Skip to main content

The Globe and Mail

Mounties vow 'measured response' to Olympic protesters

The second-in-command at the RCMP says Canada is ready for any security threat at the Vancouver Winter Olympics but will take special care not to overreact if protestors break the law when demonstrating at the event.

"In terms of the Olympic Games, it will be a measured response," Bill Sweeney, deputy commissioner of the RCMP, told reporters in Ottawa on Wednesday.

"We're not going to do anything, or we're not going to deliberately do anything that's going to aggravate or exacerbate the problem."

Story continues below advertisement

The RCMP have taken heavy criticism for overreacting in the past, whether it was using pepper spray against protestors at the 1997 Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Vancouver or the fatal 2007 tasering of Polish immigrant Robert Dziekanski.

Deputy commissioner Sweeney's comment followed a tour by Prime Minister Stephen Harper and two cabinet ministers of military command headquarters in Ottawa, offices that will oversee the Canadian Forces' role in Olympic security efforts.

The Mounties are the lead agency responsible for security at the Olympics - which begin Friday - but the Canadian military has a major supporting role in patrolling the air and sea, and providing soldiers ready to respond to any threats.

Deputy commissioner Sweeney boasted that organizers have mapped out plans for any and all security threats to the Games.

"Your imagination is your only limitation with respect to planning," he said. "We've taken into account all contingencies and we believe we are well prepared to respond to them."

The senior Royal Canadian Mounted Police official said authorities are watching for signs that organized crime is attempting to exploit the lucrative Games.

"Organized crime basically is a capitalist enterprise. And any opportunity to make money brings people that would try to exploit those opportunities, whether it's bogus tickets or whether it's capitalizing on getting into people's computer systems," deputy commissioner Sweeney said

Story continues below advertisement

"Obviously in the news there's been some speculation about human trafficking and exploiting women for prostitution may be problematic," he said. "We are keeping our eye on all of those issues. At this stage it hasn't become problematic but that doesn't mean we shouldn't remain vigilant."

Report an error
About the Author
Parliamentary reporter

Steven Chase has covered federal politics in Ottawa for The Globe since mid-2001, arriving there a few months before 9/11. He previously worked in the paper's Vancouver and Calgary bureaus. Prior to that, he reported on Alberta politics for the Calgary Herald and the Calgary Sun, and on national issues for Alberta Report. More

Comments are closed

We have closed comments on this story for legal reasons. For more information on our commenting policies and how our community-based moderation works, please read our Community Guidelines and our Terms and Conditions.