OTTAWA, March 22, 2005
The head of the RCMP denies that the force is pressuring
the government to reject an inquiry into the Air India bombing.
Commissioner Giuliano Zaccardelli declined Tuesday to reveal
what, if any, advice he has given Public Safety Minister
Anne McLellan on the contentious issue.
"Whatever advice I give the minister is private,''
he said, "but we do not pressure anybody.''
"If we're asked for our opinion, we give our opinion,
our advice, but that advice is never categorized, in my
view, as pressure.''
Calls for a public inquiry have resurfaced and grown louder
since Ripudaman Singh Malik and Ajaib Singh Bagri were found
not guilty of murder last week in the 1985 bombing that
killed 329 people.
Herb Dhaliwal, a former Liberal cabinet minister, accused
the federal government on Monday of betraying past commitments
by refusing to call an inquiry.
Dhaliwal said the Liberals had promised repeatedly to hold
an inquiry going back to the time when they were in opposition.
He said pressure against an inquiry is coming from the
Canadian Security and Intelligence Service and the RCMP.
Zaccardelli flatly denied that at a news conference he
called on another issue.
Much of the criticism over the handling of the Air India
case has revolved around rivalry and lack of communication
between the RCMP and CSIS.
But Zaccardelli says relations between the two agencies
"We have done a series of reviews,'' he said.
"The relationships are excellent between the two organizations,
so from my perspective, and I think I can even speak for
the director of CSIS, we have excellent relations.''
Several times in the last week, McLellan has rejected calls
for an inquiry, saying it would reveal little new and that
much has been learned over the 20 years since the bombing.
Zaccardelli echoed her words Tuesday: "We've learned
a lot of lessons over the years.''
For example, he said the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11,
2001 brought security and law enforcement organizations
around the world closer together than ever.
Asked if he sees an inquiry as necessary, he said there
is an appeal period and then it's up to "the appropriate
authorities'' to make a decision.
"We have a process in place,'' he said.