Values and Ethics in the Public Service: Whistle-Blowing
- In March, 2005 firstwrite® completed a contract with a federal public service central agency centring on the development of a federal public service Code of Conduct in a bipartite (labour-management) forum. We provided expert advice on what issues were likely to be of interest to unions, and how such bipartite consultations might best produce positive results, from a union perspective.
In particular, the Code of Conduct was to be given force and effect through Bill C-11 (whistle-blowing legislation). We reviewed the legislation and indicated the areas that an operational Code of Conduct could and should address if the Code was to play an effective part in a modern public service culture. (With the election of the Conservatives in early 2006, Bill C-11 was scrapped, to be replaced by the Federal Accountability Act.)
- With the Ottawa Witness Group, a community organization that monitors police relations with the public, firstwrite® played a key role in drafting and presenting two submissions to the LeSage Review of the System for Complaints by the Public Regarding the Police (Report released April 25, 2005), and in drafting and presenting a further submission to a committee of the Ontario Legislature in early 2007 that was considering Bill 103, the Independent Police Review Act.
- In Ottawa, firstwrite® drafted and presented, on behalf of the Ottawa Witness Group, a brief to the city Task Force on Homelessness regarding police enforcement of the Ontario Safe Streets Act (May 9, 2005).
- Recent debates over electoral reform in several provinces and at the federal level have raised important issues with respect to governance and representation. firstwrite® partners have been active in Fair Vote Canada, with one serving on the National Council and speaking and writing on electoral reform in a number of venues.
- We have urged for some time that a broader view be taken of electoral reform, which currently focuses almost exclusively upon party representation in legislatures. The time is ripe to explore such issues as representation (for example, of Aboriginals, women, and minorities), the structure and accountability of the Executive branch, and the function of the Senate.
- Current campaigns for reform are too narrowly focused, in our view. They have so far been unsuccessful, despite the antiquated and undemocratic nature of the single member plurality (“first past the post”) system presently in place. As a key part of campaign strategy, firstwrite® has called for community workshops to discuss the full range of electoral reform, in order to determine what citizens want to see in an ideal electoral system. We believe that such made-in-Canada reforms should originate with citizens and be implemented by accountable representatives. We have expressed reservations about unelected and non-accountable “Citizens' Assemblies” as an instrument of change.
Are the current inflated salaries, perks and powers of CEOs consistent with sound public policy? A research paper has been completed on this subject, and firstwrite® is pursuing further research in the areas of corporate accountability (for example, in the case of industrial accidents) and internal corporate power relations (shareholders, directors and CEOs).
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