investigated. In most cases, they receive a rejection letter written in bureaucratic legalese, signed by the integrity commissioner. They have no idea of how this decision was made or based on what evidence, and Integrity Commissioner Mario Dion and his staff aren’t telling — since this would apparently “violate the privacy” of the alleged wrongdoers.
This is a shameful situation. Hundreds of honest public servants have put their careers on the line to try to protect the public interest — and suffered reprisals for their pains. Yet this office, which has a monopoly — it is the only place that they can go to seek protection — often turns out to be yet another obstacle for them.
Little seems to have changed since Christiane Ouimet’s reign. We have shared our concerns with Dion, who assures us that everything is getting better since he took over. But frankly, we don’t see it.
FAIR operates an extensive website at www.fairwhistleblower.ca
Federal Accountability Initiative for Reform (FAIR)