RCMP Commissioner William Elliott
Last Updated July 9, 2007
William Elliott leaves a news conference in Ottawa on Friday after being introduced as the RCMP's new commissioner. (Tom Hanson/Canadian Press)
William Elliott is the first civilian to head the Royal Canadian Mounted Police since the force was created in 1873 as the North West Mounted Police.
Traditionally, the RCMP has seen one of its deputy commissioner fill the position of commissioner when it becomes vacant. After Giuliano Zaccardelli's resignation in December 2006, deputy commissioner Beverley Busson filled in as acting commissioner, and the government hired Ray & Berndtson, an executive headhunter firm, to find a replacement.
William Elliott's resumé
- Since May 2006: Associate Deputy Minister of Public Safety
- 2005 - 2006: National Security Adviser to the Prime Minister, Privy Council Office
- 2003 - 2005: Assistant Secretary to the Cabinet, Security and Intelligence, Privy Council Office
- 2000 - 2003: Assistant Deputy Minister, Safety and Security, Transport Canada
- 1998 - 2000: Deputy Commissioner, Canadian Coast Guard, Fisheries and Oceans
- 1994 -1998: Senior General Counsel and Head of Legal Services, Indian Affairs and Northern Development, Justice Canada
- 1992 - 1994: Senior Counsel/Manager, Comprehensive Claims and Northern Affairs, Indian Affairs and Northern Development, Justice Canada
- 1988 - 1992: Senior positions in the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister of Canada
- 1981 - 1988: Private practice of law
Source: Prime Minister's Office
An executive search committee then examined a short list of candidates and recommended Elliott. The committee was made up of former RCMP commissioner Norman Inkster; Margaret Bloodworth, Prime Minister Stephen Harper's national security adviser; and Suzanne Hurtubise, deputy minister of Public Safety.
Busson had called for a Mountie to lead the force. David Brown, appointed in April 2007 to investigate an alleged coverup within the RCMP's pension and insurance fund, called the culture of the force "horribly broken," and said it needed a major shakeup.
Although Elliott has never served as a police officer, Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day said when he announced Elliott's appointment in July 2007 that no other candidate for the job has his experience in public safety and national security. Elliott will assume his post July 16.
After earning education and law degrees from the University of Ottawa, Elliott began his career as a lawyer in private practice.
Elliott entered politics in the office of former Progressive Conservative deputy prime minister Don Mazankowski. He began as an executive assistant in 1988, and was chief of staff from 1990 until 1992.
He then served as senior counsel and head of legal services in the Department of Justice.
From 1998 to 2000, Elliott served as commissioner of the Canadian Coast Guard, an agency of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.
Elliott has also been assistant deputy minister of safety and security at Transport Canada. In his last six months in office, former prime minister Paul Martin made Elliott his national security adviser.
Elliot was a senior bureaucrat in Public Safety when he briefed Zaccardelli before the then commissioner gave testimony in the Maher Arar case in September 2006. Arar, a Canadian citizen born in Syria, was stopped at a New York airport on his way home from a vacation in September 2002. U.S. officials accused him of links to al-Qaeda and deported him to Syria, where he was imprisoned and tortured for months.
Zaccardelli resigned in December 2006, a day after he told a Commons committee that he had "made a mistake" in earlier testimony.
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