Integrity

Since the Sponsorship Scandal, people contact me for help in abusive or whistleblowing situations. I have spent countless hours volunteering over the last few years helping them and dealing with corruption. I gradually developed the belief that our Canadian culture was improving. Ethical behavior and integrity was slowly gaining ground. Disappointingly, I have been proven wrong by what has transpired. At the very least, it is a major set-back.

In 2005, when Justice Gomery released his report, he wrote (to my surprise), “Only one subordinate, Allan Cutler, dared to challenge Mr. Guité’s authority and methods and, as a result, he was declared surplus by Mr. Guité.” In fact, I was aware that there were many people who were aware of the corruption and wrongdoing that was being done. This included other subordinates, senior bureaucrats, people in other government departments and agencies, colleagues and some politicians. I am still surprised that so many people enabled the corruption to flourish. I am still surprised that I was the only one who challenged. Now, almost 15 years later, I learn that nothing has changed.

The resignation of Jody Wilson-Raybould from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s cabinet and the smear campaign are significant developments. I have been taped more than once. It is not uncommon for this to happen. I am also not surprised an attempt has been made to divert attention from the content to the taping of the conversations. This is just a red herring and forms a convenient excuse used by enablers to avoid taking responsibility and challenging what has occurred.

A consistent recommendation that I give to people in corrupt or abusive situations is to document everything and to tape conversations. More than one person has been saved by having the actual recording. I also tell them NOT to tell the other party (the abuser) that they are being taped. If you inform them, then the tone of the conversations will change and they will disguise what is going on. You will not be able to prove the abuse that took place.  If they are not an ‘abuser’ then they have no risk.

Many people claim ‘integrity until it matters. I should not have been surprised that none of their colleagues came to their defence. Politicians such as Marc Garneau and Ralph Goodale and are perceived as role models. They are two politicians that I have come to respect highly over the years. Young people look to emulate their behavior.

There is an old expression, “By their actions, ye will know them.” By the actions of the politicians young people have been taught that it is acceptable to be an enabler and/or by-stander and not support those who have been wronged. This runs completely opposite to the anti-bullying initiatives that have taken place in the schools.     

These matters should be of concern to all Canadians. If corruption is allowed to flourish in one locale, it is only a matter of time before other sectors are involved. The argument appears to be that ‘integrity’ only counts sometimes. There are more important things such as guarding wrongdoing and allowing abusive behaviour to flourish.

In a conflict, such as this, involving integrity there are three ‘factions’. First is the perpetrator. The second category is the enablers, those who have a duty to stand up to the perpetrator and choose not to do so. They may be actively involved, a knowledgeable bystander or a person who is afraid of the consequences of doing the right thing.

The real problem is the fear of acting and taking responsibility for your actions. It is much easier to be a lemming or part of a herd that a lone wolf. Standing out from the crowd takes courage.

I often wonder about the message that these enablers send to their children or grandchildren. What type of society do they believe in? Do they believe that a society based on corruption is a better than a ‘just’ society?  What will they say if they are next? There is an old expression that governs these enablers, “By their actions ye shall know them.”  

The final category is the defenders. I had hoped that over the last years those that defended integrity had grown. Unfortunately I was mistaken. Both Ms. Jody Wilson-Raybould and Dr. Jane Philpott have demonstrated that there is still hope. People who take principled stands should be honoured, not attacked.

Allan Cutler

President

Anti-Corruption and Accountability Canada