RCMP investigation of Senate expenses must be ‘unfettered’ says former top Mountie


OTTAWA – A former RCMP superintendent says he’s never seen the degree of political control over the Mounties that exists now, and says it “does not bode well” for an objective police investigation of the Senate expense scandal.

Garry Clement, a 30-year veteran of the force who spent more than half those years working in the national capital region, told CTV’s Question Period on Sunday that the thrust of the RCMP investigation will likely centre around Section 122 of the Criminal Code and breach of trust.

“From my read of the act and what’s been alleged through the media, I think they’ve got pretty strong grounds,” Clement said.

The Mounties are taking a preliminary look at the expenses of three senators, Mike Duffy, Patrick Brazeau and Mac Harb.

All three claimed housing expenses that were deemed inappropriate and have repaid, or are being asked to repay, tens of thousands of dollars.

In the case of Sen. Duffy, Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s chief of staff Nigel Wright secretly gave him $90,000 to pay off his inappropriate expenses.

Duffy’s refund was then used by him to deny co-operation with independent forensic auditors, and the refund has since been cited by top Conservative senators as the reason why a Senate committee report deleted language that was critical of Duffy’s actions.

That has opposition MPs and Liberal Senators claiming a cover-up was orchestrated by the Prime Minister’s Office.

Clement noted in his CTV interview that Wright is a lawyer, “so I would think, or hope, that he’s … dotted his i’s and crossed his t’s,” in his deal with Duffy.

“But if this was done knowingly to cover up what could be construed as a criminal act, I think Mr. Wright would have some questions that need to be answered,” Clement added.

Whether any of those answers will see the public light of day is another matter, said the former RCMP superintendent.

The Conservative government mandated in 2011 that all RCMP communications be cleared through the office of Public Safety Minister Vic Toews.

“Having been at the RCMP for 30 years, and when I was, I was in the national capital region for the better part of 18 years dealing with all levels of investigations, yeah, I would suggest I don’t think I’ve seen — at least since my relationship with the RCMP started — I don’t think I’ve ever seen the type of control that’s been placed on the RCMP, which is a little bit disconcerting from a former member,” said Clement.

He said he knows the investigating officer involved in the Senate case has the “utmost credibility.”

“So if he’s allowed to — which I hope the commissioner (Bob Paulson) has directed — undertake an unfettered investigation, then I think the public will know,” said Clement.

He quickly added a large caution: “Let’s be honest, the direction that Mr. Toews as a minister, everything’s got to go through him, in my mind does not bode well for objectivity.”

A spokeswoman for the Public Safety minister said there is no political interference in police matters.

“As you are likely aware, political actors are legally prohibited from involving themselves in investigative matters,” Julie Carmichael said in an email. “Our government respects this principle at all times.”

Toews’ communications director noted that for non-investigative RCMP issues, the RCMP Act states that the government appoints the commissioner “who, under the direction of the minister, has the control and management of the Force and all matters connected therewith.”

Sgt. Greg Cox, a spokesman for the RCMP, was also emphatic about the force’s investigative independence.

“The RCMP has full independence with regards to the investigations it carries out, and how it conducts them within the authorities it has under the RCMP Act and the Criminal Code, as well as other Federal statutes,” he said in an email that, under current policy, would have been approved by Toews’ office.

“Every member of the RCMP is sworn to uphold the laws of Canada.”

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RCMP investigation of Senate expenses must be ‘unfettered’ says former top Mountie

  1. A big part of why the rcmp has a high degree of political control placed on them is because they have proven to be a bunch of liars that can’t be trusted.

    The list is endless of rcmp who have abused their authority and got caught.
    Cellphone video and the internet in general assures everyone becomes aware of the rcmp’s transgressions.

    The rcmp have no one to blame but themselves.

  2. The RCMP is not independent of the Harper regime. Harper has made sure that all commissioners report only to his office; including the commissioner of Elections Canada.

  3. Since when is a Superintendent a “Former Top Mountie”? the initial commissioned rank is an Inspector, followed by the rank of Superintendent. There are several Chief Superintendents, Assistant Commissioners and Deputy Commissioners above a Superintendent in the command positions of the RCMP across the country, in most provinces (Divisions) and at HQ in Ottawa. I respect the comments made by Mr. Clement, but certainly do not support all of them. I spent several years more than 30 years in the Force, in HQ Ottawa and in several areas within the divisions. Several years ago the Commissioner of the RCMP was also designated as being in a role as a member of the Federal Government. This certainly created conflicting responsibilities for the Commissioner as to where his prime responsibilities might be in certain situations, and contradictory decisions and directives have resulted..

    I am not opposed to all the comments put forward by Mr. Clements but do have a concern about this status that headlined your story in this matter. It is misleading to classify him as a “Former Top Mountie.”

  4. The RCMP is a mess that needs cleaning up.
    The senate is a mess that needs cleaning up.
    two peas in a pod.

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