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Contemporary’s special treatment

It’s been a banner year for large-scale security operations in this country — especially for Contemporary Security Canada.


July 22, 2010
By Jennifer Brown


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The year started for them with the Olympics in British Columbia, then G8 and G20 followed in Ontario.
And while many security firms benefited in some way from the additional
hours required by clients during these major operations, the reality is
that the companies who would typically be the main contenders to provide
services for this kind of operation were largely displaced by a
relative unknown.

Few had heard of Contemporary Security when it was announced they were
awarded the security screening contract for the 2010 Winter Games. They
were experienced in providing planning and operations at previous games,
but as a security firm, no one really knew them or their project
director, Todd Severson.

And then, when they were handed the contract for G8 and G20 it left many
who saw the bid go up (and come down a week later) on MERX back on
April 1 scratching their heads. Even more so when they realized
Contemporary did not have a licence to operate as a business in Ontario.
And where would they find enough licensed guards to make up the 1,100
required by the contract if they didn’t actually have an office in
Toronto?

What an insult to the guard companies and licensed personnel who do
business in the province and followed the process for licensing as set
out by the province.

Carefully crafted responses from the Ministry of Community Safety and
Correctional Services suggested the RCMP had put the province in the
position of having to accommodate their selection for the G8/G20
screening contract.

A spokesperson from the Ministry said in a statement: “Due to the unique
nature of the Summits and the public safety imperative, we dedicated
significant resources (personnel and overtime) to this one application.
This was not a situation of our making. We made every effort to
accommodate the RCMP and the security arrangements they made in the
circumstances and, with their input, we were able to complete the
application without compromising any steps in our rigorous application
process.”

The Private Security Investigative Services Branch (PSISB) confirmed
that Contemporary Security Canada picked up its licence to operate as a
licensed agency in Ontario June 14 — two weeks before the G20. One week
before, the province issued a statement saying it was working with
Contemporary to process its application to obtain a licence to operate
in Ontario.

Contrast that to companies forced to jump through hoops sometimes over a series of months to gain their licences.

On June 7 the Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services
said: “The process for granting a company an agency licence is rigorous.
All private security agencies and their staff working in Ontario must
be licensed per our legislation.”

All of this happened as Lisa Kool, the registrar for the PSISB was
asking the industry here in Ontario to be patient, but that wait times
for guard licensing were being streamlined.

The real issue is how the RCMP went about its selection of Contemporary —
instead of a company already licensed — with what seems like no real
appreciation of how it would impact a province smack in the middle of
changing its guard licensing process.