September 25, 2023

The Queens County Citizen

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Ottawa | The former MP said that he was discriminated against in the matter of parliamentary security

Ottawa |  The former MP said that he was discriminated against in the matter of parliamentary security

(OTTAWA) A former MP who says he was recently racially discriminated against by parliamentary security is seeking service to fight racism.

Posted at 8:19 am

Erica Ibrahim
Canadian Press

Celina César-Chavannes said she was questioned by members of the Parliamentary Protective Service in June when she tried to enter the compound wearing a parliamentary pin.

The pin, worn by current and former MPs, is intended to allow the wearer to enter any building within the parliamentary precinct without their bags and person being searched. But she said the security staff asked her where she got the PIN and tried to find it anyway.

Mme Cesar-Chavannes in 2015 in Whitby, Ont. Elected as Liberal MP for the riding, but left the caucus in March 2019 and served as an independent MP until the next fall’s election.

Mme After her interrogation, César-Chavannes said former NDP MP Peggy Nash was able to get to safety without incident.

“Peggy left politics long before I did,” says Cesar Chavannes. No one expects them to recognize us, but the brooch is universal. Security knows what it is. »

Mme Nash served as the MLA for Parkdale-High Park in Toronto from 2006 to 2008 and regained his seat from 2011 to 2015.

Although she did not see the first part of the meeting, Mme Nash confirmed that she arrived at the entrance of the Senate building with her own lapel pin and was waved through security.

Mme Nash recalls Chavannes-César said at the time that when security asked her where she bought her pin, “they didn’t believe she could legally have a parliamentary pin.”

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This is not the first time the security service has arrested Hill for racial profiling.

In 2019, the service apologized after an incident at a lobbying event called Black Voices on the Hill, where several young people allegedly called themselves “dark-skinned people” and were asked to leave the parliamentary cafeteria by a security guard.

In his farewell speech in 2021, Mumilak Kakkak, who served as the NDP MP for Nunavut, said he did not feel safe on the Hill. She described being chased down the hall by members of the Parliamentary Protective Service and subjected to racial profiling.

“Every time I walk the grounds of the House of Commons, every time I speak in these chambers, I am reminded with every step that I do not belong here,” said Kakkak.

In response to a message posted on Twitter by On the day of the incident, former César-Chavannes, NDP MP Lauryn Liu said, “When I was on Parliament Hill ten years ago, these daily racial and gender profiles scared me at work. »

NDP MP Matthew Green, a member of the Black Legislative Caucus, said the group had also heard of other incidents.

“We need to work with senior management to ensure that all staff members have adequate training,” Green said, adding that he is in discussions with caucus members to ensure this type of situation does not happen again.

Mme César-Chavannes said the Acting Director of the Parliamentary Protective Service, Larry Brookson, was quick to respond to the incident and apologise. But she feels she needs to do more, and an apology without action means nothing.

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Mme Nash remembers Mr. Brookson was asked what action he would take for the César-Chavannes service.

“It didn’t seem fully thought through, but there was a commitment to moving forward with her and making sure the staff were properly trained,” Nash

Mme César-Chavannes said Mr. Brookson invited them to meet with their diversity, equity and inclusion specialist, but there was a delay of about five weeks in scheduling the meeting. In this meeting, she demanded accountability and concrete steps to prevent recurrence of similar situations.

She claims that the conversation has since stalled.

“In a position of power and authority […]You have the opportunity to make decisions about what happens next for people in that space,” she said, adding that she was advocating on behalf of those who were subjected to the same treatment and had less say.

“It’s 2022 so I think it’s wise for them to take it seriously and this kind of heinous abuse shouldn’t happen here,” Nash

“As long as stereotypes persist, and as long as people dismiss complaints about someone else’s hurt feelings, truly representative parliaments cannot take their full place and that is simply undemocratic. »

When asked about the incident, the Parliamentary Protective Service said it was following an “assessment and capacity building process”.

“We are committed to continuous improvement, encouraging genuine conversations and receiving constructive feedback,” the department said Thursday, adding that the safety and well-being of employees and visitors to the Hill is its top priority.

“We should do better,” said Cesar Chavannes.

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