Nunavut whistleblower faced all-too-familiar reprisals

This is a year-old story about a whistleblower working in Nunavut that I only just learned about a few days ago. He was fire marshal for the territory and still in his probationary year when he reported that Baffin Correctional Centre was a fire trap.

The outcome was all too predictable, given the abysmal state of whistleblower protection in Canada: he was fired.

This happened despite the fact that the problems had been known for years, and despite the support he received from fire marshals across Canada and by citizens of Nunavut itself. In fact, it’s likely that the support made his former bosses even more determined to get rid of him. Why? Because, perversely, they probably blamed him for the embarrassing media coverage.

This is yet another example of how the current environment in the federal government makes it unsafe to dissent or blow the whistle, and how can put lives at risk. It also underlines the importance of fixing the Office of the Public Sector Integrity Commissioner.

If anyone dies because of the problems he identified weren’t fixed, there should be criminal liability. In fact, I wonder if they acted on the issues he raised after he was gone.

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Baffin inmates stressed by overcrowding: lawyer
CBC News, May 17, 2007
Summary: An Iqaluit legal aid lawyer says inmates at the Baffin Correctional Centre are so stressed out by overcrowding that some would rather plead guilty and go to a federal prison than await trial at the territorial jail.

Nunavut’s fire marshal fired
CBC News, May 12, 2010
Summary: Tony Noakes, who has been fired as Nunavut’s fire marshal, claims his dismissal stems from concerns he has about overcrowded and unsafe conditions at the Baffin Correctional Centre.

Nunavut jail safety concerns mount
CBC News, May 13, 2010
Summary: More safety concerns have surfaced about the Baffin Correctional Centre following the dismissal of Nunavut fire marshal Tony Noakes, who has called the overcrowded jail hazardous.