Police probed social media ahead of premier’s Cornwall visit

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne gets an espresso machine ready during a photo-op at Stomping Grounds in Cornwall, Ont. on Thursday, March 15, 2018. Also shown are owner Phil Gilmour and Wynne's partner, Jane Rounthwaite. City police probed hundreds of social media comments on two news sites ahead of the premier's visit. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston)

CORNWALL – Postings on social media ahead of the premier’s Thursday visit did not go unnoticed by local law enforcement.

Hundreds of comments – some critical and others vitriolic about Kathleen Wynne – were posted on the Facebook pages of Cornwall Newswatch and Cornwall Seaway News in the day before her arrival.

But Chief Dan Parkinson says the posts didn’t reach the bar of being deemed a threat.

“I wouldn’t categorize comments that we saw on social media as threats. They were more comments that were perhaps irresponsible. We didn’t have any direct threats to the safety of the premier,” Police Chief Dan Parkinson.

Some people were contacted by police about their behaviour online, CNW has learned.

The chief says an operational plan and a risk assessment was done before she arrived, which is routine with any dignitary visiting Cornwall.

“We work very closely with the premier’s security detail to ensure that events, like her visit, go off without a hitch,” the chief said.

A number of plain clothes officers were milling about the packed crowd inside Stomping Grounds Bistro and Cafe during Premier Kathleen Wynne’s visit Thursday.

As for the discourse on social media, Parkinson said “we have an open social media pathway to air their thoughts.”

“If there was a threat made through social media, would it be investigated? Absolutely. Social media doesn’t provide anyone protection from being investigated if they make comments that are deemed to be a concern or threat against the premier.”

A Cornwall Newswatch reporter did not see any protesters and there were no apparent problems with the premier’s visit as she talked with the coffee’s shops two business partners outside for 4-5 minutes before going inside for about an hour.