The Chair (Hon. Shawn Murphy (Charlottetown, Lib.)):
At this point in time, I'd like to call the meeting to order pursuant to the Standing Orders and extend to everyone here a welcome.
Today we have with us Deputy Commissioner Barbara George, from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. She is accompanied by her lawyer, Mr. Jack Hughes.
Ms. George and Mr. Hughes, welcome to the committee.
As everyone is aware, this meeting—I don't think it will be a long one—has been called to examine potential alleged discrepancies in the testimony of Ms. George when she first appeared before this committee on February 21 of this year.
I'm just going to make a prepared statement. We're then going to ask Ms. George to reply to the statement, and we'll take it from there.
Ms. George, the committee has called you back because it feels that you were untruthful in your testimony before this committee under oath on February 21, 2007. In particular, the committee's concerns relate to the following testimony, given on that date:
Committee member: “Did you or Mr. Zaccardelli order that Staff Sergeant Frizzell be removed, and was it you or Mr. Zaccardelli who ordered that the investigation be shut down?”
Your answer: “I can state with absolute finality that it was neither Commissioner Zaccardelli nor me who had anything whatsoever to do with, as you say, the removal of Sergeant Frizzell.”
Committee member: “Can you tell us who it was?”
Your answer to that question: “No, I'm not aware of who it was. The best I can state is that when Sergeant Frizzell left, I understood he returned to his home division, which was “A” division. ... I understood it was for health reasons.”
The committee is particularly concerned in your case, Ms. George, as you are a senior uniformed member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and as such, a professional in the field of conducting investigations, gathering evidence, and weighing testimony. You were and are an important witness in the committee's inquiry into the alleged improper use of RCMP pension and insurance plan funds. As Deputy Commissioner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police responsible for human resources, you had a central role in the matter under investigation by the committee. There was every reason for committee members to see your testimony as critical to establishing what took place, and you ought to have known this.
In this case, the testimony sought related to a specific situation—namely, the manner by which Sergeant Frizzell was removed from the investigation being conducted into the alleged improper use of RCMP pension and insurance plan funds to meet administrative costs.
You would know, Ms. George, that sworn testimony can be based on either the personal knowledge of the witness as to the relevant facts or the honest belief of the witness where the witness has information on which to base this belief. This is often referred to as testimony based on information and belief.
This is an important consideration with respect to your testimony, Ms. George. As a police officer trained in conducting investigations, gathering evidence, and weighing testimony, you must be familiar with those words, “information and belief”. The courts accept affidavits based on “information and belief”. In your testimony before this committee on February 21, you used the expression “to the best of my knowledge”, and prefaced a response with “I believe”, and at one point you said, “As far as I know, and I believe this to be so...”.
In your testimony on April 30, in a lengthy answer to the same questions posed on February 21 about the removal of Staff Sergeant Frizzell, you described the events leading up to the removal and explained why it would have been either Assistant Commissioner Gork or Inspector Roy who caused the removal. You shared this with the committee on April 30, but for some reason you couldn't share this with the committee on February 21. Of course, our question is, “Why?”
As well, Mrs. George, you had two meetings with staff prior to the February 21 appearance before this committee and you were warned that the committee might ask you about the removal of Staff Sergeant Frizzell and whether you caused his removal.
Surely in the course of these preparatory meetings, only a week or so ahead of your appearance before this committee, the circumstances surrounding the removal of Staff Sergeant Frizzell would have been reviewed and all possible questions to you by the committee considered. In your e-mail of February 12, 2007, to a staff member about these preparatory meetings, you say: “Let's make sure that the Qs and As are as complete as possible.”
Despite this, when you appeared before the committee on February 21 and you were asked who, if it was not you, removed Staff Sergeant Frizzell, you said only that you did not know. In testimony before this committee on April 18, 2007, you testified that on June 20, 2005, which is the day that Staff Sergeant Frizzell was removed from the investigation, Chief Superintendent Lang told you that Staff Sergeant Frizzell had been removed on the orders of Assistant Commissioner Gork.
Two months later you admit to having had knowledge on June 20, 2005, that you denied having when testifying before this committee on February 21, 2007.
