Small Realities

Inside the mind of Lance Schonberg

Has anyone seen my whistle? No, really. It's for your own good.

So, Jeff Monaghan, a public servant, has been arrested, led in handcuffs from his cubicle.  He’s a temp, though I don’t see that as relevant, who, up until a couple of days ago, had worked for the Ministry of the Environment for four years.  He’s accused of leaking confidential information and is offering a whistleblower defense.

There’s a great deal of reporting and commentary, some of it attempting to be unbiased and some of that succeeding, but there are a couple of points I’ve only heard once and they were among my immediate thoughts when details of the story first started to emerge.

First, how is it whistle-blowing if you leak a document that’s going to be released publicly anyway?  Even if it is a draft version.  Whistle-blowing only applies if some gross mismanagement of public funds or something illegal is occurring.  (I’m not interested in arguing the legality of breaking Kyoto.  Our government, granted not the current government, signed and ratified it.  It is law, even if the Conservatives would like to pretend it isn’t.  We have a responsibility to try to meet it even if our current regime thinks that would be bad and is doing everything it can to avoid the responsibility.)

Second, as a civil servant, you’re free to disagree with government policy, particularly if you feel that policy is misguided and morally wrong, but that doesn’t give you the right to feed that disagreement to the media via leaked documents or interviews.  Doing so, in fact, makes you a small-minded, petty, unethical glory seeker.

He read a well-rehearsed public statement, after being released, in which he accused the government of going on a witch hunt.  I don’t get this, either – if he actually did it, how is it a witch hunt?  And I’m guessing, based on his portrayal of himself as a defender of the public good, that he did leak the document.  I won’t deny the culture of secrecy, paranoia, and heavy-handedness the Tories have crafted, but a witch hunt on the basis of one arrest is stretching things a mite.

Apparently, he’s also an anarchist (working for the government?) with radical ties, and a member of a band named the Suicide Pilots whose web page (displayed on various television stations) features a plane about to crash into the Peace Tower.  The band’s latest album is called “Rock Against Harper”.  He’s also affiliated with other social causes of a less radical nature, but is reported to specifically hate Stephen Harper.  That may just be another reference to the album title, though.

I find it hard to defend the Cons in general, and the handling of this seems to be using an excessively large hammer (unusual for them, no?) and designed to create a martyr, but I think I have to side against this particular bonehead even if not with the government.  I don’t think anyone has yet accused the Harper government of intelligence, but I mean Monaghan.

The media is giving him an awful lot of play, though.  Hope he enjoys his fame.

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