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Canada’s Privacy Commissioner George Radwanski

9-9-2008

This case is not really for us to watch, *OR* I got mislead info!

I found this while I scrambled across the net….Funny this is what reality does look like, I feel Our former Privacy Commissioner is getting a wrap for misdemeanours!!!!

I was a script editor for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation during the 1960s. My duties included travelling to various production centres. In Montreal, I used to stay at the Ritz. One day the CBC travel clerk said he couldn’t book me in my usual hotel.

“This year’s list of approved hotels came down from Ottawa,” he explained. “The Ritz isn’t on it. I booked you into the Queen Elizabeth instead.”

If the public broadcaster wanted to save taxpayers a few bucks, it was fine by me. The surprise came when I looked at the bill. My night at the Queen Elizabeth set the CBC back $28 (remember, this was the 1960s.) At the Ritz I had never paid more than $18. Ottawa’s new guidelines had cost the public $10.

Auditor-General Sheila Fraser’s scathing report on former privacy commissioner George Radwanski reminded me of the anecdote last week. One of Ms. Fraser’s charges against Mr. Radwanski was that he failed to follow Treasury Board guidelines. Based on my experience, though, not following Ottawa’s guidelines might have saved Canada’s taxpayers some money.

Since Ms. Fraser’s report was released last Tuesday, Mr. Radwanski has been the subject of several columns and editorials. Most pieces were outraged or sarcastic, upbraiding Mr. Radwanski for living high off the hog at taxpayers’ expense. The Auditor-General’s “moral inquiry” (as Gerald Owen called it in Saturday’s National Post) mentioned complaints of a “reign of terror,” no less, in Mr. Radwanski’s corner of the bureaucracy. (Mr. Owen pointed out this was an exaggeration — after all, Mr. Radwanski’s expenses didn’t include a guillotine.) But though he wasn’t Robespierre, the former privacy commissioner was described as dividing officials into insiders and outsiders, favouring cronies and cold-shouldering the rest. According to Ms. Fraser’s report, Mr. Radwanski not only hired and promoted his friends, but banished and humiliated officials who displeased him.

I wouldn’t know Mr. Radwanski if he fell on me. I want to stress this, because I may be the only person in the country who thinks Mr. Radwanski is getting a bum rap. I don’t say this assuming the charges against him aren’t true. I’ve no idea what is true and what isn’t. Let’s assume for a moment all charges are true. Even so, I think Mr. Radwanski is getting a bum rap.

To me, Ms. Fraser’s 47-page indictment listing Mr. Radwanski’s misdeeds reads like a document describing the everyday practices of government bureaucracies — perhaps even most management teams. The spendthrift, nepotistic ways of the former mandarin seem to me the ways of all brass in all corridors of power, whether it’s taxpayers or shareholders who pick up the tab.

If about half of Mr. Radwanski’s hospitality claims for lunches and dinners at Ottawa restaurants were for himself and his close advisors, with no outside clients present, this hardly distinguishes his expense-account meals from other expense-account meals in Ottawa — or elsewhere. Most “business” lunches consist of civil servants or company executives discussing office politics with each other. Selling or servicing outside accounts occupies only a fraction. Justified or not, this practice is hardly peculiar to Mr. Radwanski.

The business of the executive floor, in government or in private enterprise, is routinely conducted over expense-account meals. Often it’s also combined with expense-account travel or recreation. The top brass’s conferences, junkets, golf games, limos, etc., are routinely paid for by taxpayers or shareholders. The day such perks went out of fashion would be the day many upscale restaurants — along with some hotels, travel agents, and airlines — would go out of business.

Can we do without executive perks? No society has, so far. As long as we need swine to sniff out truffles, some of the truffles will go to the swine.

In a country where the Governor-General and her spouse take 59 people on a junket at the cost of about $1-million, it’s hard to get worked up about Mr. Radwanski’s billing $32,000 for “hotels, meals, taxis and miscellaneous charges” over two years, even if their relevance to the privacy commission’s business was questionable. The relevance of the GG’s junket to her office is at least as questionable, yet her junket would pay for 62.5 years of Mr. Radwanski’s hotels, meals, and taxis — the items that seem to twist Ms. Fraser’s knickers into a knot.

