OTTAWA – Today, Canadians for Accountability and Democracy Watch announced that they have resigned from the Advisory Committee for the federal Integrity Commissioner (PSIC) because Integrity Commissioner Mario Dion kicked a member off the Committee for making comments critical of his actions and track record. Despite requests, he has refused to reinstate the member.
Commissioner Dion removed David Hutton, Executive Director of Federal Accountability Initiative for Reform (FAIR), from the Committee last week in response to a critical letter by him published in the Ottawa Citizen on October 13th. In the letter, Hutton referred to a recent Federal Court ruling which stated that PSIC’s handling of a case had so many mistakes it was “a clear breach of the common law duty of procedural fairness”. Hutton argued that this was not an isolated case and that FAIR had heard from more than 30 whistleblowers who expressed difficulties in dealing with PSIC.
“Democracy Watch is resigning from the advisory committee because the Integrity Commissioner’s decision is unfair and shows he is trying to use the committee to keep criticism of his office secret and behind closed doors,” said Tyler Sommers Coordinator of Democracy Watch.
“We cannot support an environment where openness, transparency and good governance are not respected,” said Allan Cutler of Canadians for Accountability. “Further, we will not be muzzled. We had originally believed that membership on the Advisory Committee was an obligation, not something that was granted by the Commissioner and which could be removed by him at a whim.”
Democracy Watch, FAIR, and Canadians for Accountability originally raised questions about the integrity commissioner’s appointment when the appointment of Mario Dion was rammed through committee without consultation with key groups interested in ensuring protection for whistleblowers. Dr. Edward Keyserlingk, the former Public Sector Integrity Officer (who was charged with protecting whistleblowers before PSIC was created, but with very limited powers) also called the appointment of a senior bureaucrat ‘disastrous’ in a multi-page letter to committee chair Pat Martin.
Allan Cutler, President, Canadians for Accountability: (613) 863-4671
Ian Bron, Managing Director, Canadians for Accountability: (613) 304-8049
David Hutton, Executive Director, Federal Accountability Initiative for Reform: (613) 567-1511
Tyler Sommers, Coordinator of Democracy Watch and Chair of the Open Government Coalition: (613) 241-5179
Text of Allan Cutler’s letter of resignation:
It is with regret that I am writing to inform you that Canadians for Accountability (C4A) is tendering its resignation from the Advisory Committee. A media release will be sent today.
C4A believed that we were on the Advisory Committee to help improve the situation for whistleblowers. This is obviously not the case. C4A believes in openness, transparency, integrity and good governance. We will always comment and give our observations on situations that need correcting. We will continue to do so in the public forum. We will not continue in an environment where we are expected to help cover-up mistreatment of whistleblowers by not reporting situations publicly.
You perceive our observations discourage whistleblowers reporting to PSIC. In fact, our observations are based on the experiences whistleblowers have encountered with PSIC. If you follow the logic, the problem lies within PSIC. What you are objecting to is our reporting the situations publicly and not engaging in a cover-up.
We cannot continue when we serve on the committee at your pleasure and you can dismiss us at a whim. You have clearly stated that, “I believe I have the right to decide on membership…” If you recall, you, Duff, David, and I met and discussed the membership. There was no suggestion at that time that membership was a ‘privilege’ that could be removed. The discussion was who ‘needed’ to be represented.
There continues to be problems in the attitude displayed toward whistleblowers and their treatment by PSIC. According to some of your staff, little has changed internally since Ouimet was forced to resign. We wish you the best in resolving this.