TORONTO — Stephen Harper's security detail was forced to take extra precautions at the Conservative leader's hotel after a group of bikers — some wearing full-patched Hells Angels jackets — rumbled into the parking lot Thursday.
About 30 members of the group stayed overnight at the same Toronto-area hotel as the prime minister, an unexpected presence that raised security concerns.
The men, some of whom sported leather jackets emblazoned with "Hells Angels Ontario," arrived as Harper was preparing Thursday for the first leaders' debate of the campaign.
Several of them lingered in front of the hotel late into the night, close to where dozens of the group's motorcycles were parked.
Sources confirmed that the detachment of Mounties following Harper took measures to beef up security, but they said Harper did, in fact, stay at the hotel following Thursday's debate, despite the added security concern.
"We don't comment on security issues," Tory campaign spokesman Kory Teneycke wrote in a email when asked about extra precautions.
On Friday morning, journalists following the Tory tour were led to the back of the hotel to board the campaign buses instead of the front parking lot, where the bus had parked to let them off a couple of days earlier.
The move ensured buses plastered with Harper's face and party slogans could not be captured in the same news-camera frames as more than a dozen bikers who were hanging out in front of the hotel near their motorcycles.
A few members of the motorcycle group said Friday that they had no idea the prime minister had stayed at the same hotel.
"He was here?" a bearded man wearing a "Red Devils Ottawa" jacket told The Canadian Press as he ate eggs and toast in the hotel restaurant.
"I didn't know that. I knew his wife was here."
Another man with the group joked that he noticed a lot of police in the hotel and he knew they weren't all there for them. A member of the group said the men were in the area to attend a funeral.
Hotel staff said the motorcycle group had stayed at hotel in the past.
One employee said it was quite a coincidence that the bikers stayed at the hotel the same night as Harper. He said he had no problem with having the bikers at the hotel.
"As long as they don't bother anyone," he said.
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