I’m adding this because I think I think it exemplifies the obstructionism we face. And, to inform people who haven’t encountered them, or didn’t realize that was what they were/are doing. And to let others, who have dealt with these people, know that they are not alone. These examples also illustrate that obstructionism is part of the culture in the government, including the medical system.
- Privacy Commissioners Office: After moving, I looked into opening an account at the Bank of Nova Scotia. I ended up writing to the Privacy Commissioner regarding, what I considered to be, excessive information requirements. For example, the bank wanted the names of all my family members (wouldn’t that be a violation of their privacy?). The question was whether this bank was allowed to “demand” (i.e. no choice) this information in order for someone to open a basic bank account, The Privacy Commissioner told me that I had to contact a number of others first. I had already contacted the president of the bank and received a non-answer. It didn’t fall under the mandate of the bank ombudsman. The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada said they would look into it but I would not be informed of the result. Then what is the point of looking into it and why can’t I be informed? As far as I know the staff at the Financial Consumer Agency just went back to sitting on their butts, doing nothing but sticking their hands in our pockets.
So back to the privacy commissioner. First I received a response from Nicole Menard telling me that the bank had the right to ask the questions. Her decision was based on the Canadian Bankers Association website “Opening a Bank Account.” I read it and it said that you were only required to provide two pieces of identification. I pointed this out to her and asked to have someone else review the file.
So, next I get a letter from Christina Derenzis who tells me that she has reviewed my file and that I have to contact the Ombudsman. I told her that if she had read my file she would know that I had already done so.
Next, I am contacted by Kyle Larsen. He wants to start the process at square one and ask the Bank of Nova Scotia the same questions I had already asked and would I like them to contact me directly. No, I said; been there, done that. I wanted to know if they had the right to demand this information. I sent this letter in August. I sent a follow-up letter in October pointing out that I had not received a reply. I sent an email in November, again pointing out that I had not heard from him and threatened to go to my MP (it appears there is a use for an MP). He responded and is now working on my case (so he says).
Even if the privacy commissioner agrees with me, NOTHING will happen. But this is the set-up. They run you in circles and do NOTHING. The only reason I filed the complaint with the privacy commissioner’s office because, if the the Bank of Nova Scotia has violated my rights as I suspect, then I want it on record. If the privacy commissioner’s office decides the Bank of Nova Scotia has not violated my rights, I want that on record as well.
An Aside: I opened an account with a different bank and the bank manager said they didn’t share my information. I said except with their associates, suppliers and so on (and whoever they share our information with). And she said “but we don’t share it with, ummm”, she thought for a moment, “with 7-11”. That did make me feel so much better (sarcasm alert).
About ten years ago I filed a similar complaint with the privacy commissioner, but regarding the Royal Bank. The privacy commissioner did an investigation and found the bank had violated the Privacy Act, the Bank Act and I think another act. As far as I know, nothing changed with the bank but at least the privacy commissioner did an investigation and I knew that what was being done was illegal. Then again, maybe something did change. Maybe the government decided they needed to protect their friends and implemented an obstructionist policy regarding any inquiries.
- Then there are the federal integrity commissioners. Christiane Quimet, first, and Mario Dion (1, 4, 5), second integrity commissioner in a row accused of incompetence and mismanagement. This office, created by the Conservative government, “is supposed to protect public servants who blow the whistle on wrongdoing within the federal government”. (1) “He (David Hutton) said Ouimet and Dion are both lifelong bureaucrats who come from a culture where protecting those above you is a career-enhancing prerequisite. (1)
“Now you’re putting these people in a position where their job is to expose wrongdoing which will embarrass their deputy minister and departments, if it’s done properly,” said Hutton.” (1) So, Wouldn’t it be better to have a citizen committee(s), not appointed by the politicians or their lackeys, select the commissioners.
Sheila Fraser, auditor general, audited Ouiment and “also found Ouimet was bullying her staff, sometimes yelling and swearing at them in public”. (2)
“During her three years on the job, Ouimet investigated only five of the more than 200 complaints her office received, and never produced any recommendations or findings of wrongdoing committed against whistleblowers. (2)
In addition to three years of wages and benefits for doing apparently virtually nothing, Christiane Ouiment was paid $500,000 of our money when she was forced to resign in disgrace (isn’t this called fired). Do you get paid to quit a job/fired, especially because you failed to do your job?
“But since Ouimet was an officer of Parliament and not beholden to the government, opposition MPs are now wondering why the prime minister was the one to buy her out.”
“’Why does the prime minister get to decide?’ asked Liberal MP Navdeep Baines, adding Ouimet’s closeness with the government, “puts into question her independence as well.
‘Why was the prime minister’s office and his department (the privy council) interfering with her independence, and why did she receive half a million dollars to walk away?’” (3)
I am pleased to hear that over 200 people, in about three years, in the federal government are courageous enough to become whistleblowers. It is always disappointing, of course, that it’s necessary and that nothing is being done about it because the politicians have created fake organizations.
Remember we pay for all these sham organizations who treat us with contempt.
- Auditor general: ‘Gross mismanagement’ in files handled by integrity commissioner, Bruce Cheadle, 15 Apr 2014, Toronto Star.
- Former integrity commissioner ignores summons, again, 08 Feb 2011, Toronto Sun
- Ouimet calls AG’s ‘special’ audit a personal attack, Bryn Weese, 10 Mar 2011, Toronto Star
- Canada’s integrity commissioner should be fired,Guiseppe Valiante, 15 Apr 2014, Toronto Sun
- Integrity Commissioner Dion should be replaced, Allan Cutler, 14 Apr 2014, Canadians for Accountability