Kathryn May and Tim Naumetz (Ottawa Citizen) – MPs on a Commons committee that investigated the RCMP pension scandal say they are shocked RCMP Commissioner William Elliott has reinstated a deputy commissioner the force suspended during a parliamentary inquiry into the affair.
An RCMP statement said deputy commissioner Barbara George was to return to active duty Wednesday – despite the Commons public accounts committee’s intention to recall her over contradictory statements she made about her role in an internal investigation into the misuse of Mountie pension and insurance funds.
“The RCMP wishes to clarify that (deputy commissioner) George was suspended from her duties with pay in March, 2007, pending an internal investigation,” the force said. “The suspension was neither disciplinary nor punitive in nature, but rather was a purely administrative measure.”
The written statement adds the internal investigation did not involve any allegation that George had misappropriated public funds for personal gain, nor that she was personally involved in the mismanagement of the pension or insurance plans.
“The internal investigation concerned questions with respect to communication between (deputy commissioner) George and other members of the force,” the statement said. “Those questions have now been resolved to the satisfaction of the RCMP.”
Liberal MP Boris Wrzesnewskyj said he was “amazed” Elliott reinstated George while lingering questions about her testimony remained.
Many say the Mounties’ hands were tied and the force had to reinstate her because it couldn’t use any testimony from that parliamentary committee as evidence in its criminal and internal investigations in the circumstances surrounding Staff-Sgt.Mike Frizzell’s removal from the Ottawa police investigation into the pension and insurance fiasco.
All testimony at parliamentary committee is protected by parliamentary privilege and can’t be used against witnesses in any other legal proceedings.
The parliamentary committee, however, can use that testimony and have recalled George as a witness to answer specific questions about her Feb. 21 testimony and the subsequent testimony of other witnesses that contradicted her. The Dec. 11 hearing will be her fourth appearance at the committee.
Unlike other investigative bodies, MPs can use the protected testimony and decide whether she lied or misled Parliament and should be charged with perjury, contempt of Parliament or simply censured, said Conservative MP John Williams.