The committee heard the testimony of Assistant Commissioner Rogerson on April 30, in which he reviewed the events of June 2005, including his conversation with you by cell phone on June 16, 2005, where he says you indicated that you wanted Staff Sergeant Frizzell removed because he had left a phone message that you thought was harassing your staff. Assistant Commissioner Rogerson testified that he told you that you would need to talk to Assistant Commissioner Gork to get Staff Sergeant Frizzell removed. Assistant Commissioner Rogerson testified that he had first-hand knowledge of what was done and said that the removal related to your harassment allegation against Staff Sergeant Frizzell. Assistant Commissioner Rogerson, in his testimony, showed that Chief Superintendant Lang and Superintendant Newman agreed with him that you were involved in the removal of Staff Sergeant Frizzell.
Assistant Commissioner Rogerson also showed that you knew exactly who served the removal order on Staff Sergeant Frizzell. Assistant Commissioner Rogerson summarized his testimony on April 30 in the following terms, and I quote:
||In summation, the aforementioned info is how I understood things to have been done. Deputy George was actively seeking Staff Sergeant Frizzell's removal because he was harassing one of her employees. Based upon what I've become aware of, this was accomplished through her direct liaison with both Assistant Commissioner Dave Gork and Superintendent Lang shortly after contacting me on June 16.
||The fact remains that the formal removal of Frizzell commenced between June 15 and June 20, 2005. Chief Superintendent Lang's actions were no doubt influenced by Deputy Commissioner George's direct and clear involvement in Frizzell's being served such an order. In this regard, as mentioned, he was contacted by her directly, along with others, during this exact same timeframe. He consulted with them on the order, he served the order, and, when executed, advised them when it was done, which showed that Deputy George also knew about the order and who served it.
You appeared before the committee on April 30, alongside Assistant Commissioner Rogerson, if memory serves. Before Assistant Commissioner Rogerson gave his opening statement, you gave an opening statement in which you set out the e-mail exchanges that showed how you came to believe that Staff Sergeant Frizzell was removed for health reasons, which is what you told the committee on February 21. You said you did not order the removal of Staff Sergeant Frizzell. Admittedly, this is how the question on February 21 was phrased, whether or not you ordered the removal, but you answered in much broader terms, that you had nothing whatsoever to do with the removal. Your answer on February 21 was unequivocal and unlimited.
By April 30, particularly after the testimony of Assistant Commissioner Rogerson, it was not simply a matter of who ordered the removal but whether you had any involvement in events leading up to the issuance of this order. You had an opportunity to testify more fully in your opening statement about your involvement in the removal of Staff Sergeant Frizzell, but you did not do so.
It is only after having heard Assistant Commissioner Rogerson's testimony, in which he clearly implicates you in the removal of Staff Sergeant Frizzell, that you respond more fully to the question that was first put to you by a committee member on February 21 about the removal of Staff Sergeant Frizzell. Your response was that you only asked that Staff Sergeant Frizzell's harassing behaviour be stopped, not that he be removed.
Eventually, when pressed once again by a committee member whether you requested removal, you answered, “I cannot give you a yes or no answer.” This was two years ago. The committee took this response as indicating an inability to recall the events of two years earlier.
You admitted to speaking with Assistant Commissioner Rogerson, to Assistant Commissioner LaFosse, and to Chief Superintendent Lang, and they recall that you asked for removal. Why is it you can't remember these events in 2005, but these other officers can remember? In other testimony on April 30 you recalled a meeting in 2001 quite vividly.
So, Ms. George, the truthfulness of your February 21 testimony that you didn't know who removed Staff Sergeant Frizzell is hard for this committee to accept in view of the other testimony and evidence before the committee in respect of the events of the period June 15 to June 20, 2005, including the evidence that you were very unhappy with the manner in which Staff Sergeant Frizzell was conducting his investigation, and that you wanted something done about this. When you learned that he had been removed, you were grateful for the quick action taken against Staff Sergeant Frizzell.
Ms. George, with the foregoing in mind, you might understand why members of this committee feel that in your testimony before this committee on February 21 you were less than truthful, and that you knew you were being less than truthful in your testimony. The committee is particularly concerned that false or misleading testimony would be given by a senior uniformed member of that cherished Canadian institution, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
In the circumstances, Ms. George, how can we believe you when you deny, as you did on February 21, with “absolute finality”--to use your words--that you had anything whatsoever to do with the removal of Staff Sergeant Frizzell?
I'm going to ask you now to respond to that statement, Ms. George.
