(CTV.ca News Staff) – RCMP deputy commissioner Barbara George said Sunday that she’s being punished for refusing to apologize for something she didn’t do.
On Thursday, George became the first person in 95 years to be held in contempt of Parliament after a vote that ruled she deliberately misled MPs during an appearance before the Public Accounts Committee in 2007. The vote was supported by all four party House leaders.
During a committee appearance in early 2007, George testified she had nothing to do with the removal of Staff Sgt. Mike Frizzell from a team probing how the RCMP’s pension fund and insurance plans were operated.
E-mails and other testimony later contradicted her story, but she again asserted her innocence in a committee appearance in December.
“I would not and I never will tell them I misled them or lied to them,” she said while appearing on CTV’s Question Period. “I will not create a lie to save some embarrassment for committee members of Parliament. I stand by every word I said.”
Members of the Public Accounts Committee said they pursued a contempt ruling because it was the only option available to sanction George for what they saw as untruthful testimony.
“It’s the only recourse that we have. There is nothing else,” John Williams, a Conservative MP on the committee, told The Globe and Mail last week. “We can’t say, ‘Well, we have a choice between a fine, imprisonment, admonishment’ or anything … That is the only thing that we can do.”
The ruling cannot be appealed. George did not have the opportunity to present her side to Parliament and said she has learned that MPs were only given selected documents from her committee hearings.
“I was not able to cross-examine my accusers,” said George. “Nobody ever pointed to evidence that was in my favour and there was a great deal of documentation that was never translated due to time constraints.
“The term ‘kangaroo court’ has been used. I have no argument with that term.”
While declining the suggestion she may have been treated differently because she is a woman, George pointed out that there were no women on the committee that recommended her for contempt proceedings.
“I’m just saying, ‘here was this woman before these 12 angry men,’” she said.
She also said committee members changed regularly, so there was no sense of continuity among those trying to persecute her.
George is not expected to serve any jail time but says her life has been turned upside down by the accusations. She doesn’t yet know if and when she’ll be headed back to work.
“I have to maintain my strength and my dignity,” she said. “And I have to fight this with every fibre of my body.”