It has been a busy summer. In June, two of Whistleblowing Canada's Directors, Ian Bron and I, attended a two day Conference organized by the International Whistleblowing Research Network(IWRN) in Utrecht, Netherlands. The gathering included prominent whistleblowing academics, researchers, whistleblowers and non-profit organizations supporting whistleblowers from around the world. The sharing of the knowledge and experience of those attending was empowering and confidence-building as it reinforced many of our own findings and future plans. One of the most memorable (and disconcerting) moments came when one researcher gave a preliminary glimpse of results of research being done by his organization aimed at examining whistleblower protection legislation from some 60 countries to determine how many contained "best practices". Experts have identified 20 elements considered "best practice". It was announced at the Conference, for all to hear, that Canada's Federal whistleblower protection law, the Public Servant Disclosure Protection Act (PSDPA) does not contain even one best practice. In effect it does not protect whistleblowers. Canadian academics have pointed out that provincial legislation has been largely modeled after the federal legislation. This does not auger well for whistleblowers or Canadians. Donald Savoie, a well known expert on Canadian Public Administration, tells us that Canada's democratic institutions are "disintegrating". In the age of disinformation, the attack on truth, and failure of our Access to Information laws, whistleblowing is the only way we can know what is really going on in government. And it is only by knowing what is really going on that we can make informed decisions and take reasonable action to participate in our democracy. With this in mind Whistleblowing Canada has written to all party leaders regarding recommended (and ignored) amendments to the PSPDA.Read more
Welcome to Whistleblowing Canada's Blog. The following is the first post. I hope it is the first of many that will stimulate discussion and debate on the issues that concern us.
Is it Time to Reboot Canadian Democracy?
Recently the media has had a large focus on a number of issues that speak to how Canadian citizens are governed federally. I refer here to questions raised by the SNC – Lavalin affair around:
- the rule of law – which means not only that the law must be obeyed but also that it applies to everyone equally including the Prime Minister and large powerful corporations.
- the role of the Clerk of the Privy Council – does s/he represent to his/her political masters the considered, best, impartial opinions/advice of the federal bureaucracy in the public interest or does s/he represent to the bureaucracy the views/preferences of his political masters which they are to support unquestioningly?
- the role of a public servant – is it solely to assist the Prime Minister and Ministers implement their policy preferences or does a public servant have a role as guardian of the rule of law and the public trust?
- are we governed by democratically elected representatives and an Executive headed by the leader of the party in power and his/her Cabinet who are responsible/answerable to the members of the House of Commons from all parties? Or,
- are we governed by leaders (and bureaucrats at their political leaders behest) who are too close to the very large, powerful companies who supposedly “creat jobs” (a wrong assumption) rather than keeping an “arm’s length” relationship with those the government regulates?