4 March 2011
Canada has a complex arrangement of integrity agencies. This ethics framework was strengthened by the Federal Accountability Act in 2006, creating checks and balances giving effect to the recommendations of the Gomery Commission. The Office of the Public Service Integrity Commission is one of them. Unfortunately the appointee has failed to carry out the expectations held for that Office. Public debate grew. The Auditor General began an inquiry. The Integrity Commissioner resigned.
The Auditor General’s December 2010 report confirmed that the Integrity Commissioner failed to perform her mandate properly, had not acted on complaints, some decisions were not supported by evidence, her conduct and interactions with staff were inappropriate and that she had taken retaliatory action against staff. In a damning summary the Auditor General stated:
“We are of the view that the Commissioner’s conduct and actions were inconsistent with the spirit of the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act, the same Act from which she obtains her mandate. Further, the Values and Ethics Code for the Public Service states that ‘Public servants shall act at all times in a manner that will bear the closest public scrutiny; an obligation that is not fully discharged by simply acting within the law’. In our view, the Commissioner’s behaviour and actions do not pass the test of public scrutiny and are inappropriate and unacceptable for a public servant—most notably for the Agent of Parliament specifically charged with the responsibility of upholding integrity in the public sector and of protecting public servants from reprisal.”