RCMP silent on free speech after PM prank

Activists hold up signs after sneaking onstage at an event where PM Stephen Harper spoke at a board...

Activists hold up signs after sneaking onstage at an event where PM Stephen Harper spoke at a board of trade luncheon in Vancouver, Monday, Jan. 6, 2014. (ADA SLIVINSKI SCREEN GRAB/ QMI AGENCY)

Mark Dunn, Senior National Reporter

, Last Updated: 5:17 PM ET

OTTAWA — Justice Minister Peter MacKay says the protesters who duped the RCMP on Monday to get dangerously close to the prime minister crossed the line.

The RCMP, meanwhile, wouldn't explain Thursday whether the two environmental activists were exercising their right to free speech when they posed as wait staff to sneak into a ballroom crawling with Mounties before springing into action.

Neither was charged, which prompted calls from former Ontario solicitor general Bob Runciman to make it an indictable offence if individuals use fake ID, impersonate others and conspire with others to gain entry and disrupt events.

On Wednesday, the RCMP said it bungled protocols that allowed the protesters easy access to Stephen Harper on stage at the board of trade luncheon in Vancouver.

But when asked Thursday about her initial statement admitting the force's "mistake" and whether the protesters were within their rights, spokeswoman Cpl. Lucy Shorey wouldn't elaborate.

"The protection of VIPs demands a measured approach that balances the RCMP's duty to protect elected leaders against the public's right of free speech and access to public officials in a democratic society," she said.

MacKay said Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney and RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson are looking at the breach.

"People have the right to express their opinion, but within certain limits," he said. "There was a lapse, a breakdown somewhere. Public officials...deserve to feel respected and protected and that's what we intend to do."

Mark.Dunn@sunmedia.ca

Twitter: @MarkDunnSun


Videos

Photos