D/Commr Barbara George:
The letter stated that I had been given an opportunity to explain my testimony and provide a full and unequivocal response to any concerns that might exist. The spirit of the letter, as well as other informal assurances given, clearly suggested that the committee would not make any final conclusions in respect of this matter until I had had an opportunity to speak here today.
I believed that the committee's invitation was being made in good faith and in the interest of procedural fairness. The facts now suggest otherwise. Late yesterday, less than 18 hours ago, the committee tabled its final report with respect to the RCMP pension and insurance plans. I admit that I was concerned when the tabling of the report was scheduled only after I had committed to being here today, and my suspicions were not unfounded.
The report contained a recommendation that the House of Commons denounce my behaviour as someone who had tarnished the reputation of the RCMP through negligence, partiality, or dishonesty. Inexplicably, this recommendation comes in the middle of a section that does not even mention me by name. In fact, the report, which spans some 100 pages, does not even include any specific allegation of wrongdoing on my part. The report does not conclude that I was negligent. The report does not conclude that I was partial. The report does not conclude that I was dishonest. Yet the report specifically calls on the House to denounce me for one or more of these alleged sins.
Worse still, the recommendation in question groups my name with those of Jim Ewanovich and Dominic Crupi. This is grossly unfair. I have never been accused of mismanaging pension or insurance funds. I have never been accused of accepting golf or hockey tickets. I have never been accused of hiring family members. I have never been accused of improperly awarding government contracts.
The committee, by its action, has forced me to conclude that it isn't truly interested in what I have to say today. Still, I have honoured my commitment to be here in the hope that fair-minded Canadians have an opportunity to hear both sides of this story. For more than eight months, my family and I have fought to clear my name and restore my reputation. I do so again now.
Mr. Chairman, this is the fourth time I have appeared before the public accounts committee in respect of the RCMP pension and insurance matter. My first appearance was on February 21, and it was subsequently followed by appearances on April 18 and April 30. In total, I have appeared before this committee for more than six hours of questioning.
Throughout the course of these hearings, like members of the committee, I have learned a great deal about what took place between June 2003 and June 2005. When I appeared here on February 21, there were aspects of this investigation I had no prior knowledge of. On more than one occasion since, I have been surprised by what I have heard.
The purpose of my appearance here today is to address concerns that committee members may have about the first two answers I ever gave this committee. To that end, I would like to put that first appearance and those first answers in their proper context.
Ostensibly, the meeting on February 21 was arranged to discuss the Auditor General's report of November 2006 into the RCMP pension and insurance plans. I was asked to appear because interim Commissioner Beverley Busson had only recently succeeded Commissioner Zaccardelli and had no personal knowledge of the events in question. As a member of the RCMP senior executive committee and as deputy commissioner of human resources, I had expected to field questions on a response to the Auditor General's report.
In fact, the events in question had transpired under the direction of my predecessor, Jim Ewanovich, and a particular director, Dominic Crupi, whose actions, among others, were the focus of the Ottawa Police Service investigation and the Auditor General's report. I was therefore prepared to answer questions about the procedures we had put in place to ensure that the management and misconduct she had found were never allowed to happen again. Mr. Chairman, those were what the questions and answers specifically focused on.
To be clear, however, the Auditor General's report of November 2006 did not mention Sergeant Mike Frizzell, nor did it discuss any allegations that an RCMP investigator had been improperly removed from the investigation.
Consequently, Mr. Wrzesnewskyj's first question to me about whether I had ordered the removal of Sergeant Frizzell was totally and completely unexpected--a proverbial bolt from the blue. Nevertheless, I answered the question as best I could, based on my personal recollection of the events at the time. The answers I gave were honest and accurate, as I did not order nor did I have any desire to have Sergeant Frizzell removed from the OPS investigation some 15 months into their investigative work.
Members of the committee will recall the testimony of retired Staff Sergeant Ron Lewis, who confirmed that I had played an important role in having the investigation started back in early 2004. There was never any intention to mislead or misinform the committee, and to this day, Mr. Chairman, I insist that I did not.
The events surrounding the conclusion of the OPS investigation and the written order delivered by Chief Superintendent Doug Lang had occurred more than a year and a half before my first appearance. Despite the elapsed time, I answered all questions to the best of my recollection, and I stand by my answers again today.
