Is there sufficient security at Justin Trudeau town hall meetings?
Should the security at Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s town halls across the country be higher?
Trudeau was asked about the issue at a town hall he held at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ont. on Tuesday.
“Nobody searched anyone as they were coming through the door here,” one person told Trudeau. “Everybody’s jackets were checked, but nobody was patted down, no metal detectors were passed over anyone.”
“Anybody could have brought anything in here. Absolutely anything.”
At Monday’s town hall in Lower Sackville, N.S., Global News observed volunteers checking the contents of bags and jackets, but didn’t see RCMP officers.
While Trudeau responded by joking about his time as a bouncer, he quickly said that makes him “in no way any sort of expert on security.”
He said he takes advice from RCMP and security experts on matters of everyday security as well as on matters of national security.
“We are very alert and responsible about keeping Canadians safe, keeping communities safe and it’s something we will never compromise on,” he said.
“And I can assure you sir, you are very safe here in this room right now as everyone is because I have tremendous confidence in not just in the RCMP and our security services but I feel pretty good about being in a room with Canadians.”
Officials at the Prime Minister’s Office or with the RCMP wouldn’t comment on the level of security at the town hall meetings, but experts say that the light presence of visible security is in line with previous security details.
The amount of security surrounding Trudeau is based on the threat level at the time.
“When there is a heightened threat, then they increase the level of security but it would appear to me, that maybe there isn’t any acute threats at this time,” former undercover RCMP officer Chris Mathers told Global News.
Mathers, who’s provided security for the Royal Family, also said there would be plenty of security behind the scenes.
“Prior to going to any location, there’s an advance team of his security detail that would sweep the building for explosives, put dogs through,” he explained.
“Plus, there will be [undercover officers] in the crowd, and there will be his personal security detail.”
WATCH: Trudeau takes questions during town halls in Hamilton and Lower Sackville
He also hinted that there’s a lot about security that is classified, and there’s more going on behind the scenes.
There’s a delicate balance the RCMP and other security personnel need to achieve because “the whole concept of our country is open access to our leaders,” Mathers explained.
“You have to give people access to their government and their leaders, and at the same time, provide security to make sure they don’t get hurt.”
WATCH: Are Trudeau’s Town Halls good for his government?
Returning ISIS fighters
The question was posed by a Canadian who was worried about the issue of radicalized potential ISIS fighters returning to Canada.
“You say you’re concerned about the safety of Canadian citizens but at the same time, you’re trying to re-integrate these ISIS fighters that have left and done horrible acts overseas and bring them back to this country,” he said.
“You say you’re concerned and you have the best interest of Canadian security at heart, but you can’t even run half-decent security for this event here. How are you going to make sure we’re all safe in your vision of Canada?”
Trudeau responded again saying he defers to the experts on matters like this.
“On the issues of foreign travellers, I take advice from our intelligence agencies and security agencies who are very very alert to the challenges of returning folks, terrorists, and potential terrorists from the Middle East,” Trudeau replied to the man.
Trudeau said the number of potential terrorists who’ve returned to Canada remained at around 65 over the past years.
“We are very alert and responsible about keeping Canadians safe, keeping communities safe and it’s something we will never compromise on.”
Trudeau will be taking questions from the rest of the country as his tour continues; Thursday, he’ll be at Western University in London, Ont., before heading further west.
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