Pearson Airport holds fake protest as part of emergency training exercise

Toronto’s Pearson International Airport staged a fake protest on Saturday to test its readiness for an emergency.

About 300 people, a mix of employees and volunteers, acted as demonstrators at the protest on Electra Road near Convair Drive in Mississauga. The event was part of a mock emergency exercise organized by the Greater Toronto Airports Authority (GTAA), which runs the airport.

“We’re testing our response to an emergency or security situation,” GTAA spokesperson Tori Gass said on Saturday.

“It’s important that we test our response in as real life a situation as possible so that we know, when a situation like this arises, we are taking the right steps to respond.”

Gass said the protest was peaceful but was followed by a more of a security situation to involve police. Peel Regional Police and Transport Canada took part in the training exercise.

She said the emergency exercise is the first one held in person since the COVID-19 pandemic hit Ontario. The airport is a place where people like to gather to protest, Gass said.

The protesters, wearing red t-shirts, were “very enthusiastic” about playing their roles, she said. They carried fake placards and chanted: “Freedom! Freedom! Freedom!”

One placard read: “Looks like I picked the wrong week to trust the government.”

In a news release, the GTAA said such exercises are required by Transport Canada.

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