OTTAWA, November 10, 2005
Right Hon. Paul Martin, P.C., M.P.
House of Commons
Dear Mr. Prime Minister,
An Open Letter
This is to convey my concern regarding the status of whistleblowers within our federal public service. Although Canadians value such persons highly for their willingness to stand up and speak out on injustices within the government, the response from management is almost invariably swift and severe punishment.
As we saw in the case of Allan Cutler, who almost lost his job and was shuffled around within his department, his attempt to reveal a scandal was ignored for considerable time. As far as I know, the only one who has ever thanked him for his good deed, besides Canadians generally, is Justice John Gomery. Does your government not believe he did the correct thing?
Although there has been some recognition of the difficulties faced by whistleblowers in their attempt to reveal unethical activity, Bill C-11 does not do even a barely adequate job. As Cutler himself points out in the October 17 issue of Hill Times – and he is one who is, as you know, more aware of the difficulties than you or I – C-11 is “still an ‘anti-whistleblower’ law and fundamentally and fatally flawed”. He notes that, among other things, the burden of proof to prove that the retaliation was in response to the whistleblowing remains on the whistleblower; there is no public disclosure; the whistleblower is not assigned a lawyer by the government, while the ‘accused’ is; and most worryingly, there is no authority or responsibility to take corrective action.
Moreover, the case of Joanna Gualtieri – who is one of the very few public servants who has chosen to challenge publicly wrongdoing – demonstrates that the government is not interested in truth and justice but rather in using its vast resources to debilitate and wear down the truth-teller. During the past week, as your government publicly claimed that it will protect whistleblowers, the Department of Justice dragged Ms. Gualtieri back into court rather than consent to her request that she have a reprieve from the court proceedings for a few months to attend to and breastfeed her newborn child. Is this how you intend to “protect” whistleblowers?
Ms. Gualtieri's case has garnered significant public attention on account of the tax money squandered at the Foreign Affairs Department. Have you ever made any attempt to investigate the legitimacy of her claims of waste and harassment rather than spend much public money on lawyers to fight her? In my view, as a former Counsel with the Civil Litigation section with the Justice Department, it is tragic that such a capable civil servant should have had to spend the last ten years of her life defending her rights in a court case. With the treatment afforded Ms. Gualtieri, few public servants are likely to dare take on ‘the system’ in the public interest.
Why are the Allan Cutlers, Joanna Gualtieris, Brian McAdams and RCMP Cpl. Robert Reads not given more respect by their peers in the federal public service? Why do they lose their jobs or go into early retirement? What could their careers have been like? And why has no one offered repair, restitution and reinstatement? Our whistleblowers – so necessary, as we have seen, even in a democratic society such as Canada – need to be protected by a serious piece of legislation.
I’d be grateful if you would provide this matter your consideration, and reply to me in a form that can be shared.
Cc: Members of Parliament and Senators