Mr. Speaker, I rise today for the first time in the House to speak to Bill C-11. First, I would like to take this opportunity to thank the great people of Elgin—Middlesex—London for electing me to the House. I will endeavour to provide the service that I know they deserve.
Let me now speak to the bill at hand. Bill C-11 is called whistleblower legislation. In an ideal world, we would not need protection for our workers because the workplace would be free of wrongdoing. Sadly, this is not the case today. With workplace wrongdoing, a more and more common occurrence, we must have in place a solid plan to ensure that workers who come forward to report wrongdoing are protected.
I will speak to the reprisal piece. We can reasonably expect that men and women of goodwill and conscience will take effort to stop wrongdoing as they see it happen, but only as long as the workplace climate is such that the person attempting to stop the wrongdoing is not endangering his or her employment comfort either now or in the future. It is not easy to report wrongdoing. Recent background shows examples of public servants, like Mr. Cutler, being subjected to a reign of terror.
The Liberal government came to power in 1993 promising whistleblower legislation. It then ignored that promise. Since 1999, many attempts have been made to correct that.
Confronted with the sponsorship scandal, the government introduced Bill C-25 in March. Bill C-25 was widely criticized as an ineffective legislation that would actually discourage whistleblowing. Bill C-25 is the basis for this legislation. Let us see what is in Bill C-11.
In reality, this bill contains all the same problems as the last version. Bill C-11 was to be a major revision of Bill C-25, which was universally panned in the last Parliament.
Public servants will not be encouraged to disclose wrongdoing to the president of the Public Service Commission as they see that position as part of senior management. This bill does not allow the person receiving disclosures to report directly to Parliament. The president of the Public Service Commission would report to a minister, who would then table the report within 15 days. This process creates the same kind of interference that has apparently taken place in the past.
This bill also allows cabinet to add any agency or crown corporation or department to a list that is excluded from this act. This allows government to exclude public servants from protection of retribution when they disclose wrongdoing.
Like Bill C-25, Bill C-11 sets no punishment for those who make reprisals against whistleblowers. Also as with Bill C-25, in Bill C-11 only those who make disclosures through the prescribed channels and whose disclosures meet specific criteria are protected. This sounds like controlling disclosures, not facilitating them.
In conclusion, I could support an act that creates a truly independent body to receive and investigate disclosures made by the public servants. This is an act that falls short and it must be fixed.