Harper's former head of security gets ambassador post

Bruno Saccomani, Prime Minister Stephen Harper's former head of security, was named Friday as Canada's new ambassador to Jordan.

Bruno Saccomani named ambassador to Jordan

Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his wife Laureen are guarded by a security detail as they get off their campaign bus in 2008. On Friday, a former member of that detail, Bruno Saccomani, was named Canada's ambassador to Jordan. (Paul Chiasson/Canadian Press)

The RCMP officer who used to be in charge of guarding Prime Minister Stephen Harper was named by his former boss as Canada's new ambassador to Jordan Friday.

Bruno Saccomani, former head of Harper's security detail, is on the list of diplomatic appointments released by Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird late Friday afternoon. He will also be responsible for Iraq.

The accompanying biography notes say that Saccomani began his career with the RCMP as a criminal investigator in British Columbia in 1985 and it highlights his international police work.

He joined the unit that is assigned to security for the prime minister in 1996 and was later promoted to the rank of inspector and was the prime minister's travel officer.

He has done assignments in Italy and Thailand, and has worked "with diverse international partners to provide a cohesive security response following the events of September 11, 2001, in the United States," his biography says.

Critics question credentials

When media reports indicated a few months ago that Saccomani was poised to be named ambassador to Jordan, opposition critics questioned his credentials. The NDP's Hélène Laverdière said Saccomani doesn't have the skills to be an ambassador in such a sensitive region of the world.

Bloc Québécois MP Andre Bellavance told reporters in April that the only reason Saccomani was getting the high-profile job was because of his connection to Harper while there are career diplomats who have given years to the department. 

Saccomani's name was also in the headlines last year when an internal RCMP management report leaked to Radio-Canada year revealed there were internal concerns about workplace bullying by Saccomani.

RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson called the leak "unlawful" and told CBC's Evan Solomon on The House that it was "a workplace issue, a management issue" and it involved no discipline.

Paulson called Saccomani "a fine officer who's done a good job throughout all of his career" and said the RCMP is "working with him."

"We have coaches and mentors, and systems to try and help him hone his leadership and management style such that his employees love coming to work, which is the case in most RCMP officers."

Among the other diplomatic appointments announced Friday is Canada's new ambassador to Afghanistan. Deborah Lyons, most recently working at Canada's embassy in Washington, replaces Glenn Davidson. He was posted to Afghanistan in June 2012.