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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

11:35 a.m.

NDP

Joe Comartin NDP Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

In terms of this particular part of it, are you prepared to give a copy, once you finalize it, to this committee?

11:35 a.m.

A/Commr James Malizia

I would have no objection to providing the written aspect of the standard operating procedures.

11:35 a.m.

NDP

Joe Comartin NDP Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

If you could, please send it to the chair once it is finished. Thank you.

I'd like to go back to specific incidents and my concern over how we enforce. The other incident we had, when Mr. Netanyahu was here, was that one of our members, Madame Freeman, was stopped at the lower level. Again, she identified herself by way of her card, and then was escorted, I believe, right to the door. Unfortunately, she's out of the country right now, so I haven't been able to get the final details on this. Is that standard practice? Are they supposed to escort?

On one hand, you could say, “That's very nice. I'm an MP and I get this special treatment.” On the other hand, you can see it as, “They don't trust me, so they're going to walk me up to the door.” But is it standard practice for that to happen?

11:35 a.m.

A/Commr James Malizia

Mr. Chair, it is not standard practice. It depends on the factors involved. Was the motorcade in movement at the time? Was it coming through? Was it easier to do that, under the circumstances? But, no, it's not standard practice.

11:35 a.m.

NDP

Joe Comartin NDP Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

I can't tell you whether the motorcade was moving. I think the motorcade would have been here by then.

Finally, there was the incident I had. I was leaving Parliament Hill that day. It was late in the afternoon, about 3:30 or 4 o'clock, and I was trying to catch a flight. I was carrying my luggage. I went down the central stairs. There were eight or ten of your officers there. There was nothing going on down below. Mr. Netanyahu and everybody else was off the Hill by that time. I was stopped and told I had to walk around the driveway. I have no idea why.

Quite frankly, it was just the attitude of your officers that irked me, and if I hadn't been in a hurry to get to my plane, I would have challenged them.

So I don't know what that was about. I don't know why you were still there, why your officers were still there, quite frankly, because the whole event was over by that time.

11:40 a.m.

A/Commr James Malizia

First of all, Mr. Chair and Mr. Comartin, let me apologize for that incident. That's unacceptable.

Our members should have.... Again, once the visit has ended and perimeters are down, there's free access, so that should not have occurred.

With respect to why they were still there, that's a good question. Again, depending upon the circumstances and the timing of when the motorcade departed, we usually, for different reasons, keep the site secure upon departure, and then we stand down our members.

11:40 a.m.

NDP

Joe Comartin NDP Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

On a day like that, when you have somebody as important and at that high a risk level, how many new officers do you bring onto the Hill proportionately to the ones you have on an average day?

11:40 a.m.

A/Commr James Malizia

Well, sir, I won't get into the specific numbers of the officers we had deployed that day, but it would be more than 100.

11:40 a.m.

NDP

Joe Comartin NDP Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

There would be a number of these, a good percentage, who would be new to the Hill, as they were not...?

11:40 a.m.

A/Commr James Malizia

That's correct. The majority would be mobilized from our headquarters and other areas.

11:40 a.m.

NDP

Joe Comartin NDP Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

In the manual you use to direct these kinds of events, are all the instructions given, or do you parcel them out according to responsibility?

11:40 a.m.

A/Commr James Malizia

There is a briefing that occurs in the preplanning. First of all, there's the preplanning phase, where all of the partner agencies are involved in setting the parameters.

Then there are consecutive briefings right up to the actual event or the day of the event. There will be supervisors who are briefed, and subsequent to that there will be specific briefings with each team. Also, there will be general briefings with everyone there on the day of the event.

So there's a succession of briefings based on the same instructions that are provided to members. As well, depending upon the length of the event, there may also be booklets prepared for that event.

11:40 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Joe Preston

Thank you, Mr. Comartin. We're well over.

I have no one else on the list. I know that Mr. Cullen wanted another minute.

Mr. Zimmer, I have you on the list. I gave you some time earlier. Do you need anything else?

11:40 a.m.

Conservative

Bob Zimmer Conservative Prince George—Peace River, BC

No, I'm good, Mr. Chair.

11:40 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Joe Preston

Okay. We'll go to Mr. Cullen.

11:40 a.m.

NDP

Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Thank you, Chair.

Just very briefly, Assistant Commissioner, and more for curiosity's sake, I'd like to get the actual stats from you in terms of what the trend lines are for protests on the Hill and for arrests on the Hill. It's just for my own benefit and sense of what's happening for you folks in your reality.

For my second question, just to be very specific about protocol, it seems that this balance we're trying to achieve between security and members' privileges to gain access to the Hill is well achieved when you have that accompaniment or the booklet or some combination. That seems to be the obvious solution you've landed on.

Is that just standard protocol now so that we don't keep coming back to this Groundhog Day moment every year, where someone got denied and someone got sent down a tunnel and all the rest...? Would this not be achieved by simply ensuring that you always have, at these key checkpoints, a House of Commons staff member who can verify our identities and proceed with things?

11:40 a.m.

A/Commr James Malizia

Well, we have the master security planning office, which is comprised of House of Commons, Senate, and RCMP security, to work through these matters. I'm going to ask the officer in charge of protective operations, who is here with me today—Chief Superintendent Marty Cheliak—to ensure that it's enshrined, brought forward, and documented as the way forward for all three parties.

11:40 a.m.

NDP

Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Right. In a sense, your members, especially—as Mr. Comartin said and you confirmed—those who come from off the Hill and have no experience with this, are put into an impossible situation when someone like me comes up and says, “I'm an MP, so let me through.” They've been given security protocols and they have a very high-level dignitary, and they're going to play to safety and deny access or try to find some other solution. This just seems like the easiest way to take care of this so that we don't have to keep talking about it.

11:45 a.m.

A/Commr James Malizia

It is certainly the easiest way. The backup would be the booklet for a member, to verify—

11:45 a.m.

NDP

Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Right. So we shouldn't see occasions in the future where neither of those two pieces are in play, just so we don't again have a member standing there and trying to get to the House.

Thank you.

11:45 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Joe Preston

Madame Turmel, did you have a question?

May 8th, 2012 / 11:45 a.m.

NDP

Nycole Turmel NDP Hull—Aylmer, QC

Thank you, Mr. Chair. I have more of a comment than a question.

Prior to March 2, we were regularly asked to identify ourselves when a new police officer was on duty. I have really seen a difference over the past two months. I mentioned this last week at committee. From what I could see, in many cases, a new officer was accompanied by a more experienced one and the message would be conveyed immediately. I really appreciated this. As we often arrive at the last minute, we want to get through the security perimeter quickly. So I really do appreciate this improvement.

11:45 a.m.

A/Commr James Malizia

Thank you very much, Ms. Turmel.

11:45 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Joe Preston

Assistant Commissioner, thank you for coming today and sharing your thoughts with us. I think you've shared with us some solutions.

As Mr. Cullen said, this has kind of been a Groundhog Day for us. This committee has looked at this exact same breach of privilege a number of times over the years, so hopefully we can make this a more permanent solution.

11:45 a.m.

A/Commr James Malizia

Thank you.