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Rail security worth reviewing, Ontario AG says

By Antonella Artuso, Queen's Park Bureau Chief

Ontario Attorney General John Gerretsen. (Sun files)

Ontario Attorney General John Gerretsen. (Sun files)

TORONTO - 

Security procedures for rail travel such as screening baggage is worth reviewing following the alleged plot to blow up a VIA train, Ontario Attorney General John Gerretsen says.

“I know it’s been something that has been talked about in a broad general way … it’s certainly not out of the realm of the possible,” Gerretsen said Tuesday of airport-style baggage checks.

The minister said he feels safe riding VIA Rail but expects that provincial and federal officials will want to ensure that Ontarians remain secure while travelling.

Gerretsen praised the co-operation of the RCMP, OPP, FBI and other police organizations in their joint efforts to foil an alleged plan to bomb a train passing over a Niagara bridge.

“In this particular case, the matter is before the courts. Obviously, I’m pleased with the arrests,” Gerretsen said. “I don’t think I was particularly shocked. I suppose there’s always a fear that something like this may be happening.”

Premier Kathleen Wynne said her government is prepared to take any measures necessary to ensure the safety of citizens and infrastructure.

“I was as horrified as anyone would be. It’s a horrific situation, it’s frightening,” Wynne said.

Tory MPP Rod Jackson raised concerns that the security budget for the Toronto 2015 Pan/Parapan American Games may not be adequate.

The Pan Am budget allows $235 million for “essential services” which includes security, he said.

“The provincial government has had ample time to budget and plan for security during the games,” Jackson said in a statement. “Yet, just like their handling of transportation issues, their plan for security is non-existent.”

Wynne said she thought of the games when she first heard of the terrorist arrests.

“We have to ensure that these games are safe, that they’re secure and we will do that,” she said.

Tourism, Culture and Sport Minister Michael Chan, who oversees the Toronto Pan Am Games organization, said organizers are planning for 250,000 visitors and 10,000 athletes.

“Safety and security definitely are on the top of our list,” he said. “The budget for the games, to deliver the games is $1.4 billion — that’s the overall budget — and definitely (there) will be ample amount allocated for security and transportation.”

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