My memory of these events had not been refreshed by any personal notes or conversations with others, and I had not reviewed any documents or e-mails from that period before my appearance here. When the issue was brought up that I might be questioned on Sergeant's Frizzell's removal, I absolutely dismissed it, saying I had nothing to do with this.
So my Qs and As were focused on chapter nine of the Auditor General's report. All I knew was that I had not ordered anyone to remove Sergeant Frizzell from the OPS investigation, and I recalled that he had gone on a period of sick leave around that time. Those two facts, which have been supported and confirmed by subsequent testimony and evidence, formed the basis of my response to Mr. Wrzesnewskyj.
It is important to note that at the conclusion of the February 21 hearing, while still in the committee room, Mr. Wrzesnewskyj came to shake my hand. At that time, I offered to meet with him to discuss anything he was unclear about, as well as I could. He acknowledged that this would be a good idea, but as it turned out, my office could never set a time with Mr. Wrzesnewskyj's office.
Mr. Chairman, another fact that must be explained is that prior to our appearance on February 21, I had met with RCMP legal services to confirm what I could and could not discuss as a witness before this committee. It was my first experience as a witness before a parliamentary committee, and I was unfamiliar with both the process and the concept of parliamentary privilege.
RCMP legal services advised that while parliamentary privilege would cover much of our testimony, we had to remain mindful of the proper application of the Privacy Act. While we could discuss our work and ourselves, we were to be cautious about making comments on the personal details of other RCMP members or officers.
Indeed, if you look at the transcript from the meeting of February 21, you will note that I and other witnesses cited privacy concerns and the Privacy Act in the course of our testimony.
Whether or not you agree with that interpretation of the Privacy Act, the effect of that advice was that I was both careful and cautious in discussing anything that dealt with other RCMP officers or members. While this did not change the answers I gave that day, it limited the extent to which I was able to volunteer additional information beyond what was asked of me. I mention this because my answer to Mr. Wrzesnewskyj's second question specifically addressed privacy concerns and because I think it is important for the committee to fully appreciate my state of mind on that day.
Mr. Chairman, later in my first appearance, I was asked by Mr. Wrzesnewskyj whether Assistant Commissioner David Gork had ordered the removal of Sergeant Frizzell. As I wasn't entirely certain and did not want to mislead the committee, I said that I could only speculate, if he wanted me to do so. At that point, Mr. Chairman, you intervened, and I quote:
||If I can interrupt, Mr. Wrzesnewskyj, I don't want anyone to speculate at this hearing.
Had I been allowed to answer, had I been allowed to speculate, I would have said that it would have likely been Assistant Commissioner Gork or Inspector Roy. In fact, if you look at the transcript for the meeting of April 30, you will see me testify to that effect in response to a question from Mr. Sweet. As it turned out, I was only able to verify the relevant information and give a more detailed answer on April 18, after I had already been accused of perjuring myself.
In subsequent appearances before this committee, members, including Mr. Williams, have asked me why I did not volunteer the fact that I had spoken with other officers about Sergeant Frizzell. I can honestly say that they did not come to mind in those first moments on February 21, and I did not immediately appreciate their connection to Mr. Wrzesnewskyj's question. All I could do and all I did was answer the question as it was put to me.
In my defence, however, once that link had been made, I provided full details of those calls at my next appearance on April 18, along with several e-mails and other supporting documents.
For these reasons, in considering if I have misled this committee, it is absolutely critical that you consider all six hours of my testimony and not merely the fist six minutes.
In its report yesterday, the committee indicated that one issue left unresolved was whether Sergeant Frizzell was removed from the OPS investigation or was merely sent back to his home unit because the investigation was over. I would like to offer now what I believe is the best summary version I can of what took place in June 2005. In so doing, I am relying on both the oral testimony before this committee and the documentary exhibits tabled by witnesses.
I will also refer to the sworn statements that were given to Chief Superintendent Bob Paulson and his team in the course of his code of conduct investigation. These interviews form the heart of the so-called Paulson report, which was tabled with this committee by Commissioner Busson in mid-May 2007. The sworn statements in question were appended to the report as appendix C. It is my understanding that due to a lack of translation resources these interviews were never translated, and therefore never distributed to members of this committee.
While I respect that the committee may have felt it had no choice in the matter, I believe it was a mistake for the committee to conclude its review of this matter without having read those sworn statements. The statements often provide additional detail and clarification of matters discussed in this committee, and I believe they would have been of tremendous value to you in your inquiries.
