Harper climate protesters won't face charges in security breach

Vancouver police say no criminal charges will be laid against two protesters who got past the prime minister's security and onto a Vancouver stage right next to Stephen Harper.
Sean Devlin, a climate change protester, holds a sign reading "Climate justice now" during an event with Prime Minister Stephen Harper at the Vancouver Board of Trade on Monday Jan. 6, 2013. (Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press)

No criminal charges will be laid against two protesters who managed to skirt the prime minister's security by hopping onto a stage with Stephen Harper, Vancouver police say.

Sean Devlin and Shireen Soofi, two known climate change activists, succeeded in getting past the prime minister's security detail on Monday and onto the stage where Harper was sitting to protest his government's environmental policies.

"After consultation with the RCMP, charges will not be laid in relation to yesterday’s incident involving Prime Minister Harper," Randy Finchman, a media relations officer for the Vancouver police told CBC News in an email on Tuesday.

One of the protesters told CBC News on Monday he wore an apron to pass himself off as wait staff at the hotel where the event was being held.

Harper was on Vancouver Island Tuesday morning where he boarded a yellow school bus packed with young boy and girl scouts heading north.

The prime minister boarded the bus moments after his plane touched down at Victoria International Airport today where security was heavy following Monday's events.

There were at least 20 plainclothes officers and several others in uniform prior to Harper's arrival.

Harper spoke with the scouts but did not provide an opportunity to take questions from the media.

Speech to party faithful

Harper is expected to give a speech to a group of 600 Conservative Party supporters at a small community on Vancouver Island today.

His visit to Mill Bay will be the first time a prime minister has made an appearance in the Cowichan Valley since Louis St. Laurent in 1952.

The local Conservative riding president John Koury told CBC News he has worked for two years to get the prime minister to visit the town of just over 3,000.

"I just thought it was an excellent opportunity to launch the new riding association for the Conservative Party of Canada," Koury said.

He suspects new electoral boundaries may be the reason behind Tuesday's visit.

B.C. will get six new seats in the next federal election because of its growing population. Five of the new seats will be in the Lower Mainland; the sixth will be on Vancouver Island.

The old riding has been an NDP stronghold for more than a decade.

Matt Price, a member of the citizens group One Cowichan, believes the new riding's boundaries will help the Conservatives in the next election.

"It's sort of one of the best chances of any kind of seat in the south island. If they're looking for any breakthroughs, this is going to be the one they target."

Price predicts Harper's visit will be one of several by high-profile Conservatives leading up to the next federal election in 2015.

Koury said the event will be an opportunity to thank the grassroots supporters for their hard work over the years.

"We are not charging for the event. We won't be fundraising. We are just going to have a light, partisan event, to give thanks to all the work that's been done throughout the years in this riding for Conservatives," Koury said.

Harper is expected to be joined by his wife, Laureen Harper, and members of his B.C. caucus.

With files from The Canadian Press


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