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Harper accused of “muzzling” RCMP on Arar case

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Written by Scott Gilbert

A week after the RCMP was singled out in a public report – commissioned by the federal government – police commissioner Giuliano Zaccardelli remains silent on the issue of the extradition and torture of Canadian citizen Maher Arar. The report, written by Justice Gordon O’Connor, was very critical of the role the RCMP played in the events that eventually lead to the illegal deportation and year long torture of an innocent Canadian in a notorious Syrian prison.

In a Toronto Star article, the former minister in charge of the RCMP, Anne McLellan, said she can’t imagine why Zaccardelli remains silent on the issue, and suggests that he is being “muzzled”.

The Star recently conducted several interviews relating to the lack of response from the RCMP commissioner and reported: “even his friends are puzzled about the silence, saying it goes against all Zaccardelli’s convictions about being a vocal advocate for the RCMP.”

It is known that Zaccardelli has met with Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day on the issue since the damning report was released.

Acting Liberal leader Bill Graham, referring to the Stephen Harper government said, “This is a funny government. Harper muzzles Day, Day muzzles the RCMP commissioner, and he muzzles everybody down the line. The muzzle starts at the top.” Graham also commented that this is consistent with a recent pattern of silence on the part of Stephen Harper’s Conservative government on touchy issues.

McLellan says that this “raises very, very serious questions in terms of the motivations of the politicians involved.”

Stockwell Day did not return the Star’s request for an interview.

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