This week, The Hill Times offers part seven of our eight-part series, The Whistleblowers. We set out to talk to some of Canada’s best-known federal government whistleblowers and we wanted to know two things: did their actions actually change anything and would they do it again? Every single one of them said they’d do it again, despite it costing them their jobs, their health, their status, their reputation, their finances, and for some, their families. And not every whistleblower said their actions changed anything. But there were some success stories. Brian McAdam, who blew the whistle on corruption at the Canadian Consulate in Hong Kong and revealed China’s extensive espionage activities in Canada, suffered personally, but his actions did have an influence. In 1992, the federal government introduced an amendment to the Immigration Act to allow the minister to bar entry or citizenship to anyone linked to organized crime and, in 1995, CSIS and the RCMP launched Project Sidewinder to investigate the Canadian consulate in Hong Kong as well as alleged corruption of senior Canadian politicians and businesspeople. However, after releasing a draft report in 1997, it was shelved. Meanwhile, Mr. McAdam’s life was put at risk from criminals in Hong Kong; he was ostracized at work, given a new job back in Ottawa that had no substantive work, and his career ended when he went on medical leave. “Once the word goes out that you are the whistleblower, you become the target and that has all kinds of implications along the way,” Mr. McAdam recently told The Hill Times. All the whistleblowers spoke out against wrongdoing and, in some cases, alleged criminal wrongdoing. Ian Bron raised concerns about alleged corruption and failure to enforce regulations adequately at Transport Canada; Sean Bruyea blew the whistle on the new Veterans Charter at Veterans Affairs and the breach of his own privacy; Allan Cutler helped blow the whistle on the Liberal Sponsorship Scandal at Public Works; Joanna Gualtieri blew the whistle on millions of dollars of luxurious housing arrangements for Canadian diplomats in 1998 at Foreign Affairs; Bernard Dussault, former chief actuary of Canada, blew the whistle after he alleged he was fired in 1998 because he refused to put a more positive spin on the Canada Pension Plan projections; and in 1998 and 1999, scientists Shiv Chopra, Margaret Haydon and Gerard Lambert blew the whistle about the bovine growth hormone drug approvals at Health Canada. Every whistleblower has their own unique story, but it’s fascinating how each one was treated almost exactly the same. As Mr. McAdam testified on Feb. 3, 2005, before the House Government Operations Committee on the government’s whistleblower legislation, a whistleblower can experience a vast range of retaliations, including verbal threats, verbal attacks, being silenced, ostracized, isolated, gossiped about, and stigmatized. “They are given dangerous work tasks, others threaten or attack them physically, or they are sexually harassed in an active way, etc. Most whistleblowers are 40 years of age and over and are forced to retire early. Most will never be able to be employed again. Legal expenses can easily cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. For most, this means they are financially unable to get any justice in the courts.” Unfortunately, this is the sad truth for most whistleblowers, including the ones profiled in The Hill Times by Jessica Bruno and Bea Vongdouangchanh. Whistleblowers should be protected, not ostracized, belittled, and fired. The federal government should strengthen its whistleblower legislation as well as the Office of the Public Sector Integrity Commissioner of Canada. Whistleblowers speak up for the public good, which is what the federal government and federal legislators are hired and elected to do too.