The weird workplace

Transparency backfires; Muzzled no more; Long live the queen; Hopefully he doesn't text and drive too; Arresting development in job search
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 11/27/2015

Long live the queen

OTTAWA — At most offices, wall art is pretty inoffensive, with soothing scenes of nature or posters featuring words of empowerment. But at the Foreign Affairs building in Ottawa, a change of decor caused a stir recently when a large portrait of Queen Elizabeth 2 was replaced by two paintings by Quebec artist Alfred Pellan. The paintings, “Canada West” and “Canada East,” had hung above the reception desk since 1973, according to CBC News, but were taken down and replaced by her highness when the Conservatives came to power four years ago. “Global Affairs Canada is committed to showcasing Canada, our art and our culture in all of our facilities, whether at home here in Canada or abroad in our embassies, high commissions and consulates,” said John Babcock,a  spokesperson for Global Affairs Canada. “These brightly coloured paintings... depict some of the best of Canada and are an excellent way to welcome Canadians and guests to Global Affairs Canada.” The art re-installation was noticed by workers, judging by one tweet: “Nothing against Her Majesty, but nice to see the Pellans back in their former location at the Pearson building.”

Transparency backfires 
MOOSE JAW — Police in Moose Jaw found themselves in hot water recently when one officer’s tweet appeared to make fun of an inmate: “Adult female prisoner asked officers to pass around a hat today to help her with bail money. #shortofthegoal. #shesstillhere #wedontwearhats.” The tweet was deleted and an apology was issued for the “inappropriate” message, but many people demanded more accountability, according to Global News. An investigation into the matter was launched through the Public Complaints Commission, said Rick Bourassa, chief of the Moose Jaw Police Service, and the officer responsible had their social media privileges revoked. The force is also speeding up the process of creating an official social media policy. “The notion behind us moving to social media was to enhance our openness and transparency and our accountability. We have done that and now that we have been open and transparent we have been held accountable; and that’s the way it should be,” said Bourassa. 

Muzzled no more
OTTAWA — With the switch in government also came changes to the control of information. The Conservatives brought in a restrictive communications policy that required media requests to federal government scientists to be approved by a minister’s office, according to CBC News. But the Facebook post of a mother of a biologist in British Columbia went viral when she shared a “spirit-lifting” status update from her son’s Facebook page: “We were told that it’s OK to talk to the media or anyone about what we do without permission. That’s how surreal it was. That’s how things changed overnight.” Jody Paterson’s son said the Department of Fisheries and Oceans were told the muzzle order on scientists had been lifted at an all-staff meeting. Navdeep Bains, the new minister of innovation, science and economic development, announced the policy change two days after Justin Trudeau and his cabinet were sworn in: “Our government values science and will treat scientists with respect. That is why government scientists and experts will be able to speak freely about their work to the media and the public.”

Hopefully he doesn't text and drive too
NEW YORK CITY — Drivers, watch your seats: A man with a long history of pretending to be a transit worker was arrested for the 30th time in mid-November after stealing a commercial passenger bus. Darius McCollum was spotted by police officers driving the Greyhound bus down a street in Brooklyn. The man became somewhat of a celebrity for escapades that began in 1981 at age 15, according to the Associated Press, when he drove a subway train six stops. Over the years, McCollum has had many transit-related arrests and after he was paroled for a bus theft in 2013, he said he planned to find a therapist. “I can’t afford to get arrested again, I can’t deal with the jail thing — it’s too much, the gang mentality.”

Arresting development in job search
WAYNE COUNTY, MICH. — One 25-year-old man found out recently he might want to take greater care with his job search when he applied for a job as officer at a Michigan sheriff’s department — and a background check revealed he was wanted in Kentucky on sexual assault charges. John Wesley Rose’s initial application in September raised no issues because the outstanding warrant had not been entered into the national database, but it popped up later when he was asked to complete paperwork and finalize the employment application. At that point, the job applicant was arrested and set to return to Kentucky, according to Paula Bridges, spokesperson for the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office.

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