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Canadian military helicopter and police boat patrol Peninsula Lake on the eve of leaders arriving at the Muskoka 2010 G8 summit at the Deerhurst Resort in Huntsville, Ont. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)
Canadian military helicopter and police boat patrol Peninsula Lake on the eve of leaders arriving at the Muskoka 2010 G8 summit at the Deerhurst Resort in Huntsville, Ont. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

How I was detained by G8 security Add to ...

There's security, and then there's G8 security - complete with hundreds of police officers seemingly bored out of their minds.

"Excuse me, sir, can you open the trunk of your car?" one young officer asked as he motioned for me to pull over Thursday evening.

Alarm bells went off in my head as I was about to enter the "interdiction zone," dreaded by the poor residents living near the site of Canada's G8 summit. Living inside the zone has meant a five minute drive home from downtown Huntsville could easily take half an hour or more.

As a journalist assigned to cover the G8 in Huntsville, I had been here twice before on this sunny day, showing my identification and a letter issued to me that would allow me into the zone. Both times, no problems.

This time, however, the officer took exception to my Parliament Hill badge, which I wear every day while covering politics in Ottawa and which clearly identifies me as a reporter.

After weaving my way through the s-shaped zig-zag checkpoint area, I pulled over to an area reserved only for those who might soon be ejected.

Before I opened the trunk of my car, there were two officers scanning my vehicle from the outside.

Once the lid was opened, and the contents of the trunk revealed, uniformed police seemed to come out of every corner.



We are very curious about why you are carrying body armour and a gas mask in your car.


Two more police officers. Then four more. Three taking notes. Then another.

Two more still began to rifle their way through the entire car, looking curiously at my half-eaten bagel and the bottle of wine I bought as a thank you gesture to my friend and Huntsville resident for letting me stay at his place for a couple of nights.

While one stood guard over me, presumably for my own safety, officers from the Ontario Provincial Police crime unit descended on the vehicle.



Cat:e528746c-3414-401a-b14b-50247e3bdf01Forum:2d13dc33-9921-4d4a-815f-e809277631e4



Then, the G8 security task force sent in their people. More uniforms took notes.

"Of course, we are very curious about why you are carrying body armour and a gas mask in your car," said a female officer who asked not to be identified in the media. In fact, no one could be identified. For security reasons, of course.

"You understand."

All standard equipment issued by my employer for covering demonstrations that could get out of hand, I assured them.







A security checkpoint at the Deerhurst Resort near the town of Huntsville, Ont.



Seems my assurances weren't good enough.

"What is your supervisor's name?" one officer asked.

"We'll need to speak with him," said another.

They called Scott White, editor-in-chief of The Canadian Press, to confirm that our reporters are issued safety equipment like gas masks and vests. But that apparently wasn't enough to get me through.





You can videotape the bomb-sniffing dog, and we will have to keep you here while we take it up the chain of command. Or you can leave the video recorder off and we can let you go in a few minutes.




Soon, a helicopter was hovering overhead.

Then came the bomb-sniffing dogs.

I was still being detained, nearly two hours after being pulled over. And I was growing only slightly aggravated by the lengths to which they were going to interrogate a reporter.

I saw a story. So I asked that I be allowed to videotape my interrogators.

"You can't do that," said one moustached officer.

"We have protocols, and you wouldn't want to put us in danger, now would you?"

Soon I was moved behind a large metal mesh fence, again "for your own security."

More time passed, and as the sun was going down, the air was becoming chilly.

Finally, I was approached by an officer and given a way out.

"Here's the deal," the female officer said.

"You can videotape the bomb-sniffing dog, and we will have to keep you here while we take it up the chain of command," she explained.

"Or you can leave the video recorder off and we can let you go in a few minutes."

Now I was getting angry. Was I being blackmailed?

I called Mr. White again to ask him if I should keep trying to video the search or, as the officer said, take the deal.

"Never mind, just get out of there," was the boss's reply.

Maybe it was that phone call that did it. Maybe they had second thoughts about press freedom in Canada. Whatever it was, the tune had suddenly changed, and I was allowed to videotape - but only the bomb-sniffing dog.

And I could leave, and head to my friend's place for the night - no strings attached.

As I was getting into the car to drive away, a couple of officers chuckled, the others finally stopped taking notes.

And the female officer thanked me for my patience.

"Thanks," she said.

"It was a good lesson for us. Now we know that reporters sometimes carry protective equipment," she went on.

"Good to know for the next time."

Then another car was pulled over as I was given back my identification.

"Hey, this guy says he's a reporter from the Ukraine," I heard the officer say.

I got in the car, turned it on, and drove away as fast as I was legally allowed.

Terry Pedwell is a veteran reporter who has worked for The Canadian Press for more than 20 years. He is based in Ottawa and has reported from Afghanistan and covered many high-profile events around the world.

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