The POGG Golden
The Golden Whistle Award
The Golden Whistle Award is an annual award created by POGG (Peace,
Order and Good Government), an Ottawa-based public-policy discussion group
and think tank. The award is sponsored by Canadians
for Accountability and is awarded annually to an individual who has
done a service to Canada in the pursuit of truth in government. For further
information, contact info@POGGtalk.com.
2013 Golden Whistle Award Monday March 18
VOKES BSc., P.Eng., of Calgary, Alberta is this year’s
Honouree. Mr. Vokes was a professional materials engineer and whistleblower
at TransCanada Pipelines (TCPL).
[credit to Canadians for
Accountability for the following paragraphs][event information and additional
photos are available here]
During Mr. Vokes’ employment with TCPL he made positive technical
and business changes while repeatedly questioning the business practices
and competency of some managers and pipeline inspectors. He informed TCPL
through several levels of management that the failure to follow code and
regulation was key in a then-recent catastrophic
failure of a new pipeline.
Allan Cutler and
Harry Weldon presenting the Golden Whistle Award to Evan Vokes.
In response to an invitation from TCPL CEO, Mr. Vokes expressed concerns
about what he viewed as TCPL’s negligence regarding enforcement of
compliance with the National Energy
Board (NEB) Onshore Pipeline Regulations. Several events of current
non-compliance were tabled and it was noted that, though Mr. Vokes was
accountable, he was not in control of those events. He remains concerned
that welds could fail in the future and lead to pipeline failures with
negative environmental impacts and personal safety consequences.
Workplace friction eventually led to stress leave in November 2011. In
March 2012 Mr. Vokes met with the National Energy Board (NEB) and the Alberta Professional Association of Engineers
and Geoscientists (APEGA) to discuss the response to a failed internal
audit that was the cause of his stress leave. Although TCPL could find no
fault in Mr. Vokes’ input to the internal audit, he was dismissed by
TCPL on May 8, 2012.
In a public document addressed to TCPL in October 2012, the NEB
validated Mr. Vokes’ strong concerns on pipeline joints and the
required independence of inspection of pipeline to ensure compliance to
code and regulation. The NEB did not reveal any other areas of the
complaint by Mr. Vokes nor the response by TCPL. To date, the USA regulator
PHSMA has made no statements
concerning the submissions by Mr. Vokes and TCPL remains under investigation.
Since May 2012 Mr. Vokes has found only limited employment.
Past Year Awards
2012 Golden Whistle Award
is the first
elected municipal office-holder to receive the Golden Whistle Award. His
willingness to put his personal interests at risk for the sake of
‘open and transparent government’ was a major factor in his
selection. His principled integrity and steadfastness in the face of a lack
of support from many of his political peers and others clearly reveal a
person in public life who has the courage of his convictions.
2012 Golden Whistle Award Honouree Brian Skakun and The Honourable John
Baird Minister, Foreign Affairs.
Born in Edmonton, Alberta, Mr. Skakun moved to Prince
George, British Columbia at the age of five, where he has lived for the
past 43 years. He is married to Nelia. They have
three sons ages 16, 18 and 20. He maintains an active interest in outdoor
activities which include hiking, fishing, golfing, pets and gardening. Mr.
Skakun has spent the last 23 years working as a power Engineer in the
forest industry at Canfor Prince George Pulp and Paper. Active in his
community, he is a former president of the SPCA, a former union shop
steward, an executive member of his labour union, Co-chair of the PG Pulp
Safety Committee, and a seniors’ advocate.
In 2009, City Councilor Brian Skakun was charged by
the City of Prince George with violating the province’s Freedom of
Information and Protection of Privacy Act. He had provided the press with
information about the ongoing abusive management at the RCMP detachment,
including harassment of civilian employees. This detachment performs the
local policing activities. Some of the harassment allegations were later
substantiated by a separate investigation by the RCMP. His appeal of his
2011conviction was unsuccessful.
Mr. Skakun’s actions have drawn attention to
the minimal protection afforded whistleblowers and the need for a clearer
concept of who is a whistleblower. He has especially drawn needed attention
to what protection should be afforded to elected officials and to when the
public interest may outweigh the wish of a municipal Council to keep
information from the public.
In November 2011 the electors of Prince George
re-elected Mr. Skakun for his fourth consecutive term and provided him with
the second highest number of votes among the eight municipal councilors
2011 Golden Whistle Award
Captain SEAN BRUYEA
(Ret’d) is a veteran of the Gulf War and one of Canada's
leading advocates for the fair and just treatment of injured soldiers,
veterans and their families. His exceptional efforts resulted in the
creation of the position of Veteran's Affairs Ombudsman and in improved
treatment for our wounded veterans and for the families of those killed
while fighting for Canada.
