‘Gestapo tactics’ used in probe of letter to Vanoc, writer says

Surrey resident, 73, claims content was non-threatening

Jeff Lee, Vancouver Sun, April 24, 2009

Peter Scott, 73, was questioned by police
Wednesday about his letter to Vanoc.
Photo: Ian Lindsay, Vancouver Sun

When 73-year-old Peter Scott reads something he doesn’t like in a newspaper, he cuts the offending article out, stuffs it into an envelope, scribbles his opinions on the outside in black felt pen and mails it off to the object of his ire.

Recipients have been prime ministers and premiers (all of them, he says), MPs and MLAs and not a few mayors and councillors. His notes on the outside are a way of getting attention.

For the most part, he says, he’s simply ignored. Once in a while, someone will write back. But never in all of his many years of writing biting notes has he ever had the reaction he got this week from the police protecting the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Winter Olympics.

“I don’t threaten. I just say ‘What is this? Why are these incompetent people doing this? et cetera, et cetera,’” Scott explained. “Most of the time I’m ignored.”

On Wednesday, he wasn’t. Two police officers from the Vancouver 2010 Integrated Security Unit showed up at his Surrey home. In their hands was a photocopy of the envelope he’d sent to Vanoc recently. Scott knew he’d sent it because his name and return address were on it, but doesn’t recall which clipping the envelope contained. He thinks it had something to do with Vanoc going after a restaurant for using the word “Olympic” and wanting it to take down its signs.

He admits he’s never been in favour of the Olympics and probably made that clear in his writings. “When I have policemen coming into my house because I wrote a letter, a non-threatening letter, I am absolutely disgusted,” he said. “They probably just wanted to check me out to see if I was, what, a threat to society because I’m against the Olympics? I mean, holy cow, I am 73 years old.”

Scott said the officers, one of whom identified himself as a Vancouver police officer named Blondeau, badge number 2142, asked him if he’d written the notes on the envelope. Of course he had, he said. That’s his name and return address on the envelope, isn’t it?

Const. Bert Paquet confirmed that members of the ISU’s threat assessment division went to see Scott, including Det.-Const. Nathan Blondeau, a Vancouver police officer seconded to the ISU’s Joint Intelligence Group.

“We can confirm that members of the Joint Intelligence Group did attend a residence in Surrey to assess information that is being reviewed in context to a potential threat to the Olympic Games,” Paquet said. “We do this to either confirm or disregard an individual as a potential threat.”

He would not discuss the nature of the threat or how ISU got the letter but said “the assessment remains active and ongoing.”

Vanoc spokesman Chris Brumwell said at this point nobody in the organization recalls the letter, but the administration is looking into whether it has any records of it.

“These are Gestapo tactics,” said Scott, “and nobody, and I mean nobody, is going to stop me from speaking my mind.”

It’s likely ISU was assessing whether Scott poses a threat to the Olympics, said Dave Harris, director of international and terrorist intelligence programs for Insignis Strategic Research.

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