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Questioning The Ethics Of An Integrity Commissioner

Tuesday, Mar. 8, 2011


When Christiane Ouimet abruptly resigned last fall from her position last fall from the Ottowa Integrity Commission, she received a severance package worth $534,000 in addition to her normal pension benefits. Now a group of more than 30 advocacy groups has asked the government to cancel the severance package and to investigate the disgraced commissioner.

The agreement negotiated by Ouimet required both the government and the former commissioner to seal the document, leading the Government Ethics Coalition to question whether others who have held similar positions have been given similar payouts when they have voluntarily retired. (Severance is usually given to those who are laid off, and at a rate of one or two week’s pay for each year of service.)

It is not only her severance that has caused outcry, but also Ouimet’s actions as a commissioner. A report released after her sudden retirement showed she had acted on only a few of more than 200 complaints that had been brought before her office, leading to speculation that charges against anyone with political influence were simply dismissed. One whistleblower said her perfomance, “had undermined efforts to combat misconduct within the public service.

It may prove embarrassing for the Ottawa government to pursue this investigation, but the ethics of an integrity commissioner should be above reproach.

Tags: ethics violations, Ottowa

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