Mike De Souza, Ottawa (Canwest News Service) – RCMP Deputy Commissioner Barbara George has accused a committee of federal MPs that found her in “contempt of Parliament” of ignoring the evidence and damaging her reputation.
The committee’s final report on a pension fund scandal at the police force accused Deputy Commissioner George of “providing false and misleading testimony” when she was asked whether an RCMP sergeant was removed from a criminal investigation into the matter in 2005.
“Throughout its study into problems in the administration of the RCMP’s pension and insurance plans, the committee was dismayed by the numerous outright contradictions in testimony between witnesses, and the failure of many witnesses to be forthcoming in their responses to simple questions,” says the report, released by the public accounts committee at the House of Commons yesterday. “It is likely that other witnesses misled the committee, but the misleading nature of the testimony provided by George was particularly clear and egregious.”
But Deputy Commissioner George called the attacks unfair, explaining that she never tried to mislead the committee.
“On many occasions, I tabled internal RCMP documents and correspondence which corroborated my perspective on the events in question and which proved I had done nothing wrong,” she said in the statement.
“In the course of those four appearances, I answered every question honestly, accurately and to the very best of my personal recollection. Early in this process, before all the evidence had been presented, it became clear that certain members of the committee had already reached a different conclusion and would not allow themselves to be convinced otherwise. I was disappointed to learn that the report issued today by the public accounts committee reflects their distorted interpretation of my testimony.”
Deputy Commissioner George, who could not be reached for additional comment, was suspended with pay as head of the RCMP’s human resources last year during an internal probe. But she was returned to active duty in a new position in November after the police force said all outstanding questions had been resolved.
A spokesperson for the RCMP said it was too early for the force to react to the latest committee report, since it had not been accepted and adopted by the House of Commons. But in her statement, Deputy Commissioner George noted the committee’s final report appeared to have some holes.
“The report tabled today claims that I gave misleading testimony in response to questions about whether I had ordered the removal of Sergeant Mike Frizzell from the Project Probity investigation,” she said. “Inexplicably, the report then acknowledges that there are still questions about whether or not Sgt. Frizzell was ‘actually removed’ and the committee ultimately concludes that ‘it is not necessary to determine whether or not he was ‘removed.’ It is unclear how the committee could have been misled about whether I had a role in removing Sgt. Frizzell, if he was not ‘actually removed’ from the investigation.”
She accused members of the committee of leaking details of the report to the media. “By leaking the contents of the report, therefore, one or more members of the committee may themselves be in contempt of Parliament.”