Thursday 1 February 1996
Security of the legislative precinct
Dominic Agostino, MPP
Joseph Cordiano, MPP
Gerry Phillips, MPP
STANDING COMMITTEE ON THE LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY
Chair / Président: Arnott, Ted (Wellington PC)
Vice-Chair / Vice-Président: Hastings, John (Etobicoke-Rexdale PC)
*Arnott, Ted (Wellington PC)
*Bartolucci, Rick (Sudbury L)
*Boushy, Dave (Sarnia PC)
Cooke, David S. (Windsor-Riverside ND)
*DeFaria, Carl (Mississauga East / -Est PC)
*Froese, Tom (St Catharines-Brock PC)
*Grimmett, Bill (Muskoka-Georgian Bay / Muskoka-Baie-Georgienne PC)
Hastings, John (Etobicoke-Rexdale PC)
*Johnson, Ron (Brantford PC)
*Miclash, Frank (Kenora L)
*Morin, Gilles E. (Carleton East / -Est L)
*O'Toole, John R. (Durham East / -Est PC)
Silipo, Tony (Dovercourt ND)
*Stewart, R. Gary (Peterborough PC)
*In attendance / présents
Substitutions presents / Membres remplaçants présents:
Christopherson, David (Hamilton Centre / -Centre ND) for Mr Silipo
Clerk / Greffière: Freedman, Lisa
Staff / Personnel:
Sibenik, Peter, procedural research clerk, Office of the Clerk
The committee met at 1302 in room 228.
SECURITY OF THE LEGISLATIVE PRECINCT
The Chair (Mr Ted Arnott): I call this meeting of the standing committee on the Legislative Assembly to order. We continue our discussions on the issue of security in the Legislative Building. We're now at the point where the Liberal caucus has a couple of hours this afternoon to discuss the concerns of their caucus, and we have a guest before us today, Mr Agostino. Welcome to the Legislative Assembly committee. Good to have you here, and we'll turn the floor over to you.
Mr Dominic Agostino (Hamilton East): Mr Chairman, thank you for the opportunity to be here on behalf of our party. I'll be using a little of the time today, definitely nowhere near the whole time allotted to us, and Mr Phillips will be joining us later and can use it as well.
I think the process being undertaken now is extremely important, as it is in the early stages of a new government, and the decisions that are made about the type of security, the approach we take to security and the message we send in regard to security in this building, are going to set the tone for the relations between the public and elected officials here at Queen's Park.
When members of our party have raised issues of concern in the Legislature in regard to security in the last few months, it has been as a result of what we believe in most cases to be excessive, unwarranted security. The approach that has been taken sends out a message that is, in my view, very negative. It sends out a message that this place is not open and accessible to the public.
It is a fact of public life, and we all realize when we get into it, that there are going to be people who agree with decisions we make and positions we take and there are going to be those who disagree. Access to government officials, to government buildings, should be as strongly and as easily available to those who agree with the decisions of governments as to those who disagree; in fact, often we have to take even more care in ensuring that the ability of people who disagree, who sometimes are in the minority, is protected.
What I have seen here in these first few months of this new government is, I believe, a very excessive, closed, restrictive approach to the public. I think there have been gross overreactions to demonstrations that have occurred, and you set a tone and set the stage by having police dogs out there, by having officers on horseback, by having riot squads. You set a tone and set the stage for confrontation. You raise the level of the tension that occurs, and often it invites more difficulties because you're in effect almost challenging the individuals out there.
Most demonstrators are peaceful. Most demonstrators who come to Queen's Park are trying to find a way of expressing an opinion and are trying to get a message across to a government that they agree or disagree. There have been demonstrations in the past few years and I'm sure there will be in the next few years. People come forward to demonstrate in support and agreement with a government. That's going to happen and will happen from time to time.
I believe we have to take all the necessary steps to maintain that balance. Yes, there must be a level of adequate security to ensure, obviously, that people demonstrate in a peaceful, quiet way, but at the same time there is that delicate balance that I believe is missing right now.
