Protesters dressed as hotel staff fool Harper security
Two protesters hop on stage to wield signs opposing the conservative government's actions on climate change at a Vancouver hotel Monday. (ADA SLIVINSKI SCREEN GRAB/ QMI AGENCY)
Two protesters who interrupted a Q&A with Prime Minister Stephen Harper on Monday and held up signs opposing the government’s climate change policies, say they got into the event simply by dressing as service staff.
At an event hosted by the Vancouver Board of Trade at a downtown hotel, Sean Devlin and another protester got in wearing black clothes and aprons.
As the pair snuck in, media attending the event were separated from their bags that were checked by police dogs at the breakfast event.
“I guess people thought we were supposed to be in the room,” Devlin, the executive director of the group Sh*t Harper Did, said. “We really felt like we were supposed to be in the room, but we were supposed to be there to communicate a message about climate justice.”
He said he was not subject to a pat down, nor to any other security measures before climbing on stage to hold a sign reading “Climate justice now.”
The signs were similar to one that read “Stop Harper” wielded by former parliamentary page Brigette DePape in the House of Commons in 2011.
DePape was also involved with the Vancouver protest and listed as the media contact in a press release.
Devlin said the protest aimed to chastise the government for not being on track to meet the 2009 pollution reduction commitments it agreed to by signing the Copenhagen Accord.
After the disruption Devlin said Mounties hauled him off stage and took him into the hotel kitchen. There he was laid on the ground as police sorted out the situation.
“I was quite shocked at the use of violence when I was just standing there peacefully,” he said, adding he hasn’t ruled out legal action against the RCMP. “I’m going to look at the video later today.”
He was released shortly after.
The Prime Minister’s Office wouldn’t comment on the security breach but defended a decision not to hold a media scrum, despite reporters being invited to the event.
According to the PMO’s press secretary Carl Vallee, the questions asked to Harper by Vancouver Board of Trade head Iain Black were sufficient.
“The prime minister answered lots of questions today on very important topics, such as natural resources development and international trade,” he said.
“Media were invited in to be a witness of the questions and answers.”
Shortly after the disruption Harper joked about the protest.
Devlin, meanwhile, said he had some bumps and bruises from the incident but doesn’t think he will face charges.
“They did at one point ask if I had bought my apron at Value Village and I said ‘yes.’ It still had the price tag on it. I was hoping to return it and get my $3 back, but that’s not possible now – they confiscated the price tag.”