Coaching Zaccardelli for hearings cost $25,000
Maybe the RCMP should ask for its money back! Zaccardelli did a poor job of defending himself and his force. In effect he ended up perjuring himself and having to resign on that account. On the other hand perhaps Zaccardelli is just a slow learner.
Last Updated: Monday, March 12, 2007 | 9:25 A
The Canadian Press
The RCMP paid a communications consultant almost $25,000 in taxpayers' money to help Giuliano Zaccardelli prepare for parliamentary hearings that ultimately led to the commissioner's resignation.
Documents obtained by the Canadian Press show the Mounties hired Ottawa firm McLoughlin Media at a cost of more than $400 an hour in advance of the former RCMP commissioner's ill-fated autumn testimony on the Arar inquiry report.
The company trains executives and politicians to communicate in media interviews, presentations and crises.
"We just wanted to ensure that he was prepared fully for his appearance," said RCMP assistant commissioner Bernie Corrigan.
McLoughlin's services were needed because the force's communication services directorate lacks expertise in dealing with parliamentary committees, Corrigan added.
Maher Arar, a Syrian-born Canadian, was detained in New York in September 2002 and deported soon after by American authorities, winding up in a Damascus prison cell. Under torture, he gave false confessions to Syrian military intelligence officers about involvement with al-Qaeda.
After spending more than two years looking into the case, Justice Dennis O'Connor concluded in a hefty Sept. 18 report that erroneous information the RCMP passed to the United States — painting Arar as an Islamic extremist — very likely led to the Ottawa engineer's deportation.
The Mounties remained silent on the report until 10 days later when Zaccardelli indicated in testimony to the Commons public safety committee he knew of the mistake shortly after Arar was sent to Syria.
But in December, Zaccardelli told the same committee he was wrong in his original explanation — that in fact he didn't know until years later the national police force had incorrectly labelled Arar a terrorist. The government accepted the commissioner's resignation the next day amid questions about his competence.
The government published a notice Saturday seeking a permanent replacement for Zaccardelli.
Among the qualities sought in a new commissioner is the ability "to act as the spokesperson for the RCMP, often in highly controversial and difficult situations."
"The chosen candidate will be an individual with integrity, judgment, tact, discretion and resilience."