Evidence of meeting #36 for Procedure and House Affairs in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was hill.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

  • Commissioner James Malizia  Assistant Commissioner, Protective Policing, Protective Policing Branch, Royal Canadian Mounted Police

11:15 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Joe Preston

Thank you. We've used all of Mr. Lukiwski's time.

Mr. Comartin, you have seven minutes.

May 8th, 2012 / 11:15 a.m.

NDP

Joe Comartin Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Assistant Commissioner, let me start the same way Mr. Lukiwski did. We're here, and our responsibility is to protect the privilege of members, both individually and collectively, to have unimpeded access to Parliament.

With that said as an opening, I note that you've repeated this, but it's here in writing as well. You're saying that your instructions—and I'm going to quote it back to you—to your staff on the Hill on these occasions were that:

Members on duty that day were advised to facilitate access to Parliamentarians and challenge those without accreditation. These are standard instructions.

My first question is, are these the standard instructions just on these occasions when we have a special visitor who may be at some significant risk?

11:15 a.m.

A/Commr James Malizia

No. My direction involves all instances.

11:15 a.m.

NDP

Joe Comartin Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

All right.

Who made that decision? Who set this policy that parliamentarians would in fact be challenged if they didn't have ID?

11:15 a.m.

A/Commr James Malizia

Mr. Chair and Mr. Comartin, there is no policy that I am aware of that says parliamentarians will be challenged. In fact, at special events when we set up a security perimeter, the zone between the perimeter and the front door of the Centre Block is the secure zone, where the people who are protecting that area need to ensure, of course, that the people coming through that secure access zone, where the international protected persons are going to come in, are who we believe them to be.

Quite often what we've seen in the past is members...we've had an issue. We know that we had an issue with Mr. Stoffer, where he was sent back, and that should never have happened.

So we've gone back and reviewed it with our folks. We've clarified it and we're including it in our orientation package. I've sent specific directives to make sure that members are aware in all instances that this directive is in place.

11:15 a.m.

NDP

Joe Comartin Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

Okay. Enunciate the directive, then.

11:15 a.m.

A/Commr James Malizia

The directive is very clear, in that if a member of Parliament or a parliamentarian is accessing through a secure zone.... For instance, we'll just assume that there is no one from the House of Commons or the Senate beside us, because if they are, it's a non-issue—there will be easy access—and that's what we've implemented now.

But if we go back to March 2, what happened on that day was...number one, the Parliament Hill member was relieved by HQ, by someone who we had mobilized from headquarters and who was not familiar with the Hill. Number two, that member did not have a booklet, so there was no way for that person to reference. Number three, that member didn't check in with our NCR command centre. Integrated in our command centre in Orleans at TPOF we have a House of Commons representative and a Senate representative, who could have assisted at that point.

So there were several issues that came up, which we've gone back and rectified with our members.

11:20 a.m.

NDP

Joe Comartin Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

So to be clear, MP Peter Stoffer shows up in that secure zone, says “I'm Peter Stoffer, member of Parliament”, and he will be allowed through without request for identification.

11:20 a.m.

A/Commr James Malizia

In the instance where we have House of Commons staff with us, it will be a non-issue. If we don't have House of Commons staff, and the member doesn't recognize the member of Parliament, he or she will be directed to immediately refer to their booklet for quick reference.

11:20 a.m.

NDP

Joe Comartin Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

All right.

Just so we're clear, that policy, those instructions—are you the person who decides that?

11:20 a.m.

A/Commr James Malizia

Yes, sir.

11:20 a.m.

NDP

Joe Comartin Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

Okay.

I want to deal with some specific situations in addition to the one we just talked about with Mr. Stoffer.

Another MP from the NDP, Hélène Laverdière, came to a checkpoint back in March. She did produce identification. She was asked for it and produced it at that time. Then she was directed to go through the East Block tunnel rather than proceed directly to the Centre Block, which is where she was going. She was on duty that morning.

Just so we're clear, the same thing happened to my wife yesterday. She was escorting, because of the concern, one of her former colleagues and her colleague's son up to question period. She was wearing her spouse pin, she identified herself as the spouse of a parliamentarian, and she was directed to go through the East Block. She said, “I'm not doing that.” In the case of Madame Laverdière, somebody else was standing in the same area and indicated that Madame Laverdière didn't have to do that. So she did proceed, as did my wife.

I don't understand, Assistant Commissioner, why—this is two times now, two different people—anybody would be directed to go through the East Block, especially when they've identified themselves.

11:20 a.m.

A/Commr James Malizia

Mr. Comartin, you're absolutely accurate. There is no reason for a member of Parliament or a spouse to be directed to go through the East Block or any other side. They should be allowed, once they've been cleared, to enter the Centre Block or wherever once they pass the screening area.

I will look into that, and I will ensure that this is clear with our members and it's included in our directives for future planning.

In terms of the preplanning phase, as you know, we plan with the Senate and House of Commons. Our folks go through, different people go through, the actual planning stage to look at the whole security picture.

That should have been flagged. I'm going to go back and look at it to (a) see why it wasn't flagged in the planning process, and (b) make sure we don't repeat that.

11:20 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Joe Preston

You have about 10 seconds, Joe.

11:20 a.m.

NDP

Joe Comartin Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

Why was I stopped from going to...?

I don't know, Assistant Commissioner; I suppose I'm not comfortable, and I want to be blunt on this, about the sense of seriousness that we would expect when we have somebody like the President of Israel here.

Anyway, I'll come back to that in my next round.