The union representing Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) employees says internal communication needs to be improved after its members claim they were never notified of a “vigilance alert” regarding a police investigation on terror suspect Aaron Driver in Strathroy.
The TTC said they were made aware of the terrorism investigation by the RCMP on Wednesday morning and issued a memo to staff in the afternoon on a potential and unspecified threat.
“The TTC’s standard operating procedure is for its 14,000 employees to be vigilant at all times, regardless of what might be happening in the world – if they see something, say something,” said TTC spokesperson Brad Ross on Friday.
“The memo was not specific to the RCMP investigation and did not ask employees to do anything differently from what they normally do in the course of their work. It’s important to remember, too, that at no time was the TTC a terrorist target.”
TTC union head Bob Kinnear said in a statement released on Friday that an “alert” sent to its members never reached them.
“We’re not saying the alert was not issued. We’re saying we can’t find any frontline workers who received it,” Kinnear said.
“We were finally told by a supervisor that an emailed alert had been sent to supervisory staff, presumably to pass it on to the frontline workers. There are missing links in the TTC communications network.”
Ross said the memo may not have been filtered down properly and is looking into why that was the case.
“We’ll have a look at how the memo was cascaded and see where improvements can be made, generally, but not receiving the memo immediately did not put anyone at risk,” said Ross.
Speaking to reporters on Friday, Mayor John Tory said the claim that the memo was not communicated properly to TTC employees is unfounded.
“The email that was sent out was sent out to all TTC staff at the same time and I think given what everybody knew and what the situation was that the level of communication from the TTC, the police service and everybody involved was entirely appropriate,” he said. “Which was one of asking people in certain places to exercise increased vigilance.”
Driver was killed during a police confrontation in Strathroy, Ont. on Wednesday evening after Canadian authorities said they were tipped off by the Federal Bureau of Investigation that he was planning a suicide terror attack targeting an urban centre during rush hour sometime this week.
Police said they were monitoring Driver when around 4:30 p.m. when he exited a residence in Strathroy, and entered a taxi. The RCMP then engaged with the suspect, who detonated a device in the back of the vehicle.
Driver, originally from Winnipeg and who had bounced in and out of jails and courtrooms since 2014, had been on the radar by federal authorities for possible links to a terror group.
He had been under a court order since February to not associate with any terrorist organization, including the Islamic State group.
The 24-year-old had never been formally charged with an offence and had no criminal record.