I cannot help but wonder whether this is part of an approach to shut out the public from the governing process, whether the mentality is that the government is trying to use this committee and the powers of this committee to ensure that the public, particularly those in the public who disagree with this government, do not have access to this building.
I see the barriers outside, I think totally unwarranted. I think what we have said to the public is: "Here's an invitation. Jump over these barriers." This move was implemented early in the term of this government. The other morning I pulled into the underground parking lot and there were three or four OPP vans with police dogs in the vans. They were there because obviously they expected some violent demonstrators to be here that day. It is not an uncommon sight any longer to see OPP vans with guard dogs parked around the building and underground here. One must question what message that sends out and one must question how effective that is going to be as a tool this government is going to try to use to keep people out of Queen's Park.
I don't want to see a situation like we have in Ottawa where it's become a fortress. Frankly, a constituent who happens to be in Ottawa or a member of the public who wants to see an MP must go through an unbelievable cordon of security, cannot go within a foot of the front door without literally being strip-searched. Someone in a member's office has to, first of all, confirm that the individual is there visiting that particular member, so that's easy because if it's someone who may come forward to express an opinion you don't like, you just tell them at that point that you don't want to see them. So that is an effective tool for shutting out the public. You then have to wait for someone to come and get you, bring you to the office and go through all this process: security badge, visitor badges, all these other things that occur. It is a very discouraging, intimidating process for most people to access.
This building belongs to the people. This building does not belong to the elected officials. Access to this building should not be restricted to the individuals who have security cards, to individuals who have the nice MPP pins that we wear and to individuals who are able to get the colour-coded bar cards we're using. As it is becoming now, that is generally the only way people are going to have access to the Legislature, and I don't think this is going to work.
We have security already with the galleries and the chamber. There has been talk of things such as putting a glass protection in front. There's been talk of things such as pepper spray for the officers here. I think these moves are regressive, I think these moves will only invite further trouble, and I would urge this committee to tread very carefully in not making this place basically a fortress.
We have what I believe to be adequate security in place at this point. You may want to take steps to limit visitors to one or two entrances if that makes it easier to flow people through the building. Those types of commonsense approaches, in my view, do make sense, but when you start talking about placing metal detectors at every door, basically making it very difficult for an average individual who is not part of this government or part of the legislative process to come through, I think that is wrong.
But more important, it is what happens outside of this building and what happens on the grounds of this building that we have to be very careful about, because we should never, ever do anything to try to stop or intimidate individuals who choose to express their right in a democratic society to protest, to oppose or to fight any government action. Rightly or wrongly with their view -- we may agree or disagree with their position or the stand they're out there demonstrating for, but we cannot intimidate and we should not intimidate the public.
I can tell you right now that I believe there is an effort here to very much intimidate anyone from coming to the front steps of this Legislature and protesting and expressing their point of view. I think that is undemocratic, I think it is brutal and I would urge the government, which has a majority on this committee and a majority in this House, to be very, very careful.
You're in government right now, but we've had governments change in the last three elections in this province and in four years things may change again. We don't know; it may stay the same. But I think you will be fighting very hard four years from now, if you're not re-elected as the governing party of the day again, to ensure that the minority voice and that opposition voice has the opportunity to express itself on the front lawns of this Legislature, and you will be moving then to undo some of the damage and some of the measures you have put in now to restrict it.
I want to end with a quote. John Kennedy expressed clearly what our system's all about: "Governments that try to dissuade peaceful opposition often will invite violent revolution." I ask you to think of that and I ask you very much to ensure that you allow peaceful opposition and that you allow peaceful demonstrations here, because the alternative, if you stop doing that, is that you're going to create a war zone out there every single week when people come here to protest.
The Chair: Thank you, Mr Agostino. You've given us a detailed presentation of your concerns. We have about 15 minutes, if you'd care to answer some questions and engage in a dialogue with some of your colleagues. Are there any questions for Mr Agostino at this time relative to his presentation?
Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): I appreciate your comments, Dominic. I think you'll find that a lot of them are shared by members on both sides of the House in our deliberations so far.