As you know, I was suspended from my duties for a period of eight months starting on March 30, 2007. During my suspension I had ample time to read and review these documents. Accordingly, I believe I now have a much better and more complete understanding of what happened to Sergeant Frizzell in June 2005.
On May 30, 2005, at 9:11 a.m., Inspector Roy wrote an e-mail to his investigative team, which included Sergeant Frizzell, that read in part as follows:
||First, the interview phase is over and we need to move on. This simply means that no more interviews will take place until I direct so. We have two weeks to put the investigative report together and I want the draft in my hands at the latest on June 10th.
On June 7, 2005, Inspector Roy received a call from Rosalie Burton, who complained about the behaviour of Sergeant Frizzell and said he had requested a meeting with her on June 17, 2005. Inspector Roy's notes from that day, which were tabled with this committee, show that he told Ms. Burton that Frizzell was doing this on his own and not as the representative of the OPS investigation.
Later that same day Inspector Roy met with Frizzell and suggested that if he had ongoing concerns he should state as such in his portion of the investigation report, and it would be communicated by the OPS when the report was given to Commissioner Zaccardelli. As Inspector Roy has noted here, for reasons that are unclear Sergeant Frizzell did not include any reference to these concerns in his final investigative report.
A few days later, on or about June 13, 2005, Rosalie Burton complained to me, as she had to Inspector Roy, about Sergeant Frizzell's behaviour. On June 15, 2005, I called Assistant Commissioner Darrell LaFosse. As he has testified here, his total contact with me on this matter did not last longer than one minute.
I conveyed to him my concerns relating to what I had been told about Sergeant Frizzell's behaviour. But he quickly advised me that he was no longer responsible for him and I should call Assistant Commissioner Bruce Rogerson. As he later testified, once he pointed me in the right direction to the appropriate supervisor he completely dismissed my telephone call. Moreover, in his interview with Chief Superintendent Paulson on April 10, 2007, Assistant Commissioner LaFosse stated in six separate answers that he could not and would not say that I had asked him to remove Sergeant Frizzell.
As an example, on page 15 of the interview transcript Assistant Commissioner LaFosse said, “She wanted something done with Mike Frizzell, but specifically saying I want Mike removed, I can't say she said that: I really can't.”
On page 28 he said,
||She was upset and she had a raised voice, but she was agitated about the actions of Mike Frizzell, no question. There was no grey area in that whatsoever. As far as specifics--Darrell, I want you to remove Mike Frizzell--I can't say that. I could not say what end result she wanted, but she wanted it.
On June 16, further to Assistant Commissioner LaFosse's suggestion, I got in contact with Assistant Commissioner Rogerson, who was in his car on his way back from Montebello. It was his testimony and evidence that our call also lasted less than a minute. In fact, his cell phone records show that the call lasted a mere 50 seconds.
Assistant Commissioner Rogerson and I disagree as to the exact words spoken during that call, but there is no dispute that he informed me that Frizzell did not report to him and that I should speak with Assistant Commissioner Gork. Assistant Commissioner Rogerson later confirmed the substance of our conversation in an e-mail to me at 2:04 that same afternoon. In part, it read as follows:
||Just to reiterate my comments, I have purposely avoided any contact with the investigators in relation to their work. In this regard they are still under A/Commr. Gork's direction.
He then added, and I quote: “Having said this, If there is anything you would like for me to do to correct such behaviour, I will assist from that aspect.”
That e-mail, which has been tabled with this committee, suggests that Assistant Commissioner Rogerson understood that we were talking about correcting behaviour, not removing an investigator.
Later, on June 16, I contacted Chief Superintendent Doug Lang, as I knew that he was acting in place of Assistant Commissioner Gork, who was by then serving in Lyon, France. As I had with both LaFosse and Rogerson, I advised Chief Superintendent Lang that I had received complaints about Sergeant Frizzell's behaviour. It is his evidence and testimony that I asked him to address the matter with Inspector Roy.
He has further given evidence that at no time did the words come out of my mouth that Frizzell had to cease and desist. Lang has said that I did not give him any direction on what had to be done, nor that Frizzell had to be immediately taken off the investigation.
