Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Necessary Roughness

Many of us might feel inclined to excuse Ron Stewart's misuse, if not outright fraud, of taxpayers' money on the basis that investigating complaints from federal penitentiary inmates is itself a misuse of taxpayers' money.

And no doubt, most of the complaints from inmates probably were trivial, vexatious, or insufficiently founded.

And perhaps the job itself really is an overpaid sinecure.

But none of that excuses this:

Among other things, Fraser found that Stewart billed taxpayers five times to travel to cities hosting Grey Cup games "to investigate inmate complaints." But there was no evidence of any work being done during those trips even though they cost thousands of dollars in government cash.

Stewart was unable to "provide or remember any details" about investigations or what government business was carried out during his visits to Grey Cup-hosting cities, the auditor's report said yesterday. Stewart left the prisons job in 2004.


For instance, Stewart spent most of his time from April to October each year at a cottage on an island 90 minutes' drive from Ottawa that "had no electricity or land telephone line and was accessible only by boat."


Between 1998 and 2003, Stewart received improper payments totalling $198,000 and another $127,000 in questionable payments for a total of $325,000 in questionable payments.

He was away from work 162 business days but paid anyway, for $83,000 in unearned salary. "Obviously he was not in his office a lot and received wages and didn't work for them," Fraser said in a news conference.

Stewart claimed he used his government car for business 85 per cent of the time, when an audit showed it was really only 10 per cent. He's estimated to owe the Canada Revenue Agency income taxes on $28,000 for the value of that personal benefit.

Over three years, the correctional investigator handed out a total of $260,000 in phoney overtime payments to his staff, some of whom thought they were receiving bonuses.

It appears that Stewart himself may have the opportunity to discover just what the inmates have been complaining about all these years behind bars for a while.

Source: Toronto Star


greyburr said...

With the RCMP investigating I am sure Stewart is not loosing any sleep over this!Just an observation based on their investigative success's of the past.

vicki said...

A Lib-friend behind bars?...don't hold your breath...and who was the Minister of this portfolio at the time...???No mention in the casual Star surprise.

Anonymous said...

I bet he gets a speaking tour and community service...