26 July 2005

Peter and Loyola missed the real security threats

Any visitor to St. John's knows that what Peter Mackay, DDS, is hopping over in this story from the CTV website is just a low barrier to keep vehicles from parking on the wharf, not a major barrier for threats.

There are several open gaps that allow vehicles to be driven right up to ships so they can unload cargo, people, food and fuel.

If Peter had anything serious observations to offer on port security, he'd have tried getting access to a major wharf complex, like Vancouver, Montreal or his own fave city, Halifax. The reason he didn't try anything like that is because:

a. his tight buns would be sitting in a local lock-up; and,
b. as a result, the photo-op wouldn't have been as...how do you say... appropriate for the point Peter was trying to make.

Of course, what Mackay is doing is called a stunt and it's what you do when you don't have anything of substance to say.

The thing is, Peter, your hopping over that little barrier (you could have walked around) doesn't reflect lax security; it reflects the low threat in St. John's as well as the obvious point that it is virtually impossible to "secure" the harbour apron without effectively closing down the harbour itself and half the downtown.

Heck, I'd go a step farther: pretty much anything on the south side of Water Street would have to be demolished including historic sites, major office complexes, and the building housing Provincial Court among others.

The buildings that remain would be facing a 10 foot-high concrete wall topped with razor wire and patrolled regularly by armed security guards and Alsatians. Kiss the downtown restaurants goodbye. As well, you'd have to figure out some way of blocking anyone with a view of the harbour since it would be easy to lob a rocket-propelled grenade from the upper floors of the TD Building or even the government's own office complex down onto the dockside.

You'd also have to expropriate the homes of people living at the Battery, and people living farther up Signal Hill. Forget ever seeing most of the Southside Hills or Fort Amherst again. All of that would have to be fenced and monitored so that terrorists could get in or out easily.

In another part of the TV report that sadly didn't make it to the web story was the bit where Peter and Loyola Hearn, the pretend member of St. John's South Mount Pearl, talk about the danger posed by the containers from around the world sitting at the Oceanex terminal.



Over here!

Reality Check: those containers had to pass through Montreal and/or Halifax before they go to the local terminal. That's where the big security issue is for containerized traffic. Go check out their security. Containers don't come to St. John's directly from unsecure foreign ports.

There are other security issues at St. John's Harbour Peter and Loyola could have talked about. But since Peter was too busy issuing nonsense releases like this one (Picture that Culkin kid from Home Alone when you see that Pete was "shocked") and Loyola knows squat about the riding he supposedly represents, neither of these guys bothered to address some real local public security issues.

Oh, and if you want to know about some real strategic targets in St. John's, some places that might just be likely security issues, I can point them out to any reporter who wants to take the tour with me.

The only condition is that you cannot broadcast where they are. After all, the Internet is a major source of intelligence for the bad guys.

The harbour isn't one of the sites.

And Peter Mackay, the supposed Connie security guru should know better than to identify St. John's as a weak spot in Canada's security system on the news media and the Internet.

If CSIS granted you a clearance, they should take it back.