June 26, 2005

Politics: Blow My Whistle

Maybe you've heard of Gordon McAdams, or maybe not. Whichever is the case, he deserves to be known. In short:

A developer bought a piece of land across from Grohman Narrows Provincial Park several years ago, and wanted his property to become a rest/repair stop for transport trucks moving through BC.

A fine use for the property, and a useful thing to have.

According to the local laws here, if you put in a road off of a highway, it must be across from pre-existing roads to make an intersection that is as safe as possible. The problem for the developer was that the road would have cost $250,000, so he did what any reasonable businessman would do - he asked the minister of the idiotically named Water, Land, and Air Protection Minisrty (now once again called the Ministry of Enviroment) to move the driveway to the park.

This would cost taxpayers $100,000 and had the side benifit of destroying several painted turtle nests, giving visitors to the park one less thing to worry about seeing. The minister, Bill Barisoff, agreed, changing the ministrys mind from its 2002 and 2004 decisions on the same issue. He also claimed in a local paper that the road would be good for the turtles.

Gord McAdams, an ecologist who has been in government for 34 years and is currently a Nelson city councillor, discovered that the government was breaking the law. Criminal charges could have been brought against Mr. Barisoff if construction of the road went through, but the habitat still would have been destroyed. To prevent this, Mr. McAdams photocopied two confidential doccuments and included them in a signed affidavit he filed with the BC Supreme court. The court agreed that Barisoff was violating the Park Act.

Four days after he filed, and four hours before he was due to retire, Mr. McAdams was called into the ministers office and fired. That timing cost him about $25,000 in sick time, retirement leave and vacation. He's filed a grievance, and Barisoff is no longer a minister.

Okay, old news. Why mention this now? Because I've just had this little gem pointed out to me: it's called the


Or Bill 73 for short.

This was during the Patriot Act kerfuffle when many people were concerned (and rightly so) about "foreign powers" (read: the States) accessing private information of Canadian citizens. In it, all public employees anf service providers must report any such requests, so there is a special section devoted specifically to whistleblower protection. It's section 30.3, and states outright that the whistleblower can do what they feel is neseccary without fear of recrimination, specifically:

30.3 An employer, whether or not a public body, must not dismiss, suspend, demote, discipline, harass or otherwise disadvantage an employee of the employer, or deny that employee a benefit [...]

If they have acted in good faith. Neat, huh? And Mr. McAdams didn't go to the press, or to the opposition party during the election campaign - he went to the Supreme Court. It only made news when he got fired by the simpletons he was working for. And this information was most certainly in the public interest, as section 25 says, is a reasonable justification for violating confidentiality agreements.

One spokesman said he couldn't talk about the matter because of employee privacy reasons; Gord McAdams has no such difficulty, and has been on the front page of more than one newspaper since being dismissed.

So suck it, Ministry of Enviroment douchebags. Do your jobs or get the hell out of the trough.


posted by Thursday at 11:00 am


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