This afternoon, reporter Jennifer Henderson was part of a post-cabinet meeting scrum involving Justice Minister Mark Furey. Henderson relates that Furey was asked about the video of events at a public meeting hosted by Atlantic Gold. The video, which was published by the Halifax Examiner, shows showing an RCMP officer throwing meeting participant John Perkins to the ground and arresting Perkins. The RCMP officer was apparently acting at the request of Atlantic Gold security guard Terry Mosher.
Furey was asked about the video, and then followed this exchange:
Furey: Certainly I have no problem reviewing the video, I didn’t know there was one that existed, but I can’t speak to the actions of the police at the scene. Police make those decisions based on the information they have. For me, to speculate on what they may have or didn’t have and then to intervene, would be inappropriate as Justice minister. There is a public complaints process available to the victim who was arrested and detained. That individual has the opportunity to engage the RCMP in discussion or he can make a complaint to the Police Complaints Commission.
Reporter: You are responsible for public safety. Shouldn’t people feel when they go to a public meeting that they don’t risk having a security guard call 911 and have the RCMP throw them out if the guard believes they are being disrespectful? This individual was just sitting there.
Furey: That’s a valid point but as Justice Minister, I can’t intervene and it would be inappropriate for me to intervene not knowing the circumstances.
According to a news release issued by the RCMP last Friday, it appears someone employed by the mining company called “911” around 5pm to ask for assistance at a public meeting due to “several persons causing a disturbance.” Many people who were in the room at the time, including Ecology Action Centre wilderness coordinator Raymond Plourde, have said that information is incorrect, that there was no disturbance. The exchange at today’s scrum continued:
Reporter: Who is responsible for administering the Emergency 911 Act? It says if you make a false or vexatious call you can be fined.
Fuey: So that’s a totally separate issue. We hear of insignificant calls going through the system when it is supposed to be used only for Emergencies.
Reporter: You have the authority under the Police Act to investigate any police matter. What is preventing you from investigating this one?
Furey: There’s a public complaints process as well as the presence of the Serious Incident Response Team. So there must be a complaint made and I would encourage that person to do so.