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Supreme Court of Canada decision in the case of Drs. Shiv Chopra and Margaret Haydon

The Professional Institute regrets the Supreme Court of Canada’s (SCC) decision, announced yesterday, not to hear an appeal from PIPSC members Drs. Shiv Chopra and Margaret Haydon regarding the handling of their case by the Office of the Public Sector Integrity Commissioner of Canada. The SCC refused to investigate a complaint they and another Health Canada colleague (Dr. Gérard Lambert, no longer involved in the case) had filed over a decade ago.

Drs. Chopra and Haydon are two of the three former veterinary drug evaluators with the federal government who were dismissed in July 2004 on the grounds of “insubordination” after they publicly raised concerns about the approval of products they had reason to believe could harm the food chain and, ultimately, the lives of Canadians.

The initial complaint of wrongdoing, filed in 2002, was dismissed by the Integrity Commissioner at the time. A first judicial review application resulted in the issue being sent back to this same Integrity Commissioner, who dismissed the complaint a second time. However, following that Commissioner’s departure from office, a review of all the files was ordered and the complaint was identified as requiring a review by her successor. The subsequent decision to maintain the complaint's dismissal led Drs. Chopra and Haydon to petition the Supreme Court to hear their case. While today’s decision concludes the legal proceedings between our members and the Office of the Integrity Commissioner, it does not preclude further legal action on their part regarding their dismissal from the public service.

The Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act (PSDPA) is an important piece of public interest legislation whose goals are to facilitate the disclosure of wrongdoing within Canada's public service and to protect federal employees who disclose wrongdoing.

The case was a perfect illustration of the importance of protecting public service whistleblowers. These PIPSC members acted courageously in the interest of all Canadians without regard for their own personal gain. In so doing, they jeopardized their careers and their professional and personal reputations were tarnished. These dedicated public servants deserve our thanks and our respect for doing the right thing.

Publish Date: 30-JAN-2015 01:43 PM