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Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs



Tuesday, May 8, 2012

[Recorded by Electronic Apparatus]



     We'll call our meeting to order.
    We are still studying an order of reference and a question of privilege relating to the free movement of members around the precinct.
    We have a guest with us today from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
    Is it Deputy Commissioner...?
    Mr. Malizia, you've been with us before. You were with us not that long ago on the other study of privilege we were doing. We were suggesting this morning that you could become a permanent member if you come one more time. Pick out a good chair for yourself.
    I understand you have a few opening remarks today. Let's go through those, please, and then the members will have some questions for you.
    Thank you, Mr. Chair.
    It is a pleasure for me to join you here today to address the question of privilege relating to the free movement of members of Parliament within the parliamentary precinct.


    I would like to thank you for extending us an invitation to provide you with the most recent update on this important issue.


    As you know, the RCMP has a mandate to protect the grounds of Parliament Hill. Furthermore, we are also mandated under the Criminal Code with protecting visiting international protected persons such as heads of state or of government and foreign diplomats while in Canada. The RCMP recognizes the need to balance security and access, but we also recognize that the implementation of security measures cannot override the right of MPs' access to the parliamentary precinct.
    As the committee is well aware, Parliament Hill represents the physical embodiment of Canadian democracy, culture, and values. As such, it has become a preferred site for individuals to hold peaceful protests and demonstrations. Unfortunately, its symbolic and functional relevance also positions it as a focal point to attract negative or potential criminal acts by those who wish to interfere with its functions.


    Our police officers have diverse operational policing backgrounds and bring maturity, professionalism and experience to our Parliament Hill detachment.


    For example, Constable Vladimir Napoleon is a seasoned police officer working out of our Parliament Hill detachment. He served in Surrey, British Columbia, where he worked as a uniformed police officer responding to calls for service. He was also a member of British Columbia's integrated homicide investigation team investigating the Surrey Six murder case related to street gangs.


    Constable Annie Delisle served in Carnduff, Saskatchewan, where she investigated a large variety of criminal offences. She also served in Pond Inlet, Nunavut and Rouyn-Noranda, Quebec, where she conducted numerous investigations related to illegal sales of tobacco products and drug trafficking.
    These two police officers are reflective of the quality of RCMP members that are working every day on Parliament Hill. I am proud of having these highly-skilled police officers. These members are intelligent, adaptable and are trained to solve problems in sometimes challenging and stressful situations.


    Securing the grounds of Parliament Hill and providing the safest environment possible for parliamentarians and the public at large requires us to work in close collaboration with all of our security partners, including the Senate and House of Commons security services. The RCMP involves both security agencies in the planning of all operational visits, demonstrations, or events implicating Parliament Hill.
    Along with the Senate and House of Commons security services we have set up a master security planning office. This joint initiative on security matters is designed to strengthen the security culture, enhance interoperability, coordinate activities, and establish efficient processes to share intelligence.
    Over the years we have identified a number of opportunities to work more closely together. For instance, we have daily conference calls to share operational information and activities. There are memoranda of understanding in place to facilitate the sharing of intelligence and access to RCMP radio frequencies. There is a tripartite training project to facilitate joint training exercises. For example, the RCMP provides immediate action rapid deployment training for active shooters to the House of Commons security services.
    All three agencies manage events using the incident command system. This ensures standard command, control, and response during a visit, demonstration, or event. The RCMP has integrated the Senate and House of Commons security officers into our national capital region command centre during all major events.



    As you know, some security upgrades have been completed, including changes to the Vehicle Screening Facility to accommodate the screening of an average of 400 vehicles per day. Additional security enhancements are being implemented to further reduce the risk posed by unauthorized vehicles to all parliamentarians, employees and visitors.


    What occurs off Parliament Hill sometimes impacts upon what happens on the Hill. On average, there are more than 300 demonstrations annually on Parliament Hill and more than 400 within the national capital region. The majority of protests are peaceful; however, in the last year there were 12 demonstrations on Parliament Hill that posed significant security challenges because of the violent or aggressive behaviour of some demonstrators. In addition, the utilization of social media by protestors for immediate mobilization has elevated the level of complexity and planning of security around these events.
    In addition to protests, our members were also involved in securing 12 high-level visits in the past year, which required enhanced security measures and increased vigilance. One of these high-level visits occurred on March 2, 2012, with the visit of the Israeli Prime Minister.
    Media reports have provided a picture of the current environment for Israeli interests. It is essential that we maintain a high level of vigilance when the Prime Minister, the President, or other dignitaries visit Canada. Under such circumstances, the complexity of our mandate increases, requiring enhanced coordination of specialized units from within the RCMP and with other law enforcement agencies to ensure the safety and security of the international protected persons and the locations visited.