I now know that Chief Superintendent Lang went to see Inspector Roy that same day. Lang has told investigators that Inspector Roy was already aware of the allegations that Frizzell was continuing to take investigative steps by trying to interview people and doing things he had already been told not to do. Inspector Roy further advised Chief Superintendent Lang that he had been having problems with Sergeant Frizzell during the investigation, all related to his adherence to direction.
Inspector Roy and Chief Superintendent Lang then discussed what needed to be done. They determined, according to Lang, that “enough was enough”, but they did not come up with the decision to serve him with the order.
That same day, June 16, sometime shortly after his meeting with Inspector Roy, Chief Superintendent Lang received a call from Assistant Commissioner Gork. Lang has explained that he believed and understood that Gork and Roy had spoken by that point and it was during that call that Gork directed Lang to serve Frizzell with a written order.
To be clear, I had not spoken to either Inspector Roy or Assistant Commissioner Gork about the complaints I had received with respect to Sergeant Frizzell's behaviour.
Following his call with Assistant Commissioner Gork, Chief Superintendent Lang prepared a draft written order to serve on Sergeant Frizzell. As Chief Superintendent Lang has testified, I did not assist him with the drafting of the order. Indeed, I do not believe that I ever spoke with him again until after he had served the order on Frizzell on June 20, 2005.
Chief Superintendent Lang's further evidence is that the order was completed on the afternoon of June 17 and that they would have served it on Sergeant Frizzell then. I believe they did try to serve it, but Sergeant Frizzell had already left for the weekend. In a separate interview with the Paulson investigative team, Sergeant Frizzell confirms this by saying that he had left half-way through the day on June 17 to go on a field trip with one of his children.
The committee must recognize the following critical points.
Inspector Roy gave his final report to Chief Bevan of the Ottawa Police on June 17. The report submitted by Inspector Roy included a final report from Sergeant Frizzell, which had been given by Frizzell to Roy at approximately noon that day. As a result, we can say without any doubt that Frizzell was not served with the written order until after the final investigation report had been submitted.
On Saturday, June 18, I had a conversation with Assistant Commissioner Gork. When I mentioned to him the complaint of Ms. Burton regarding the alleged behaviour of Frizzell, he told me that it was now a moot point, as the investigation was over and all the investigators were being returned to their original positions.
Let me repeat that I did not speak with Assistant Commissioner Gork until after he had already directed Lang to serve Frizzell with a written order and after the final report had been given to Chief Bevan.
On Monday morning, June 20, I had a meeting scheduled with Sergeant Frizzell. Knowing what I had been told by Gork, I sent an e-mail to Lang asking what was being done about Frizzell. Lang subsequently notified me after the fact that he had served the order on Frizzell and that Frizzell was going to speak with a doctor.
I believe this represents a fair synopsis of what took place during that crucial week in mid-June, 2005.
Members may ask themselves why this version of events was not fully articulated in April of this year, when I last appeared as a witness. The reason is very simple: it was not until I had received and reviewed the sworn statements given by the relevant officers, as contained in the Paulson report, that I knew the full story. Prior to receiving the Paulson report in early July, I did not have detailed knowledge of the conversations that had taken place between Roy, Lang, and Gork. To that end, I did not have a complete understanding of the timeline of events that resulted in the written order having been served on Frizzell.
I believe it is crucial that this committee draw the necessary distinction between what I knew on February 21 and what I know today. Like all members of this committee, I learned more details about what happened as this inquiry went on. Back in February I simply could not have given the detailed testimony that I provided today, as I did not have the detailed information.
Mr. Chairman, in closing, I would like to address three other issues that I think are of considerable importance.
First, I would like it to be said on record that despite the fact that several witnesses have given conflicting or even contradictory versions of events, I am the only one who has been called to explain myself.
To cite just one example, I would point to the allegation made by Chief Superintendent Macaulay that I had told him that he was on an island and that people would not tell the truth about what happened. On March 28, in response to a direct question from Mr. Christophershon, Chief Superintendent Macaulay testified that this was an exact quote and was based on notes he had taken at the time. However, when interviewed by members of the Paulson investigation team on April 3, 2007, Chief Superintendent Macaulay gave evidence that his notes were made a year after the event in question. The Paulson report into the code of conduct allegations also states that Chief Superintendent Macaulay paraphrased my statement, as he was unable to provide my exact words, which the investigators themselves noted was contrary to his exact quote reference during his March 28 committee appearance.
