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RCMP block protesting paramedics from Campbell rally

Premier Gordon Campbell’s RCMP security detail made a group of protesting paramedics move away from the Coast Capri Hotel in Kelowna, where Campbell was headlining a B.C. Liberal Party rally.

“They [RCMP] were nice, but they would not let us go into the lobby of the Capri. They came out with the manager and said it was private property and we were not invited into the Coast Capri Hotel,” Brad Fraser, regional vice-president with CUPE local 873, Ambulance Paramedics of British Columbia said.

The paramedics were directed to the edge of the hotel’s property, away from any of the building’s entrances.

Groups of paramedics, who are engaged in job action, have been showing up at Liberal campaign events across the province to quietly make their presence felt and draw attention to their demands that the government get back to the bargaining table and appoint an independent mediator.

Fraser was surprised that his group was shooed away from the Coast Capri Wednesday evening as they had been following Campbell around the Okanagan throughout the day and Campbell had previously been fairly accessible.

“At almost every stop he came out and talked to us and heard our story and promised he’d do his best,” said Fraser.

A man who looked like he was directing security operations at the Coast Capri was asked by the Kelowna Capital News why the paramedics were asked to move.

He replied that it was a joint decision with the hotel manager for “safety.” Asked who he was, the man said, “RCMP.”

When pressed about what the safety concern was, the man said those questions would have to be put to a media representative inside the hotel. “Don’t make a story out of nothing,” he said.

Inside the hotel, the Liberal campaign tour's press secretary, Bridgette Anderson, said, “We don’t make the decisions on security, you’d have to ask them.”

Later that evening, Anderson phoned to say she had looked into the matter and that it was a hotel decision.

During a scrum with reporters after his rally, Campbell was asked if it was appropriate for security to ask the paramedics to move.

“I actually don’t comment on security, security’s job is to make sure that everything is safe and sound,” he said. “I’ve been meeting with paramedics all over the province...I just met with a paramedic as I came down the hall here. I met with paramedics in Vernon. I met with paramedics in Salmon it’s not a matter of not meeting with paramedics, but I don’t call the security shots.”

On Thursday, a spokeswoman for the Coast Capri said no one from the hotel would be able to comment until Monday.

As for Fraser, he did not seem overly upset at the incident.

“It was a little overkill and it embarrassed them a little bit I think,” he said.

Adrian Nieoczym reports for the Kelowna Capital News.

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