    On March 2, the RCMP was required to significantly bolster our regular Parliament Hill resource deployments in order to provide the appropriate level of security for the visit of Prime Minister Netanyahu.


    Needless to say, a breach of security screening measures could have had significant consequences. The heightened level of security on the Hill during the visit of Prime Minister Netanyahu required us to be extra vigilant in order to ensure valid accreditation. All deployed resources were briefed and given specific instructions for the day. Members on duty that day were advised to facilitate access to parliamentarians and challenge those without accreditation. These are standard instructions. We were also fortunate to receive assistance from the Senate security service, who assisted us at security checkpoints with quick identification and screening of senators and Senate staff.


    Our regular Parliament Hill resource deployments are issued the Directory of Members of the House of Commons for quick reference and identification of parliamentarians. Unfortunately, we did not have an adequate number of booklets to distribute to the members being mobilized from other areas within the RCMP.


    This has been identified as a deficiency, and going forward we have acquired a sufficient number of directories to issue to all members deployed on Parliament Hill for future events.
    Since March 2, the RCMP has also taken additional measures to improve future visits. This includes: working with the Senate and the House of Commons to have their personnel at key checkpoints along with our members to quickly identify parliamentarians; placing experienced Parliament Hill members at key access points; updating orientation for our members to further enhance their ability to visually recognize parliamentarians.
     I have provided the following direction to the officer in change of protective operations: should RCMP members not recognize parliamentarians, they shall immediately refer to the directory of members for quick identification and access. Operational pre-planning will ensure that during special events, MPs will continue to have access for entry through Centre Block. Security perimeters will be stood down at the end of each special event or visit.


    RCMP Parliament Hill members take pride in keeping parliamentarians and those who visit and work on the Hill safe and secure. We are continuously reviewing our procedures and processes to improve our operations and remain committed to continuing the important work we do daily with our security partners.
    Thank you.


    Thank you very much.
    I will go first to Mr. Lukiwski for seven minutes, please.


    Thank you, Assistant Commissioner, for appearing.
    Let me first say that I have untold respect for the RCMP and all that you do. I have a long history with the force, frankly. I live in Regina Beach, but part of my constituency is Depot. One of my dearest friends is Bill MacRae. If you know anything about RCMP history—and I know from your knowing nod that you do—you know Mr. MacRae's past history with the force. I should also tell you that I have a very personal involvement. My mother's first husband was an RCMP officer who was killed on duty at Depot. So I have a long history and involvement and abiding respect for the job that you do.
    I want to say thank you for everything you do, not just on the Hill for parliamentarians, but for all Canadians across Canada. I know the force has been under some pressures lately, from a public relations and public image standpoint, but I'm sure the new commissioner, Commissioner Paulson, and all officers, commissioners, and assistant commissioners will be able to resolve those challenges and continue with the great work you do. I want to get that on the record.
    The reason we're here, of course, is to try to see if we can come up with some solution to some of the problems we've had in years past with visiting dignitaries coming and members of Parliament not being granted access to Parliament Hill. I know my colleagues in the NDP will have some specific questions about that.
    You referenced it in your opening comments, and you mentioned that during yesterday's visit by President Peres, you actually had some security from the Senate staff assisting your forces in identifying senators and allowing them passage. I asked the sergeant-at-arms when he was here last week about the level of cooperation between the security forces inside the precinct and inside Centre Block and the RCMP. He referenced, quite correctly, the fact that the RCMP has jurisdictional authority outside of the buildings.
    My question is, quite simply, why couldn't there be, on a regular basis, that level of cooperation that you saw yesterday, with security staff inside simply going out to your force and asking if you need a hand in identifying some of the members? They have, I think, enhanced training on recognition of members of Parliament. Is there, in your opinion, a problem there? I think I used the term “a pissing match” between the two security forces. Why couldn't it just be as simple as, on a regular basis, a standing operating procedure: whenever there's a visiting dignitary coming to Parliament Hill, there would be a joint identification force, if we want to call it that, with security members from inside assisting your forces. Is that something that could or should happen, and would you comment on whether it will happen?
    Thank you, Mr. Chair.
    Sir, in fact, it is a conversation that I did have with Mr. Vickers recently, in order to have that implemented on an ongoing basis. My understanding is that yesterday there were House of Commons security personnel outside assisting us, which greatly facilitated access for parliamentarians. It is a best practice and it is a way of doing business going forward.
    In fact, when we talk about interoperability amongst all security agencies—this includes Ottawa Paramedic Service, Ottawa Fire Services, and Ottawa Police Service—we each have specialties and areas of expertise. It's to everyone's advantage to be able to come together, integrate, and provide the best possible service in the most efficient manner. Certainly it's a best practice for us to keep moving forward together, and it should mitigate the issue at hand.
    Yes, I think it would, because, as you mentioned, one of the problems that we're discussing today was the fact that you didn't have as many directories for identification of pictures, but we all know that a lot of times pictures you see in a directory are not the same as what the individual actually looks like. As my colleague beside me pointed out, you could have your picture taken while you were sporting a beard and then the day of the visit you're clean-shaven.
    Secondly, I think a lot of people have a bit of an ego when it comes to putting pictures in directories and they may have a more flattering picture in the directory than they actually appear—present company excepted.
    I would suggest that the directory, while it would be helpful, would not actually solve the problem in some cases. I think that interoperability you're talking about would be the answer. I would certainly encourage you and the parliamentary security forces to work together at all further visitations.


