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This article was published 28/8/2018 (509 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
A Swan River radio station says staff have begun armed patrols of the northwestern Manitoba town, after threats of "domestic terrorism" were made against the business.
The patrol members are "instructed to use lethal means" should they encounter actions that "cause them to fear for their lives," CJ104 Radio says on its Facebook page, in a post made on Friday.
An anonymous threat was made to the radio station to cease operations by this past weekend or its building would be burned down, it reported. "Coupled with a rash of recent break-ins, break-in attempts and damage to our building, we have no choice but to consider the threat credible."
The patrol teams are to include at least one person "who is licensed to carry firearms." However, the radio station assured readers staff will attempt to use non-lethal force first.
Neither option sits well with the police. On Monday, the RCMP warned such actions could pose a risk to the community.
"We are always concerned when people decide to bypass law enforcement and take matters into their own hands," RCMP spokesman Robert Cyrenne said, adding police contacted the person responsible for the social media post shortly after it appeared on Friday.
RCMP explained to the individual "promoting this type of armed vigilante activity is not acceptable," Cyrenne said. "Furthermore, he was advised that anyone engaging in such an activity will be stopped by the RCMP, as it is a clear risk to public safety."
RCMP will continue to monitor the situation while it investigates the threat and others criminal actions against the radio station, he said.
The radio station issued a clarification after Friday’s initial post, warning the public to consult the Criminal Code of Canada as to when a person "can legally use lethal force."
"Please apply the law to your own situation, instead of assuming the application to our situation matches yours," the post said.
CJ104 promotes itself as the "Voice of the Valley," meaning the Swan River Valley, and started broadcasting in 2006. Since then, the parent company has opened three more Manitoba radio stations: CJBP-FM Neepawa (CJ97.1), CJIE-FM Gimli-Arborg (CJ107) and CJVM-FM Virden (CJ103).
The stations are part of the 83 North Group of Companies, which began as a computer store, and are run by Bill Gade.
The radio stations are known to stir up controversy.
In Swan River, Gade airs a personal rant each Friday guaranteed to rub some people the wrong way.
In Neepawa, the local council stopped responding to Gade’s freedom of information requests after he filed 161 applications in a single day. The dispute went to the Manitoba ombudsman, who ruled in the town’s favour after finding all 161 applications were "systematic in nature" and would have interfered unreasonably with the town operations.
Gade did not respond to telephone and email requests for an interview on Monday.
According to the radio station’s posts, the patrols are necessary because the RCMP has been unable to provide the protection needed. "We hope that at least some citizens and businesses in the downtown area have felt safer knowing someone else is watching and monitoring," it says.
Facebook commenters have not been overly sympathetic, feeling such actions risk making the situation worse.
One commentator slyly recommended the company hire a commando unit that escaped from custody in California to become soldiers of fortune: "If you can find them, maybe you can hire the A-Team," referring to the 1980s TV show.
Swan River Mayor Glen McKenzie was concerned the situation will escalate the potential for violence.
"The RCMP are on top of it, and we have to trust the RCMP to do its job. We don’t condone anyone taking the law into their own hands," said McKenzie, who is not seeking re-election in the municipal vote this fall.
"We don’t condone people driving around at night patrolling. That’s what the RCMP are for."