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Whistleblowing? Or just another angry anarchist?
May 17, 2007 12:26 PM   Subscribe

A Canadian public servant who leaked Conservative green policy documents, was taken away in handcuffs and fired - Jeffrey Monaghan calls the government's actions "a profound threat to the public interest" and "an extension of a government-wide communications strategy pinned on secrecy, intimidation and centralization."

The documents outlined the Conservative's dismissal of the Kyoto Protocol and were to be released to the public a week later. Let the media panic begin: some have focused on Monaghan's political activism, others accuse corporate media of scapegoating Monaghan. Question is - if the documents were to be released to the public anyway, is this even whistleblowing? The environment minister says no. NDP environment critic Nathan Cullen says yes. Liberal leader Stephane Dion calls the Tories' actions "an attempt of intimidation ... although I have no sympathy at all for leaks."
posted by Menomena (33 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
cf. the 1989 federal budget. Makes you wonder how much has changed on the right-hand end of the poltical spectrum since the days of Mulroney.
posted by Johnny Assay at 12:43 PM on May 17, 2007


An admitted anarchist and Harper-hater sidesteps government hiring procedures by getting a temp job, through an agency, working in a department where he knew that he would have access to such documents.

Smells like planned infiltration to me, not the story of some bureaucrat who stumbled upon a criminal plot that needed to be revealed.

I'm not pro-New Tory by any means, but I hope this guy does time. And that it hurts.
posted by solid-one-love at 12:46 PM on May 17, 2007


Dude is in a punk band that put out an album called "Rock Against Harper". Civil servants are supposed to be non-partisan. This leak was most certainly partisan.
posted by GuyZero at 12:48 PM on May 17, 2007


They should the book at him. And by book I mean the substantive conservative plan for dealing with global warming. It should hit him like a good hard seagull feather.

Have any charges been laid?

Civil servants are supposed to be non-partisan.

So nobody in Ottawa/Gatineau gets to vote?
posted by srboisvert at 12:59 PM on May 17, 2007


Throw the book that is...
posted by srboisvert at 12:59 PM on May 17, 2007


What does reference to 'secret documents' indicate? Is any document seen while working at a job with 'clearance' -- 'secret'? Or is there a classification system like the U.S.?
posted by acro at 1:06 PM on May 17, 2007


solid-one-love said all that needs to be said:

An admitted anarchist and Harper-hater sidesteps government hiring procedures by getting a temp job, through an agency, working in a department where he knew that he would have access to such documents.

Smells like planned infiltration to me, not the story of some bureaucrat who stumbled upon a criminal plot that needed to be revealed.


I'd add:

The guy should face prosecution - he accepted the job in bad faith and with a hidden agenda. He's a menace, and deserved to be lead away in handcuffs.

At the same time, I don't doubt Harper, Stockwell Day and the New Government are having a chilling affect on the public service.
posted by KokuRyu at 1:13 PM on May 17, 2007


Yeah, the real threat is the liberal trying like hell to expose the conservative agenda....not the conservative agenda iteself...nice redirect guys.
posted by UseyurBrain at 1:18 PM on May 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


End justifies the means!
posted by smackfu at 1:22 PM on May 17, 2007


"End justifies the means!"

There are many who think that deep throat should have been arrested.
posted by UseyurBrain at 1:32 PM on May 17, 2007


This isn't a case of Deep Throat or a genuine whistleblower.
posted by KokuRyu at 1:34 PM on May 17, 2007


Its a reminder to Canadians... We're not holding critical hearings on the war in Afghanistan. We're not holding critical hearings on the expansion of security apparatus against citizens.
posted by acro at 1:34 PM on May 17, 2007


So nobody in Ottawa/Gatineau gets to vote?

OK, so they're supposed to carry out their jobs in a non-partisan manner. Leaking a document to reveal corruption is one thing. Leaking a document because you hate the PM and disagree with his policies isn't exactly the high moral ground.
posted by GuyZero at 1:38 PM on May 17, 2007


What makes him something other than a genuine whistleblower? Regardless of his motives, his actions were exactly the same as any other whistleblower.

If you throw the book at this guy, you're going to also make sure whistleblowers are going to be intimidated.
posted by bshort at 1:58 PM on May 17, 2007


"An employee who violates the terms of their workplace security clearance, including the release of secret documents, may be subjected to legal consequences, including criminal charges," RCMP Supt. Stan Burke — the officer in charge of financial integrity — said in a news release Wednesday.

If the document is genuinely secret, and said document implicates official misconduct — specifically, if the Canadian government is not following its legal obligations with respect to its environmental laws and policies — then its release to the public in original form by a government worker (regardless of any assumed subterfuge) is whistleblowing, both de facto and, usually, de jure, where such whistleblower laws exist.

