Zaccardelli vs. Globe and Mail

(please also read my previous post for more background)

The Globe and Mail has been caught in error about Stockwell Day and RCMP Commissioner Zaccardelli.

From the Public Safety committee meeting today in Parliament:

Mark Holland: And the minister acknowledged it in the house, but I think — I just want to go to another question, which comes back to the earlier question that I asked, and that is to specifically ask this time if you received any direction from Mr. Day, verbally, in the meetings that you now say that you had, written or electronic or from any member of the government suggesting that you should restrict your access to the media on this matter.

Giuliano Zaccardelli [RMCP Commissioner – ST]: Mr. Chairman, I have not received any instructions that I should restrict myself from the media at all. As a matter of fact, I was on parliament hill on sunday honouring over 700 men and women who died in the line of duty. I saw the minister. I shook hands with him. His wife hugged me. We had a good conversation. I have not restrict myself. The media was there. They asked a question, and I answered a couple of questions.

This would seem to be a direct response to the Globe and Mail’s story of Sunday’s events. From my previous post, the Globe and Mail published this story (here’s an excerpt):

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.

As I mentioned on Tuesday, I received an attachment containing a couple of letters Day and his staff wrote to the Globe and Mail chiding them for the mistake. Read the full letters here. Following are a couple of excerpts from the letters. First, from Minister Day:

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.

The Globe refused to publish the letter from Day, so the Conservatives sent it to me.

Here’s an excerpt from a letter from Day’s Director of Communications blasting the Globe for getting the story wrong, and for refusing to publish the Minister’s letter explaining that the Globe was wrong:

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.”

Now we have testimony from the Commissioner showing that the Globe and Mail made an error (you don’t have to only take Day’s word for it now). Further, the Globe has not corrected the record.

UPDATE (9/29): The Globe has now corrected the record and offers “regret”:

A front page story Monday about RCMP Commissioner Giuliano Zaccardelli stated that Mr. Zaccardelli and Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day did not speak with each other at a Parliament Hill ceremony to honour police officers slain on duty. In fact, both men say they spoke and shook hands after the ceremony. The Globe and Mail regrets the error.