Parks Canada staff banned from criticizing Feds


mentalfloss
#1
Parks Canada staff banned from criticizing Feds
Workers told they have 'duty' to support Harper government

Parks Canada employees across the country have received letters warning they're not allowed to criticize the agency or the federal government.

The directive comes as the agency cuts hundreds of jobs or curtails work hours.

"I am aware that during this time of significant transition, the concept of loyalty can have a very particular meaning. However, as employees of the public sector, our duty is to support the elected government," employees were told.

Workers are not supposed to speak about the cuts, whether at meetings, forums or through social media. Only designated people are allowed to deal with journalists.


Anyone who has an issue is supposed to go through internal processes, like filing a grievance, or talk with a supervisor, human resources manager or the Parks Canada ombudsman.

A copy of the letter, obtained by CBC News, is signed by Chip Bird, field unit superintendent in Cape Breton.

But thousands of federal workers got a similar warning.

Eddie Kennedy, national executive vice-president of the Public Service Alliance of Canada, said the letter went out to 4,800 agency employees around Canada three weeks ago.

"If you're in a coffee shop and you're criticizing the Harper government and there's someone sitting beside you and they know you work for a government department, technically you're in violation of the code of ethics," he told CBC News on Thursday.

The letter says the "duty of loyalty" to Parks Canada is spelled out in that code of ethics.

"The duty of loyalty includes the duty to refrain from public criticism of the Government of Canada when speaking as an employee of the agency. Breaching the duty of loyalty may lead to disciplinary action," it states.

Kennedy said he's not aware of any employee being disciplined for speaking out.

'Gag order'


One worker agreed to speak to CBC News as long as he wasn't identified.

"I only have weeks to retirement," the employee said. "It's the Harper government. What can you say? It's a gag order. It has to be challenged."

If there is a complaint against an employee, the union plans to fight it. Kennedy said they will turn to the Canadian Human Rights Commission if necessary.

Kennedy said other government departments are including similar language in their codes of ethics.
It means the government's line is the only one getting out, he said.

"If the government's doing cuts, the only message you're getting on that are their prepared media lines on the cuts. And most government departments aren't going to come out and say, 'Our cuts are going to reduce the services to Canadians, or they're going to close this office, or you're going to have a harder time qualifying for unemployment insurance.'"

The letter says there are "exceptional circumstances" to this rule, though it doesn't give specifics: "To determine whether public criticism is acceptable, the duty of loyalty must be balanced against other interests, such as freedom of expression."

Union representatives who are designated spokesmen, like Kennedy, "enjoy a much greater scope of freedom of expression."

Parks Canada staff banned from criticizing Feds - Politics - CBC News
 
MapleDog
Free Thinker
+3
#2
OK this sounds a freaking lot like communism,STFU or its the gulag for you.
 
mentalfloss
#3
Quote: Originally Posted by MapleDog View Post

OK this sounds a freaking lot like communism,STFU or its the gulag for you.

It's all for tha economy tho.

Economic Satisfaction Plan 2012.
 
JLM
No Party Affiliation
+1
#4
Quote: Originally Posted by mentalfloss View Post

Parks Canada staff banned from criticizing Feds
Workers told they have 'duty' to support Harper government

Parks Canada employees across the country have received letters warning they're not allowed to criticize the agency or the federal government.

Parks Canada staff banned from criticizing Feds - Politics - CBC News

Harper wouldn't be getting a little insecure would he? I know there is such a thing as loyalty but perhaps these employees don't have much to be loyal about! Is it Harper's intent to curtail freedom of speech? I listened to an interview with Bob Rae last night, and he actually impressed as a seemingly pretty modest, well grounded guy with a lot of good ideas and I'm beginning to think he's not quite as bad as I thought. Maybe he SHOULD throw his hat in the ring. Stevie is self destructing.
 
karrie
No Party Affiliation
+3
#5
I have a cousin who was fined... no joke, fined... for criticizing the government on his facebook page. He works for the federal library. So, it's not just the parks workers.
 
JLM
No Party Affiliation
#6
Quote: Originally Posted by karrie View Post

I have a cousin who was fined... no joke, fined... for criticizing the government on his facebook page. He works for the federal library. So, it's not just the parks workers.

That fricken' Facebook is just a good thing to stay away from altogether, from what I can see.