If the document is not secret, it's not clear how he has violated his security clearance and it is hard to see why he is being alleged to have committed that specific violation, unless the main purpose is to, as he claims, intimidate him and others who may witness this and other official misconduct now and in the future.

Though on that score, I could understand arguments that this is unprofessional conduct and worthy of dismissal. Nonetheless, unprofessional behavior in the workplace does not often result in being dragged out in cuffs and threatened with incarceration in the public sphere. It's not obvious that this person's conduct would qualify him to be treated like a criminal, if the document is not secret.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:06 PM on May 17, 2007


unprofessional behavior in the workplace does not often result in being dragged out in cuffs and threatened with incarceration in the public sphere.

I agree. The guy's still a douche, though, who probably cares little for freedom of speech or anything like that.
posted by KokuRyu at 2:12 PM on May 17, 2007


Thanks Blazecock, well said.

Monaghan is charged with:
Criminal Code, PART IV: OFFENCES AGAINST THE ADMINISTRATION OF LAW AND JUSTICE: Corruption and Disobedience: Breach of trust by public officer

122. Every official who, in connection with the duties of his office, commits fraud or a breach of trust is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years, whether or not the fraud or breach of trust would be an offence if it were committed in relation to a private person.
R.S., c. C-34, s. 111.
posted by acro at 2:57 PM on May 17, 2007


Under investigation for, not charged.
“public officer” includes
(a) an officer of customs or excise,
(b) an officer of the Canadian Forces,
(c) an officer of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and
(d) any officer while the officer is engaged in enforcing the laws of Canada relating to revenue, customs, excise, trade or navigation;
posted by acro at 3:06 PM on May 17, 2007


I agree with Blazecock. Cuffs seem way too harsh, but the job dismissal sounds right.

From what I can tell, the leaked docs were intended to be eventually released to the public, though perhaps Monaghan thought that something in the rough draft would be missing by the time it was released.

But at the same time:

He said the Conservatives were "disguising" what they were doing by using Kyoto's 1990 benchmark for emissions reductions with a much easier 2006 benchmark. Canada's emissions have risen 35 per cent between 1990 and 2005.

So if his only motive for leaking was to make this comment, then I don't understand why he couldn't have just waited and commented when it came out. Oh wait, he's not a journalist, he's not a well-read blogger, he's not any sort of well-known figure. He wanted the media coverage, job dismissal, soapbox--anything to have his voice heard.

I don't care if he drums in a punk band that compares Harper to Hitler. I don't care if he co-founded that anarchist workshop. But the fact that so many corporate media outlets are focusing on these elements pisses me off just as much as his own crazy accusatory statements--well maybe more so, especially when you read gems like this:

But in addition to his duties with the civil service, Mr. Monaghan is also a member of a "collective" that operates Exile, Ottawa's first anarchist bookstore.

Opened just 10 days ago and located 15 minutes from Parliament Hill, the store sits on the second floor of a retail strip, right beside "Aren't We Naughty," a shop selling marital aids, and across the hallway from a Chinese herbalist. The books lining Exile's shelves feature such titles as No Nonsense Guide to Animal Rights, Direct Action Memoirs of an Urban Guerrilla and Vegan Freak.


Honestly, what does this description have to do with the story? Except maybe providing a context for right-wing NP readers to hate Monaghan even more.
posted by Menomena at 3:07 PM on May 17, 2007


...in a punk band that put out an album called "Rock Against Harper"

*shudder*
posted by Totally Zanzibarin' Ya at 3:40 PM on May 17, 2007


Honestly, what does this description have to do with the story?

Because it's the advertising he traded for his job.
posted by IronLizard at 3:52 PM on May 17, 2007


Exile isn't Ottawa's first Anarchist bookstore. There was one about ten years ago, at Bank and Somerset. There was probably one about ten years before that, too.
posted by Jairus at 6:17 PM on May 17, 2007


I think it's important to look at Monihan's actions separately from Harper's. I have sympathy of Monihan, but what he did was unethical. He should lose his job, and should answer for his crimes in a court of law. I still believe that the Canadian court system can be trusted.

I suspect, however, that Harper is guilty of far worse crimes, and we, and I say this as a dedicated freshly minted Canadian, are guilty of letting a nasty, stupid, tin-plated dictator-in-waiting do serious damage to the nation. Why were these documents so revealing? Because we're not forcing Harper to be accountable for his sleazy inactions.

I am anxious for a federal election, but while deciding whom to vote against is easy, I really don't know who I'll vote for.