     Thank you.
    Chair, that's about it for me. Some of my colleagues may want to take the rest of my time.
    There are about two minutes left.
    Mr. Reid, I see your hand. I'll give you those two minutes.
    I want to just follow up on this with what happened yesterday. Just by coincidence, we had something happen in my office that let us see how flexible the new arrangement is of having House of Commons and Senate people present. I was quite impressed.
    What happened specifically was that, as I was leaving the Hill, I realized that I didn't have my parliamentary pin with me. I had on the same pin that I'm wearing today, to promote awareness of childhood illness. But I could see that there was a House of Commons person there, so I stopped and said, “If I leave the Hill, am I going to have trouble getting back on?” He said, “No, I know who you are.” Down I went, off the Hill.
    As I was leaving, I passed a photocopy repairman who had been up in my office fixing a computer—sorry, photocopier. He'd had to leave the Hill to get a missing part. He came back and was denied entrance. He trotted down, grabbed my coattail, and dragged me back up. When I said “This guy is with me”, they let me through, but they said I had to take him to all the various checkpoints inside. I was able to get him back to the office.
    So something that could have been difficult, not just for me but for a guy who has no particular privileges here and who does have a legitimate reason to be here, was, I thought, very well resolved by the way in which you and the House of Commons and Senate security were working together. My hat is off to you for that.
    A voice: We're glad you weren't arrested—
    Well, here's the real question: is your computer fixed?
    It was the photocopier, and it's working just fine, thank you.
    Thank you. We've used all of Mr. Lukiwski's time.
    Mr. Comartin, you have seven minutes.
    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?
    No. My direction involves all instances.
    All right.
    Who made that decision? Who set this policy that parliamentarians would in fact be challenged if they didn't have ID?
    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.
    Okay. Enunciate the directive, then.
     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.


     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.
    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.
    All right.
    Just so we're clear, that policy, those instructions—are you the person who decides that?
    Yes, sir.
    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.
    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.
    You have about 10 seconds, Joe.
    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.
    Monsieur Garneau, you have seven minutes.
    Thank you, Mr. Chair.
    Fellow colleagues will be relieved that I don't have a speech bubbling up within me, but I would like to thank the assistant commissioner for his opening remarks.
    I think you've addressed my concerns. I think I understand why things went wrong last March and I think you've reassured me that the chances of something like this happening in the future are very, very small.
    I have no further questions.
    What a very efficient use of time today, Mr. Garneau.
    I have a lot of others on the list, though.
    Mr. Albrecht is next.


