Nfld. & Labrador

Whistleblower legislation will take time, premier says

With the Newfoundland and Labrador legislation closed until the fall, there is still no sign of long-promised whistleblower legislation.

With the Newfoundland and Labrador legislation closed until the fall, there is still no sign of long-promised whistleblower legislation.

In a 2007 review of the legislature, Justice Derek Green recommended a law under which public servants "without fear of reprisal [could] disclose others' improper or unethical behaviour."

The review was sparked by a legislative spending scandal that erupted in 2006, leading to criminal charges of fraud against four former politicians and a former civil servant.

The house of assembly finished its spring session last week, again with no whistleblower law on the books.

"Well, you know, the whistleblower legislation, we want to do right," said Premier Danny Williams, who said government is taking its time on Green's recommendation because he wants tight legislation.

Williams said the existing access-to-information legislation has meant that government has been bogged down with what Williams called "frivolous requests."

"It's a good thing. Access to information is a very, very important thing," Williams said.

"But there are a lot of requests that come in that are very, very time consuming … The one thing we don't want to do here is just create another situation where we are going to put another stranglehold on government."

NDP Leader Lorraine Michael, though, believes government is dragging its feet.

"I don't buy that argument," she said.

"It shows to me that the government can't be that committed to it. I find it very disturbing that it hasn't come in."

Williams said he is still committed to bringing in whistleblower legislation during this term in office, but would not specify when the public might expect to see it. The current term ends in 2011.