While CBC Reports Government’s Failure to Protect Whistleblowers, Major Media Deaf Toward Casino Whistleblowers

Screenshot of CBC "Go Public" story by Erica Johnson on insurance whistleblower. However, whistleblowing about casinos seems off limits, suggesting that casino revenue for both government and media amounts to "hush money."

By Awakening Staff / Editorial

From the perspective of the Awakening News, there’s considerable irony in the CBC’s recent article on a “lack of protection” afforded to whistleblowers.

As reported in September 2018 by Erica Johnson—as part of her “Go Public” series published by a publicly funded news organization that costs $1.1 billion per year—former employment-insurance fraud investigator Sylvie Therrien became trapped in a bureaucratic nightmare when the Vancouver woman was prodded by her employer to deny claims to customers.

When she blew the whistle on what she felt was a highly unethical policy, she was fired—despite government claims that whistleblowers will be afforded protection. Therrien has been trying to get her job back for five years, which has left her financially and emotionally drained.

“Therrien is just one of ‘hundreds of people’ who have paid a high price for speaking out, while the federal government does ‘absolutely nothing’ to safeguard them,” according to longtime whistleblower protection advocate David Hutton.

When Therrien worked as an employment-insurance fraud investigator in 2013, she and more than a dozen other people in her department were tasked with finding ways to disqualify people from coverage, evidently to save federal money.

“Each investigator had to find $485,000 in annual savings by denying people insurance claims,” the CBC noted.

“It wasn’t right, and my managers didn’t listen to my concerns,” Therrien added. “The process is torturous. I wouldn’t wish it on anybody.”

TORTUOUS? WE AGREE

But while the Canadian government’s financial system and the actions of insurance companies wedded to that system trumps the job security of whistleblowers in that system, the hidden secret is that Canada’s major media outlets—which receive direct government subsidies and/or a steady gravy train of casino advertising dollars—are more selective than assumed when it comes to reporting on the plight of whistleblowers.

And if you’re wondering what casino ad money has to do with this matter, hold on a moment.

We’ve reported before that Ontario MPP Jim Wilson over three years ago received documentation from Awakening News, detailing strong allegations of human rights violations at Casino Rama—the same documentation that this news outlet sent to Erica Johnson some time later.

Detailed documentation on such allegations provided to Wilson prompted him to briefly assist the Awakening News with its whistleblowing efforts. He wrote to then-Premier of Ontario Kathleen Wynne and asked her respond to these efforts—and the related documentation was sent on to her.

However, “the Wilson letter,” as it’s come to be known, has not been answered to this day, not even with a simple reply, saying something like “thanks, but no thanks.” Instead, the language of silence is employed.

Therefore, credible allegations of physical, verbal and even sexual assaults at places like Casino Rama, typically involving customers who’ve abused casino staffers, have never been addressed, despite the efforts of the Awakening News to blow the whistle.

JOHNSON REPLIED BUT . . .

In a rare breach of the stony silence that permeates Canada when it comes to certain controversial issues, Erica Johnson did reply to the Awakening News in a letter dated Dec. 11, 2017, saying her CBC department (Go Public) does not investigate Casinos. She suggested we go to CBC’s program known as The Fifth Estate. We tried that. Nothing happened there either. Maybe we’ll try again. The silence gets discouraging.

As we’ve also reported, to its credit, the Fifth Estate did broadcast a report on gambling addiction in Canadian casinos and the failure of the OLG to monitor problem gamblers and keep them away from casino facilities, lest they go so totally broke that their lives dissolve altogether.

But that makes the Fifth Estate’s apparent disinterest in the issues Awakening News has brought forth all-the-more perplexing. If the Fifth Estate was interested enough to report on chronic gambling addiction, why no interest in Awakening’s whistleblowing efforts on the more deep-seated abuse issues at casinos outlined in this article?

And keep in mind that, given the rise of the #MeToo movement, in which various women have come forward claiming they’ve been sexually abused, you’d think that whistleblowing about the physical abuse of women working in casinos would be given equal concern to insurance workers being pressured to save money, or banking employees pressured to get (or keep) customers in debt, as Go Public previously reported.

BUT IF YOU’RE A POLITICIAN . . .

However, it appears that unless a high-profile politician is the accused sexual abuser, nothing will happen.

After all, hanky-panky accusations against politicians that major media may not like don’t necessarily have to be true. They only need to sound credible enough to present to news consumers (the new “jury”) so “the court of public opinion” can “decide” on the firing and probable career-destruction of the politician.

Example given: Former Progressive-Conservative MPP Patrick Brown. The former federal MP led the PC Party and at one point seemed destined to become Ontario’s premier.

Awakening News attempted to reach out to all the conservative candidates for party leadership, to ascertain if each candidate, if elected, would follow up on the Wilson letter—something which should have been of interest to all conservatives who voted in the leadership race. Unfortunately, none of the candidates replied.

Thus, silence reigned again. Media bias and selective treatment of whistleblowers remained intact, and Mr. Brown went down hard, without ever facing an accuser in a court of law—representing a breach of the protection of the law. Such protection is supposed to be guaranteed to all citizens, yet the media apparently aided and abetted that breach.

Shortly after Doug Ford won the conservative leadership race, we also reached out to the liberals and the NDP, asking if they would pursue the Wilson letter and disclose to the voters the failure of now-former Premier Wynne’s office to even reply to the letter, much less act on it.

Moreover, given the refusal of all provincial parties, including the Ontario Green Party, to indicate their intentions regarding the Wilson letter, we wrote to Ford, in his position as Ontario’s new premier, urging him to tell PM Justin Trudeau to stop lecturing other countries about their human rights violations, until Premier Ford completes an investigation into the human rights violations at Casino Rama that the Wilson letter calls attention to.

Notably, Awakening News has interviewed casino workers who’ve anonymously told us about various workplace hazards (in violation of labor laws) that haven’t been removed, on top of the physical abuses and human rights violations cited in this article.

Oh, and what about those casino ad dollars mentioned earlier in this article? Well, this advertising money from Ontario Lottery and Gaming, steadily doled out to conventional media, has evidently bought near-total media silence when it comes to reporting deep-seated problems in the casino culture.

THE BIG PICTURE: QUESTIONS LINGERING

Those problems go far beyond people losing their shirts and include drug abuse, drug trafficking, alcoholism, missed child support payments, child abuse, child trafficking, home foreclosures, divorce, family breakdown, spousal abuse—and many other things that stem from gambling debts and fill up police files and court dockets.

Had the Casino Rama investigation been carried out by former Premier Wynne, instead of her office ignoring the issue until it’s cast into Canada’s “time machine” and long-forgotten, perhaps PM Trudeau would not have lectured other countries like Saudi Arabia quite so fervently about their human rights violations. And perhaps there would not have been a rush to judgment regarding the cancellation of contracts between the Saudis and Canada’s businesses. In politics and media, the dots connect much more broadly than what appears on the TV screen.

 

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