As the committee itself noted in its report yesterday, it has heard conflicting and often contradictory evidence from many witnesses. This is as much a point of frustration for me as it was for the committee, and to that end I intend to pursue these matters through the appropriate channels in the days and weeks ahead.
Mr. Chairman, my second point relates to the real reason I am here today. I believe that I have been unfairly singled out because of Mr. Wrzesnewskyj. From the first day that I appeared before you, Mr. Wrzesnewskyj has identified me as a target. He has, on at least two occasions, quoted documents grossly out of context in a manner that has painted me either as a liar or a thief. He has also repeatedly used the term “perjury”, despite having been asked not to do so in public sessions by both you, Mr. Chairman, and other members of the committee. This is particularly unacceptable, given that the term “perjury” was seized upon and repeated in the media, notwithstanding that the appropriate term is “contempt of Parliament”.
Mr. Wrzesnewskyj has been criticized by other members for hoarding documents in secret and then springing them on unsuspecting witnesses without having first shared them with other members on the committee.
Mr. Wrzesnewskyj met with key witnesses such as Chief Superintendent Macaulay prior to their testimony to discuss allegations they were going to make and to determine which would best hook the committee's interest.
Finally, on at least two occasions he was invited to recuse himself by another member for being in a clear conflict of interest.
It goes without saying that Mr. Wrzesnewskyj and I have ongoing disputes that extend beyond the mandate of this committee, and I would ask that they be allowed to resolve themselves in the proper legal forum.
My third and final point, Mr. Chairman, is the issue of parliamentary privilege. As you are aware, on March 30, 2007, interim Commissioner Busson initiated a formal code of conduct investigation into my actions. The main allegation was that I had misled this committee during my testimony on February 21.
A week later, on or about April 3, the investigating officer initiated a concurrent criminal investigation to determine whether I had violated section 131 of the Criminal Code. I was forced to challenge these investigations in Federal Court, and ultimately the court declared portions of the code of conduct investigation to be unlawful.
On May 2, 2007, the chair send a letter to the commissioner asking her to confirm that no investigation was under way that relied on my testimony before this committee. The interim commissioner's response, sent on May 14, did the opposite: not only did it confirm that an investigation was ongoing, but it also suggested that it would continue, as the law surrounding parliamentary privilege was unclear.
Shortly thereafter, Chief Superintendent Paulson wrote to Speaker Milliken asking him to get the House of Commons to waive its privilege as it related to my testimony. In reply, Speaker Milliken wrote to Paulson and advised him that testimony before a committee could not be questioned outside the committee, even by an agent of the crown in the context of an investigation.
Chief Superintendent Paulson did not terminate his investigation into my testimony until the House of Commons held a formal vote on the question in mid-June. In fact, just this past week Chief Superintendent Paulson had to be ordered to return exhibits seized under warrant from my office. For two and a half months, my testimony was being aggressively investigated by no fewer than 12 RCMP officers, all contrary to the doctrine of parliamentary privilege.
I believe this situation arose as a direct result of interim Commissioner Busson's panicked reaction to the media frenzy caused when Mr. Wrzesnewskyj publicly accused me of perjury.
It is my hope and belief that this will be my last appearance before this or any other standing committee, yet the question of how and when a witness is protected when testifying before these committees remains open. If the House does not enforce its privileges, they will be slowly eroded, to the detriment of the rule of law and our system of parliamentary democracy.
Mr. Chairman, as troubled as our past history has been, I would like to thank all members of this committee for giving me this last opportunity to address your concerns.
The RCMP is currently facing a very difficult time. The past few months, indeed the past year, have been a time of great sadness and tragedy within our force. Still, I am optimistic that our best days lie ahead under the direction of our two senior leaders, Commissioner Bill Elliott and Deputy Commissioner Bill Sweeney. These two individuals undertook to obtain all the facts of my situation. They looked at every perspective and motive before arriving at the conclusion that the right thing to do was to reinstate me, and to permit me every opportunity to regain my good name in the face of seemingly irreparable damage done to my career and reputation. I am thankful for and I applaud their integrity and courage.
Mr. Chairman, I watched you on CBC Newsworld last night, and I heard you say I was not totally truthful in my testimony, so I am prepared to stay here all day if necessary to discuss any concerns you may have.