Prime Time Crime


(Prime Time Crime exclusive Nov. 14, 2005)


“As government institutions and private companies grow larger and less accountable for their actions to the public, the very health of democracy....and the long-term viability of its economy depend upon…

truth-tellers to shine light on corruption” 

(From The Art of Anonymous Activism a joint effort by The Government Accountability Project (GAP) 

and its associates POGO and PEER)

By Leanne Jones

If “corruption” means the use of public power for private gain, then the whistleblower is the one who sounds the alarm about it.

But what is their reward?

When whistleblowers are seen from afar, they are applauded, but in their own organizations or countries, they are treated like traitors. 

For example Jiang Yanyong, the doctor, who exposed China’s SARS cover up, was treated as a traitor by the Chinese government and is now in custody and undergoing ‘study sessions’. 

Let’s look closer to home, to the example of Allan Cutler, who sounded the alarm on the sponsorship scandal and exposed the fact that millions of taxpayers’ dollars were misused, for private gain.  What happened to him?

His position was later classified as redundant and he was dismissed, and told he had ‘no future in the public service’, he was reassigned, but suffered partial loss to his pension due to this reassignment.”

Brian McAdam, a well-known whistleblower, having exposed corruption at the Canadian consulate in Hong Kong and one of the persons who instigated the “Sidewinder Report”, (which was eventually scuttled), was forced to take early retirement among other hardships created by a non thankful government.

Brian McAdam works with a group called Federal Accountability Initiative for Reform (FAIR),  spearheaded by Joanna Gualtieri, who are paving the way to help other whistleblowers, such as Allan Cutler, who is also working with FAIR, by working to combat the poor legislation of Bill C-11, known as, “The Whistleblower legislation.”

According to FAIR, what the liberals have done is create the legislation in a way that entices whistleblowers to reveal all, then once they are caught in the web. ”Come in to my parlour said the spider to the fly,” an independent body, evaluates their assertions, and the whistleblower is sent a patronage laden body to evaluate what could be done for them, and what will be done is what legislation like C-11 will do. Nothing more than become a government-designed, government-controlled and-executed device, to rein in those who attempt to disclose wrongdoing. 

According to Joanna Gualtieri and David Kilgour MP, rather than promote occupational freedom of speech, “a fundamental and constitutional right,” the bill prescribes what, and to whom, you can blow the whistle on, which then gives the government ample time to engage in cover-ups of various kinds.

So what else is new?

The Whistleblower, is a universal concept that has been talked about and portrayed in characters fighting, and blowing the whistle on crime, throughout the ages.

They have also been portrayed and adored by the public, in comic books, as lovable heroes.

Take a look at the current movie “Batman Begins” and you will find some of the same elements found in the actions of "whistleblowers" because they are fighting against corruption and the bad guys by blowing the whistle.  These are suggested throughout the plot in simple cliché comments.

It's what you do that defines you."

"Justice is about more than revenge"

"Why do we fall?  So we can learn to pick ourselves up."

Criminals thrive on good people doing nothing or as Edmund Burke said over 200 years ago 

"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."

If you don't take bribes, it makes the bad guys nervous.

Clichés yes, but the suggestion that heroic characters need to be dramatically portrayed with great symbols or illusions, is perhaps not such a bad idea in the graphically visual climate of the day.

Toward the end of the movie Batman says to the bad guy, “I don’t want to kill you but, I don’t have to save you either.” 

Is this the idea Mr. Gomery thought when he chose not to incriminate Mr. Martin in his report?  By doing that, he did not kill Mr. Martins career, he may have thought it best for the people to decide through the voting process.

Allan Cutler did not need a costume or symbol, he just did what others have done.

He did the right thing.

People do not choose to be whistleblowers. For the most part they are simply ethically doing their job so in essence it is the collective public perception of an act that determines the label placed on the whistleblower.

The sleeping giant, the collective of “the people” however is waking up, and becoming enlightened to them through the internet, and other media. Could this knowledge of the whistleblowers sound the alarm just in time. 

