What Radwanski did was not cool.. but probably no worse than any other MP or commissioner. Reading his work – an incredible expose and warning of privacy breaches planned by the state – it’s not that difficult to believe he was singled out for political reasons, as the CBC mentions in the middle of this article. Read the shocking report his office produced here.
Just one representative quote: “Police and security will be able to access records of every e-mail we send and every cellular phone call we make. Information on what we read on the Internet, every Web site and page we visit, will likewise be readily available to government authorities.”
Did the government not announce this just yesterday? Thanks for trying to warn us, George.
February 13, 2009
Judge slams commissioner’s ‘negligent and cavalier’ approach of accounting for expenses
An Ontario judge acquitted former federal privacy commissioner George Radwanski on Friday of criminal fraud charges, but criticized his “negligent and cavalier” approach to accounting for controversial expenses he claimed while in office.
Ontario Court of Justice Paul BÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â©langer convicted Radwanski’s former chief of staff, Art Lamarche, of breach of trust.
Radwanski and Lamarche were charged with making fraudulent expense claims, including a travel advance and a $16,000 payment in lieu of vacation Radwanski received without first accruing the work time required to earn the holiday.
The Crown’s case centred on the expense and travel payments, which Lamarche arranged and authorized on behalf of Radwanski, a $15,000 personal loan and a $35,000 mortgage loan Lamarche advanced to Radwanski during the same period.
In his ruling released Friday morning in an Ottawa courtroom, BÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â©langer said Radwanski was “less than meticulous” in keeping track of administrative affairs.
Radwanski “should have recognized that the situation was entirely as a result of his negligent and cavalier approach to accounting for expenses and the onus was upon him – not upon the office – to regularize the situation,” the judge wrote.
“Therefore, it is not without significant misgivings that I conclude that Mr. Radwanski cannot be convicted of fraud or breach of trust in relation to the $15,000 (travel) advance.
He also lambasted Radwanski’s justification for thousands of dollars in hospitality lunches he had with his communications director, saying his behaviour in relation to office expenses was “at the extreme high end of the discretionary range.”
Outside the court following the ruling, Radwanski told reporters he feels vindicated after a “five-and-a-half-year nightmare.”
“It’s wonderful to have my life back,” Radwanski said. “It was really the first fair tribunal I’ve been before … and it’s great to have my good name restored.”
Radwanski acknowledged he wishes he had done some things differently, but insisted he “never acted dishonestly or knowingly improperly in any way.”
Prosecutor Robert Wadden argued that Radwanski failed to report the loans and regularly abused government rules for hospitality and entertainment, telling the court the commissioner and his staff “lived and dined at the public expense.”
‘Ambushed’ by AG’s report, Radwanski told court
Radwanski resigned under fire in 2003, blaming “a powerful political backlash from some who would prefer a less forceful privacy commissioner.” His severance package was initially $82,562, but later cut to nothing.
MPs later voted to find Radwanski in contempt of Parliament for failing to provide adequate information about his spending.
In her scathing audit, Auditor General Sheila Fraser called in the RCMP after documenting hundreds of thousands of dollars in alleged financial abuses during what she called Radwanski’s “reign of terror.”
The report led to a 26-month criminal investigation by the Mounties and the subsequent laying of charges in 2006.
During his trial, Radwanski testified he was “ambushed” by the auditor general’s staff and never given a proper chance to rebut accusations of mismanagement until Fraser’s report was completed.
He and other staff members also described the heavy workload thrust upon his office in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Radwanski told the court many of the expenses being questioned, such as lunches with his assistants, were actually used to get work done.
Before being appointed to the position in 2000, Radwanski won many awards during a 20-year journalism career. He began his career at the Montreal Gazette and later served as editor in chief of the Toronto Star.
He was also a policy adviser to then Ontario premier David Peterson and the author of a bestselling biography of Pierre Trudeau.
Alternate coverage: The Globe and Mail – Radwanksi cleared after five year ‘nightmare’
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