Common Law Professor Florian Martin-Bariteau, Director of the Centre for Law, Technology and Society, has earned a Knowledge Synthesis Grant (KSG) from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) for a project entitled “L'état de la protection des lanceurs d'alerte au Canada et dans le monde global et numérique” (The State of Whistleblowers Protection in Canada and the Global, Digital World). He is the only law professor to have been awarded a KSG during this round.
The project suggests that whistleblowers have played an important role in the evolution of our modern democratic societies. In addition to responding to a public demand for openness and transparency, whistleblowers have, in the past, uncovered a number of health, environmental, financial, surveillance and corruption scandals. The Internet, especially social networks, have created an environment that enables rapid large-scale disclosure of confidential information of public interest. But the Canadian legal framework concerning the act of whistleblowing is often uncertain and vague, which has consequences for our pursuit of an open, equitable and secure society. Without a set of guidelines establishing the criteria for protections, rights and obligations, the risks for whistleblowers can easily result in their remaining silent. On the other hand, broad safe harbour could lead to disclosures that could create competitive disadvantages for some companies or serious security risks to some people.
Drawing on national, international, legal and sociological literature, Professor Martin-Bariteau’s research will bring to light the Canadian legal framework, identifying the risks involved for whistleblowers and for the public, while proposing solutions to inform policy-makers. Ultimately, this knowledge synthesis will provide an opportunity for Canada to assume a leadership position in the protection of our freedoms of expression and information, and thrive in an interconnected world and evolving global landscape. Professor Martin-Bariteau recently presented his project and discussed the impact and risks of technologies on democratic societies with other SSHRC-funded scholars at Global Affairs Canada Headquarters on May 18, 2017. He will present his knowledge synthesis at SSHRC’s Imagining Canada’s Future Symposium next November.
Knowledge Synthesis Grants, part of SSHRC’s Imagining Canada’s Future initiative, support research that responds to the emerging global risks and opportunities playing out in Canada and around the world. The program seeks to synthesize research knowledge on a diverse range of important issues affecting Canadians, defining areas in which Canada can play a vital leadership role.
Congratulations to Professor Martin-Bariteau!