Security concerns partly responsible for cancellation of annual Manitoba traditions

WINNIPEG — Two long-running events at the Manitoba Legislature that allow members of the public near-unimpeded access to the historic building during the holiday season have been canceled this year in part due to security concerns.

The cancellations are the latest signs of tighter security and fears for the safety of politicians, visitors and staff inside the majestic building.

The Legislature’s annual open house, normally held on a weekend in early or mid-December, allows people to roam freely around the building, meet politicians and enjoy snacks and musical entertainment. .

Not this year.

The head of the provincial civil service said security concerns and construction on the east side of the building, which closed off part of the roadway, are factors. And there is no guarantee that the event will return next year.

“Extensive construction work on the property and security issues have raised security concerns for potentially managing thousands of visitors to the building in a short period of time,” Don Leitch, Clerk of the Executive Council, said in a statement. written on Thursday.

“Event programming for next year will be reviewed and determined at the appropriate time.”

The event has been suspended for the past two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic and restrictions on public gatherings. These restrictions were removed earlier this year.

The New Year’s Day fundraiser, hosted by the lieutenant governor on Jan. 1, was also canceled this winter for similar reasons, another government official said.

The grounds of the legislature saw a series of long-term protests. There was a blockade by large trucks at the entrance to the main driveway last winter in protest against COVID-19 restrictions. There were also two encampments on the grounds – one in response to the discovery of possible unmarked graves at the boarding schools – which were dismantled by police in October.

Even before the encampments and blockades, security inside the building had been tightened and some entrances closed.

Public figures from opposition NDP leader Wab Kinew to Dr Brent Roussin, the chief public health officer, said they had received threats.

Progressive Conservative MP Shannon Martin has seen a change in tone since first being elected in 2014.

“Unfortunately, the level of political discourse in Manitoba has deteriorated in recent years, both inside and outside the Legislative Assembly,” he said.

“Decisions regarding the security of legislative buildings are non-partisan and independent of government policy-making. I have full confidence in the work of our legislative building security personnel. »

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on November 24, 2022


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