A Senate investigation has concluded the RCMP should not be found in contempt of Parliament, even though its actions in relation to a potential committee witness did encroach on Parliament’s powers.
The Senate Committee on Rules, Procedures and the Rights of Parliament tabled a report Thursday after looking into accusations that the RCMP deliberately intimidated a potential committee witness from testifying before the Senate.
The Conservative-dominated Senate had voted unanimously last month to launch the committee investigation. Corporal Roland Beaulieu, a member of the RCMP who is on medical leave, had alleged that the RCMP said they would terminate his medical leave if he appeared before the Senate National Security and Defence Committee to speak about a bill related to RCMP powers.
The rules committee reported that “Parliament’s right to hear from a Canadian citizen was encroached upon when he was refused permission to attend.” The report also states that despite this encroachment, Senators were still able to hear from one of Cpl. Beaulieu’s colleagues. The committee also notes that Cpl. Beaulieu was allowed to appear before them to talk about how he was not allowed to speak to the Senate national security committee.
“The committee sees no reason to pursue the matter further and certainly no reason to give consideration to a sanction or censure,” the report concludes. “In coming to this conclusion as to an appropriate response to this encroachment on the rights of Parliament, the committee notes that the RCMP have shown in both their testimony and by their actions before our committee that this matter has been rectified for future requests from Parliament.”
The Senate investigation of the RCMP took place while the RCMP looks into the spending of three Senators – Patrick Brazeau, Mike Duffy and Mac Harb - to determine whether any criminal charges are warranted. The RCMP is also officially investigating a $90,000 payment to Mr. Duffy from Nigel Wright, the former chief of staff to Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
When the RCMP witness issue was first raised last month, Senate Speaker Noël Kinsella said that on the face of it, it appeared the Senate’s privileges to call for witnesses had been violated. That led to the committee investigation to determine whether the RCMP had acted in contempt of Parliament.
The committee held three public meetings to hear from both sides in the dispute. Senators also met four times behind closed doors.
Senior RCMP officials essentially argued that their motivation was not to prevent an RCMP member from testifying before a committee, but rather to get him back to work if he is able.
“If a member can travel anywhere on vacation or attend Ottawa, then I believe that that member should be able to go to work and perform some form of graduated return-to-work effort in administrative policy, even for a few hours a day,” said RCMP Staff Sergeant George Reid, Mr. Beaulieu’s supervisor, during a June 4 appearance.