Security threat constantly examined: Goodale

OTTAWA — Municipal, provincial and RCMP officers from across the country will be involved in executing a plan to ensure Canadians are kept safe on July 1, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said Monday, noting this will involve “seamless collaboration” among security and intelligence agencies.

“The threat to the country is constantly being examined and reassessed,” Goodale said, just before a meeting of the Senate national security committee.

There is no known information that would prompt Canadian security officials to change the threat level from “medium,” where it has been since October 2014, he added.

The House of Commons paused for a moment of silence on Monday to honour seven people killed in the weekend terror attack in London, including Christine Archibald, a 30-year-old from British Columbia.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also spoke by phone with U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May and the two leaders agreed to continue to co-operate to counter the threat of terrorism and radicalization, a spokesperson said.

Later at a joint news conference with Chilean President Michelle Bachelet, Trudeau would not specify if additional security measures will be required for Canada Day celebrations.

“We continue to look at every necessary measure to ensure that Canadians can be safe and can have confidence in their safety as we celebrate this wonderful anniversary as a country,” he said.

Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson admits no amount of preparation can guarantee absolute safety.

“When you see a tragedy that took place in London and on London Bridge and in Manchester, you think, ‘Could that happen here?’ and sadly, the answer is yes,” Watson said on the weekend. “There’s no 100-per-cent solution to terrorism.”

Intelligence-gathering in advance of the Canada 150 celebrations and extreme vigilance during the Parliament Hill events will be key, said Chris Mathers, a former RCMP officer who now works as a crime and risk consultant.

“There will be people scanning the crowd,” Mathers said. “There will be tactical teams, there will be bomb-disposal teams. From now on at any large gathering, that’s what you’re going to have. It’s just inevitable. The costs are astronomical.”

Police and security officials “know who the bad guys are” and will be watching them closely, Mathers said, adding it is difficult to know when a lone-wolf attacker might act.

“You decide you’re going to drive a vehicle into a bunch of people and then get out and start stabbing a bunch of people, how do the security services find out about that? If you don’t say anything to anyone, you just get it in your head to do it, it’s very difficult to stop.”

Jantine Van Kregten, Ottawa Tourism’s director of communications, said she’s seen no evidence that people are changing plans to be in Ottawa for Canada Day, given the recent terrorist activity overseas.

Security is always top of mind for special events in Ottawa, and Canada Day is one of the biggest of them all, Van Kregten said.

“That is the biggest day of the year, so it is not something they’re just addressing now because of recent attacks in London,” she said in an interview. ”It is a reality of our lives today that in our communities we need to be vigilant.”

The government will ensure Canada remains a top tourist destination and people from all around the world should visit Parliament Hill, Tourism Minister Bardish Chagger said Monday.

“This place belongs to the people,” she said. “We will do everything we can to ensure their safety.”

Dan Brisebois, the City of Ottawa’s director of operations and special events, would not divulge safety plans for Canada Day for security reasons but said staff have been preparing for the event since early this year.

“The Office of Emergency Management is working with internal and external stakeholders to develop a Canada Day emergency management plan to provide for a safe and secure Canada Day for residents and visitors,” he said in a statement.

The National Arts Centre, which plans to unveil a rejuvenated building on July 1, said Monday it plans to triple security for Canada Day.

It is also requesting all staff go through safety training for large crowds.

— With files from Mike Blanchfield; follow @kkirkup and @JimBronskill on Twitter

Kristy Kirkup and Jim Bronskill, The Canadian Press

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