An Island’s fight for Whistleblower Protection

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Whistle Blowing Laws in every jurisdiction are integral to ensuring those who call out employer misconduct are held accountable. They also ensure that those who shed light on the wrongful acts of employers are protected from reprise. Prince Edward Island is an example where these rules have recently failed, and three women are paying the price.

The three women came forward with allegations that some of the Provincial Nominee Immigration Program applications didn’t meet the proper eligibility criteria for some candidates. They allege officials took bribes to allow for an expedited process for some applicants. They also sent information regarding the fraudulent activity to federal officials at Citizenship and Immigration. Although Canada Border Services personal and the RCMP looked into the matter, they decided to drop the allegations.

During the three women’s press conference in 2011 citing the claims, they learned that their office emails and some personnel records had been leaked to the press. The emails characterized the women as mere political partisans, whose only incentive for coming forward was to tarnish the Liberal government’s image. They filed a complaint to the privacy commissioner within a matter of days. After an investigation by the privacy commissioner, information was found showing how the information could have changed hands from government officials to those in the Liberal Party. The emails may have been leaked by the Prince Edward Island government. Robert Ghiz, Liberal Premier at the time, denied the allegations made by the three women. Last month a report by the privacy commissioner was released stating that the province breached the privacy rights of the three women.

Since the privacy breach two of the women have not only alleged online harassment, but have been unable to find work on the island. Even though both women are qualified for government positions with adequate experience behind them, their applications have gone unanswered. One has even left the island in order to get away from the trolling and search for alternative employment opportunities. She is currently considering litigation over the affair. However, it is an expensive and time consuming route to take. But it may be more important to some that a just result is reached.

Although a subsequent Liberal Government has since enacted more thorough whistleblower legislation, many believe it is still not enough. For 7 years to have gone by without reaching a conclusive result, something more must be done. Whistleblowers play an integral role in ensuring governments and employers are held accountable. Without proper protection for these individuals, egregious conduct by those in privileged positions may never reach the public.

This blog post was written by a CCLA-PBSC Rights Watch student. Views expressed do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCLA or PPSC.

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