About 1,200 protesters were in the small resort town near Ottawa as Prime Minister Stephen Harper met with U.S. President George W. Bush and Mexican President Felipe Calderon at a two-day summit to discuss issues under the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America pact.
The video titled Stop SPP Protest— Union Leader stops provocateurs, posted on YouTube Tuesday,was shown at a news conference held Wednesday in Ottawa by protest organizers, including Dave Coles, president of the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union, who appears in the video.
In the footage filmed Monday afternoon, three burly men with bandanas and other covers over their faces push through protesters toward a line of riot police. One of the men has a rock in his hand.
As they move forward, Coles and other union leaders dressed in suits order the men to put the rock down and leave, accuse them of being police agents provocateurs, and try unsuccessfully to unmask them.
In the end, they squeeze behind the police line, where they are calmly handcuffed.
“The Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union believes that the security force at Montebello were ordered to infiltrate our peaceful assembly and to provoke incidents,” Coles told reporters. “I think the evidence that we’ve shown you today reinforces the view.”
Colesshowed photographs of themasked men’sand police officers’boots taken during the handcuffing, in which they appear to have identical tread patterns on their soles.
He also questioned whyother activistshave been unable to identify the three men whose images have been broadcast worldwide and demanded to know who the masked men were.
“Do they have any connection to the Quebec police force or the Royal Canadian Mounted Police or are they part of some other security force that was at Montebello?”Coles asked, adding that he wants to know how the Prime Minister’s Office was involved in security during the protests.
He suggested that the government might want to provoke violence in order justify its security budget for the summit and discredit protesters.
“They want to defuse our questions … by trying to make it look like some radical group trying to create a confrontation,” he said.
The RCMP has refused to comment, while Quebec’s provincial force has flatly denied that its officers were involved in the incident.
It said it is not releasing any names as no charges were laid.
Retired police officer believes masked men were cops
Meanwhile, a retired Ottawa police officer who was formerly in charge of overseeing demonstrations for the force said he questions who the masked men really are, after viewing the video.
“Were they legitimate protesters? I don’t think so,” said Doug Kirkland.
“Well, if they weren’t police, I think they might well have been working in the best interests of police.”
He added that if the situation was as it appeared, he did not approve of the tactic. “It’s pretty close to baiting,” he said.
On Wednesday, the mayor of Montebello thanked police and protesters, praising the fact that there wasn’t a single report of damage during the two-day summit.
The Security and Prosperity Partnership pact, signed in 2005,is intended to forge closer trade and security links between the countries.
Opponents say negotiations about the agreement are secretive and undemocratic, and the treaty itself erodes Canada’s control over its natural resources, security and defence.