02.12.2018 11:29 AM

It isn’t witness tampering

…but it certainly resembles that.  That was what I wrote last week, too.

A PMO director contacting a complainant in a sexual harassment case, when a third-party, arms-length investigation was already underway into that same sexual harassment case? That’s a big no-no.  Any first year law student would know that, once a quasi-judicial review is underway, you simply cannot communicate with potential witnesses.  Lawyers have been disbarred for less.

But that’s what a PMO director did – about a case involving another PMO director.

And here’s what some experts in the field had to say to the Hill Times.  They all agree: PMO staff should not be covertly communicating with anyone who is at the centre of an independent investigation into alleged wrongdoing by PMO staff.

Eddy Ng, a Dalhousie University professor specializing in human resources management, told The Hill Times he saw several issues with the way government officials dealt with communications professional Myriam Denis, who wrote her account of interactions with two high-ranking Liberal staffers in a Huffington Post Canada blog on Feb. 5.

Mr. Ng said it was problematic for Mr. Thalmann to reach out to a potential victim while an independent investigation into an alleged harasser was ongoing, because he would be seen as having an interest in the matter by virtue of his PMO position.

“He has no role in the investigation, period. He is seen as an agent of the PMO. In this case, he has—on the surface—an interest in protecting the PMO’s reputation,” he said.

He said a third-party investigation has to be—and be entirely perceived to be—neutral, unbiased, and fair. Anything that can be viewed as influencing an investigation can harm the integrity of the process.

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