RCMP Musical Ride featuring guns and smoke bombs upsets onlookers

WATCH ABOVE: The RCMP’s Emergency Response Team demonstrates what they’re capable of during the Sunset ceremony in Ottawa. 

The RCMP’s annual Musical Ride is a “spectacle known around the world” according to its website, but this year’s event, complete with smoke bombs and mock arrests left some audience members in shock.

Video footage of the Emergency Response Team demonstration before the Musical Ride circulated widely Monday as audience members and viewers criticized the, according to one blog post, “tasteless, jingoistic, paramilitary embarrassment.”

Retired CBC journalist Frank Keller wrote on his blog that the RCMP “should be embarrassed.”

“Within minutes of the show’s opening – and well before the amazing horses performed their fantastic routines – the audience is treated to a bombastic, paramilitary show-and-tell that had many adults around us shaking their heads in bewilderment. And a few little kids crying too,” Keller wrote.

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The three-minute spectacle included a brief chase around a dirt pit before RCMP officers clad in full-body camouflage jumped from a black truck, deployed a smoke grenade, and pulled the driver of a Dodge truck from his front window, tossing him into the truck.

RCMP officers deploy smoke grenades and small explosives during the performance in Ottawa. Screenshot / YouTube


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Within seconds, three heavily armed officers jumped out of a hulking, blue RCMP vehicle. The camouflaged officers deployed smoke grenades and used a small explosive to break open a door before arresting another man.

The Tragically Hip’s “Three Pistols” played in the background through the entire three-minute performance and continued as the announcer offered a career pitch to onlookers.

“The RCMP offers a career like no other, if you want to make a difference in your community and your country, this can be the career for you.”

According to the RCMP, the ERT performance is not part of the Musical Ride but part of the Sunset Ceremonies which have been happening in Ottawa for roughly 10 years.

READ MORE: Musical Ride returns to its roots at Fort Walsh in SW Saskatchewan

The RCMP said in a written statement that the paramilitary drill has been going on for about a decade to “show the public an example of the RCMP’s operational response capability in its role as Canada’s national police.”

“The ERT demonstration takes approximately four minutes of the more than two-hour Sunset Ceremonies and pre-show,” Sgt. Harold Pfeiderer said in the statement.

“Participants and demonstrations which are part of the annual Sunset Ceremonies are reviewed on an ongoing basis.”

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Rob Creasser, the media liaison for the Mounted Police Professional Association of Canada, said in an interview Tuesday that he doesn’t know why the emergency response team would be a part of the traditionally innocent demonstration.

“It’s like combining ice cream and pickles,” he said. “I don’t think the two really go together.”

However, he said, some people in the crowd can be heard cheering, obviously enjoying the spectacle.

The RCMP’s Musical Ride consists of a team of specially trained officers who, according to the website, “promote the RCMP’s image throughout Canada and the world” through intricate cavalry drills choreographed to music.

Here they are performing at the Canadian National Exhibition (CNE) in 2008 as the Hockey Night in Canada theme plays.

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