New Democrats work to toughen conflict of interest laws and protect whistleblowers

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ballot_no-change_democratic-reformVICTORIA — New Democrat MLAs introduced legislation that would make government officials more accountable to the public and protect whistleblowers from retribution.

Gary Holman, New Democrat spokesperson for democratic reform, introduced the Conflict of Interest Amendment Act.

“British Columbians have the right to know that their MLAs and public officials are being honest and transparent,” Holman said. “This bill would ensure that public officials are acting honourably and decreases the opportunity for corruption and unlawful personal benefit.”

The bill calls for tougher penalties than the existing legislation, and would mean unelected senior government officials would be captured by the act in order to ensure they do not improperly benefit from their former position or exercise undue influence.

New Democrat spokesperson for labour Shane Simpson introduced the Whistleblowers Protection Act.

“Whistleblowers often have to decide between taking the higher moral ground and the potential effects from disclosing,” Simpson said. “A person trying to decide between doing what is right and keeping their job will often turn a blind eye to the action.”

Simpson’s bill provides protection from retribution for people reporting government mismanagement, negligence or wrong-doing. It also calls for more routine public disclosure of government operations.

The two bills are part of a broad package of improvements New Democrats are proposing to improve government and democracy in B.C.