Not our job to restrict rally access: RCMP
Force reminds officers that only responsibility is to protect leaders
The RCMP has admitted it helped remove unregistered attendees from Conservative events in southwestern Ontario this week, but says it's not the force's job to help political party organizers limit access to political events.
In a statement Wednesday, the RCMP said it is responsible only for the protection of the party leaders, and that officers have now been reminded of their duties.
"The RCMP assisted the party organizers in restricting access to persons not registered for the private event," Sgt. Greg Cox said in the statement.
"This was not in accordance with the RCMP's mandate, and RCMP members have been reminded of our responsibilities."
Conservative Leader Stephen Harper continued to be dogged by questions Wednesday surrounding stories the party ousted a student from a Conservative event because a Facebook photo showed her posing with Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff.
Awish Aslam, a second-year political science student at the University of Western Ontario, told CBC News that she and a friend were trying to attend a rally with Harper on Sunday in London when they were asked to leave by an RCMP officer.
She said the officer told her that she was being removed because of her ties to the Liberals on Facebook. She had a photo of herself and Ignatieff, which was taken at a Liberal event a few days earlier.
The Conservative leader didn't answer whether his party was screening people who are registered to attend party functions.
"I think it is better when you are turning people away than when you can't get people to come," Harper said. "But I don't want to comment on individual cases."
He did say that his preference is to have more people hear his party's message.
Aslam said Harper's communications director, Dimitri Soudas, sent her a message on Facebook on Wednesday to apologize for the incident and an offer to meet the Conservative leader the next time the campaign is in London.