One of the things that is clearly apparent to us when we look -- for me, coming at things the way I do philosophically, what you've just outlined is my first natural approach too. When one looks at it a little further, you begin to realize that there is a question of legitimate security for those people who are coming to this building. They're entitled to a certain level of security when they're here in their building.
We've had a fair discussion around the staff: each of our own staff, the staff who support the committees, support the Legislature. They are totally at our mercy, if you will, in terms of the security or lack thereof that's provided for them. They get very little say. I wouldn't mind your thoughts on just broadening out and acknowledging the other side of the equation. How heavy do you see that, and do you have any particular insights or suggestions as to how you would like us to look at both sides of that equation -- assuming you agree. If you disagree, I'd certainly want to hear that too.
Mr Agostino: I agree, David. As I mentioned, I think there has to be a balance there. Our staff -- we're elected officials. We realize that sometimes there are risks that come with that job and we realize that often unpleasant confrontations -- hopefully only in a verbal manner -- with the public will occur. But our staff obviously doesn't run for public office and in a sense should not expose themselves and put themselves on the line in the same way we do. I believe that there should be steps taken, obviously, to control that flow.
One of the things you want to look at is, again, controlling the flow of entrance to visitors into the building, whether it's here or the Whitney Block, for example. Many of us have our offices in the Whitney Block and access to that building is obviously much easier. There's less people around and less security of access to this building.
You may want to look at a system where you have some sort of a sign-in format -- I think that would make sense -- or even some sort of visitor's badge of some type that allows for people to know you're here as a visitor and that the access -- and there should be areas, obviously, that may be off limits. I don't think it's unfair to suggest that certain areas at times may have to be legitimately off limits to the public -- it happens in Ottawa, it happens in other legislatures -- as long as it's done in a fair manner and those areas are agreed upon, say, in a committee such as this where there's a consensus.
If it's clearly the government side of the House, whatever government it may be, trying to say, "This area or that area should be off limits," only to protect themselves from the public even coming into interaction with them, I think it would be wrong. But if there are common areas that the three parties here could feel should be off limits to the public during certain times of the day or when certain things are happening, I would see that. I would see some sort of sign-in procedure in a very relaxed fashion, not sort of a "Bang, stop here," that sort of approach. I think Ottawa's gone too far. I think the steps they have taken are excessive and don't invite the public to come in.
I share your concerns with regard to the public or to access to the buildings much more, and I believe there should be some controls and restrictions, obviously, to protect our staff to a great degree, which is a different situation than, say, what happens outside when people have tried to protest outside and have been intimidated. I really do see a difference between the two but I very much hear what your concerns are in regard to our staff. I think there's got to be a balance there, and I think the committee, all three parties, can come to some consensus as to what that balance will be.
The Chair: Thank you very much. Mr Johnson, do you have a question?
Mr Ron Johnson (Brantford): I want to thank you, Dominic, for some of the comments you made, and I know that we on this side agree with a lot of what you said. I have a couple of questions. Number one: A number of times you insinuated in your remarks that it was the government of the day, ie, us, that was controlling the security here. I would like to know, first of all, how you came to believe that.
Secondly, I want to know whether or not you have any suggestions. One of the problems that we seem to be facing in terms of security is, as you're well aware, some protesting within the galleries. Any suggestions on how we can better cope with that, ie, through these name tags perhaps that you were talking about?
But my first question, of course, is how you came to the conclusions that you came to.
Mr Agostino: Security, technically, is a responsibility of the Speaker and the Sergeant at Arms. That is the technical way that it is done. But let me tell you that when those barriers were put up, this government had the authority to have those barriers removed. They chose not to do that. This government, through the Speaker, and let's not kid ourselves, through the House leader -- I mean, the government House leader would have a great deal of influence to go to the Speaker and say, "On this security measure we think those barriers should come down."
In regard to the level of security here, those decisions are not made independently. Obviously there are times when a minister's office or the Premier's office will call and say: "We expect there's going to be a massive demonstration out there. Beef up the security." So those approaches -- very clearly there is a government of the day. You're responsible for what happens here. Ultimately the buck stops with the government from the point of view of what happens inside and outside this building and, at the end of the day, this government has a great deal of influence as to the level of security that's around here. I don't buy for a moment that it happens totally independent of the government and the influence of government.
