Published 22 May 2009.
Re: Taxpayers Foot Ex-PM’s Legal Bill, May 21.
Many Canadians are justifiably outraged to learn that not only are we paying for a public inquiry into Brian Mulroney’s suspicious behaviour, but we are also paying his enormous legal fees. However, this situation is not unusual. Treasury Board policies permitting such payments are routinely extended to those accused of wrongdoing, but are rarely — if ever — extended to public servants trying to protect the public interest by exposing wrongdoing.
A good example is the case of Joanna Gualtieri, the whistle-blower who lost her job after speaking up about waste and extravagance in Foreign Affairs, and sued her bosses for ignoring the waste and orchestrating reprisals against her. Her case has been dragged out by government lawyers — paid for by taxpayers — for more than 10 years.
Ms. Gualtieri has been denied any financial support. Even the new whistle-blower watchdog, the Public Sector Integrity Commissioner, who is allowed to pay up to $1,500 towards a whistle-blower’s legal costs, has not paid out a single penny in the past year.
It is clear that policies such as these are used, not to protect the public interest, but to protect the government and the bureaucrats from embarrassment or exposure.
FAIR (Federal Accountability Initiative for Reform)