RCMP boss to look at whistleblower report

Ian Bailey

The Province 

September 19, 2003

Critics are calling for a public inquiry, tough whistleblower legislation and the reinstatement of a suspended Mountie after an RCMP oversight committee vindicated the officer for blowing the whistle on corruption concerns within the Canadian High Commission in Hong Kong.

Cpl. Robert Read's reward for going public with his concerns was "a pink slip along with harassment," Gurmant Grewal, Canadian Alliance MP for Surrey Central, said yesterday

He urged the federal Liberal government to reinstate the 20-year veteran, but that decision will be made by RCMP Commissioner Giuliano Zaccardelli, now reviewing the report of the RCMP external review committee, an independent body.

The committee has cleared Read for releasing to the media information to back his concerns that the RCMP failed to address evidence of possible wrongdoing by mission employees.

"Among the most detailed accounts" from that material, says the commission, was an article published in The Province in August 1999 that reported that Chinese nationals linked to organized crime had broken into the immigration computer at Canada's diplomatic mission in Hong Kong.

In the article, Read told reporter Fabian Dawson that he was ignoring written orders from his boss not to talk to the media because "there needs to be a public inquiry into this whole thing."

The concerns were first raised in 1991 after a Hong Kong resident said two embassy employees offered to speed up her visa application for $10,000. That spurred a series of probes that eventually brought Read into the mystery. Charges have never been laid in the case. An RCMP spokesman said yesterday he was not aware of any continuing criminal investigations in the matter.

"While there is no evidence of a coverup on the part of the force, there were important shortcomings in the investigative process followed by the force since 1991. As a result it remains possible that employees of the mission were able to engage in immigration fraud on a widespread basis and that such activities have remained undetected to date," says the report.

The report said Read's disclosure "would still have to be regarded as a matter of legitimate public concern because it exposed the fact that the rorce had, for seven years, failed to take appropriate action to determine if employees of the mission had engaged in immigration fraud."

Read yesterday declined to comment on the situation because he wants to give the commissioner Zaccardelli time to respond.

The RCMP, which had ordered Read to resign or be fired for his actions, was equally circumspect yesterday. "We really need to let the process take its course and see what comes out of it," Staff. Sgt. Paul Marsh, an RCMP spokesman, said from Ottawa.

But Brian McAdam, the embassy's former immigration control officer, praised Read as a classic whistleblower, namely "someone doing his job and telling the truth, and that is a threat."

McAdam bemoaned the "incredible opportunity lost" to deal with corruption issues at the mission. "There could have been arrests made, a major cleanup."

Grewal called for an independent investigation. Fellow Alliance MP Darrel Stinson called for whistleblower protection.

But Solicitor-General Wayne Easter called for patience while Zaccardelli does his work.

"Give that process time and the results will be seen in the full light of day and that will be the time to do the analysis," he said in the House of Commons.

Credit: Canadian Press



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