By Chief Editor M. Samuel Anderson
Is it a violation of the Canadian criminal code to ignore and/or obstruct whistleblowers?
Before we address this rarely-asked question, we’ll broadly explore some key developments in Australia, Canada and elsewhere that paint a troubling picture of selective law enforcement and the hypocritical actions by governments and media that enable crime and corruption to fester.
However, it’s important to note upfront that attempts by a former Canada-based newsletter known as “Worlds Apart,” the predecessor publication of the Awakening News, to blow the whistle on physical abuse—including apparent instances of sexual abuse—against both indigenous and non-indigenous people within Canadian casinos, especially in Casino Rama in Ontario, have been ignored in most cases. But to some extent, whistleblowers have been actively suppressed by the Ontarian government.
And this disregard or suppression of whistleblowers happens despite Canada’s federal government issuing constant reminders, often plastered on billboards, that citizens who “see something” must “say something” in terms of witnessing and reporting apparent crimes or suspicious behavior, including potential terrorist acts. The same slogan, “If you see something, say something,” has been issued by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, in an ongoing effort to goad the greater public into being the “eyes and ears” of the modern security state. The Orwellian implication that citizens could be conditioned to spy on one another is clearly evident.
One would think that seemingly responsible governments would at least reply to whistleblowers to simply acknowledge the existence of the concerned citizen’s email, letter or phone call—and perhaps indicate whether the whistleblower’s concerns will be pursued. If not, then a reply along the lines of “thank you but we will not investigate your claims at this time” is not too much to ask. However, Canada’s suppression of whistleblowers most often takes the form of ignoring them—which is an example of enabling corruption, criminality and human rights abuses to fester and become worse.
But repeated efforts by Awakening News Associate Editor John Devine to blow the whistle even on something like the failure of the Ontario Ministry of Labor to remove serious workplace hazards from Casino Rama were given scant attention. And his repeated petitions to Canadian government authorities and media on the more serious physical-sexual abuse of Casino Rama employees by unruly and often intoxicated casino customers—in a nation of at least 300,000 gambling addicts who hover at the brink of financial and spiritual ruin—were ignored largely across the board.
There was one exception. Ontario MPP Jim Wilson, having received from Devine a packet of in-depth documentation of the abuses witnessed at Casino Rama, did respond in February 2015 and sent a letter along with the documentation to then-Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne to alert her of Devine’s allegations. Yet, for the remainder of Wynne’s term, and with Progressive-Conservative Doug Ford elected in June 2018 as the new premier, there’s been nothing but a stony silence from the seat of Ontario’s government at Queen’s Park regarding Wilson’s letter.
HYPOCRISY REGARDING AUSTRALIAN ARCHBISHOP
Which brings us to larger questions within the greater “Crown Commonwealth,” of which Canada and Australia, among other nations, are members. The chief concern is the discriminatory application of the law. Notice the irony: Catholic Archbishop Philip Edward Wilson of Adelaide, Australia was convicted (and Pope Francis accepted his resignation) for “enabling” alleged sexual abuses to run rampant—meaning he was penalized for remaining silent, not for physically engaging in any such abuse himself.
But if silence is the standard here, then Catholics may want to ask why Canadian media such as the taxpayer-funded Canadian Broadcasting Company—which got a revenue boost under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, upping the annual CBC subsidy to $1.1 billion—so dutifully reported the conviction of Archbishop Wilson for enabling alleged sexual misconduct in the church due to his silence, yet the CBC, like the rest of the Canadian mainstream media, becomes an apparent enabler by staying silent on the full picture of ongoing social decline via casinos in general and internal abuses at Casino Rama in particular. The CBC was informed of the latter abuses by Devine with the same documentation that was forwarded to Premier Wynne. Letters and packets have been sent to several other print, TV and radio news outlets as well.
But as a consequence of what some observers call Canada’s “culture of silence,” valid concerns about sexual abuse, sweatshop-like working conditions and other serious problems and human rights abuses in a growing sector of the Canadian economy—the casino gambling / gaming-entertainment industry that rakes in some $8 billion a year in Ontario revenue alone—are put in what’s best described as “the time machine.”
That metaphor describes how government officials, who are as addicted to casino tax revenue as gamblers are to games of chance, place controversial issues that might upset their delicate status quo down the proverbial “memory hole” for such long periods of time that memories fade and the affected parties may move away, grow old or pass away.
