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News Release

Whistleblower watchdog nomination signals continued retreat by government
from transparency and accountability promises

Groups call on opposition parties to ensure, through filibuster if needed, they testify at committee before Conservatives ram appointment through

Join the Facebook group to get the $500,000 back, and to strengthen the federal whistleblower protection system

Thursday, December 8, 2011

OTTAWA— The nomination of Mario Dion as Public Sector Integrity Commissioner is yet another indication that the Harper government is not serious about protecting honest employees who speak out about misconduct.

“We are not surprised, but we are deeply disappointed and we vigorously oppose this nomination,” said FAIR’s executive director, David Hutton on behalf of Canadians for Accountability, Democracy Watch, and the nation-wide Government Ethics Coalition. “How can the government claim to be revitalizing Christiane Ouimet’s discredited agency when it appoints another career insider – and not just any insider but a veteran of the Justice Department, which has a fearsome reputation as the scourge of whistleblowers.”

Although Dion made a good first impression – he seems much more capable, personable and PR-savvy than Ouimet – the results he has produced over the past year are little different from his predecessor.  Out of more than 300 complaints before him, he has still found not a single case of
wrongdoing, and he has referred only two cases of reprisal to the Tribunal.  And Dion’s performance has never been scrutinized -- he was not even called to testify before any House committee following the tabling of his first annual report in June.

With hindsight it seems clear that the Harper government has acted against the interests of honest public servants from the moment it first came to power.  It pushed through whistleblower legislation that was known to be deeply flawed, created a toothless watchdog agency and put someone in charge in 2007 (Christianne Ouimet) who seemed hostile to those she was supposed to protect.  When Ouimet’s egregious misconduct was finally exposed in fall 2010 the government rewarded her generously (to the tune of $500,000) and blocked Parliament’s recent efforts to question and possibly sanction her.

Now the government has selected a commissioner who has demonstrated that he can produce results as weak as Ouimet’s.

It is unfortunate that during the entire, shameful five-year history of this legislation, no parliamentary committee has called for independent testimony regarding the performance of the agency it created.  This is long overdue. 

We call upon the Government Operations and Estimates committee to call our three organizations to testify, and to hear the information that only we can provide, before making any recommendation regarding Dion’s proposed appointment.

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Duff Conacher, Board member of Democracy Watch and Chairperson of the Government Ethics Coalition
Tel: (613) 241-5179

David Hutton, Executive Director, FAIR (Federal Accountability Initiative for Reform)
Tel: (613) 567-1511

Allan Cutler, President, Canadians for Accountability
Tel: (613) 863-4671

To see another key news release about this issue, click here

To see the December 2010 report on former disgraced Integrity Commissioner Christiane Ouimet by Auditor General Sheila Fraser, click here.

To see why a full audit is still needed of past cases that Ouimet failed to investigate properly, click here.

To see the list of needed reforms to the Act, click here.

NOTE: FAIR and the Government Ethics Coalition call on federal parties to penalize Ouimet for her misconduct and claw back her obscene, undeserved $500,000 severance payoff (NOTE: The alliance has demanded that the payoff be cancelled and has also requested that the Auditor General audit the payoff and all other similar recent payoffs by the federal government).

Democracy Watch's Open Government Campaign page and Government Ethics Campaign page



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