In an August 2006 Telegram article, then deputy RCMP commissioner Barbara George reminisced about growing up on Bell Island with her six siblings.
“I’d often go out and wander around the cliffs by myself and look at the ocean and the icebergs,” she told freelance reporter Danette Dooley.
“I would just sit there and daydream what life would be like.”
At the time of that interview, she could not have known the maelstrom she would face only two years later — one that would destroy her career as one of the RCMP’s most senior officers.
In 2008, as allegations swirled about millions in misspent RCMP pension funds, George was accused by colleagues of lying to Parliament’s public expenditures committee.
Despite professing innocence, George was found to be in contempt of Parliament and was removed from her post. Unable to bear the scar to her reputation, she resigned from the police force.
This week, the National Post editorial board pleaded George’s case.
“Two separate investigations subsequently found that Ms. George had done no wrong, but it was too late,” the Post stated. “Parliament had spoken. Her career was ruined.”
But George is already on the road to restoring her reputation.
At the time that Parliament was still investigating her case, then-Liberal MP Borys
Wrzesnewskyj repeated the accusation of perjury in a television interview — outside the bounds of parliamentary privilege.
George immediately launched a $4-million lawsuit.
That lawsuit has finally been settled in George’s favour. And part of the stipulation is that Wrzesnewskyj had to offer a public apology for making inaccurate and damaging statements.
Says the Post: “George was an honest cop, accused of meddling in an investigation by politicians out for blood in the midst of a public spending scandal. As even her main detractor has been forced to admit, she had done nothing wrong, and was always an innocent victim of a witch hunt, wrongly lumped in with genuine bad apples inside the RCMP.”
Extracting an apology from Parliament itself, however, has proven less fruitful. Interim Liberal leader Bob Rae is open to the idea, but the Conservatives prefer to look at it as a matter between George and individual politicians.
“The government of Canada, as a whole, did her wrong,” declares the Post.
“Now it should do the honourable thing by admitting its mistake and offering Ms. George a sincere apology.”
Whether she gets it or not, of course, George can never again be the “fresh-faced constable” she says she was 30 years ago. All those dreams she had sitting on the banks of Bell Island are long shattered.
However, she can at least hold her head high and move on with her life.