Thursday, September 15, 2005

Is THIS Just a Test?

On Sunday, September 18, 2005, a ‘terror drill’ will take place in Toronto. As confirmed by TTC spokeswoman, Marilyn Bolton, St Andrew subway station will be closed from 6 am until 12 noon for what she describes as a ‘pretty good event’.

Because a drill was being conducted at the very locations and times of the London bombings on July 7, 2005, exactly mirroring the attacks, I think it prudent to detail as much information before it happens here.

Bolton told me that those involved in this ‘mystery plot’ are the Emergency Medical Services, Toronto Fire Department, Toronto Police Services, The City of Toronto Emergency Planning Department, The Toronto Transit Commission and a Joint Commission on Chemical Biological Nuclear (threats, events?). The Toronto Police Services are co-ordinating the simulation, and that they are putting out a press release on Friday, September 16.

I know of one media report concerning this already, taking place between Monday and Tuesday, September 12, 13, on Toronto radio station CFRB. It was after hearing of this second hand that I began to make a few phone calls. I was already under heightened awareness after hearing Anne MacLellan on CBC news, Monday September 12 tell media that there is a need to ‘practice terror drills in real time.’

The following is my account of those calls, and what I’ve learned from them. Please keep in mind that this an incomplete investigation into the details of this Sundays terror drill, and that I was continually told to contact the Toronto Police to find out more, which I have not done.

The first call went out to Access Toronto 416-338-0338, where I received the Emergency Planning Department number, 416-392-4554, and was told the exercise is taking place in Councillor Kyle Rae’s ward. Councillor Rae was unavailable when I tried, and his assistant was reluctant to pass a message on to him because he is not my councillor. Further I was told Councillor Rae has no information regarding this event. His phone number is 416-392-7903.

I called my Councillor, Joe Pantalone, and was unable to speak with him, but left a message, and expressed my concerns about terror drills, and the incredible coincidences of attacks taking place at the same time. A staffer assured me she will try and find out what’s going on, and get back to me, but I’ve yet to hear anything.

The Emergency Planning Department offered up 3 names who are co-ordinating this exercise for the city, Greg Spasyna, Robert Tavner, and Warren Leonard, Manager – Office of Emergency Management. It was initially difficult to get those names, and when I asked to speak with one of them I was told they are in a meeting. Isn’t that always the way?

I asked to leave a message directly on their voice mail, where I was discouraged from doing so, and that a message would be passed along. I insisted, and was put through, to, wait for it, a dead line. I phoned back, only to be disconnected immediately. The third time I called, it went directly to the answering machine. I haven’t tried them again.

Marilyn Bolton is with TTC Public Affairs. This is the person who contacted me after my original queries with the TTC, where I was told to ask the Police who was involved. I mentioned that I shouldn’t have to ask the Police for information regarding the TTC, and asked again for the point person from the TTC. I was told it is through their safety department, but couldn’t get a name of anyone in charge there, again referred to the Police. Being persistent, I was told someone from the safety department would contact me. I’m still waiting for that call.

It is Marilyn Bolton who informed me of a forthcoming press release from the Toronto Police Services, and that it can be found sometime Friday September 16, on the Canada News Wire website. Maybe she means this one, http://www.newswire.ca/en/ .

Bolton confirmed the event is taking place between 6 am and noon on Sunday, and that an advisory will go out instructing people all access to St. Andrew Subway station will be closed for this drill. Shuttle buses will be made available to take riders between Union and Osgoode stations. John O’Grady is the liason working with the police until ‘the clock starts ticking’ then General Manager Rick Ducharme takes over.

TTC Chair, Howard Moscoe, returned my call, but at the exact moment I asked if he could shed light on the upcoming terror drill, the phone went dead. No dial tone, no busy signal, nothing. For nearly 15 minutes I tried every phone, disconnecting and reconnecting. Still nothing. After returning from a pay phone to ask the phone company what happened, it was working again, and a message from Moscoe trying back after the disconnection. I’ve been unable to reach him since. His number is 416-392-4027, but apparently he will not be available until after the weekend.

Finally, I tried the Mayor’s Office. David Miller was ‘in a meeting’, but I expressed my concerns and asked to speak with somebody in his office who may know what’s going on. His assistant returned my call, was unaware of ay terror drill taking place this weekend, and didn’t know if the Mayor was either. I expressed my surpise that no one in the Mayor’s office would know about this, especially when it is being co-ordinated with The City of Toronto, Emergency Medical Services, The Toronto Police Services, Fire Department, etc.

I insisted that he pass along my concern, and the best assurance I received is that he would contact the TTC himself, and if in fact there was a drill going on, then he would notify the Mayor.

To all the people I spoke with I expressed my interest in this matter because of the London July 7 bombings, and that I was searching for all the players involved in this weekends events. I think besides knowing who is involved, including any private firms and the people directly responsible for the drill, we should have a full understanding of the type of drill being conducted. We have a clue with the Joint Commission on Chemical, Biological and Nuclear attacks (which hasn’t yet been confirmed as to the exact make up, title, and nature of this organization).

So, I ask you fellow citizens, please be aware that this drill is indeed taking place in Toronto, and that during both the attacks of 9/11 and 7/7 in London of this year drills mirroring the actual attack were taking place at the exact same time.

In all my calls this past two days I mentioned this fact concerning the London bombings as reported by the BBC and CBC, who both interviewed Peter Power, of Visor Consultants, who told the media “At half past nine this morning we were actually running an exercise for a company of over a thousand people in London based on simultaneous bombs going off precisely at the railway stations where it happened this morning, so I still have the hairs on the back of my neck standing up right now".

Yeah, no kidding.

7 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

8:25 p.m., September 15, 2005  
Blogger Black Krishna said...

Thanks Kelly, I look forward to spreading the word...

Peace,
BK

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