The commissioner is an officer of Parliament, who is tied too much to the executive branch because the executive branch, the cabinet alone, selects the person, and that's the conflict of interest that others have talked about through the whole system.
Just to talk about one other thing that Tom Devine raised, and that is these internal disclosure people. Compare that to the access to information system. Under our Access to Information Act, there are employees who are access to information officers. Their job is to handle access to information. Under the whistle-blower protection law if someone is designated, they're still doing their other job, they're still within the whole hierarchy, they're hired by their bosses, and they're looking for promotion in their other job. They're just designated to be the internal disclosure person.
It would be great if those people could be the ombudspeople that Tom Devine has talked about, but they're not independent enough to be that.
One idea may be that the commissioner should be selecting those people, that those people should be made like access to information officers where their full-time job is to only do this. Have the commissioner select them, and not have their deputy minister or their deputy head be choosing them, to give them the independence to be that ombudsperson. Because right now I don't trust that those people, in the really hard cases, are not going to feel the conflict of interest from wanting a promotion to continue in their job, because they're just designated to be this internal disclosure person.
That's why I emphasize so much a central office that's a clearing house that everyone is promoted and educated about regularly, not just once when they're hired. When you're talking about some of the integrity at work initiatives, they're getting at the behavioural psychology of changing the culture and nudging people—which I'm sure you've heard about—governments nudging citizens to comply with laws. We need nudging within government as well.
One of the things I think should be done is that whenever a decision-making process begins, not only should people be signing the values and ethics code of the public service again but also everyone who is involved is handed a statement that they have a right to blow the whistle if there is wrongdoing in this process. That's how you nudge people and remind them. I just don't think that internal officer is ever going to be a person unless they become like an ATIP officer where they are hired independently—ATIP officers are not hired independently—where it's their sole job. Otherwise, they'll have the conflict. I think a great idea is to have the commissioner be able to hire all those people in every government institution.
You may say that's going to cost too much. Then you have to have a larger central office that everyone is educated about regularly, multiple times a year, that this is the place to go if you have any questions, and as soon as you contact them, even anonymously, you and all your colleagues you may have talked with about it are fully protected.