APTN National News
The federal Indigenous Affairs department’s anti-corruption sector paid for evidence against a band council during a probe, according to an allegation from investigator contained in documents filed with a federal tribunal.
The allegation surfaced in 2011 and was shared with former deputy minister of Indigenous affairs Michael Wernick who is now Clerk of the Privy Council, the top bureaucrat in the federal public service, according to a document filed with the Public Servants Disclosure Tribunal.
The allegation was made by investigator Chantal Dunn who also informed Wernick of “contracting issues” and “conflict of interest” problems within the federal department’s Assessment and Investigations Services branch. She said the branch employed the practice of “paying an Aboriginal person for information against their band council.”
It’s unclear what Wernick did with the information and whether the payment was an isolated incident or part of a pattern. The document provided no details with the allegations.
Dunn’s lawyer David Yazbeck would not comment on the case.
APTN contacted Indigenous Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett’s office on Wednesday requesting comment. Bennett’s office said media relations for Indigenous Affairs would respond to the question.
The department has not responded as of this article’s posting.
The Assessment and Investigation Services branch probes corruption allegations against First Nation band councils and organizations that receive funding from the department.
Dunn is currently before the tribunal after the Public Sector Integrity Commissioner determined she faced “reprisals” for raising a separate set of concerns including a “conflict of interest situation between an employee at (Indigenous Affairs) and a consultant.” Dunn also raised questions about the upward reclassification of an employee without a competition and “improper HR staffing practices” inside the department.
The commissioner found Dunn faced “reprisal” from Sylvie Lecompte, currently director of Indigenous Affairs’ Material and Assets Management Directorate, after raising the concerns. The commissioner found that Lecompte “inappropriately monitored the complainant’s attendance in the office and attempted to segregate the complainant by directing employees to refrain or reduce their interaction with her.”
The department and Lecompte denied the allegations.
“Ms. Lecompte denies that she took any reprisal measures against the complainant. Ms. Lecompte did not inappropriately monitor the complainant’s attendance in the office, nor did she attempt to segregate the complainant by directing employees to refrain or reduce their interactions with her,” said the department in a filing with the tribunal.
The tribunal held hearings on the case last week and this week. Final oral arguments are scheduled for next Wednesday before tribunal chair, Federal Court Justice Peter Annis who is expected to issue a ruling shortly thereafter.
It seems there are some within Indigenous Affairs who would rather bureaucrats not air their grievances with the Public Sector Integrity Commissioner.
On Nov. 9, 2015, Dunn and a union representative came across a poster on the 18th floor urging employees to contact the commissioner if they had workplace concerns. Scrawled on the poster was an ominous warning.
“Snitches get stiches!”
There were no other posters promoting the commissioner in the building, according to filings with the tribunal.