Ten years of waiting and five storeys of files

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Friday 13 June 2008

Paul Gaboury
pgaboury@ledroit.com

Despite the adoption of a law for the protection of whistleblowers and the creation of a Public Service Integrity Commissioner, the Conservative government has not kept its promise to stop harassment of public service whistleblowers, New Democrat MP Paul Dewar reported yesterday.

In the case of whistleblower Joanna Gualtieri, after ten years before the courts it remains unclear when her case against the federal government will come to trial. During this time, she had to answer 10,569 questions, and the Department of Justice has accumulated documentation on the case which now reaches the height of a five-storey building.  

The fate of this whistleblower who worked at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and that of seven other known whistleblower cases, was denounced yesterday by the New Democrat MP for Ottawa Centre.

He demanded that the Harper government keep its promise to halt the abusive procedures against these federal employees who expose wrongdoing in the federal public service.

"As an MP for a riding with a large number of public servants, I’ve come across an alarmingly high number of harassment cases against whistleblowers" said Dewar.  "Joanna’s case indicates the shortcomings of whistleblower protection in Canada – and the government’s betrayal of a promise made to hardworking public servants".

In 1992, Ms. Gualtieri reported wasted funds at Department of Foreign Affairs, which was identified including a report of the Auditor General of Canada. After her speaking out, she claims to have been subjected to harassment and intimidation at work and was forced to leave her job.

In 1992 Ms. Gualtieri uncovered financial waste by the Department of Foreign Affairs, which as supported by reports from the Auditor General of Canada.  After coming forward, she experienced harassment and was forced to leave her job. 

It is now ten years since she decided, with a colleague to, bring a lawsuit against her former bosses, but her case has been dragging in the courts with no end in sight.  

Huge files

"We recently learned just how extensive are the Justice Department’s files on this case: if we stack all the files on top of each other we have a column taller than a 5-storey building" said David Hutton, the Executive Director for Federal Accountability Initiative for Reform, a whistleblower protection group.  

"During the previous election Mr. Harper used Ms. Gualtieri’s case to validate its promise for ‘ironclad protection’ for whistleblowers" said Dewar. "Now in power, his government broke its promise to hardworking public servants and continues the same tactics that have been used against Ms. Gualtieri for 10 years.  It’s time to end stalling on whistleblowers’ cases".

The MP Dewar claims that at least seven federal employees are currently in a similar situation in lawsuits with the government.  

The Executive Director of FAIR said that the latest annual report of the Integrity Commissioner, Christiane Ouimet, found no wrongdoing within the federal public service, which is difficult to believe, he said.  

"This demonstrates the shortcomings of the regime established by the government" says Hutton. "Very few public servants will be willing to expose wrongdoing when they see what happens to those who dare to do so".

pgaboury@ledroit.com

(Translated from the original French version)
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Comments

Isn't it ironic that the Canadian government sends our men and women, our sons and our daughters, members of the Canadian Armed Forces, out into the world to risk thier lives for the less fortunate of what we are pleased to call the "civilised world" to protect, preserve and promote basic fundamental human rights, and, at the same time, abandons all such integrity, principals and duty to serve and protect Joanna Gualtieri who spoke out to defend her country? Canada is no different than those she criticises for such similar neglect and abuses. http://www.thestar.com/news/globalvoices/article/685495