Retract Grain Commission Gag Order



    OTTAWA, Feb. 6 /CNW Telbec/ - Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz should
retract a gag order which threatens Canadian Grain Commission employees who
speak out against his government's legislative proposal to gut the Commission,
according to the Agriculture Union - PSAC which represents the employees.
    On December 21st, the Canadian Grain Commission issued a memo to
employees forbidding them to publicly criticize Bill C-39, the government's
proposal to cripple the Commission.
    "We hope the Minister will disassociate himself from the Commission's
intimidation and assure employees they are free to express their opinion,"
said Bob Kingston, National Vice-President of the Agriculture Union - PSAC.
    The memo from Diane Shapiro, Director of Human Resources threatens
Canadian Grain Commission employees with possible disciplinary action if they
criticize the government.
    "With the government's recent track record of firing and silencing its
critics, we are concerned that our members will feel threatened in the extreme
by this gag order. We urge the Minister to direct the Commission to retract
this effort to silence Commission employees," Kingston said.

    The text of the Canadian Grain Commission's gag order follows:

    Question:

    As a CGC employee what can I tell my MP about my response to C-39?

    Answer:

    You are free to convey your views to your Member of Parliament, so long
    as you do not publicly criticize the Government of Canada or otherwise
    bring into question your ability to perform your employment duties and
    carry out government policy and programs in an impartial manner.

    -----------------------------------------------------------------------

    Question:

    As a CGC employee can I become involved in public campaigns to amend
    C-39, such as letters to the editor or other letter writing campaigns?

    Answer:

    The Supreme Court of Canada has acknowledged that while public servants
    have constitutionally protected right to freedom of expression, this
    freedom has limits. The Supreme Court and other courts have identified
    that a public servant has a legal duty of loyalty to the employer, and
    must not engage in public criticism of the employer where that
    criticism could create an impression that the employee may not be able
    to perform their duties, and carry out government policy and programs,
    in an impartial manner.

    For example, if you identify yourself as a CGC employee in a letter to
    the editor that criticizes government policy relating to the CGC, you
    could create a perception that your views of government policy are not
    impartial and that you may not be able to follow or apply government
    policy in an impartial manner.

    We would like to remind you that inappropriate behaviour by employees
    on web sites, blogs, and public fora (newspapers and meetings etc.)
    could result in administrative and/or disciplinary action.

    The Values and Ethics Code for the Public Service (less than)
    http://www.psagency-agencefp.gc.ca/veo-bve/vec-cve/vec-cve_e.asp
    (greater than) sets out the standard of behaviour expected of CGC
    employees. We count on each of you to refer to these codes to assist
    you in making ethical decisions. We encourage you to consult your
    manager should you need further clarification and guidance.




For further information:

For further information: Jim Thompson, (613) 447-9592

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SYNDICAT AGRICULTURE UNION

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