Road to redemption

I was delighted to see that George Radwanski, the privacy commissioner whose expense accounts became public, was cleared of all charges. Every man should have his day in court and Radwanski certainly had his after six years of being a pariah.

In fact, Radwanski has been on the outs with society all the time I’ve known him, which is thirty-five years. When I was press secretary to Robert Stanfield in the 1970s, Radwanski was one of two journalists in the 150-member Parliamentary Press Gallery who stood apart and held independent views. The other was Bill Johnson, who as a bilingual Anglophone, explained Quebec to the rest of Canada.

The media of every era needs more such outsiders, people who don’t run with the herd. As privacy commissioner from 2000-2003, Radwanski tried to stop some of the RCMP surveillance activities he found particularly repugnant. It was this action he believes made him a target for investigation. For a bunch of reasons, the court found him innocent of all criminal charges.

What bothers me most in all of this was the court’s explanation that Radwanski’s entertainment budget was no more lavish than anyone else’s in Ottawa at the time. Just as I don’t like members of the media drinking each other’s bathwater, I don’t like bureaucrats eating each other’s foie gras. Especially on my tab. They say those halcyon days are gone. I hope so. The rest of the country has gone on a diet. Ottawa should, too.

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