Mr Ron Johnson: Just as a follow-up to that, does it happen totally independent of the government? I would hope not, nor would I hope that it happened independent of the other two parties as well. I think that as members, and I've said it before, this is one of the very few issues which really is a non-partisan issue that all three parties should work together on to establish clear guidelines with respect to security.
I would suggest to you as well that the criticisms you've levelled towards the government with respect to their actions or inactions concerning the barriers -- I'd be curious to know what actions the other two House leaders took, and I don't know what actions they took with respect to those barriers, because I see it as a responsibility of all three parties in terms of security. Quite frankly, to suggest for a moment that this government as a party or as members on the other side of the House acted inappropriately with respect to security is unfair. I think it's a responsibility that's shared by all three parties in the Legislature.
Mr Agostino: You're not suggesting, though, that your government House leader or your Premier would not have the ability to be able to have those barriers outside removed.
Mr Ron Johnson: I would, quite frankly, hope that isn't the case. I would hope that it would require some unanimous consensus around the table, to be quite honest.
Mr John O'Toole (Durham East): Thank you, Dominic. It would appear to me, without being too direct, that much of what you said is not correct. To correct the record, I don't believe under the memorandum of understanding that was indeed part of your government's kind of contract with the OPS and the OPP and the duties of the Speaker. I think those were the rules of the day. I don't want anyone to believe, in the record of this meeting or those who may listen, that the government -- and I would not, like my friend Mr Johnson, support for one moment that the Premier has an autocratic, dictatorial right. As a committee of all three caucuses, I want that to be clear.
I really think it is the duty of the Speaker, and the Speaker has made reference to this committee to look at it objectively and to come up with a set of guidelines. It's important to have a look at that memorandum of understanding. We had the privilege of reviewing that, and perhaps you haven't.
You use a couple of things that are in themselves kind of inflammatory. That's part of the problem here, the way we state -- I would ask you a question. The word I'm having the most trouble with is "demonstration." It takes its form in many forms. Should the level of demonstration be the same inside the building as outside the building?
Mr Agostino: No. Obviously, I think there must be further controls inside the building; not control access, but control demonstrations obviously.
Mr Christopherson made reference to the staff and the level of protection and security we can afford our staff, and we should be able to afford our staff, which are obviously working in offices, working inside this building -- obviously, I don't think you can allow unfettered demonstrations and disruptions inside the building to a great degree because people are working and there are things happening. It's a different kind of situation.
That doesn't mean you limit access. What I think you should do is you obviously have to take some steps to limit what happens and to ensure again that there's an atmosphere -- and I think part of that is how we set that atmosphere up. If we can do our part, all of us as legislators, to set up a climate where it doesn't invite and it doesn't look like we're sort of egging people on or tempting people, I think you will see a lowering of that level of anger or frustration at times that occurs in the demonstrations.
Mr O'Toole: I recognize and I've heard -- I'm learning each day, but I'm not new to the process, having been involved since about 1981 in elected office. I've seen very highly sensitive things that come up, and people do have the right to dissent. I fully comply with that. I recognize that. But I think there's a certain amount of safety, public safety.
Then I look back to the leadership -- and you know, we've all used the word that we have members' privilege, and with a privilege goes some responsibilities. As you say, as a member, to be part of instigating a demonstration I think is inappropriate behaviour. Once the kind of mob psychology takes over, it may end up that people quite innocently are hurt through crowd behaviour and various things. I think that happens. I really do think it happens. In fact, as I watched the record of the demonstration on the opening, there were people who were innocently and rightly protesting who were hurt because of the whole mob mentality thing.
I draw it to your attention because we visited the galleries and in the galleries there's such a steep pitch that if somebody stumbled, they could technically flip right over the side. It's tragic. It's the first time I had been in there since I remember once as a child at school or whatever.
