- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Canadian Embassy has canceled plans to stage mock Afghan combat scenes with simulated bomb blasts this week outside its Washington compound.

The series of five Hollywood-style demonstrations was scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday inside the embassy’s courtyard and was to include Afghan-American actors, fake shrapnel and simulated IEDs — part of a forum to highlight Canada’s efforts in the 8-year-old Afghanistan war.

“Upon further review, the village component of the Afghanistan forum has been dropped,” embassy spokeswoman Jennie Chen said Tuesday. “It was clear this aspect of the two-day forum would not add substantively to the forum’s core goal, which is to present panel discussions of the entirety of government efforts in Afghanistan.The forum will go ahead as planned.”

The decision to scale back follows media reports questioning whether the explosions would frighten residents — similar to an incident in April in which a Boeing 747 used as Air Force One flew low over Manhattan as part of a Defense Department photo opportunity.

More recently, a routine Coast Guard training exercise near the Pentagon on Sept. 11 — the eighth anniversary of the terrorists attacks — resulted in FBI agents responding and flights being grounded temporarily at nearby Reagan National Airport.

After the embassy’s plans were reported Sept. 7, Canadian military officials and corporate organizers quickly moved to reassure the public thta the demonstrations were appropriate and that the explosions would be safe and no louder than a July Fourth firecracker.

“I don’t think we can be dramatic enough to show what troops go through,” said Lt. Col. Douglas Martin of the Canadian Forces, who added he had been thinking for nearly a year about how to best show the conditions faced by allied forces.

A city fire official said earlier this month the permits were being processed. The Secret Service and the Department of Homeland Security said only that they were aware of the demonstrations.

The staging, pyrotechnics and other technical aspects were being handled by Lockheed Martin and Southern California-based Strategic Operations Inc., part of Stu Segall Productions, which promised to bring the “magic of Hollywood” to the demonstrations.

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