Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

'Unstable' visitor kicked out of legislature

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A man frightened staff in at least three offices in the legislature Tuesday before being escorted out the door.

The man did not have a weapon and no one was hurt, said Chris Hauch, assistant deputy minister responsible for government buildings.

Police were summoned but the man was not arrested.

However, the man alarmed staff in several offices to the point that they pressed 'duress' buttons alerting security.

"People's impression was that he was unstable and he needed to go," Hauch said Wednesday. "He was making comments that were scary."

Hauch said such incidents are rare at the legislature and it is a safe building.

Visitors must report to the security desk located just inside the building's north doors -- the only public entrance -- before being allowed inside.

A source said security was slow to respond to a duress alarm pushed in the basement offices of Hansard, the office that records and publishes legislative debates.

Hauch said the man appeared in at least three offices -- ranging from the basement to the third floor -- in a period of minutes. Security officers were intent on tracking the individual and may not have responded immediately to each alarm, he allowed.

A Hansard official refused to comment on the incident, referring a reporter to House Speaker Daryl Reid, who is responsible for legislative assembly staff.

Reid said early Wednesday he is still gathering information about the incident.

Like Hauch, Reid said such incidents are rare, and he's proud Manitoba's legislature is as accessible as it is.

Unlike some North American jurisdictions, members of the public need not pass through metal detectors staffed by armed guards to visit the building.

"I'm impressed with what we have here and I'd like to keep it that way," he said.

 

-- Larry Kusch

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 13, 2013 A4

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