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By now nearly everyone knows about Edward Snowden and how he’s now on the run for leaking crucial US secrets. They were nothing special, of course. Just the government spying on everyone. The point is that Snowden is a criminal on the run, or at least that’s what the media would have you believe given the disproportionate emphasis on him.

And here in Canada, we have Sylvie Therrien. Just an ordinary government worker who one day decided that she couldn’t do her job. That job being extorting EI claimants out of benefits to meet a $485,000 quota. For, you know, following her values, she was suspended without pay. This of course coming from the same government who gave a Senator $90,172 to pay for living expenses he should have paid himself in the first place. And the government whose MPs drive up court expenses by blocking proceedings on illegal robocalls in the federal election and then expect the people testifying to pay up. On top of the expenses required to bring the case to court in the first place. In other words, those in power can be as corrupt as they want. But if you lowly peons protest, you pay the price.

How fair is a democracy in which those lower on the totem pole are punished harder for speaking their mind? I mean, accountability and balance? Corporations can get away with funding bogus studies and campaigns about the environment and astroturfing a bunch of idiots together to suck up to them. Why? Because they have the money and the media influence to deflect criticism. And when they do get punished, what’s a million bucks to them? Imagine ordinary citizens getting off with such a light sentence.

But even if the game is rigged, we should admire the courage of those who press on anyway and sacrifice their own well-being for the sake of truth. No matter how much society tries to mold us into a mere cog in the machine, we are made unique by fighting for what we believe in, and no one should take that right away.

For more inspiring whistleblower stories, the fifth estate’s Whistleblowers: Moment of Truth is a good watch.