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HomePolicy Articles Article Summary

From Rhetoric to Reality: Protecting Whistleblowers in Alberta

Report by Keith Archer

According to Keith Archer, there is widespread agreement regarding the need to protect whistleblowers, however several issues must be resolved in the design of whistleblowing legislation in Alberta. Archer explains that the very definition of whistleblowers and whistleblowing is a significant issue, namely in that the breadth of the definition adopted will have an important bearing on the type of protection provided. Another key issue, the author states, is “the balance that needs to be struck between an employee’s duty of loyalty or “fidelity” to the employer on one hand, and freedom of expression and the public interest in disclosure of wrongdoing on the other.” A third key issue, he asserts, is the degree of comprehensiveness of whistleblower protection, which is required to develop confidence on the part of potential whistleblowers and a culture of disclosure of wrongdoing.

As Archer explains, the Canadian government has adopted whistleblower protection policy and has twice introduced bills in the House of Commons. The Internal Disclosure Policy (IDP), which requires government deputy heads to put in place mechanisms to allow government employees to disclose wrongdoing without fear of reprisal, has faced serious criticisms. The author examines whistleblower legislation introduced in other countries, including Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States; he concludes their policies are generally more comprehensive than Canada’s IDP. He also concludes that whistleblower protection at the provincial level in Canada is less advanced; it consists of a patchwork of rules in the common law, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, collective agreements, and specific statutes.

Alberta would seem poised for whistleblower protection legislation, Archer posits. He explains that Albertans are interested in issues of governmental accountability and the Alberta government has expressed its support for whistleblower protection legislation. Unfortunately, there has been no movement since the government defeated a related bill in 1998. The author suggests that Alberta could take a leadership position among Canadian provinces by adopting whistleblower protection legislation. As such, he argues the Alberta government could draw on the various models that exist internationally, federally, and provincially to create its own legislation.

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Policy Publication Details

Author(s): Keith Archer;
Publisher: Parkland Institute [ Visit Website ]
Year Published: 2005; Publisher Type: Research Institute
Publicly Available: Yes Research Focus: International; National; Provincial;
Registration Required: No Language: English
Payment Required: No Publication Format: Adobe PDF

Subjects / Categories:

Policy Articles / International Law & Politics / Canadian Law
Policy Articles / Public Administration / Accountability
Policy Articles / International Law & Politics / Canadian Law / 2005
Policy Articles / Public Administration / Accountability / 2005
Policy Articles / International Law & Politics
Policy Articles / Public Administration


Keywords / Tags:

whistleblowers; whistleblowing; whistleblower protection; whistleblower protection legislation; Alberta; culture of disclosure; disclosure for wrongdoing; Alberta government; Canadian federal government; Canadian provinces; Internal Disclosure Policy; United States; United Kingdom; Australia; Charter of Rights & Freedoms; governmental accountability;