Skip to comments.Zaccardelli Must Go [Canada's RCMP and the Responsibility of Leadership]
Posted on 09/30/2006 11:57:00 AM PDT by canuck_conservative
After Giuliano Zaccardelli's performance before the Commons security committee on Thursday, it is no longer necessary that he resign as commissioner of the RCMP. It is imperative. If he will not resign, he should be removed. If the government will not ask for his resignation, Parliament should.
As he has been ever since the O'Connor report was released, with its searing account of the RCMP's contribution to the arrest, imprisonment and torture of Maher Arar, Mr. Zaccardelli was long on guile, short on accountability. In a word, Mr. Zaccardelli toyed with the committee. He was clever enough to issue that headline-grabbing personal apology to Mr. Arar, knowing that in our therapeutic culture apologies are gold -- you know, closure and all that. But as for answering the committee's fumbling questions, Mr. Zaccardelli might as well have stayed home.
In the days leading up to his appearance, Mr. Zaccardelli's "friends" had been careful to leak word to the press that he had been "muzzled," which briefly succeeded in portraying him as the victim of the piece. But he was no more helpful with the muzzle off, except insofar as his testimony invited further questions about the RCMP's behaviour.
It is now clear, in particular, that the force knew soon after Mr. Arar's New York arrest in October of 2002 that it had no evidence against him, and that in telling the American authorities he was an Islamic extremist suspected of ties to al-Qaeda it had made a terrible error. As reckless and negligent as that initial blunder may have been, however, it is what the RCMP did after his arrest that is emerging as the real scandal.
Because, knowing that the Americans had arrested an innocent man, knowing that the Syrians had imprisoned him -- and knowing, as anyone but the Arabist boobies in the Department of Foreign Affairs must, what the Syrians were capable of -- the Mounties did worse than do nothing: They actively conspired to keep him there.
Mr. Zaccardelli gave no convincing explanation for any of it: why the force refused, nine months after Mr. Arar's arrest, to endorse a letter over the Foreign Affairs minister's signature seeking his release; why it sent his Syrian jailers a list of questions they might wish to ask about him, suggesting he remained a figure of suspicion; why it misrepresented the facts of the case in briefings to senior government bureaucrats, omitting details of its own involvement; why certain nameless officials continued, even after Mr. Arar's release, to smear him as a terrorist in the media, in an apparent bid to forestall a public inquiry.
Nor did the commissioner explain, for his own part, why he did not speak out, at the very least, to denounce the latter slurs, which he now says were "illegal" acts. Yet having failed to adequately train his officers, having failed to ensure the rules governing sharing of sensitive information were followed, having failed to act even after he knew a mistake had been made, and having failed to discipline any of the officers responsible -- indeed, several have since received promotions -- Mr. Zaccardelli insists he should remain as head of the RCMP.
This has nothing to do with making scapegoats of anyone. It has to do with accountability for past wrongs, and even more to do with preventing their repetition in future. If the man at the top of the org chart faces no consequences for serious, systemic misbehaviour in the agency he leads, those further down will draw the appropriate lessons. If he can blame his subordinates, so can they. And so instead of a culture of responsibility being passed down from the top ranks to the bottom, a culture of deniability will prevail.
More to the point, is the Mr. Magoo who presided over this mess the Sherlock Holmes we should count on to clean it up? Mr. Zaccardelli insists the force is capable of investigating itself, which is dubious enough. But can a man who is so avowedly and intensely loyal to his officers, going so far as to issue a memo saying they can be "proud" of their conduct during the Arar inquiry, really be the one to give the place the shake-up it so badly needs?
As I've said before, the Arar fiasco is just the latest in a long list of troubling cases involving the RCMP. And whether the Mounties can be held to account for their misdeeds is in turn but a subordinate clause in a larger question: Can anyone in this country be held to account for anything? On the CBC the other night, my co-panellist Chantal Hebert suggested the Arar affair was a more serious matter than the sponsorship scandal. While that may be debated -- was My Lai worse than Watergate? -- it occurs to me rather that they are the same scandal.
Somalia, tainted blood, APEC -- did anyone, in the end, pay the price for any of it? Or has our system of checks and balances become so atrophied that, with the right speechwriter and enough gall, you can ride out any storm?
© National Post 2006
For you guys.
There's been a smell in the RCMP for a long time - I still remember the way NB Premier Richard Harfield was caught red-handed with an ounce of weed in his luggage by the Mounties (1984) and - thanks to PM Brian Mulroney - nothing happened! What a shocker, eh?
Or how about the way the Mounties were more interested in finder the leaker who reavealed Chretien's payment to that Shawinigan hotel guy than the payment itself - 'cuz that would've nailed Chretien.
And on it goes.
Wow - a personal police force for the PMs - only in Canada, eh.
If it makes you feel any better (and I am sure it doesn't), Robert Mueller, the Director of the FBI is just as politically correct and incompetent.
Stephen Harper and his boys and girls are running the country. Let them decide. Ah, here comes Arar for the umpteenth time on T/V. He has his hand out for $400 million.
Please send me a FReepmail to get on or off this Canada ping list.
The press has no power to remove him, that's up to either the Government or Parliament.
This article is merely voicing a view that a lot of people have quietly come to conclude is correct - and it's about time this subject gets more attention.
Sunlight is the best disinfectant!
This is true?? All I've heard about this was from Air Amerika Radio, Randi Rhodes. A source I don't trust very much.
Of course she blamed the US Goverment, not Canada, for what happened.
Soon they will be forming a national choir and singing " Blow the Man Down!"
I was in Antigonish for their Highland Games last July, and the local detachement of the RCMP plus their Police Poochie marched during the opening parade in dress uniforms. A complete hush follwed them as the spectators, lined up 5 deep on both sides of Antigonish's main street fell absolutely silent.You could see it as they proceeded down the street.
Not only are the mounties disrespected, they are hated.See what 40 years of liberalism can do to a fine institution that refused to change its name by delering " Royal" from it? The Liberals have finally succeeded in the destruction of a noble and highly functional institution of Canada.
To remedy the problem, bring back horses for basic training, and for heaven sakes, make homosexual marriage a permission only event, in private, or bar it completely from the RCMP!
Sargeant Preston and his dog Cuddles have become a reality. And criminals are loving it.
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