     Thank you, Mr. Chair.
    Thank you, Assistant Commissioner, for being here today. I as well am encouraged by your opening comments, and I do value very highly the work of you and your force. In fact, just a few weeks ago, I was privileged to be in France, at Vimy, where one of your colleagues accompanying us certainly did your force and all Canadians proud.
    I'm encouraged especially by the tone throughout your opening remarks, the tone of your openness to input and to modifying to improve the process, and also your openness to collaboration with the different security forces here on the Hill. But I would just like to say that in terms of the seriousness of the potential danger that any of these instances present, for me, as a member of Parliament, I would rather have my privileges curtailed in some way than to somehow compromise security.
     We go through security every week in our airports and so on. There are some complaints about all of that. For me, as a Canadian, I am thankful for those people who are ensuring that the protocols are followed and that we are in fact assured that once we arrive in this place, we're safe. I just want to get that on the record.
    In one comment you made, near the bottom of page 2, you talk about the 300 demonstrations that occur annually on the Hill. You said that 12 demonstrations in the past year have “posed significant security challenges due to violent or aggressive behaviour” of some of the demonstrators. My question is, is there a log or a record kept in terms of the groups that are consistent repeat offenders, such that they would be screened more seriously if they apply for a permit in the future? Are you aware of any way that we can mitigate those numbers of violent occurrences?
    Well, certainly I'm aware that there is a committee our folks participate in that reviews the requests for permits and demonstrations on the Hill. Of course, that's one of the factors that's considered, amongst many.
     But also, when you look at the vast majority of groups that are demonstrating/protesting, you see that everyone is peaceful. It really comes down to individuals most of the time, so we try to focus on the individuals who are committing the criminal acts, not the groups.
    That's my concern. We want to protect the right of Canadians to present their views in front of Parliament. I think it's one of the democratic processes that we all value, on all sides of issues. It would be a concern to me if there's a small group of people who consistently create problems, in that there's a potential somewhere down the road that we're going to say, for example, “Hey, this is just too big a problem and we're going to have to put a security perimeter way out on Wellington.” I just would hesitate to see that day come.
    Thank you.
    I have a bunch of Mr. Albrecht's time left if anyone would like it, or we'll wait for the next round.
    Mr. Zimmer, you have two minutes.
    I would like to concur with my colleague. I would much rather be here talking about the odd lapse, I guess, in terms of being overprotective of Parliament Hill, as opposed to having this conversation after having lost somebody because there has been a crack in our defences.
    I would like to thank you for what your forces do on a daily basis for us and for Parliament Hill. Again, for the amount of time it takes to produce our ID, to me, that's a small cost for what is.... I mean, it's protecting all of us and protecting heads of state, so I concur in that way.
    I will ask you a question, though, with regard to your knowledge of the way other democracies work. Is it a similar process in Washington? Do people have to provide ID for entrance? Is it the same in England? What is your experience?
    My understanding is that parliamentarians at Westminster have to produce a card for access.
    Okay. That's all I need.
    Thank you.
    Thank you.
    Madame Latendresse, you're next.


    I have a brief question related to the examples that Mr. Comartin just gave you.
    So that we understand the situation, I would like to point out that the individuals were arriving on the Hill. They had not yet reached Centre Block. In fact, we are wondering how parliamentary privilege and access to the Hill is dealt with generally?
    This is how it happened. She was near East Block and was told that she would have to go through the tunnel. How does it work and what are we supposed to do when we are on the Hill, but outside the buildings?


     There is a difference between the way things worked beforehand and what we are going to do in the future. Changes have been made. For example, on March 2, there were two security perimeters; one at the lower drive and the other at the top drive. However, we had to eliminate the lower drive perimeter so that people could get to the five access points located at the top of the Hill. Now, once you have crossed one of these access points, depending on where you are, you will be able to continue. If you wish to go to Centre Block, you could continue and have access to the building.
    We will be able to do this without having to go through the previous security measures.
    In Westminster, England, there are nearly 600 members of Parliament. It would certainly be more difficult to memorize the faces of 600 individuals.
    For RCMP members, this would include all parliamentarians and, of course, those of the Senate.
    Thank you.


     Do you want to share that time, Mr. Cullen?
    Sure, I'll take a couple of minutes.
    Thanks for coming. This is a difficult task for you, to balance this. It's an unusual environment around Parliament Hill, particularly with respect to parliamentarians and our access on these heightened security days, so you have my...I don't know if “sympathies” is quite right, but hopefully my understanding.
    This is probably before your time, but just for interest's sake, you mentioned at the beginning of your speech the number of protests that you deal with in any given year. I'd be curious to get a sense of the number of protests over, say, the last decade. Are we on a trend toward increasing, or are we decreasing? Is your job becoming more complex that way? Do we see more arrests, more people taken off the Hill?
    You don't have to answer that now. If you know it, great, but you can also get that to us later.
    As well, the incidents that have been mentioned by all parties are often in connection with a visit from the head of state from either Israel or the United States. I assume you have special protocol arrangements with those. Are there other nations on the list that require that different type of protocol arrangement with your force when they come here?
    I'll leave it at those two questions. I'm not sure how much time I have left, so we'll go from there.
    Thank you, Mr. Chair.
    To start with your second question, yes, we do have protocols and arrangements with different countries. I shouldn't say “protocols”; I should say we negotiate security arrangements in the sense that we look to see the level required according to threat assessments. We have a threat risk assessment prepared, and then there will be advances conducted by the visiting country, no different from what we do when we travel abroad with our Prime Minister, let's say. At that point there will be different things discussed.
    At the end of the day, the RCMP and the partners here are the ones who control security and decide upon what level we're going to put in place and what it will look like.
    This is anecdotal—again, I don't know your world and what you have to deal with—but as a parliamentarian over the last eight years, there is a palpable difference when it's a president of the United States or a leader from Israel. I don't get the same difference when....
    I think we have a leader from Poland coming next week. Is that right? My expectation is that it will seem like the same day on the Hill. I know you have final say, or I assume you have final say. Is the arrangement different?
    It is, because it's linked to the threat assessment.
    Mr. Nathan Cullen: Right. So it's if the threat assessment is different.
    A/Commr James Malizia: If you have a dignitary who's considered a higher threat, then of course wherever that dignitary visits the site will automatically ramp up because of the dignitary's presence. It changes, of course, when you have a dignitary who's a low threat. You won't necessarily see the same response.
    And then we feel those small consequences, as parliamentarians, in terms of what we face when we come onto the Hill, depending upon that level of threat assessment.
    You'll see the ramped-up number of members. Hopefully with the arrangements we have in place there won't be that issue of access anymore.
    To answer your first question, sir, with respect to the number of protesters we deal with in any given year, we've seen an increase through the years. As I mentioned earlier, one of the complexities with....
    I just look at my teenaged daughters; they're able to mobilize friends very quickly and efficiently. Those tactics are sometimes utilized by other people and protesters. It makes our job more complex, in the sense that what happens off the Hill has an impact on the Hill, and vice versa. We work very closely with the Ottawa Police Service and our other security partners.


