Public Values

Journalists give award to public service whistleblowers

Scientists were fired for reporting on health threats.

The name of Shiv Chopra has become synonymous with whistleblower courage.OTTAWA, ON, November 24, 2011: Drs. Shiv Chopra, Margaret Haydon, and Gérard Lambert, outspoken and dedicated public servants represented by the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada (PIPSC), will be presented later today with the Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE)'s inaugural Integrity Award. It honours "individuals who acted courageously in the public interest without thought of personal gain, and in doing so risked reprisals in the form of threats to their careers, livelihood, or personal freedom".

"This is a very proud moment not only for Drs. Chopra, Haydon and Lambert, but for all public servants", declared Gary Corbett, President of the Institute. "It sends a strong message that Canadians recognize and appreciate how public service professionals put the public interest ahead of all other considerations. And it reminds us that to have the courage of one's convictions often comes at a steep price".

The three Health Canada scientists were dismissed for "insubordination" in 2004, after they publicly expressed serious reservations regarding the approval of products they believed would harm the food chain, and ultimately jeopardize the well-being of Canadians. Regretfully, after years of legal wrangling, in August 2011 the Public Service Labour Relations Board (PSLRB) dismissed all but one of eight grievances filed in response to the unfair treatment they had received at the hands of their employer. The three scientists have since filed an application for judicial review of the decision, with the exception of the grievance that was upheld.

"While existing legislation remains inadequate, honours such as the Integrity Award will help raise awareness amongst Senators and Members of Parliament of the critical importance of fully protecting public service whistleblowers who step forward to denounce situations of wrongdoing", said Corbett.

Posted: November 24, 2011

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