A brief history of security fails
By Patrick Vaillancourt, News Editor
An event last week attended by Stephen Harper at the Vancouver Board of Trade resulted in protesters bypassing the prime minister’s security umbrella and has prompted some discussion about security for Canadian political leaders.
Prime Minister Harper was participating in a question and answer session on energy and the economy as protesters, who were dressed as catering staff, appeared on the stage and stood mere feet from the prime minister, holding placards in protest of the government’s environmental policy, or lack thereof.
This has prompted some serious questions about the security of the prime minister. The RCMP is ultimately responsible for the prime minister’s security, and resources and security detail for the Prime Minister’s Protective Detail had been previously increased under the former officer in charge, Supt. Bruno Saccomani.
While the prime minister’s office has upheld the tradition of not commenting on or disclosing any information related to the security of the prime minister, security experts believe that someone will be losing their job over the security breach in Vancouver.
“Yes, someone’s in trouble,” said Larry Busch in an interview with CTV, a security expert who was responsible for Harper’s security in Ontario.
Harper has fallen victim to four major security breaches throughout his tenure as prime minister. In 2009, a group of approximately 200 protesters sat in the gallery of the House of Commons and heckled during question period. In 2011, during the Throne Speech, a Senate page approached the centre of the chamber mid-speech to display a sign that said “Stop Harper.” The page, Brigitte DePape, was promptly fired from the Senate and has started an anti-Harper website. She was also a key organizer behind the Vancouver protest. Environmental activists were also successful at protesting Harper’s environmental agenda while the prime minister was abroad—specifically, in 2013, when Stephen Harper addressed the British MPs in the United Kingdom.
While all of the protests directed at the incumbent prime minister have been peaceful, some past Canadian prime ministers experienced some scary security breaches that could have potentially been life-threatening.
Former prime minister Jean Chrétien was involved in a few episodes that may have potentially endangered his life.
In 1996, Chrétien was involved in an altercation with someone at an event in Hull, Quebec which resulted in Chrétien grabbing the man by the throat and shoving him aside.
While visiting Prince Edward Island in 2000, Chrétien was targeted for a “pie attack,” and a protester was successful at breaching the security perimeter and hitting Chrétien with a cream pie to the face. While Chrétien wasn’t injured (though his ego may have been damaged), the incident prompted a review of the prime minister’s security procedures.
Chrétien was also involved in a life-threatening security breach in 1995, when a man managed to break into 24 Sussex Drive, the prime minister’s official residence, and attempted to attack Chrétien and his wife, Aline Chrétien, with a knife.