Loading articles...

Head Of The R.C.M.P. Resigns Over Arar Affair

He made a speech that said another.

Those were just two of the reasons that led one of the country’s highest ranking police officials to quit his job on Wednesday.

R.C.M.P. Commissioner Giuliano Zaccardelli  handed in his resignation, after questions were raised about how he handled the notorious Maher Arar case.

Arar was stopped on a plane in New York in September 2002 and detained by American authorities on suspicion of having ties to al-Qaida. They based their decision partly on erroneous information supplied by the Mounties.

He was later sent back to his native Syria and endured torture as officials there tried to get him to confess his terror ties.

But when a report by Mr. Justice Dennis O’Connor completely cleared him, Zaccardelli was forced to issue an apology and a probe into how things went so horribly wrong began.

When the commissioner testified before the Commons Committee last September he  claimed he learned of the mistake in 2002. 

But he gave an entirely different account on Monday, insisting he’d only found out about it this year. 

And on Tuesday, he was hauled back before MPs for an explanation of the different dates.

Some of them alleged he perjured himself, a serious accusation, and even Prime Minister Stephen Harper promised to look into the case.

The commissioner tried to explain it away by insisting he’d made an error in his earlier testimony.

But with pressure mounting, Zaccardelli finally threw in the towel, leaving his post Wednesday afternoon.

The announcement came as a surprise, although it was clear the day before the top cop was in big trouble. “I have clearly stated more than once that I do not intend to resign,” he stated adamantly at the hearing.

Twenty-four hours later, it was Harper who made the announcement in the House of Commons. “Commissioner Zaccardelli submitted his resignation to me, and I have accepted it,” he noted simply. 

“The commissioner has indicated to me that it would be in the best interests of the R.C.M.P. to have new leadership as this great organization faces challenges in the future.”

There’s no word on who might replace him.

A look at Giuliano Zaccardelli:

Age: 59.

Childhood: Born in Prezza, Italy; family immigrated to Montreal when he was seven.

Family: Lives in Ottawa with wife Bette.

Education: BA Commerce, Loyola College.

Hobbies: Golf, horseback riding.

R.C.M.P. career: Joined R.C.M.P. in 1970; four years policing in Alberta; transferred to Toronto Commercial Crime Section in 1974; became senior investigator with Calgary Commercial Crime Section in 1981; moved to Ottawa headquarters in 1986; promoted in 1989 to superintendent in New Brunswick; became chief superintendent in Quebec in 1993; promoted to assistant commissioner and commanding officer of R.C.M.P. operations in Ontario in 1995; named deputy commissioner responsible for national headquarters in 1998; appointed commissioner Sept. 2, 2000.

Controversy: Came under fire for conflicting statements about the Arar case. On Tuesday, Zaccardelli admitted he got his facts wrong when he testified at a Commons committee in September about when he first knew the RCMP had passed erroneous information to U.S. authorities.

Quote: “I bring an insatiable appetite to succeed, to do well.”–t o his university alumni magazine in 2004.