Globe and Mail vs. Day

The Globe and Mail wrote a piece yesterday about the O’Connor ruling regarding the deportation and torture in Syria of Maher Arar. The article meant to be topical, however, the author Jeff Sallott (with files from Gloria Galloway) couldn’t find an appropriate backdrop for their writing since the focus of their piece, RCMP Commissioner Giuliano Zaccardelli, won’t answer their questions until he testifies later this week. Sallott however tried, unsuccessfully, to quiz the Commissionor at a memorial service.

Yesterday, the Globe and Mail published the following:

Mr. Zaccardelli surfaced for the first time publicly Sunday at a ceremony in Ottawa. But he refused to comment on the controversy that has swirled around him and his force since the release of an inquiry report last week that slammed the RCMP for giving erroneous intelligence to the United States that contributed to Maher Arar’s arrest and torture in Syria.

Mr. Day, who is the minister responsible for the RCMP and the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, said he would not talk with reporters Sunday if they wanted to ask about anything other than the solemn ceremony. It drew thousands to Parliament Hill, including families of 10 officers from seven different federal and local agencies killed in the past year.

Several high-ranking officers from other forces made a point of seeking out Mr. Zaccardelli either before or after the ceremony to shake his hand and offer words of encouragement. While Mr. Day happily posed for pictures with a variety of police officers, including a visiting detective from the New York Police Department, he stood away from his own top cop.

Stockwell Day wouldn’t even shake his hand? The intrigue! What’s going on here? Are there political machinations going on behind the scenes here? Who’s allying with whom, who is on the outs? The Globe and Mail has us ponder all of these questions as it tries to frame Day and Zaccardelli in an unamiable context.

Today, I received an email from the Conservatives that asserts that the events written by Sallott are either untrue or uninformed. Attached were a couple of letters sent into the Globe and Mail by Minister Day and his staff to clarify what they assert to be untrue scribblings by the country’s so-called newspaper of record. Here’s the kicker: faced with contrary information from their own reporters and Stockwell Day and his staff the Globe and Mail refused to publish the Day’s letter (in whole or in part) to give the full record to their readers.

Here is Day’s letter, unpublished by the Globe and Mail and presented here as an exclusive:

Dear Editor,

I was shocked to read today’s front-page story, “RCMP Chief Muzzled, Friends Say.” Mr. Sallot’s article declared that I refused to even greet Commissioner Zaccardelli at a Memorial Service. This could not be further from the truth and I want to set the record straight.

My wife and I both shook hands with the Commissioner and talked at some length about the importance of the occasion.

On a day to commemorate our country’s heroic police and peace officers who died to protect our communities, I was asked three times by Mr. Sallot to be interviewed about matters not pertaining to the solemn occasion. What I explained to Mr. Sallot-and what he evidently failed to understand-was that the 29th Annual Canadian Police and Peace Officers’ Memorial Service was not the appropriate time to discuss such matters. Rather, it was the time to pay tribute to our fallen officers.

Out of respect for the police and peace officers who died in the line of duty as well as their families, I did not wish to comment on unrelated matters. On a day of such sorrow and out of respect for our fallen officers, I would expect more responsible reporting.

Mr. Sallot’s professional lapse appearing on the front page of this paper, have been a source of distress to the people affected and deliberately painted in a false and harmful picture that deserves to be corrected.

Stockwell Day,

Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

Here is the followup letter from Minister Day’s Director of Communications blasting the Globe and Mail for its bias. Will the newspaper publish it?

Re. Jeff Sallot’s inaccurate article

On Monday, September 25 inaccurate information was published in your front-page story, “RCMP chief muzzled, friends say”. In Jeff Sallot’s article, he incorrectly stated that Minister Day and Mr. Zaccardelli “did not speak”.

To correct the facts, the Hon. Stockwell Day , Minister of Public Safety, submitted a letter to the editor yesterday, in which he wrote that “My wife and I both shook hands with the Commissioner and talked at some length about the importance of the occasion.”

Instead of rectifying this error, your paper refused to run Minister Day’s letter to the editor. In a message left on my voicemail yesterday, the comment editor said that “We have reviewed the footage of the event that CTV shot and I have to tell you that in no place, at no time during this service did Commissioner Zaccardelli and Mr. Day shake hands. At this moment, we can hardly run a letter which suggests something which appears not to be the case.”

In disbelief over such bizarre logic used by your comment editor, I listened to his message five times. I find it difficult to believe that the lack of television footage of Minister Day shaking hands with and speaking to Mr. Zaccardelli could be sufficient grounds for not publishing a letter to the editor.

I find it regrettable that the Globe and Mail would choose to muzzle Minister Day by not printing his letter to the editor. Furthermore, I am disappointed to note that one of your journalists, Jeff Sallot, missed a great opportunity to cover our heroic police and peace officers who died in the line of duty. Three times Mr. Sallot asked Minister Day for an interview on issues not pertaining to this solemn occasion. Three times Minister Day replied that “the Annual Canadian Police and Peace Officers’ Memorial Service was not the appropriate time to discuss such matters. Rather, it was the time to pay tribute to our fallen officers.”

Last night, Mr. Sallot called me to request another interview with Minister Day. Three times he asked me whether or not Minister Day greeted Commissioner Zaccardelli. I repeatedly assured him that Minister Day did. Nonetheless, Mr. Sallot refused to accept the truth and suggested that your newspaper would not clarify the facts before obtaining a personal interview with Minister Day.

I personally attended this service with families and thousands of uniformed officers. I and many others witnessed Minister Day and Mr. Zaccardelli paying their respects as well as supporting those family members who have lost loved ones in the line of duty. Your paper missed an opportunity to correct an extremely misleading and inaccurate story. I hope your will reconsider and publish this letter to the editor in efforts to assist your readers and set the record straight.

Mélisa Leclerc
Director of Communications
Office of the Hon. Stockwell Day,
Minister of Public Safety

Stockwell Day and his staff assert that the Globe and Mail has published an erroneous account of events which occurred. These events were construed to be political in nature and negatively so. Therefore, Day and staff wrote the editor a couple of letters. The editor has refused to publish Day’s letter. Why? Will they publish Leclerc’s letter?

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