Feds to boost G7 security by flying in 3,000 officers, German shepherds
OTTAWA — The federal government plans to spend more than $2.2 million to fly roughly 3,000 police officers and dozens of German shepherds from all over the country to Quebec City to help secure the sites for next month’s G7 leaders’ summit.
The G7 leaders, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, President Donald Trump and British Prime Minister Theresa May, will meet June 8-9 inside a highly secured zone behind metal fences that wind through the now-fortified vacation town of La Malbaie.
The event is widely expected to attract protesters to La Malbaie and, in particular, to Quebec City, where the majority of international media will be stationed for the duration of the summit. Quebec City, however, is about a two hour drive away from La Malbaie and the public won’t be able to get anywhere near the key sites.
Civil society groups planning to gather peacefully during the summit warn the imposing battalion of police and the webs of metal barriers will unduly constrain their democratic right to be heard.
In the past, however, some demonstrations outside major international summits have erupted into violence.
To ensure there’s enough muscle on the ground to protect the G7 sites, Ottawa will start ferrying officers from the RCMP and other forces to Quebec City later this month on chartered flights from seven other provinces, according to a tender notice issued by the government.
Related government documents dated Tuesday show that Ottawa awarded three contracts for the chartered flights totalling more than $2.2 million.
“These charter aircraft are required to transport an estimated 3,000 RCMP and other police forces personnel and their personal and duty-related belongings, from across Canada to perform various site security functions for the 2018 G7 summit,” said the statement of work on the notice.
The contract says the RCMP requires planes that can transport up to 200 passengers per flight.
It also outlined specific carry-on requirements for those on board.
“All passengers are peace officers who have an operational requirement to access their firearm immediately before and immediately after the flight and are therefore required to carry their unloaded personal firearm on board the aircraft,” said the document.
Ammunition, it also noted, would be packed in the checked baggage.
The aircraft companies will also be required to transport dog masters and their police service dogs, which are described in the document as German shepherds each between 70 and 100 pounds. The dogs, up to three per flight, will be kept in crates while on board and their handlers will be responsible for caring for them during the flights, the notice said.
The contract also requires the aircraft companies to provide in-flight meals and snacks, but notes that they will be accompanied by non-alcoholic drinks.
The document includes an example flight schedule, which lists 26 flights to Quebec City before the summit starting May 23. There will be 16 return flights for the officers — the first one will leave Quebec City on June 9, the final day of the summit, the schedule said.
The thick security in the region is a big concern for organizations hoping to send messages to the powerful G7 leaders on issues ranging from income inequality, to the need for greater environmental protection, to Indigenous rights.
“These types of measures — whether it’s thousands of police, or soldiers, or 10-foot fences, or millions of dollars spent on security — just push those voices away and it’s a further disconnect from the elite gathering that the G7 represents,” said Brent Patterson, political director for the Council of Canadians.
“They’re trying to make it as unfriendly and unwelcoming as possible.”
Patterson’s organization is planning to participate in events in Quebec City and La Malbaie during the G7 and its members will try to get as close to the summit site as possible.
In its February budget, the federal government earmarked about $600 million to cover security and logistics for the leaders’ summit and other G7-related events Canada will host this year.
A separate tender notice, which closes Thursday, is seeking bids to supply the RCMP with 238 rental vehicles for the G7.
The fleet, the document said, must include 118 short-term rentals of seven-passenger vans to transport security personnel, employees and equipment.
Most of the vans will be used to provide security for delegates in several locations, including the Fairmont Le Manoir Richelieu, which will host the summit, the Quebec City airport and the Bagotville air force base, where the G7 leaders’ aircraft will touch down.
In addition, the notice said the Mounties also require another 57 vans, which each hold 15 passengers, and 63 full-size sedans.
- Andy Blatchford
News from © Canadian Press Enterprises Inc., 2018
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