Misspending, bullying allegations revealed in OPPA audit
Published Tuesday, September 8, 2015 6:42PM EDT
Three high ranking officials abusing their power, those are the allegations the Ontario Provincial Police Association (OPPA) has been looking into for the past five months.
Former president Jim Christie, former vice president Martin Bain and former CAO Karl Walsh have been accused of racking up questionable charges on company credit cards and being bullies at work.
“I've described this to friends and colleagues as being very similar to a death in that one's first reaction is shock and disbelief,” says acting OPPA president Doug Lewis.
In March, the RCMP raided union offices in Barrie, looking for evidence of theft, fraud, criminal breach of trust, laundering proceeds of crime and fraudulent concealment.
The union asked an outside law firm to conduct an independent report. It shows a breakdown of some of the expenses made on OPPA credit cards.
The report shows recurring charges for gas, clothing, car maintenance, cash advances and restaurant meals. The report also shows that there were charges made in Las Vegas, the Bahamas and Boston.
However, what’s perhaps more disturbing is reports that came from fellow employees. Several people described the work environment as toxic and fear based.
One staff member said it was common for staff and board members to be, "publicly humiliated or berated by Karl Walsh."
Others said Walsh was, "famous for sending tyrannical, aggressive, confrontational or scathing emails" and more reported they felt intimidated and ultimately were, "afraid to question or challenge Christie or Walsh for fear of reprisal."
Lewis says the investigation has revealed cracks in the system.
“Who does one go to when the top brass are the ones you're complaining about?”
A second report gave suggestions on how the organization could change going forward.
- Governance training for all officials
- A review of all OPPA bylaws
- A comprehensive code of conduct
- A new anonymous and confidential whistleblower policy
“It's a combination of it's a really dark horrible chapter that we need to put behind us, but it's an opportunity to make the organization so much better.”