DELTA - Canada's public safety minister shrugged off questions Tuesday about his government's response to threats against the RCMP by the hacktivist group Anonymous, saying he fully trusts law enforcement to investigate.
Steven Blaney said all threats are taken seriously but provided few details of how his government is responding, days after Anonymous claimed responsibility for shutting down the RCMP website.
"There are many ways this country enjoys freedom to express our democratic views," he said. "I invite those who want to express their views to use democratic ways. Those who don't expose themselves to face the full force of the law."
Members of the loosely-connected vigilante group issued a news release on Saturday that claimed a masked man fatally shot by a Mountie in Dawson Creek, B.C., was an Anonymous member. The group vowed to publish the identity and personal information of the officer.
The next day, the force's national website crashed for several hours. The RCMP has not confirmed that Anonymous hackers were responsible for the shutdown.
The Twitter account that originally posted the news release appeared to have been removed as of Tuesday afternoon.
RCMP fatally shot the masked man outside a public hearing for the contentious dam project to be built by BC Hydro. B.C.'s police watchdog the Independent Investigations Office has said he refused to comply with demands and a knife was found at the scene.
He has been identified as 48-year-old James McIntyre.
BC Hydro announced Tuesday it would postpone several job fairs for the Site C dam project that were to take place in northern B.C. later this month while it reviews its policies and procedures for public meetings.
An environmental group that opposes the dam confirmed that it had cancelled a protest planned for Thursday outside the BC Hydro building in Vancouver because of the shooting.
"I think we collectively felt that in order to ensure people's safety, and also to show respect — somebody lost their life here — that a cooling off period for this week would be a good thing," said Joe Foy of the Wilderness Committee.
When asked whether an investigation into the threats had been launched, Blaney replied that he fully trusted the IIO to examine the matter.
A ministry spokesman later said the francophone minister misunderstood the question and was referring to the IIO's investigation into the B.C. officer's actions. The RCMP — not the IIO — is investigating social media posts attributed to Anonymous.
Jeremy Laurin said the ministry does not comment on specific or potential threats, but it takes cyber security seriously and operates on the advice of security experts.
RCMP Cpl. Dave Tyreman said Tuesday the force is aware of the posts and is conducting a review but he had no further details to share.
Blaney told reporters that the Conservatives increased funding in their last budget to improve government security and to work with the private sector to defend against electronic threats.
"We are constantly monitoring cyber security and cyberattacks," he said.