I just think the first point I was trying to make is that there is a set of priorities that we're working on to empower the Speaker, in complete isolation from the government, to make the proper decisions to bring to bear the right amount of security and to pre-assess what kinds of actions or proactive action should be taken to prevent any kind of intrusion into the sacred space of this building.
I'd ask you one last question. Do you believe that demonstrations in the gallery by a member are something we should accept as just --
Mr Agostino: By a member?
Mr O'Toole: Yes.
Mr Agostino: A member of this Legislature is accountable to the people who have elected that individual. If a member decides that that member is going to take a demonstration in his or her seat or in the gallery, they have a right to do that. They're accountable to the electorate; they're accountable to the people who have elected them. We have to take responsibility for our own actions. If a member chooses to go up into the gallery and scream something from the gallery, that is really the judgement call of that particular member and obviously that particular member will then have to take the responsibility for that.
The Chair: Mr Agostino, I want to give Gilles Morin --
Mr O'Toole: Yes, just one more question on that same line. Do you think there should be any --
The Chair: Mr O'Toole.
Mr O'Toole: Yes, all right.
Mr Gilles E. Morin (Carleton East): I just want to make a statement. I've been sitting on this committee for 10 years, except for one year when I was a minister. It's a committee that always got along extremely well. We should soft-pedal it, because it's not to the Premier, it's not to the ministers, it's not to the House leaders to dictate to us what we should do about security. It's our House. Sure, it belongs to the public. It's also our House. Let's make sure that we can debate; let's work together.
We're about to submit a report after this committee, and if we submit a report where there's no common agreement, we won't achieve anything. Again, it's going to be tokenism. It's going to be left aside; it's going to be dormant.
Mr Agostino didn't have the occasion, wasn't privileged like we were during the past two days, to visit the House, to listen to a presentation made by the OPP, to listen to some witnesses, to the clerks, their concern. Before we submit a report, I think the OPP should have the opportunity to speak to the members, to show them exactly, to show all, if you recall, what we saw yesterday, the cases of bomb threats, articles that were stolen, people who walk in.
No, I don't want to see it becoming a fortress. I don't think any of the members want to see it as a fortress. But let's try to negotiate a deal that we all get along, because let me tell you, if there is a committee that I enjoy sitting on, where the members became my friends, it's certainly this committee. Because who do we work for? We work for us. We work for the members. So let's not be confrontational. That doesn't achieve anything, honestly, because the moment we get angry, we don't think properly. That's the statement I'd like to make.
The Chair: I have Mr Froese next on the list, if you could be to the point.
Mr Tom Froese (St Catharines-Brock): I appreciate those comments, Gilles, because my comments were going to be on the same line. It's really unfortunate, Dominic, that you didn't have the privilege of sitting in here like the rest of us did and going through the last couple of days, getting an understanding of exactly how security happens around here.
I do have a little bit of problem -- and I guess nobody's going to be here from the NDP caucus, but I certainly hope that when they come in, they understand before they make their presentation how security happens so that we don't go through something like this when Dominic says -- I do take exception to the accusation that it's the government that is in control of the security. Clearly it's not the government side; it's the Speaker and what all has happened in the last 10 years or however many years to develop the security up until now. I guess that's where we maybe take offence on this side, because it doesn't matter what government of the day it is, it's not responsible for the security; it's the Speaker, through this committee and recommendations, and so on and so forth.
I do appreciate the comments that you made with respect to those security issues directly. Politics is politics, I understand that, but I think we really have to be careful in getting our facts and information right before we say certain things, although if I were sitting in your position, not going through the number of days that we did and understanding how security works around here, I probably would have said the same thing. So I think we just need to be careful, especially on an issue of this type.
Mr Agostino: Mr Chair, could I respond to that, please?
The Chair: Certainly.
