Friday, December 19, 2014

Mounties fix ‘mistake’ over protesters

VANCOUVER—The RCMP says it has identified and fixed the “mistake” that allowed two climate-change protesters to walk onto a stage within reach of Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
But the force isn’t revealing what it believes went wrong or what has been done to address the problem.

Two activists walked on stage during an event at a downtown hotel Monday as Harper settled in for a question-and-answer session hosted by the Vancouver Board of Trade.
The pair held up signs attacking Harper’s environmental policies before they quickly were removed.
Vancouver police have said there won’t be any charges.
The security breach has led to questions about how two activists could get so close to the prime minister before his personal RCMP security detail intervened—questions the Prime Minister’s Office and the Mounties so far have refused to answer.
The RCMP immediately promised to review what happened and yesterday said it had narrowed in the source of the problem, though a spokeswoman declined to elaborate.
“The review of the incident is still ongoing; however, we’ve identified the mistake and have implemented necessary changes to prevent a repeat occurrence,” RCMP Cpl. Lucy Shorey said in an interview from Ottawa.
“We can’t get into the details of [the prime minister’s] security, and discussing the mistake would, in fact, be discussing security details,” she added.
Shorey also said protecting the prime minister requires the RCMP to weigh several competing interests.
“There is always a delicate balance between the RCMP’s duty to protect elected leaders versus the public’s right to free speech and the public’s access to officials in a democratic society,” Shorey noted.
Security experts have mirrored those comments, arguing such breaches are inevitable in a society where politicians aren’t kept completely isolated from the public.
Two activists—who publicly have identified themselves as Sean Devlin and Shireen Soofi—walked onto the stage behind Harper and held up their signs.
One sign said “Climate Justice Now” while the other read “Conservatives Take Climate Change Seriously,” with a line crossed through the sentence.
Devlin has said he and Soofi used black shirts and aprons they picked up from a thrift store in an attempt to blend in with catering staff.
He has described the process as “quite easy,” and said he and Soofi weren’t approached by security at any point before walking on stage.

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