Former Liberal Member of Parliament Borys Wrzesnewskyj takes part in a news conference in Ottawa May 24, 2012. Wrzesnewskyj is challenging the 2011 election results in his former riding of Etobicoke Centre citing voting irregularities.
Credits: REUTERS/Blair Gable
Back in 2007, protected and empowered by parliamentary privilege, a former Liberal MP named Borys Wrzesnewskyj took to the bully pulpit during a committee inquiry to accuse former RCMP deputy commissioner Barbara George of being a perjurer.
That's how the game of politics is too often played now. It's shoot first and ask questions later.
It's shrill theatrics, partisan insults and total disregard for the collateral damage suffered by those who just might happen to be innocent.
But Borys Wrzesnewskyj took it another step. He repeated his accusation outside the protection of Parliament, and stepped into it big-time.
And he found himself getting sued.
There are very few blows lower and more career-crippling than accusing an officer of the court of lying under oath.
It derailed George's otherwise honourable 30 years of public service, saw her suspended as head of RCMP human resources, forced her into early retirement with a taint on her many commendations, and made her guilty in the eyes of the public for crimes she did not commit.
"I can only put it to the equivalent of travelling through the nine circles of hell," George recently told Global's The West Block.
Barbara George, as it turned out, was innocent of any wrongdoing in the now infamous RCMP pension-fund scandal -- totally innocent --a nd had gotten involved only after the scandal broke.
She was cleaning it up, not covering it up.
Yet, even after it became absolutely clear that George had done no wrong, it took Borys Wrzesnewskyj nearly five years -- and the settlement of a $4-million lawsuit -- to cough up an apology.
The House of Commons must now do the same.
Soon after the public accounts committee agreed with Wrzesnewskyj that George had perjured herself -- and it did so without any debate whatsoever -- the House of Commons compounded the slander by issuing a citation of contempt against her.
This ill-founded citation needs to be rescinded in the same breath that the House of Commons apologizes to Barbara George.
And it must be done immediately.
The facts are there. Barbara George is victim of a very real and obvious injustice by bully-pulpit parliamentarians.
Accept it. Let it be a lesson learned.