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Police probe report of radicalized Montreal airport employees

Quebec Public Security Minister and Municipal Affairs Minister Martin Coiteux speaks during question period on March 29, 2017, at the legislature in Quebec City.

Jacques Boissinot/THE CANADIAN PRESS

Federal and provincial elected officials sought to reassure the public Wednesday after a report suggested some workers at Montreal's airport may have been radicalized.

Quebec's public security minister said Montreal police, the Quebec provincial force and the RCMP were working together to monitor the situation.

"The first thing I did was to assure myself that police services were following the situation closely, and that was confirmed to me," Martin Coiteux said in Quebec City.

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"Following closely means taking all means to assure the public's safety."

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised his government would "cut no corners" when it comes to addressing threats and ensuring the safety of Canadian travellers.

"When issues come to light we deal with them in a responsible way, we look into what happened and how we can ensure that Canadians remain safe in air travel," he told reporters in Winnipeg.

A French-language TV network reported Tuesday that two employees with access to restricted areas at Pierre Elliott Trudeau Airport were found to have shown signs of radicalization.

TVA said a police investigation found the workers had watched pro-ISIS propaganda and that one possessed books on military-calibre assault weapons.

The network reported one of the employees has since left the airport, while the other has been reassigned away from secured areas.

Transport Minister Marc Garneau said that in order to enter the restricted areas of an airport, employees must undergo an extensive vetting process including background checks and ongoing daily verifications.

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"Transport Canada works closely with partners such as the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority, Canada Border Services Agency, airport authorities and local law-enforcement agencies to maintain the highest security standards at Canadian airports," he said in a statement.

Montreal's airport authority said Tuesday the airport is secure and that it had not been informed of any specific threat.

Aeroports de Montreal listed a number of measures in place, including security personnel, surveillance systems, specialized response teams, an emergency measures co-ordination centre and "very effective" emergency plans.

"Montreal—Trudeau airport is unquestionably among the most secure locations there is," the statement read.

The airport authority also responded to a segment on the TV report that appeared to show an employee with an access card boarding an empty plane without being searched.

Employees who work in restricted areas must carry a pass and undergo "a total security investigation," as well as regular monitoring and random searches, Aeroports de Montreal said.

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"As for various risks, including radicalization, ADM works with the different law-enforcement agencies responsible for risk investigation, prevention and analysis," it wrote.

"At present, ADM has not been informed of any specific threat."

The Conservatives' public safety critic described the media report as "deeply troubling" and urged the government to take any necessary measures to ensure security levels are maintained.

"This is a reminder of the need to be ever vigilant against the threat of radical Islamic terrorism," Tony Clement said in a statement.

Video: Protesters clash in Montreal over anti-Islamophobia motion (The Canadian Press)
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