Canada’s mainstream media shares in the spoils, of course. For example, news outlets are addicted to the advertising money they receive from Ontario Lottery & Gaming (OLG) for, rather ridiculously, advertising a monopoly in the form of OLG lottery tickets, as well as promoting the 68 casinos operating with around 30,700 slot machines across Ontario. Despite a rare mainstream media report that took a somewhat critical review of gambling—aired by the CBC’s “Fifth Estate” program in the fall of 2017—Ontario’s gambling industry ignored the warning signs about Canadian gambling addiction and has big plans to install high-stakes table games at the existing Woodbine racetrack on Toronto’s west side with an equally major gambling complex planned at Pickering to the East.
HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF GAMBLING ADDICTS
The Fifth Estate, to its credit, did estimate that there are at least 300,000 serious gambling addicts in a nation of 36 million people, amounting to almost 1% of Canada’s population (the real figures are likely higher). The Fifth Estate also showed that the OLG’s facial-recognition surveillance cameras, designed to recognize returning problem gamblers so they can be asked to leave the casino grounds, is not working well. But this single mainstream media report on gambling problems was limited to that camera issue and profiling a couple gamblers who are millions or tens of millions of dollars in debt on a personal level, along with a brief segment on the hypnotic effects of slot machines.
Ignored, however, were scores of other soul-destroying, casino-related social ills that lead to the destruction of finances and families. But even when informed of such dire matters, media moguls and government officials salivate over the incoming ad and tax revenue that buys their silence and upholds the anti-social economic system which enslaves everyone through a massive shortage of purchasing power, an outcome of which is an unholy fixation on cutthroat competition, wagering and games of chance as people desperately toil to offset a shortage that everyone senses but few can define, must less solve.
Thus, that silence spawns vast social and spiritual ruin. Besides the sexual abuses within the walls of casinos that Devine has strove to communicate to government and media, there are gamblers sleeping in their cars within casino parking garages or in parking lots who soil themselves while drinking alcohol, eating poorly and gambling virtually around the clock; there’s the failure of gambling-addicted parents to make ends meet or pay child support, along with cases of gambling debt-induced kidnapping, drug addiction and drug trafficking, embezzling, extortion, robberies, burglaries, chronic alcoholism, and suicides.
Case in point: A Gatineau, Ontario man, who preferred not to use names, just informed the Awakening News that his son had worked in a Hull, Quebec casino and was on duty when a chronic gambler shot himself in the bathroom nearly 20 years ago. Publicity about the incident was reportedly nonexistent, likely suppressed from within.
So, while mainstream media outlets accept “hush money” in the form of casino-gambling revenue, it’s safe to say that the media’s failure to fully inform Canadian voters about the widespread problems directly or indirectly tied to the gambling industry is compromising the democratic process itself and inviting the economic, social and spiritual degradation of society.
It’s been quickly forgotten that accused Las Vegas shooter Stephen Paddock had been mired in gambling debt when he reportedly opened fire from a hotel room window at Mandalay Bay resort along the Vegas strip and, according to police, killed scores of people attending a concert. Imagine how the oppressive system that marks potential whistleblowers for job termination discourages casino employees from speaking out about gambling addicts whose bad behavior could someday snowball into a Paddock-level event. Clearly, there’s a high probability that early-warning signs won’t get reported and violent behavior could soon emerge. Having too many obstacles in the path of whistleblowers can be deadly.
ATTORNEY GENERAL REPLIES
When the Awakening News wrote to Attorney Gen. Jody Wilson-Raybould at the Canadian Ministry of Justice in the summer of 2018, Simon Rivet, an office staffer, seemed confident that sufficient laws are in place that would allow Canadian authorities to prosecute enablers in the same fashion as what took place in Australia regarding the archbishop. Rivet also noted that the jurisdiction for Mr. Devine’s concerns would fall under the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP).
However, when Mr. Devine received threats in a letter from Penn National (an American-based company that until mid-2018 managed Casino Rama) over his whistleblowing efforts (including about the theft of intellectual property involving bootleg movies by Penn employees that Devine witnessed when worked at “Rama”), Devine complained to the OPP—only to be visited by OPP officers who, far from assisting him and addressing his concerns, visited his Orillia, Ontario home and “threatened us with reprisals if we continue to blow the whistle,” as Devine informed the Ministry of Justice.
The answer to the question that begins this article, it seems, is rather elusive. There are laws to “protect” whistleblowers that vary from nation to nation, with America’s laws being somewhat better than Canada’s. For instance, unlike in the states, private-sector employees in Canada are afforded little in the way of protection compared to public employees.
But what’s rarely if ever addressed is the obstruction or suppression of whistleblowing itself—in other words, the extreme discouragement of truth-telling in the first place, coupled with the failure of governments and media to uphold the public trust and give whistleblowers not just “protection”—which often involves rejection—but instead give them due consideration to verify and use their disclosures to help address the need to end selective application of the law.