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Lethbridge police chief says officers surveilling cabinet minister inexcusable

Two Alberta police officers have been temporarily demoted over unauthorized surveillance of a former environment minister and people she met with to discuss a controversial plan to restrict off-road vehicles in a new park. Then-Alberta Minister of Environment and Parks Shannon Phillips speaks at a press conference after a meeting with provincial and territorial environment ministers in Ottawa on Thursday, June 28, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Patrick Doyle

LETHBRIDGE, Alta. — The head of the Lethbridge Police Service in southern Alberta says it's embarrassing and inexcusable that two officers did unauthorized surveillance on a provincial cabinet minister.

Chief Scott Woods notes that temporary demotions of the two officers are considered to be on the high end of punishment.

Woods released a statement today after a story by CHAT News revealed the results of a recent police disciplinary hearing for officers Jason Carrier and Keon Woronuk.

The two admitted that in April 2017 they had not been authorized to watch then-environment minister Shannon Phillips while she met with people in a diner to discuss restricting off-road vehicles in a new park in the Castle region.

The plan included restricting such vehicles in the environmentally sensitive area.

Hearing notes say both officers had a shared interest in off-roading there.

Woronuk has been demoted from senior constable to first-class constable for two years, and Carrier has been reduced in rank to senior constable from sergeant for one year.

Alberta Justice Minister Doug Schweitzer has directed the province's police watchdog to determine if there are grounds for a criminal probe.

The Canadian Press