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Integrity in Harperland

From March 28, 2011

In 2007, Stephen Harper chose to appoint Christiane Ouimet as his Public Sector Integrity Commissioner. As 'Integrity Czar', her job was to investigate wrongdoing by bureaucrats and protect the whistleblowers who turn them in. So, how did she fair?

  • Despite receiving 228 allegations of wrongdoing through her three years as Integrity Czar, she only investigated seven cases. Of these seven select cases, she uncovered wrongdoing in a grand total of none.
  • During this time, Ouimet sought to meet with Conservative cabinet ministers on at least two occasions, contrary to her role as a government watchdog. (These ministers were Stockwell Day and Vic Toews.)
  • While she was in the position of Integrity Czar, on average, over 50% of her staff quit every year. Some of these former PSIC employees filed complaints with the Office of the Auditor General (their only recourse when their boss is supposed to be the chief whistle-blower). Many of them indicated that they left their jobs specifically because of Ouimet.
  • An investigation by the Auditor General found that Ouimet had engaged in inappropriate conduct in the treatment of her subordinates. The report noted that Ouimet "yelled, swore, and also berated, marginalized, and intimated certain PSIC employees." As well, Ouimet had attemped to push out employees she disliked by striping some employees of duties, while overloading others.
  • When Ouimet learned of the complaints filed against her at the Auditor General's office, she engaged in retaliatory actions against the former employee she believed had reported her. According to the report, Ouimet "prepared and circulated a large volume of information concerning his character, health, and performance during his tenure at PSIC, following his departure from the Office."
  • In October 2010, shortly after the completion of the AG's audit, Ouimet resigned. It was later discovered in March 2011 that the government had given Ouimet a $500,000 severance package, along with a gag order stating that "the parties shall not engage in any criticism against each other, personally or through other person including media representatives."

Integrity in Harperland. Fail hard enough and they will gladly reward you with big bucks so long as you promise to quietly shut up and go away.