CANADA

On guard for the leaders

HILARY MACKENZIE May 23 1988
CANADA

On guard for the leaders

HILARY MACKENZIE May 23 1988

On guard for the leaders

The lavish dinner at the exclusive Toronto Club may be a pleasure for the diners—but it looms as a nightmare for Canada’s security forces. On June 21, hours after seven heads of government complete their three-day economic summit in Toronto, British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher will attend a dinner given by Argus Corp. Ltd. at the downtown club, which is ringed by highrise office towers. As her host, millionaire Canadian businessman Conrad Black, presents the British leader to his guests, British and Canadian security agents will patrol the club, the surrounding buildings, and even the sewers for any sign of a terrorist threat. As a senior RCMP officer told Maclean's last week, “We visualize it as a tight security net: it is like a chain, and you have to make sure that all the links are strong and connected.” Indeed, the security planners say that the net thrown over the June 19-21 meeting will be the tightest in Canada’s history. The 14th annual economic summit will bring together the leaders of the world’s seven major Western industrialized nations: Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, U.S. President Ronald Reagan, French President François Mitterrand, Japanese Premier Noboru Takeshita, Italian Prime Minister Ciriaco De Mita, West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl and Thatcher. To protect the seven leaders, Canadian security forces have devised a $4.9-million operation that will deploy 4,500 people from the RCMP, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), the Ontario Provincial Police, the Metropolitan Toronto Police and neighboring regional forces. But summit officials insist that they will not transform Toronto into a temporary police state. Said one senior official: “We do not want it to be brutal, hard-edged and forceful security.” Although all the world leaders will bring their own security experts to the summit, Canadian officials will be in charge. According to senior intelligence sources, the visit of Pope John Paul II in September, 1984, forced Canada to tighten its security procedures: Canada had to ensure the safety of a world leader—who had survived one attempt upon his life—as he travelled across the country.

Since that 12-day tour worldwide concern for security has grown as terrorist attacks have become increasingly sophisticated. On the eve of the May, 1986, Tokyo summit Japan’s radical Middle Core Faction fired five home-made rockets into the city’s downtown core. At the Toronto summit, Thatcher and Reagan are consid-

ered the most likely terrorist targets. The Irish Republican Army has claimed responsibility for previous attempts on Thatcher’s life. Extremist Iranian and Libyan groups have targeted the U.S. President. As well, the Japanese Red

Army is threatening Takeshita.

To combat that menace, the security net must extend over the heads of government, their finance ministers, their foreign ministers and their spouses. As well, it must cover events scattered across Metropolitan Toronto, ranging from a dinner at the city’s rustic west end Old Mill restaurant to the downtown site of Roy Thomson Hall, scene of the closing ceremonies, to the east end Toronto Hunt club, where Mulroney will host a dinner for the heads of state. At all locations, helicopters will patrol the skies. Scuba divers will scour the waterfront, and sharpshooters will be posted on rooftops. Security forces will cordon off city hall for opening ceremonies and close downtown streets for cavalcades of armored cars.

But security forces expressed the hope that Torontonians will, for the most part, be unaware of the security net. At the same time, security officials did their best to keep exact details of the security arrangements secret. Said a senior summit official, acknowledging the grim reality of terrorism: “You are dealing with the traditional angst: the more that you talk about it, the more that you invite it.”

HILARY MACKENZIE in Ottawa with

MARY JANIGAN