Calgary

Intruder disrupts Alberta cabinet meeting by trying to enter Calgary building

An Alberta government cabinet meeting in Calgary ended abruptly and the ministers, including Premier Jason Kenney, whisked away by police for their safety on Thursday after an intruder tried to get inside the building.

Premier Jason Kenney and some cabinet ministers were meeting at McDougall Centre

A man dressed in dark clothing climbs on scaffolding outside the McDougall Centre in Calgary on Thursday, forcing a cabinet meeting to abruptly end. (CBC)

An Alberta government cabinet meeting in Calgary ended abruptly and the ministers, including Premier Jason Kenney, whisked away by police for their safety on Thursday after a would-be intruder scaled the building.

The incident happened at about 11:35 a.m. MT as the priorities implementation cabinet committee (PICC) was meeting in McDougall Centre, which is the southern office of the provincial government in downtown Calgary, spokeswoman Jerrica Goodwin said in an email to CBC News.

"It appeared that an unknown individual was potentially attempting to gain unauthorized access to Calgary's McDougall Centre," she said.

"Alberta sheriffs ended the meeting and took appropriate action to ensure the security of the premier and members of cabinet."

There has been a heightened sensitivity around security threats to governments since a mob of pro-Trump supporters forced their way into the U.S. Capitol Building earlier this month as legislators were certifying President Joe Biden's election win. The Jan. 6 riot, which left five people dead, seemed to take law enforcement by surprise even though plans to protest and threats of violence had been openly discussed online for weeks.

Images from the scene show the unidentified man climbing on construction scaffolding erected around McDougall Centre and inching along a ledge on the second floor of the building. 

The disruption of the Alberta cabinet meeting prompted a major police response. (CBC)

It prompted a major police presence around the building.

A government official, who spoke with CBC News on condition of confidentiality, said the man didn't appear to be a protester, with no evidence at this point to suggest he intended any harm to the premier or cabinet. He probably didn't even know they were there, the source told CBC News. 

Calgary Police Service later said they were called around 11:20 a.m. when the man was spotted on the scaffolding.

"When the man saw our officers coming, he tried to evade them by attempting to get into the building instead of climbing down," police said in a statement.

"The man was not able to enter the building, but the attempted entry led the Alberta Sheriffs to take steps to secure government officials attending a meeting inside."

The police didn't identify the man publicly.

"It is not known why the man climbed the scaffolding, but we believe the incident location was random and that the man was not targeting the government with his actions," the police said. 

"Mental health concerns are believed to be a factor."

The man has been arrested and faces trespassing charges.

Goodwin noted that not every member of the cabinet committee was physically present and those who were in the room were following COVID-19 workplace distancing guidelines.

The man clings to a ledge on the second floor as a police officer watches from the ground. (Submitted to CBC)

With files from Elise von Scheel

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