June 20, 2003

Hitting the fan

Oh dear. It’s starting to sound as if George Radwanski, the outspoken Canadian Privacy Commissioner, may soon be out of a job. Closed parliamentary hearings about incomplete and misleading financial reports on his hospitality and travel spending continue. I don’t know any of the inside story on this, but before today, I might have speculated that Radwanski’s strong privacy stance could have been ruffling government feathers, and at least exacerbated his problem.

But today, Canada.com reports a staff revolt in the Privacy Commissioner’s office. It sounds like an authoritarian and dysfunctional place. Padding expenses is bad enough, but running an operation the way he appears to have is just plain nasty; threatening to find and fire whistleblowers, frequent shouting and reducing people to tears. The Privacy Commissioner’s office sould like the workplace from hell. Three quarters of Radwanski’s staff have signed a petition urging him to go, which could very well be the final nail in the coffin.

Whether or not he hangs on until the autumn, when he can officially be sacked, is a moot point. Being a Privacy Commissioner is a very difficult job. Office holders must represent nebulous and inconvenient ideas to government and business players who’d rather not hear them. Powers of persuasion and a firm footing on the moral high ground are essential for success. Radwanski is now a lame duck and can only harm the interests he was hired to protect.

Posted by Maria at June 20, 2003 09:22 AM | TrackBack
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