If I was your cousin, I'd fight that "tooth and nail" unless there's a statute somewhere, saying "Thou shalt not criticise thy gov't on Facebook". It's BULLSH*T, Karrie!
 
captain morgan
Bloc Québécois
+3
#7
Quote: Originally Posted by MapleDog View Post

OK this sounds a freaking lot like communism,STFU or its the gulag for you.

Quote: Originally Posted by karrie View Post

I have a cousin who was fined... no joke, fined... for criticizing the government on his facebook page. He works for the federal library. So, it's not just the parks workers.


People should expect ramifications when taking a run at your employer, this circumstance isn't anything new in the world.
 
mentalfloss
+1
#8
Quote: Originally Posted by captain morgan View Post

People should expect ramifications when taking a run at your employer, this circumstance isn't anything new in the world.

How anti-capitalist of you cap'n.

Criticism is healthy for every organization.
 
karrie
No Party Affiliation
+4
#9  Top Rated Post
Quote: Originally Posted by captain morgan View Post

People should expect ramifications when taking a run at your employer, this circumstance isn't anything new in the world.

No... People should be able to complain to family and friends about company policies which adversely affect them. Anything less is a dictatorship.
 
JLM
No Party Affiliation
+3
#10
Quote: Originally Posted by karrie View Post

No... People should be able to complain to family and friends about company policies which adversely affect them. Anything less is a dictatorship.

Perhaps it would be wise though to wait until they have another job lined up!
 
captain morgan
Bloc Québécois
#11
Quote: Originally Posted by mentalfloss View Post

How anti-capitalist of you cap'n.

Criticism is healthy for every organization.

Tit for tat MF... An employee decides to take action doesn't mean that the employer is prohibited from doing so.

Quote: Originally Posted by karrie View Post

No... People should be able to complain to family and friends about company policies which adversely affect them. Anything less is a dictatorship.


From what you posted earlier, it sounded like your relative made a statement about the library that was highly public in nature - and in 'print' as well.

On that note, we must recognize that what was offered was opinion. Further, the comment may also negatively affect the library as well.
 
JLM
No Party Affiliation
#12
Quote: Originally Posted by captain morgan View Post


From what you posted earlier, it sounded like your relative made a statement about the library that was highly public in nature - and in 'print' as well.

On that note, we must recognize that what was offered was opinion. Further, the comment may also negatively affect the library as well.

Well, Facebook certainly exceeds "family and friends", however I doubt very much if a comment on Facebook will adversely affect the library. Patrons of the library probably have better things to read than Facebook!
 
mentalfloss
#13
Quote: Originally Posted by captain morgan View Post

Tit for tat MF... An employee decides to take action doesn't mean that the employer is prohibited from doing so.

Except the employee doesn't even have the opportunity to take an action or even say anything in this case.
 
captain morgan
Bloc Québécois
#14
Quote: Originally Posted by mentalfloss View Post

Except the employee doesn't even have the opportunity to take an action or even say anything in this case.


I don't understand this comment. Are you saying that the employee doesn't have the opportunity to voice an opinion?
 
mentalfloss
#15
Quote: Originally Posted by captain morgan View Post

I don't understand this comment. Are you saying that the employee doesn't have the opportunity to voice an opinion?

It's in the very first line of the article.
 
captain morgan
Bloc Québécois
#16
I asked the question rhetorically.

The article specifically identified public forms:

"Workers are not supposed to speak about the cuts, whether at meetings, forums or through social media ."

In my opinion, this is not entirely egregious as the majority of those employees will not have the full information on the logic behind the actions that are being taken.

Speculating on the underlying reasons on the cuts and delivering a judgement based on speculation in a public forum invites consequences.
 
lone wolf
Free Thinker
+2
#17
Quote: Originally Posted by captain morgan View Post

People should expect ramifications when taking a run at your employer, this circumstance isn't anything new in the world.

They do it in every tyranny....
 
IdRatherBeSkiing
#18
Quote: Originally Posted by JLM View Post

Well, Facebook certainly exceeds "family and friends", however I doubt very much if a comment on Facebook will adversely affect the library. Patrons of the library probably have better things to read than Facebook!

Evidently their employers don't.

Commenting on the OP:
Where I work, I am not allowed to speak about my company publically. They too have whole department about media relations. A typical company does want to present the image they want to present to the public. What I see here is that the government is trying to do the same thing. However, given its the government, I would agree only that they should not be publically commenting on work their individual department is working on. For example, a worker in Parks Canada should be free to voice displeasure of their local MP or government handling of the budget bill but not about how Parks Canada is being run. That is where I would draw the line.
 
captain morgan
Bloc Québécois
#19
Quote: Originally Posted by lone wolf View Post

They do it in every tyranny....