/steps off soap box/
posted by gesamtkunstwerk at 7:45 PM on May 17, 2007


Despite the creepy wishes of GW and ilk, the US still retains its culture of leaking secret docs without too much reprisal. A couple of folks just got convicted in Great Britain of violating the secrets act ( and we had some bozos here try to get a similar law passed in the US despite the fact that it would hardly pass constituional muster) for leaking the memo that said Bush suggested bombing Al Jazeera.
posted by caddis at 7:50 PM on May 17, 2007


pssst. caddis.
posted by acro at 8:07 PM on May 17, 2007


Oh yeah, he is going down. Yes, you can leak, but it had better be really important, policy changing, and not just stupid. It’s still illegal to do it, it's just that when you leak the really critical stuff it becomes too embarrassing to prosecute.
posted by caddis at 8:17 PM on May 17, 2007


This isn't national security stuff. We have every right to know what goes in to the formulation of government policy generally; and specifically I'd say we have an obligation to embarrass the Tories over their lack of ecological commitment. Calling this a "leak" is disingenuous at best, and the spectacle surrounding it is absurd.

If he did it, sure, he should get fired. I doubt he'd care anyway. But involving the law is completely over the top; ut serves no purpose except to make an example, and not even a terribly good one.
posted by poweredbybeard at 9:10 PM on May 17, 2007


I suspect, however, that Harper is guilty of far worse crimes, and we, and I say this as a dedicated freshly minted Canadian, are guilty of letting a nasty, stupid, tin-plated dictator-in-waiting do serious damage to the nation.

Dictator-in-waiting... that's precious. I'm curious, have you ever lived in a nation with anything even barely resembling a true dictatorship, or are you just another typical, spoiled North American with a persecution complex?
posted by Krrrlson at 9:16 PM on May 17, 2007


Where's the evidence, that's what I want to know. I believe it's traditional to remain anonymous when you leak confidential documents to the press. How'd they catch this guy? Did he send the document from his email account at work, or what?
posted by sfenders at 9:38 PM on May 17, 2007


This isn't national security stuff. We have every right to know what goes in to the formulation of government policy generally

No, you don't. That's why there are cabinet confidences.

In this case, we're not dealing with a confidence, but it certainly trivializes the risks taken by actual whistleblowers -- people who put their careers on the line to expose some ugly truth that wouldn't otherwise see the light of day.

Thing is, he obviously set out with a plan to gain information to leak. How would he know what he would find? It seems likely that he expected to find something dastardly, only came up with this, and what is he supposed to do, keep his temp job? So he leaks it, despite being some plan that was due to be released anyway, dragging it into the spotlight as best he can. Weak.
posted by dreamsign at 9:57 PM on May 17, 2007


When this leaked, all news sources were reporting it as having originated from a copy faxed 'by accident' to the Liberal party instead of some Conservative #. The current version in the news has the copies being faxed/emailed to the media from a Staples do-it-yourself shop... Does anyone a more clear timeline?
posted by acro at 10:06 PM on May 17, 2007


I was arguing Monaghan's actions yesterday with the BF and he brought up a really good point: Nobody has proven that Monaghan actually leaked the document.

Think about it. He hasn't denied or confirmed it. Sure, he got fired, but there's been no mention whether or not EC lawfully or unlawfully fired him. The police are still investigating to prove it was him. If they'd had the evidence already, they would've pressed charges--am I right?

So until the investigation is complete, until they actually have the evidence that it was this guy, or until he comes out himself, calling him the leak is still speculation.

Perhaps Monaghan didn't do it but wanted to make some anti-Harper comments anyway--fine, perhaps his lawyer told him NOT to have a press conference, Monaghan said "too bad, I'm doing it anyway", and the lawyer replied "Fine, but whatever you do, do NOT field questions and do NOT deny/confirm whether or not you did it."

Just throwing it out there. There are a lot of holes in this story.
posted by Menomena at 6:13 AM on May 18, 2007


...in a punk band that put out an album called "Rock Against Harper"

I'm as anti-Joanna Newsom as the next guy, but yeah, this guy stinks a tad more than your average punk vegan anarchist.

I suspect, however, that Harper is guilty of far worse crimes, and we, and I say this as a dedicated freshly minted Canadian, are guilty of letting a nasty, stupid, tin-plated dictator-in-waiting do serious damage to the nation.


Piffle-sticks. I believe that this is the longest-serving Conservative minority government ever, and they owe that entirely to lying low for the first twelve months. Now that they're actually trying to govern and facing opposition from the three other parties, they're gumming up the Hill with filibusters and ass't bullshit tricks. They are stalling for summer break, and barring some huge new development, things will not be much different when they come back.

An election will be announced before the end of this year. From one Canadian to another, calm down and take a deep breath.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 6:22 AM on May 18, 2007


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