Take Our Skill-Defying Quiz

July 13, 2003

Questions surrounding saga of high-flying George Radwanski defy comprehension.

For this week's summertime quiz, we probe some of the many mystifying issues surrounding the saga of Canada's former high-flying (and newly unemployed) privacy commissioner, George Radwanski.

Readers able to correctly answer the following skill-defying questions will be referred to the nearest rehab centre, and urged to run for the Liberal leadership (not necessarily in that order).

1. On one of his more expensive worldly jaunts, Radwanski said he and his communications director, Donna Vallieres stopped over in Hawaii en route to and from New Zealand to "get over jet lag."

He got the idea:

a) In the famous travel book, A Sleeper's Guide to Hawaii;
b) From the blockbuster musical, Waking in Wikiki;
c) From Sheila Copps, the federal heritage minister who spent at least four days in France in the summer of 2002 getting over jet lag from a gruelling flight to Paris in executive class.

2. Radwanski's office partially blanked-out expense accounts - including references to the Hawaii stopovers and details of hefty wining and dining up to $400 a pop - before submitting the documents as evidence to the Commons committee that investigated the privacy office.

This was done:

a) To protect the identity of the most expensive restaurants in Ottawa;
b) Because the average MP wouldn't appreciate a decent $400 meal if he choked on it;
c) Because the average taxpayer might will choke on a government meal claim for that lunch;
d) To conform with the majority of Liberal cabinet ministers, who continue to thumb their noses at Canadian taxpayers by refusing to release details of their own government expense accounts, other than monthly travel totals.

3. Radwanski was accused of ordering his staff to delete a key paragraph from another piece of official government correspondence presented to the committee.

He must have been thinking:

a) The letter was too long to fit in the envelope;
b) The privacy office had an over-supply of white-out;
c) What's a missing paragraph when the government paid Quebec ad agencies involved in the sponsorship scandal millions of dollars for reports that were missing in their entirety?

4. What initially raised the ire of MPs on the committee was what they described as Radwanski's evasive testimony.

He must have been thinking:

a) He was a Liberal minister giving answers in question period;
b) He was going to be late for another expensive lunch;
c) What's a little evasion to a bunch of MPs when the prime minister lied to the whole country over "Shawinigate"?

5. The day before Radwanski was appointed privacy commissioner, the federal tax department officially forgave almost $540,000 he owed the government from years of not paying income taxes.

The timing was:

a) A coincidence;
b) An incredible coincidence;
c) An act of Divine intervention;
d) An act of the Liberals sending a fellow Liberal to The Trough, no matter what the circumstances.

6. Given the security review that would ordinarily be required of an officer of Parliament in control of an $11-million annual budget, how is it even remotely plausible that no one in the Prime Minister's Office knew Radwanski had been all but bankrupt just before his appointment?

a) The background checks were conducted by the Keystone Kops;
b) He was investigated by the same crack RCMP squad that cleared the PM in Shawinigate;
c) His file was handled by the sleuths at CSIS who erased mountains of critical evidence in the Air India probe;
d) It's not remotely plausible - someone on high did know about Radwanski's being a tax deadbeat, and didn't care.

7. Why did the federal tax department yank two of it's investigators who tried to probe Radwanski's bankruptcy - one of whom was reassigned, the other promoted and sent on French-language training?

a) The feds have bigger fish to fry than a guy who owes a piddling $606,000 in unpaid taxes;
b) Nothing is more important in the tax department than French language training - all ordinary hard-working Canadians surely have a right to be hounded in the language of their choice;
c) Someone didn't want Radwanski investigated.

8. Who is ultimately to blame for this sorry tale of public service run amok?

a) George Radwanski;
b) Jean Chretien and his ethically challenged ministers;
c) A decade of Liberal government that has lowered the ethical bar to the level of a banana republic;
d) All the above.