Another courageous DFAIT truth-teller at risk?
The Military Police Complaints Commission (MPCC) was formed after the shameful events that took place in Somalia in 1993, when Canadian soldiers taking part in a humanitarian mission beat to death a Somali teenager. A CBC reporter was given altered documents, leading to allegations of a cover-up, and an inquiry that was uncovering serious problems with the leadership of the mission was abruptly cut short by the government.
Now Canada's military, diplomats and politicians are again coming under intense scrutiny, this time regarding Canada's possible complicity in torture in Afghanistan. The MPCC launched an investigation in February 2007 but has encountered numerous roadblocks created by the government and the Justice Department. The government has not handed over a single requested document for over a year, and the Justice Department lawyer is alleged to have intimidated into silence 21 out of 22 public servants subpoenaed by the inquiry – they have refused to testify. The exception is Richard Colvin, a senior diplomat posted in Afghanistan who since May 2006 repeatedly raised serious concerns about the handover of prisoners to Afghan police. His 16-page affidavit was unsealed on October 14.
Now Colvin's testimony is likely to be heard, but his great courage in coming forward surely puts him at serious risk for reprisals. He is undoubtedly aware of the fate of another DFAIT truth-teller, Joanna Gualtieri, who exposed something much less serious: wasteful extravagance and mismanagement of accommodations for diplomats abroad. In Ms. Gualtieri's case, not only did the department succeed in getting rid of her, but when she sued her bosses for harassment, Justice Department lawyers stepped in, dreaming up more than 10,500 questions to put to her. Incredibly, her case is now in its twelfth year with no end in sight.
We will be following Richard Colvin's case and watching closely for any indications of reprisals.
Advice to the Integrity Commissioner
This week's Hill Times contains a full-page article by David Hutton and David Kilgour, that offers guidance to the Public Sector Integrity Commissioner, Christiane Ouimet. FAIR proposes five steps that the Commissioner should take immediately to help restore the credibility and relevance of her office.
White collar crime: a problem not just for Quebec but for Canada
A Quebec whistleblower claims that 80% of govenment road contracts are controlled by the mafia, while costs are 35% higher than the rest of the country. Commenting on these allegations, Antonio Nicaso, an expert in organized crime, observes that no Canadian government has ever shown a desire to look into “this grey area where criminals, politicians and businessmen get together for different reasons... I don’t think in Canada there is political will or commitment to fight organized crime,” Nicaso said.