Folks don't take runs at Dear Leader in a tyrannical society... Ask anyone that spent time in the gulags or under Pol Pot what the consequences are (assuming that any are still alive to comment).
 
lone wolf
Free Thinker
#20
Yeah.... I'm sure they love Dear Leader right to death
 
captain morgan
Bloc Québécois
#21
They have to, it's legislated right along with the utopic conditions in which they live
 
mentalfloss
#22
Quote: Originally Posted by captain morgan View Post

The article specifically identified public forms:

"Workers are not supposed to speak about the cuts, whether at meetings, forums or through social media ."

So why can't they speak about cuts?
 
lone wolf
Free Thinker
+1
#23
If they're dead, under which utopic conditions do they live?
 
captain morgan
Bloc Québécois
#24
Quote: Originally Posted by mentalfloss View Post

So why can't they speak about cuts?

Passing judgement on the cuts is the way that I interpreted the comment in the OP.

If those comments are inaccurate or inflammatory (inaccurate and/or causing material harm as the lawyers would put it), it is an actionable event.

Let's face facts here; people are exposed to that same risk if they were to make speculative (inaccurate, etc) comments about their neighbour. I do not see why that should not apply to gvt
 
earth_as_one
#25
Quote: Originally Posted by captain morgan View Post

People should expect ramifications when taking a run at your employer, this circumstance isn't anything new in the world.

All Canadian citizens should be able to criticize the Canadian government... even if they are employees. Under the Conservatives, Canada and becoming less and less like a democracy and more and more like an absolute dictatorship. The Conservatives have no interest in dialogue or openness. The Conservatives are about absolute power and secrecy. This ban is yet another brick in the wall...
 
JLM
No Party Affiliation
+1
#26
Quote: Originally Posted by captain morgan View Post

In my opinion, this is not entirely egregious as the majority of those employees will not have the full information on the logic behind the actions that are being taken.

Ummh- If I was an employer and had to lay employees off for financial reasons before I did anything I would hope I had the decency to first make sure they were fully informed and even throw solutions into their court first. While I don't believe anyone is owed a job I do believe they are owed full information pertaining to their job.
 
mentalfloss
#27
Quote: Originally Posted by captain morgan View Post

Passing judgement on the cuts is the way that I interpreted the comment in the OP.

If those comments are inaccurate or inflammatory (inaccurate and/or causing material harm as the lawyers would put it), it is an actionable event.

Which means you agree with me.

The comments must be said first, determined to be inflammatory and then action must be taken.

You cannot ban the comments from being said in the first place on the assumption that they will be inflammatory.

 
captain morgan
Bloc Québécois
+1
#28
Quote: Originally Posted by earth_as_one View Post

All Canadian citizens should be able to criticize the Canadian government.

They do every day, in fact, one might argue that CC is an excellent example of a sounding board that allows for such.

Quote: Originally Posted by earth_as_one View Post

The Conservatives are about absolute power and secrecy. This ban is yet another brick in the wall...

... And the award for best dramatic performance in the role as victim goes too...

Quote: Originally Posted by JLM View Post

Ummh- If I was an employer and had to lay employees off for financial reasons before I did anything I would hope I had the decency to first make sure they were fully informed and even throw solutions into their court first. While I don't believe anyone is owed a job I do believe they are owed full information pertaining to their job.

I agree.

Do we know if the gvt did (or didn't) do any of those things prior to the cuts?

Quote: Originally Posted by mentalfloss View Post

Which means you agree with me.

The comments must be said first, determined to be inflammatory and then action must be taken.

You cannot ban the comments from being said in the first place on the assumption that they will be inflammatory.

So, you'd feel better and that democracy is best served if the gvt launches a raft of slander/libel suits against employees over this issue?

In the end, I suppose that the legal costs would be greatly offset by the gvt's ability to fire the employees using 'just cause' as their reason.
 
petros
+4
#29
I doubt McDonalds allows employees to bad mouth McDonalds while at work or not at work.
 
lone wolf
Free Thinker
+1
#30
Quote: Originally Posted by mentalfloss View Post

You cannot ban the comments from being said in the first place on the assumption that they will be inflammatory.

...at least, not in a nation who prides (or used to) itself on freedom