Federal employee's firing shows bias against sovereigntists: MP

Public Service Commission still investigating case of bureaucrat from Justice Department

L'affaire Antoine Pich

The way in which a federal bureaucrat in Ottawa was fired after he ran for a seat in the Quebec election shows a bias against sovereigntists, says a Gatineau MP.
Antoine Pich was fired from the Department of Justice in May after his superiors learned he had run in the March Quebec election without asking the government for permission. He was a candidate for the left-of-centre, sovereigntist party Québec Solidaire in the La Prairie riding south of Montreal.
Bloc Québécois MP Richard Nadeau said Pich was treated differently than another employee in the department who also disobeyed regulations requiring federal public servants to seek permission from the Public Service Commission before running for office.
"Patrick Glémaud is still working for the federal government," Nadeau said. "He was accepted by the Conservative party, but he never got the permission from the commission."
Glémaud has been introduced as the Conservative candidate in the Ottawa-Vanier riding.
But his name doesn't appear on the commission's list of employees cleared to run in the election, Nadeau said.
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Meanwhile, the Public Service Commission of Canada says it did not recommend that Pich be fired, as it is still investigating his case.
However, spokeswoman Linda Gobeil said the commission does have the power to take corrective actions that can go all the way to dismissal.
Nadeau said he is sending a letter to the Treasury Board president Vic Toews asking him about the the situation.
Nadeau's wife, Edith Gendron, was fired from her job with the Department of Canadian Heritage in 2004 after she became the head of a sovereigntist group, but the Public Service Labour Relations Board later ordered that she be reinstated.
Federal employee fired after running in Quebec election
CBC News - Wednesday, July 11, 2007
A former federal public servant in Ottawa is trying to get back the job he lost after running in the Quebec election without getting permission from his employer.
Antoine Pich was fired from the Department of Justice in May after his superiors learned he had run as a candidate for Québec Solidaire in the riding of La Prairie, south of Montreal, in the March election.
Since 2005, federal employees have been required to ask the Public Service Commission of Canada for permission to run for office, and cannot announce their candidacy until that permission has been granted.
Pich admitted Tuesday that he failed to do that, but claimed that's not why he was fired. He thinks he was dismissed because he ran for a sovereignist party.
He said he knows of other federal employees who have run for office without notifying the commission and nothing has happened to them.
A spokesman for Canada's largest union representing public servants said Pich's dismissal seems excessive.

Ed Cashman of the Public Service Alliance of Canada said the commission told him last week that the new regulations about election candidacy were being phased in with an education period for management and employees.
"They said they wouldn't come down hard on anybody who didn't follow the rules initially, but they would certainly work with them to make sure the rules were followed as the situation progressed," he said.
"So that's why there's a big difference between what the commission has been saying to us in a public forum and what happened to Mr. Pich."
He added that the rules aren't clear on what should happen if employees do fail to notify the commission that they're running for office.
Meanwhile, Pich said he is trying to find out how he can appeal his dismissal.
The commission was not available for comment on Tuesday.

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