There is a great diversity of whistleblowers says Brian McAdam, they know no racial boundaries, and he has read, that women are often more likely than men to sound the alarm.  Just as the three women whistleblowers chosen as Time magazine's Persons of the Year 2002 did.  Coleen Rowley, the FBI agent who wrote a memo to FBI Director Robert Mueller, criticizing the agency for ignoring evidence before September 11, 2001, that hinted of an attack.  Likewise, Cynthia Cooper, a World Com internal auditor, alerted the company’s board in June of 2001, to $3.8 billion in accounting irregularities and Sherron Watkins who sent e-mails in August 2001 warning Enron Chairman Kenneth Lay that improper accounting could cause the company to collapse resulted in the company later filed for bankruptcy and Watkins resigning as vice president.

All three women believed that truth is one thing that must not be moved off the books.

The author of the letter below "Whistleblower bill is fatally flawed" is Louis Clark, President, Government Accountability Project (GAP) a pre-eminent expert on whistleblowing

Whistleblower bill is fatally flawed

Letters in

The Ottawa Citizen

Monday, November 14, 2005 


The whistleblower-protection bill now under consideration in Canada's Parliament mirrors the American experience.

After a decade of scandals in the late 1970s, the U.S. Congress developed a law so flawed that over the next decade only four whistleblowers prevailed -- out of 2,000 federal employees who sought that law's promised but non-existent benefits.

Similarly, Bill C-11 is fatally flawed. It is hard to imagine many, or even any, Canadian whistleblowers finding much protection in it for their jobs and careers.

Whistleblowers need real, not phoney, protection. They need metal, not cardboard, shields to defend themselves against powerful, offended, defensive and perhaps corrupt bosses.

I have examined the bill and found the fatal flaws so extensive that it would be more accurate to call the legislation the Whistleblower Management and Dismissal Act. It tries to manage whistleblower's revelations, channelling them into some dark bureaucratic hole while offering managers a sword to slay the whistleblowers if they did not follow narrow rules about disclosure.

Except in a narrow set of circumstances, public servants who try to communicate through the media to taxpayers about wrongdoing within the government will find themselves at great peril if this bill becomes law.

Effective and critically important whistleblowing is almost always a public act that serves the public good. It is crucial to a democracy that leaders, both elected and unelected, get over their need to control and manipulate the disclosure of allegations about wrongdoing. Failure to protect whistleblowers will lead to the suppression of information that is vital for a nation.

The best test of legislative reforms is to consider whether they will improve the situation that gave rise to the impetus for change. An examination of the Adscam scandal would be instructive. It is hard to imagine how C-11 could possibly have exposed the scandal sooner, benefited the whistleblowers involved in any way, or put any significant impediments in the paths of all those who in some fashion participated in the corruption.

Louis Clark,  


President,  Government Accountability Project (GAP)

© The Ottawa Citizen 2005

The advice he and the whistleblowing community gave to the parliamentary committee studying the legislation, Bill C-11, was disregarded. The legislation was recently passed by the House of Commons and is now in the Senate for consideration.

Undoubtedly the Liberal Party will trumpet this legislation in the forthcoming election campaign as proving they are serious about preventing corruption. In fact as Joanna Gualtieri and David Kilgour MP write:

"C-11 is nothing more than a government-designed, government-controlled and government-executed device to rein in those who attempt to disclose wrongdoing. Rather than promote occupational free speech -- a fundamental and constitutional right -- it closely prescribes what you can blow the whistle on and to whom, giving the government ample time to engage in cover-ups of various kinds."

Louis Clark says that the legislation which he dubs the "Whistleblower Management and Dismissal Act" is diabolical as: "It tries to manage whistleblower's revelations, channelling them into some dark bureaucratic hole while offering managers a sword to slay the whistleblowers if they did not follow narrow rules about disclosure."

The Western Standard highlights others who commented on the legislation who said:

"A federal government plan to permanently muzzle current and former employees of 14 entities with access to national security information is an affront to press freedom, the Canadian Newspaper Association warns."


"Find out what agencies are not allowed to whistleblow.  Then you'll know where to check for more evidence of the kind of thing found in the Gomery Inquiry."

Judge Gomery who is probing the ad scam scandal, will be making recommendations on legislation to protect whistleblowers which will be part of his second report in February.  

One can only hope that he will do the right thing. 


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