From left to right: Harry Weldon (POGG Founder and Chair Emeritus) stands
with Allan Cutler (Canadians for Accountability President), Golden
Whistle Award winner Captain Sean Bruyea, and Captain Bruyea's
He was a successful vocal critic of the New
Veterans Charter, which sacrifices lifelong benefits for wounded
veterans in favour of a lump-sum payment to a maximum of $276,000. Internal
Veterans Affairs communications and independent
analysis have shown that this was a cynical move to save money at the
expense of veterans, and that veterans wounded
worst would be the most affected.
Captain Bruyea's advocacy came at a cost,
however: Veterans Affairs officials, concerned about the effect Captain Bruyea’s advocacy was having, instituted a series
of reprisals against him. This included attempts to have him committed to a
mental health facility, bogus psychological exams with pre-determined
results, threats to end his veteran's benefits and widespread and illegal
dissemination of his medical records in an effort to discredit him.
A damning report by the Privacy
Commissioner and public attention to his plight forced the government
to issue an apology and reach a settlement with Captain Bruyea. He
continues to work for improved benefits for veterans, including fundamental
changes to the New Veterans Charter.
Captain Bruyea was recognized by POGG and Canadians for Accountability
for his courage in stepping up to defend veterans’ rights and
exposing bureaucratic wrongdoing.
2010 Golden Whistle Award
Harry Weldon (left)
stands with Golden Whistle Award winner Allan Cutler
ALLAN CUTLER was a
senior procurement manager at the federal government ministry Public
Works and Government Services Canada when, in the mid-1990s, he noticed
irregularities in the spending of sponsorship funds in Quebec. (The program
was established as an effort to raise awareness of the Government of
Canada's contributions to Quebec industries and other activities in order
to counter those working to promote Quebec independence.)
Mr. Cutler reported these irregularities to his superiors, who at first
ignored him. When he remained persistent, efforts were made to cover up the
abuses and a campaign of reprisal against him was initiated. The problems
eventually reached the public eye and became known as the Sponsorship Scandal
or Adscam. Mr. Cutler also testified to the Gomery Commission,
which was launched in September 2004 and released its final report in
The courage and conviction Mr. Cutler showed in the face of harassment
and retribution was instrumental in promoting calls for greater
whistleblower protection. This ultimately led to the 2006 Accountability Act
and the Public
Servants Disclosure Protection Act.
In 2007, Mr. Cutler brought together a group of whistleblowers and
like-minded individuals to for Canadians
for Accountability. This organization is dedicated to supporting
whistleblowers and to educating the public about accountability and whistleblowing.
Canadians for Accountability was formally incorporated as a non-profit
corporation in June 2008.
You can find more information on his web site at www.ascutler.com.
2009 Golden Whistle Award
Allan Cutler (left)
and Carol Simpson (right) stand with Golden Whistle Award winner Bernard
was a financial systems analyst in the Department of Foreign Affairs during
the early 1980s. Mr. Payeur discovered that Foreign Affairs staff had
defrauded the taxpayers of more than seven million dollars, and that the
fraud had been going on for some time. He reported his findings to persons
senior to him in the expectation that the fraud would be stopped and the
guilty persons brought to justice. To his dismay and subsequent sorrow his
allegations were shunted aside and he was made out to be the villain as a
disloyal and insubordinate employee, which eventually resulted in his
Mr. Payeur was a pioneer in Canadian whistleblowing. His actions
demonstrated the integrity and honesty that Canadians desire and expect
from their government and public service, and his strenuous and noble fight
against government employee abuse of taxpayers' money has inspired numerous
others to stand up for what is right over the last 30 years.
We recommend that you read Mr. Payeur’s
acceptance speech; it provides an excellent description of the kangaroo court
process he faced when trying to fight reprisals:
PDF Version | RTF Version | Word Version
2008 Golden Whistle Award
Allan Cutler (left)
and Harry Weldon (right) stand with Golden Whistle Award winner Perry
PERRY DUNLOP courageously
exposed the sexual abuse of minors in Cornwall, Ontario. His determined challenges
to those who wished to conceal the truth cost him his reputation and career
as a police officer. His determined action triggered the Cornwall Public Inquiry.
For a fuller description of the events and persons involved in the
scandal, as well as Mr. Dunlop’s actions, please visit Sylvia MacEachern's
website. She also has a blog.
Read Perry Dunlop's acceptance speech:
PDF Version | RTF Version | Word Version
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Page created March 25,
2009 | Last edited March 18, 2013