EDMONTON — An angry commissioner of the RCMP is denying suggestions that the head of the federal gun registry was sent for French training to lower his profile as the issue comes up for debate in Parliament.
William Elliott says it’s “pure fiction” to say that putting Chief Supt. Marty Cheliak, who is a prominent advocate of the gun registry, on leave had anything to do with the fact a Conservative MP’s bill that would abolish it is expected to come before Parliament in the coming weeks.
“There is absolutely, positively nothing to the suggestion that there was any political role or interference with respect to this,” said Elliott in Edmonton, where he was attending a meeting of the Criminal Intelligence Service Canada.
Elliott’s denials follow similar statements from others, including Prime Minister Stephen Harper, and he sounded frustrated to be facing the same questions.
“There is not one iota of truth in (this.) The media, and others, just made this up,” he said.
“It’s not true, it’s not true, it’s not true. It’s just made up, and I’m really good if you guys would report the truth and not just idle speculation by certain politicians and certain members of the media.”
Elliott pointed out that Cheliak had been head of the firearms registry on an acting basis only.
In a sometimes testy exchange with reporters, Elliott also denied he had any influence over an upcoming report into problems in the RCMP’s management culture. Former CSIS director Reid Morden was appointed to investigate the working relationships of the RCMP’s top brass after the CBC reported that some senior Mounties didn’t like Elliot’s management style.
The commissioner acknowledged that some top brass in the force want him gone.
“I think that’s fairly self-evident,” he said. But he said he has no plans to quit and will wait to see what’s in Morden’s report.
“Decisions will be made following the receipt of that report,” he said. “I’m honoured to be the commissioner of the RCMP and I am committed to doing my very best as long as I am in that capacity.”
Elliott said the RCMP has found the long-gun registry to be a “provider of useful information to police services and (it) has contributed to officer and public safety.” As well, more police are using the registry, he said.
However, he wouldn’t say whether he or the force supports keeping the registry.