Mr Agostino: First of all, I've spoken to members who took the tour and heard some of the comments and the feedback that came from that, so I was aware of that happening. I understand, as I said earlier, how technically, within the rules, security is handled by the Speaker and the Sergeant at Arms. But maybe it was just a mere coincidence, though, that when the incidents occurred outside, we had members of both opposition parties get up and speak to what I believe to be an excess, too much security and too much of an inciting and too much of a situation that looked confrontational, and we had government members speak up that security should be tighter. That is fairly consistent with what happened in the House. That is fairly consistent with the view of the House, of people who spoke in the House.
The comments with regard to the government having control: I just cannot believe that you're going to sit there and suggest that the government of the day does not have control over security in this building. I think that's ludicrous. Of course you have control over security in this building.
I think we're all trying to get to the same stage here; it's a question of how we do it. I think all of us are trying to ensure that this place is safe, that it's accessible. I guess the difference that may happen between some of us is, how do we get there and how far do we go to ensure that it's safe and accessible? I think that is where the split comes in opinion, not necessarily the goal of trying to make sure this is a safe place for ourselves and for our staff in here and that we balance the need for the public to access this building.
The Chair: Mr Johnson, one last, brief question if you choose to. Okay, I want to keep this moving along. Thank you, Mr Agostino, for spending your time with us for the last half-hour and for giving us your advice. We appreciate it.
Mr Agostino: I thank the members of the committee, and good luck in the rest of your deliberations.
The Chair: Mr Cordiano, you're next on the list.
Mr Joseph Cordiano (Lawrence): I want to thank the committee for giving me this opportunity; and my caucus, for that matter, because that's who decides these things, the House leader. Let me just simply say that I think this is a very, very important matter that concerns every member of the House. To my colleague, Mr Morin, you're absolutely right to say that. It should be taken in the spirit of non-partisanship and I hope my comments will be taken in that spirit.
I can recall when we were dealing with the issue of free trade -- and I relate this story to you because it gave me a sense of what security was all about -- when I first visited the city of Washington. We were on the committee that was examining free trade and we went there. I arrived there for the first time. Going to Congress was quite an experience for me, as well as visiting with various senators and congressmen and going through the various federal buildings in the capital of the United States. I, along with my colleagues who were there for the first time, was pretty overwhelmed by the fortress that was set up -- the armed camp, virtually, that was presented to us. Every single building we went through, it was quite an ordeal to gain access.
That's probably as it should be in Washington, where the murder rate at that time was probably the highest in the United States. There's a handgun for every single person living in the United States. The level of violence, I don't need to tell you, is much higher than it is in this country. The observation that members made at that time, those who were equally somewhat disturbed with what was presented to us in terms of that level of security and simply saying that's necessary, we said to ourselves once we got here: "Well, thank God we don't have that kind of situation in our country and in our Legislature. It simply would not be appropriate for us, given the kind of society we are, and we hope it never comes to that." This was in 1986.
Here it is 1996 and we're discussing what I think is the issue around balance: the right for public access to this building, the right for security for everyone who is working in this building, the right to conduct the demonstrations that we've seen before the front lawns of this Legislature, the need to continue to have a semblance -- and I say a semblance -- of real exchange between citizens who want to demonstrate. The need for that to take place in a democracy I think has to be maintained. At what cost is the question. Do we allow for less security to enable people to demonstrate in the way that they want to demonstrate?
I understand we cannot have the occurrence of violence or the threat of violence. Even the threat of violence would dictate that we take measures to prevent such violence from occurring. Mr O'Toole, I was shocked that day that there were protesters when Bill 26 was passed and on previous occasions where demonstrators were taken out of the galleries of the Legislature, and the steepness of those steps. I had the same fear. I was literally concerned and quite frightened by the prospect of someone tumbling down those stairs and probably seriously injuring themselves, if not killing themselves.
I think when that situation occurs, appropriate measures have to be taken by the Speaker, just to deal with that for a moment. If it is the Speaker who is making unilateral decisions, if ultimately the authority resides with the Speaker and he will consult with this committee on an ongoing basis to grant him that authority and to grant him the advice and the opinion of members of all the House that you represent on this committee, then we have to insist at this point that the Speaker take an interest in shaping the security so that it does not prevent peaceful demonstrations, so that it does not incite violence, so that it continues to maintain an appropriate balance, given the state of security that's necessary today in 1996.