     Is it harder to anticipate because of those tools?
    It's challenging, but we're adapting, and we're building those relationships with the organizers of those groups to try to get advance notice when possible. But again, with social media—
    They can be anonymous.
    —it changes really quickly, and we have to have the ability to ramp up very quickly and ramp down very quickly as well.
    Thank you, Mr. Cullen.
    Mr. Comartin, you can take some more of his time after.
    Mr. Hawn.
    Absolutely. That's very generous.
    Thank you, Mr. Chair.
    Let me add my personal thanks for everything you guys do as a force.
     I have just a couple of really quick questions. Just to be really clear, at Westminster, they show cards all the time for entry?
    It's my understanding that they have to present a card.
    And in D.C., my recollection is everybody has cards all the time.
    I don't recall. It has been a while since I've been there.
    That is my recollection, though it's a little bit apples and oranges because of the threat environment in D.C. versus the one here, but I think on balance we get treated pretty genteely, I would say.
    I have just one other quick point. When we have somebody like the President of the United States or the Prime Minister of Israel...obviously I don't want specifics, but suffice it to say that the people they bring with them have a fair bit of influence on the security arrangements. And likewise when the Prime Minister goes somewhere, our folks with him have a fair bit of influence on the security arrangements wherever he is.
    We'll negotiate those security arrangements to see what's reasonable. When we're receiving foreign security forces, we'll ensure that we have an appropriate number of members overseeing who's present and what's in place, and they integrate with us as well. So we take that responsibility, but it's very structured in the way we go through operational plans, and at the end of the day we have the last say.
    I'll just add to Harold Albrecht's point that I'd rather have a little extra security than be faced with the consequences of not having enough.
    Thanks so much.
    Mr. Kerr.
    We have a cooperative group today. I'm pleasantly surprised.
    Mr. Comartin.
    Well, just to get on the record with regard to my colleagues on the other side, this isn't a question of giving up. It's not necessary to give up the historical privileges we've had. It's a question of how it's enforced and how our services are deployed.
    Just quickly, with regard to the policy you've enunciated now in terms of what instructions go to your staffing, is that policy reduced to writing?
    It's in the process of being written. I've put it in the form of an e-mail, but it's in the process of being worked into our standard operating procedures.
    Are those procedures public?
    No, they're not public.
    In terms of this particular part of it, are you prepared to give a copy, once you finalize it, to this committee?
    I would have no objection to providing the written aspect of the standard operating procedures.
    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?
    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.
    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.


     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.
    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?
    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.
    There would be a number of these, a good percentage, who would be new to the Hill, as they were not...?
    That's correct. The majority would be mobilized from our headquarters and other areas.
    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?
    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.
    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?
    No, I'm good, Mr. Chair.
    Okay. We'll go to Mr. Cullen.
    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?
    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.
    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.


    It is certainly the easiest way. The backup would be the booklet for a member, to verify—
    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.
    Madame Turmel, did you have a question?


    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.
    Thank you very much, Ms. Turmel.


     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.
    Thank you.
    Thank you for coming today, and thank you to your colleagues for coming with you.
    We'll suspend for a minute. With the permission of the committee, we'll go in camera.
    [Proceedings continue in camera]
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