Anti-terrorist security urged for PM’s residences
OTTAWA — It’s drafty and in desperate need of repair, but when Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his family move out of their 143-year-old official residence on Ottawa’s Sussex Drive this year to allow for renovations, the RCMP is looking to beef up security there at the same time.
An RCMP threat-evaluation report says 24 Sussex and the Prime Minister’s country residence at Harrington Lake should have more security, including the installation of an “antiram, antiscaling fence” to deter a terrorist attack.
The threat? Al-Qaeda terrorists, for one.
“For the Prime Minister and the associated residences, one adversary that has been identified is al-Qaeda,” the report says.
Neither the RCMP nor the Prime Minister’s Office would offer details, leaving it unclear whether the RCMP’s concern is based on actual terrorist activity or merely the public comments of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden more than six years ago listing Canada as a potential target.
The Mounties faced an embarrassing security breach on the site 13 years ago when a deranged man intent on assassinating former prime minister Jean Chrétien with a jackknife made it up the rear escarpment, over the fence and into the house just outside Mr. Chrétien’s bedroom.
Mr. Chrétien wrote in his memoirs that it took the RCMP 10 minutes to respond to their calls for help, in part because the police didn’t have the right keys to open the door.
Security was increased as a result, and there is now a permanent Prime Minister’s Protection Detail operating nearby at 10 Sussex Dr., in addition to guards working out of security huts just outside the residence.
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