Not knowing the details of your deliberations over the past two days, and I don't have the insight of that knowledge, as was pointed out, I do believe that notwithstanding that our society perhaps, regrettably, has become more violent and perhaps the level of anxiety has increased over the last number of years and therefore the need for security increases, I for one do not want to be a part of a Legislative Assembly, a Parliament that would see the presence of an armed, almost a quasi-military or paramilitary presence on the lawns of the Legislature each time there is the threat of violence in anticipation of a big demonstration.
Of course you need security. Of course you need support personnel and personnel to deal with emergency situations, but the image of police officers on mounted horses and the other accoutrements of that that existed at Hart House Circle on the day that the Legislature sat for the first time, I think that was a very negative image. I hope everyone agrees that that level of armament, if you will, the image of that is just not acceptable in Ontario. I think that will further incite in the future people who feel they must mount a demonstration to get attention. So it becomes one-upmanship. You have that much security on the grounds that is visible -- and I know it was off on Hart House Circle, but that gets reported in the press, certainly. There is a presence; you can't hide that. Then the next time there's a demonstration, people feel that in order to get that attention, to get that sort of exposure they're looking for, something must happen. So it's one-upmanship. The stakes become higher and then you defeat the purpose of having a balance and maintaining the kind of security that we all want around here.
I would just caution members of the committee that your advice to the Speaker, if he's making these unilateral decisions -- at the time that they're made I don't think he would hastily call a meeting of the Legislative Assembly committee. He obviously consults with officers of the Legislature and seeks their advice, and perhaps makes a decision with the Sergeant at Arms. Whoever else is involved in making that decision, he bears the responsibility for that decision. I would hope that your advice to the Speaker, at least, would sound the tone for balance, that we do not impose a psychology that sees that one-upmanship with a crowd that's determined to make its point on the front steps of the Legislature.
As for internal security, over the years I've had various staff who have, at one time or another, been concerned about people who visited our office, and so whatever steps are necessary -- to perhaps have people sign in, which is I think the method that's followed at the present time. This particular building has freer access than -- perhaps at this point in time you're contemplating increasing the limitations to that access. I don't know what particular steps you're taking or contemplating, but I would ask that the demonstrations that are big, public demonstrations, that you deal with those very carefully; that we do not in fact defeat the very purpose of the security measures that we're taking; that peaceful demonstrations are allowed to continue on the front steps of the Legislature; that we not send a signal out to the public that if you come to demonstrate at Queen's Park there is an increased possibility for violence. That would be my message to you today, that this not be the case, that in your report you make this very clear.
Additionally, internal security: I think it's warranted to have persons who work here secure, that they feel safe at any time of the day or night, that what steps are necessary to be taken have to be taken. I think that there should be controlled access. I can agree with that. There is, to some extent, some control, but not complete control. Again, we need balance there.
I don't want to get into the details of what you're contemplating, but suffice it to say that we do not want to create a fortress around Queen's Park, the kind of armed camp I saw in Washington, in Congress. I hope we never see that here. I hope there's no need to see that here. Perhaps you have further information that would contradict that.
Again, I say that each and every one of us has a responsibility to try to maintain that level of democracy where it is possible for someone to visit your office, someone to visit a member of Parliament without having to be interrogated, without having to be put through the wringer, so to speak, on security each and every time they access this building.
Those are my comments to you and I hope that you would ask further questions. I would like to discuss any of that with you.
Mr Ron Johnson: The thing I'm noticing about the comments that were made is that it's all in keeping with, I think, what we all understand and what we all agree with when you talk about open public access, when you talk about protection for staff, for members, for the people who are visiting. The confusion I have, and I look forward to seeing actually seeing the report, is that I'm hearing a lot of generic comments. I'm hearing a lot of how you don't want a fortress and how we want to make sure -- in particular I guess with respect to security outside the facility.
