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Former federal Privacy Commissioner George Radwanski not convicted of crime, but judge's ruling made it clear that does not mean Radwanski acted properly

Set out below is a letter to the editor by Democracy Watch Coordinator Duff Conacher which was published in shorter, edited form in the February 17, 2009 issue of the Vancouver Sun, and in the February 18, 2009 issue of the Montreal Gazette

Dear Editor:

In his rulings concerning former federal Privacy Commissioner George Radwanski's actions in a government spending scandal, Justice Paul Belanger wrote that Mr. Radwanski "should have recognized that the situation was entirely as a result of his negligent and cavalier approach to accounting for expenses," and that he had "significant misgivings" when concluding that despite this negligence Mr. Radwanski could not be convicted of fraud or breach of trust."

Headlines for articles in many newspapers about the ruling stated things like Radwanski "cleared" or Radwanski "happy to have his good name back" and many failed to include the judge's statements set out above.

A much more accurate, and still fair, headline for these articles would have been: "Judge finds Radwanski negligent, but reluctantly concludes he did not commit crime" with the sub-headline "Radwanski's chief of staff Art Lamarche convicted of breach of trust" for the more than $15,000 advance loan given to Mr. Radwanski.

Mr. Radwanski may believe that these rulings mean he has been "cleared" and has his "good name" back, but media headlines should not have suggested this to readers given that the rulings support the opposite conclusion.

Duff Conacher, Coordinator
Democracy Watch

To see two articles that contain a full, accurate and fair description of the judge's February 13, 2009 rulings, see the CBC.ca article and the CTV.ca article

For more details, go to Democracy Watch's Voter Rights Campaign