O, no, Canada

Diplomats at Canadian Embassy in Denmark charged with misconduct, out of control spending and abuse of local personnel

A list of grievances signed by 13 current and former staff members of the Canadian Embassy in Copenhagen and sent to Canada's foreign affairs minister, John Baird, alleges that misconduct by diplomatic staff at the embassy on Kristen Bernikowsgade has been going on for years.

Charges levelled against the diplomats include: financial mismanagement, racial harassment and abuses of government property and diplomatic privileges. The letter also states that a locally-hired guard had been seen on video bringing prostitutes into the embassy’s garage. Such an incident, if true, would be considered a major security risk.

The group also raised questions about an embassy real estate deal, saying that there is an absence of contracts related to last autumn’s sale of a previous official residence. The letter also alleged the unauthorised personal use of embassy staff, property and alcohol.

The employees said that diplomats threw lavish private parties under the guise of official functions and that local employees were forced to act as guards and chauffeurs. They also maintained that the embassy’s liquor cabinet was often raided for personal use and was restocked using official funds.

Charges were also made that racial slurs were directed at a Venezuelan woman employed at the embassy and that two undocumented Filipino workers had been hired, one of whom eventually wound up being deported.

The letter asserted that Danish bank managers have been forced to close diplomatic accounts due to what the employees called “huge overdrafts” and that employees were constantly asked to call cable and telephone companies to have accounts belonging to diplomats reopened that had been closed due to non-payment.

Employees have said anonymously in Canadian newspapers that “an institutionalised culture of misconduct and harassment has persisted since 1995.”

At that time, the former Canadian ambassador to Denmark, Ernest Hebert, was recalled to Ottawa after a housekeeper alleged that he sexually assaulted her at an embassy Christmas party. There are no allegations of sexual impropriety by Canadian diplomatic staff in the current case.

The Canadian government immediately dispatched two investigators to Copenhagen to look into the allegations. They are expected to deliver their findings to Baird this week.

The Hebert case resulted in Canada's former foreign affairs minister, John Manley, instituting a policy of notifying police when criminal allegations are levelled against Canadian diplomats. No decision will be made on whether police should be contacted about the current case until the investigators report their findings.

Peter Lundy, Canada’s most recent envoy to Denmark, left the post last week as part of a routine diplomatic rotation. André François Giroux was named to replace Lundy. Both have thus far declined to comment on the allegations.

  • How internationals can benefit from joining trade unions

    How internationals can benefit from joining trade unions

    Being part of a trade union is a long-established norm for Danes. But many internationals do not join unions – instead enduring workers’ rights violations. Find out how joining a union could benefit you, and how to go about it.

  • Internationals in Denmark rarely join a trade union

    Internationals in Denmark rarely join a trade union

    Internationals are overrepresented in the lowest-paid fields of agriculture, transport, cleaning, hotels and restaurants, and construction – industries that classically lack collective agreements. A new analysis from the Workers’ Union’s Business Council suggests that internationals rarely join trade unions – but if they did, it would generate better industry standards.

  • Novo Nordisk overtakes LEGO as the most desirable future workplace amongst university students

    Novo Nordisk overtakes LEGO as the most desirable future workplace amongst university students

    The numbers are especially striking amongst the 3,477 business and economics students polled, of whom 31 percent elected Novo Nordisk as their favorite, compared with 20 percent last year.