Whistleblowers

night at City HallIf you want to blow the whistle in the public interest, just send us an e-mail to citizenYVR@gmail.com.

We will check things out as best we can and consider how best to use the information. We will protect privacy. If you prefer to just inquire without being specific, we may be able to offer suggestions on what you might do with your information.

But our service is only an interim solution. Other jurisdictions have official and formal whistleblower systems. BC municipalities need to have formal systems. Perhaps the bigger municipalities should have their own, and smaller ones could have a system operated by the provincial government. In the case of Portland (see below), it appears a third-party organization offers the system to many municipalities.

People have tried the B.C. Ombudsperson and Office of the Privacy and Information Commissioner on certain issues. In some cases they are helpful, but they do not seem to have worked in many cases — their functions are too limited.

Whistleblowers have an important function in society. If the government is honest and has integrity, the tips may turn out to be nothing significant. But if corruption or inappropriate activities are going on, a whistleblower system can play a role in cleaning things up. Just by existing, a whistleblower system could have a chilling effect on corruption, and reduce the chance of a government going down the wrong path.

Meanwhile, other alternatives to CityHallWatch include a number of excellent investigative journalists in British Columbia, as well as tip lines of major media outlets. Contact us if you would like a confidential recommendation for an investigative journalist. The Vancouver Sun and Province will take tips. Or talk to your preferred journalist directly. CBC has a “Go Public” program that will take leads, investigate them, and report their findings publicly. For CBC, visit this link, or e-mail to gopublic@cbc.ca.

Here is some of our previous coverage on the topic.

Whistleblower systems – City of Portland’s OpenCity Tipline: Does Vancouver need this?
https://cityhallwatch.wordpress.com/2014/02/09/portland_tipline_whistleblower/

Why whistleblowers are crucial for democracy: Linden MacIntyre (CBC’s The Fifth Estate) essay
https://cityhallwatch.wordpress.com/2014/02/08/whistleblowers-crucial-for-democracy-linden-macintyre/

Background reading

http://wcel.org/resources/publication/whistle-blower-protection-strategies-bc

Whistle Blower Protection – Strategies for BC
Subject(s): Whistle Blower Protection, BC, Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Collective Bargaining, Canada Labour Code, Canadian Human Rights Act,
Author(s): Rolfe, Chris; Wilts, Rodney
Summary:
Whistle blowing is the act of a person who, believing that the public interest overrides the interest of the organization he serves, tells the public or authorities outside her organization that the organization is involved in corrupt, illegal, fraudulent, immoral or harmful activity. Whistle blowing has a long and varied history. Whistle blowers have been held up as conscientious heroes and scorned as traitors and malcontents. Thus, it is not surprising that whistle blower protection whether it be in the form of common law doctrines, government policy, legislation or collective agreement provisions will inevitably try to strike a balance. On the one hand, it will try to protect freedom of expression and disclosure in the public interest. On the other hand, it will try to protect the basic duty of loyalty owed by employees to their employers.

Publication Date: May 2002
Publisher: West Coast Environmental Law
Year: 2002
Pages: 42
City: Vancouver, BC