I don’t mean to imply that Ms. Fraser’s knickers shouldn’t be twisted by examples of waste, mismanagement, bad stewardship or “creative” accounting — after all, if the Auditor-General’s knickers remain unruffled, whose knickers can we look to for succour? It’s only when her charges are combined with observations such as, “Employees who had questioned or displeased the former commissioner or his inner circle were banished from the commissioner’s floor” or were “excluded from meetings” or “not allowed to put their names on reports” or “moved to other positions” that one begins to wonder. Is Ms. Fraser living in the real world?

In the real world bosses like some people and dislike others. Those they dislike are often excluded from meetings, have their names removed from reports, or moved to other positions. If they’re lucky, that is, because if they aren’t, they’re sent packing.

In the real world, employees who question or displease the current boss or the current boss’s favourite are often shunted aside, if not thrown out on their ears. Not just in Mr. Radwanski’s former department but in every department in Ottawa, and not just in Ottawa, but in the country, on the continent, in the Western Hemisphere.

Would it be different in a perfect world? Perhaps. But then in a perfect world Ms. Fraser wouldn’t single out Mr. Radwanski for a failing he shares with other bosses: The failing (if a failing it is) of preferring to pick his own team. She wouldn’t, unless she had some other agenda — which in a perfect world would be unthinkable. But then, this isn’t a perfect world.

George Jonas’s column appears every Monday.

OTTAWA – George Radwanski’s fraud trial has been told the former privacy commissioner took out a $15,000 travel advance in 2002 to pay government credit-card expenses instead of travel costs.

A veteran financial expert who was working in the privacy office at the time testified today she had never seen a government travel expense claim made out the same way.

Nancy Schnobb said the claim was expressly submitted for the purpose of obtaining money to pay off Radwanski’s outstanding American Express bill.

Schnobb, hired by Radwanski’s office to help implement a new finance control system, told Ontario Supreme Court of Justice the form had none of the usual elements a travel advance required, such as an itinerary, dates and cost estimates.

She said Radwanski’s chief of staff submitted the claim after a review found the former privacy czar had received government cheques for the credit-card expenses, but their full amount had not been paid down at American Express.

News from ©The Canadian Press, 2008
September 09, 2008 01:43

In any case the court heard  George Radwanski according to the star.

Sep 09, 2008 04:30 AM

The Canadian Press

OTTAWA–Former privacy commissioner George Radwanski failed to report a $35,000 loan he got from his chief of staff in 2001 as required by the federal conflict-of-interest code, a court has been told.

Radwanski and his former top aide, Arthur Lamarche, are on trial in Ontario Superior Court charged with fraud and breach of trust.

Hearings got underway yesterday with key evidence about expense payments and other claims that had raised eyebrows within Radwanski’s own office.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I have known several in the government offices, and to say this individual did something wrong, well try to open another case of another currently in office and I am sure one could easily find questionable expenses!  Many in complete contrast to what they are therefore as Canadian Gov.

Since this ancient case is now being presented to the courts in october.  I will assist you with a bit more on the history of George Radwanski.

Canada’s Privacy Commissioner George Radwanski was hounded from office amid a firestorm of allegations about expense account abuses.

Press hacks and politicians continue to nip at his heels accusing him of misleading parliament and “intimidating” his staff. One Member of Parliament suggested he deserved jail time or even execution.

Why such ferocity?

“The Government is doing all this in blatant, open and repeated disregard of the concerns that it is my duty to express…” Radwanski said. He revealed that American pressure was to blame, and urged Canadians to assert their sovereignty.

The right of privacy is at the core of the basic freedoms of our society. Freedom of speech, of thought, of association, to name just a few, are grounded in the idea that we have a private sphere of thought and action that is our business and nobody else’s — not our neighbours’, not our employers’, not some telemarketer’s, and certainly not the state’s. In Canada today that fundamental human right is under unprecedented assault.”

Read this Article


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--
"When God wills to punish a people or a kingdom,
he takes away from it the good and godly teachers and preachers,
and bereaves it of wise, godly, and honest rulers and counsellors,
and of brave, upright, and experienced soldiers, and of good men."
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