A little chat about truth and consequences …..

One of the best bits about being in the military was that one never winds up doing the same job in the same place for an entire career!    Did I have a favourite?   Actually no, because I was so very lucky to have a pretty interesting variety over the years. 

But .. if I had to choose, the times when I was tasked to do ration accounting would certainly make the top ten list!   Really, you ask?   Why on earth would I say that?

Because there is an undeniable and simple elegance to accounting!    Unlike some folks, numbers never lie!  They can be rearranged in the hopes of being overlooked!    All sorts of skullduggery might pass a quick muster if it was always presented in the same way!   But at the end of the day, there was always an auditable trail leading back to the truth!

To be perfectly honest though, that is not why I so often was tasked with the job.    My math skiill were not as important as the fact that  I simply was not part of the good old boy network!   To be blunt, I did not  have any vested interests that would inhibit me from pursuing the truth!

Does that mean that there were no consequences for any of my findings?   Of course not!    To put it politely, doing such a  job honestly was not always a good career move, eh?

Consequently, I have a lot of respect for those who find the courage to follow their conscience and become whistle blowers.    Where would the Gomery inquiry have been if Allan Cutler had simply “gone along” and not maintained meticulous notes when his objections were ignored?

Where would the residents of Fort Chipewyan in particular and the Alberta oil patch in general have been if Dr John O’Connor had not noticed .. and pursued .. the exceptionally high rate of a very rare cancer?     Closer to home, where would the animal loving community have been had animal advocates kept quiet about the death of the Celtic Six or Seven or Eight or ?

Lets face it … it take guts to be a whistle-blower!   Rocking the boat tends to make those in authority pretty darned seasick!  What does that mean in real speak?   Why there are often career implications!   Saddest of all of course is that those in authority have a proven track record of ruining the professional reputation of any whistle-blower!

Last week, the NDP introduced Bill 55 in a flurry of fanfare …. presenting their tiny molehill as a mountain of accomplishment!    Were we really surprised?   Sadly not!  Anyone privy to any of the letters sent to the animal advocates at People for Dogs could clearly read the writing on the wall 😦

In a lovely round robin of buck passing, the Agriculture Minister claimed that he had it on the society’s authority that there was no need for actual Anti Tethering Legislation when the existing law was enough.     At the same time, the society kept on claiming that their inspectors could not seize chained dogs because of “gaps in legislation”

But I am wandering afield, as I am often wont to do in my meandering way.   The point that I want to make today is that Bill 55 is missing more than the boat … it needs a little tweak that we had all hoped would not prove to be necessary!

I am of course talking about a clause to protect whistleblowers.   Why?   Currently the status quo is that ALL volunteers with the society have to sign a confidentiality agreement.  What does that mean in realspeak?  Why of course that if anyone’s conscience rears its ugly head, there is no legal way for a volunteer to ‘come clean’

Why would they need to do that?   Would it not be enough to take it up the chain?   To whom should they take it?   To the Branch Manager who would wear the responsibility for any error or misdeed?   Or higher up the chain …. where it would be rationalized in ways that have so often insulted one’s intelligence?

Worst of all of course is that even rescuers who have NOT signed such a document are inhibited from speaking out!    Why would they risk having any access at all to saving animals in the future, eh?

This is not a new idea.   In California, there is a law to allow rescue access and protect volunteer whistle blowers.   

What time is it?  It is time to include a similar measure in our own Animal Protection Act.    Why?   Above and beyond the obvious bit about saving lives …. it would encourage more people to help the animals.    There are a lot of kind hearts out there who simply do NOT volunteer with the society because of that darned confidentiality agreement eh?

Equally importantly, when an Unneccessary Unhappy Tail is the direct result of human error or neglect,  having such a measure on the books would encourage the society to move forward and take steps to prevent future unhappiness … rather than simply circling the wagons!

At the end of the day, transparency can only exist when there is an auditable trail leading back to the truth!    

We do not err because truth is difficult to see.   It is visible at a glance.   We err because this is more comfortable.  Alexander Solzhenitsyn

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