OTTAWA – There will be “seamless collaboration” among security and intelligence agencies across the country in preparation for events around Canada Day, says Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale.
Municipal and provincial police forces will be involved in security measures along with the RCMP, Goodale told a news conference Monday in Gatineau, Que., adding that officials would do everything possible to keep Canadians safe.
“We will not be intimidated by the kind of horrible behaviour that has been exhibited so recently in the United Kingdom,” he said.
Seven people, including 30-year-old B.C. woman Christine Archibald, were killed in the weekend terror attack that also left several others injured.
Police said the attack began at about 10 p.m. local time Saturday, when three men drove a van into pedestrians on London Bridge.
Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson says Canada’s capital will do everything it can to prevent an attack when it hosts the country’s 150th birthday on July 1, but 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. That is definitely the case here in Ottawa.”
— With files from Mike Blanchfield; follow @kkirkup and @JimBronskill on Twitter