My question would be, what sort of recommendations can you make to help deal with security outside? The day of the throne speech is probably the best example. How else would it have been dealt with? Not that I sort of condone the actions that were taken -- in many ways I don't -- but how do you deal with that if you have a large number of people who do in fact want to storm into the Legislature? The only way I can see in front of me to prevent that is to have security personnel out front.
I don't understand where you're coming from with respect to the fortress analogy. I don't think we have a fortress here. I don't think this committee has any intention of going in that direction. But at the same time, I understand that Ron Johnson doesn't know everything about security. I've never worked in security in my life and I would guess that probably none of us has. The police officers have. They're professionals and they know how to deal with this sort of thing.
What recommendations can be made from your caucus with respect to dealing with those types of situations where you have large crowds out front that have really one single goal in mind, two in fact: (1) to demonstrate and (2) to get into the building? How do you prevent that without security personnel out front?
Mr Cordiano: I don't know that the intention of any crowd out on the lawn at the front steps of the Legislature would intend to get into the Legislature and would do so by way of violence. There should be a view that anyone could enter this building under circumstances where there is no demonstration of violence. I don't think access should be restricted to anyone; if someone wants to enter the building, they can.
If there is a crowd of 5,000 people, as there perhaps was on the day in question that we're talking about, when you assemble, as I suggested to you, all the security that was assembled in this place, I defy you to argue that there wasn't a fortress mentality that day, I really do. The image that presented to that crowd was, "We're going to take you on." There is a judgement to be made on those kinds of days where you know a demonstration will take place. At the end of the day, when you beef up security to such an extent as we saw that day, I believe that further incites a crowd, and as I said earlier in my comments it's one-upmanship at that point. At that point you are raising the stakes.
I would hope there's consideration, when you're making decisions around the force to be used, of the size of the security force and how visible they are. I think there should be standby forces, yes, but I don't think they need to be onsite, I really don't. Perhaps I'm wrong. Perhaps the experts in the security field would argue with that, but where does it stop? What size of force should there be and who's making that decision, at what time? So you would want to question that.
Mr Ron Johnson: My only concern is I don't want to lose sight of the fact that sometimes security is necessary on the front steps at Queen's Park. It may not look attractive. It may not be the image we want to portray --
Mr Cordiano: The question is, how much?
Mr Ron Johnson: This is what this committee needs to address: How much? The other question of course is, when is it necessary to be there? I'm hearing a lot of generics again and I guess it's a little short on detail for my liking, but I haven't read the recommendations and I look forward to doing that, and quite frankly I certainly will look at them very objectively.
Mr Cordiano: If I may, just one last point: It's a question of the visibility of those security forces. I think that's pretty detailed. You would not want to make that assembled armed force that was off on Hart House Circle visible to the demonstrators or the public; therefore, do not assemble that kind of force. They're just waiting there, saying, "We're ready for you when you come." The psychology involved there, as I explained earlier, is threatening.
Mr R. Gary Stewart (Peterborough): Just two or three short questions: Do you believe the Speaker should have the control or should there be a separate group set up or a separate individual to oversee this who is totally not a politician and would have no bias whatsoever?
Mr Cordiano: I would assume the Speaker would not have any bias. He's acting in the interests of the --
Mr Stewart: We just heard a little while ago that there could be biases. Again, I'm not trying to --
Mr Cordiano: I don't know that we heard that. We heard that the government could be biased.
Mr Stewart: Well, that's what I'm saying.
Mr Cordiano: There were suggestions that the government had made that decision.
Mr Stewart: But I'm talking about, do you think there should be some thought given to a separate identity, rather than a politician, whether it be the Speaker -- I don't care what government's in power -- to have that type of control?
Mr Cordiano: No. Ultimately, we, I believe, are responsible collectively, as members of this Legislature, for everything that happens here. I think the buck stops with us and our representative is certainly the Speaker, and so he would make that decision. I think that's most appropriate.
Mr Stewart: You were talking about open access, that the door should be open to everybody. If there had been no security over the last couple of weeks and couple of months, do you think it would have stopped the $5,000 or $6,000 worth of graffiti that went on here the other day, or the various demonstrations, the breaking of glass, the breaking of doors and so on? