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A Comedian Says He Was Threatened With A Criminal Charge For Pretending To Be A Canadian Senator

Scott Vrooman says he was shooting a satirical video on Parliament Hill and security guards were not amused.

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Comedian Scott Vrooman made some headlines last Friday when he tore up his degree from Dalhousie University over the school's refusal to divest from fossil fuels.

Via youtube.com

But earlier in the day he went to Parliament to shoot a quick video culminating a recurring bit about being elected to the infamously unelected Canadian Senate.

Vrooman walked up to Parliament and, after tweeting Senator Linda Frum, started shooting a handheld video from his iPhone.

Vrooman walked up to the Senate entrance and jokingly told security he was a newly-elected senator. He says he didn't really have much of a plan.

“I thought, I’ll wing it. It’s improv comedy," he said in an interview. "But improv-ing with the police is not the best idea.”

View this video on YouTube

youtube.com

The interaction in the video is polite, if somewhat awkward. Vrooman tells them he's unseated Senator Frum. "I beat her in an election so I'm taking her place," he says. One guard responds "I don't think so" and laughs.

The video ends with him giving a Senate security guard his ID and the guard going inside.

Vrooman said he waited for a few minutes and then started taking some pictures, when an RCMP officer came out and told him sternly, "I wouldn't do that."

Vrooman said the officer told him he may be in legal trouble because he falsely claimed to be a senator.

"I said 'whoa, I said senator-elect!'" Vrooman told BuzzFeed Canada.

Vrooman said he explained he was a comedian taking some footage for a comedy video.

It's not a crime in Canada to impersonate a senator. And Parliament Hill is a public space where you're free to film the building or yourself. But the officer told him he could be charged with public mischief.

.@LindaFrum hey just outside can you let me in?

At the time, Vrooman didn't know that what he was doing was not illegal.

In an odd bit of timing, he was worried about getting arrested because he was planning to risk arrest later that day at a climate change protest outside 24 Sussex Drive.

“I was like oh shit, I can’t get in trouble now when I may be getting in trouble later," he said.

Vrooman said the officer was professional — "nice, but firm" — but while they were talking a second officer carrying a large gun came up and silently stared at him throughout the conversation.

"I just felt like that was totally unnecessary and creepy. Because they knew at that point I was no threat, that I was a comedian," he said.

RCMP officers with automatic rifles have been regularly circulating the grounds of Parliament in recent months. The practice started after the October 22, 2014 shooting in Ottawa.

BuzzFeed Canada

For example, this photo above shows in front of Parliament on Remembrance Day afternoon.

In the end, Vrooman was not arrested or charged and made it in time for his climate change event (where he was also not arrested or charged, but did troll Brian Lilley.)

In the end, Vrooman said he wasn't used to speaking to police officers and the video didn't turn out near as funny as he'd hoped (and he wishes he hadn't shot it vertically).

"I didn't really have a plan, and that was my fault."

BuzzFeed Canada tried to contact the clerk of the Senate, but the office was closed Wednesday.

Paul McLeod is a politics reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, DC.

Contact Paul McLeod at paul.mcleod@buzzfeed.com.

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