Barbara George was just another senior level bureaucrat when the Governor General pinned the award on her chest. What had she really done to deserve it? Difficult to say. She spent a career being a carpet cop and wouldn’t have the faintest idea what a real cop does for a living let alone being a “role model” for anything other than a bureaucrat wanting to climb the greasy pole in a federal government ministry.
Do I sound disparaging of the now suspended Deputy Commissioner Barbara George? Sorry, I don’t mean to. But, right after she was suspended by interim Comissioner Bev Busson following the testimony of several RCMP officers before the Public Accounts Committee concerning abuses of the Mounties’ pension fund and their attempts to get light shed on the subject, the Mounties distanced themselves from her pronto.
George herself testified that neither she nor former Commissioner Giuliano Zaccardelli had anything to do with hindering the investigation. Testimony supported by phone call recordings and other corroboration seemed to dispute that position. The Mounties outlined an atmosphere of corruption and condonation of corruption permeating the highest ranks.
Shortly after George was suspended, the RCMP erased any reference to her on their website. It was blindingly fast. Fortunately, the internet is a powerful tool and much could still be located. A review of her career highlights shows she was nothing more than a carpet cop. And therin lies the answer to all of this.
In 1984 the RCMP was politicized and the Comissioner was made a Deputy Minister with all of the political realities that entailed. In reality, the RCMP has become yet another moribund political bureaucracy.
This is not to belittle the hard-working members at the sharp end of things. No, not in the least. When I joined the RCMP two years after its centennial celebrations, I was given a quick education into the Force by a senior member. He explained the machinations of the Force as “A hundred and two years of tradition unhampered by progress.”
And that brings us full-circle to the scandal plaguing the RCMP that led to the suspension of Deputy Commissioner Barbara George. Throughout the 90’s and the the first part of the new century, the Liberal Party of Canada created a culture of those who were “entitled to their entitlements” among the bureaucracy. Why should the RCMP be any different?
Well, the reality was they weren’t as evidenced by the misappropriation of money from the pension fund by the carpet cops mired in the bureaucracy.
When members of the Force tried to raise concerns about the Pension Fund, the carpet cops shined them on, neutralized them by transfer or completely marginalized them. This is tried and true tactics by the carpet cops. Ask Bob Stenhouse or Robert Read. They have both been victimized by that culture.
Well, that corrupt culture has now been laid bare to the Public Accounts Committee. A senior carpet cop has been suspended. It remains to be seen if the price to be paid is real or mere window dressing and it is business as usual at Headquarters in Ottawa.
The RCMP should use this period in their history to reinvent themselves in their role as the national police force. And, what is now 134 years of tradition needs to finally see some progress.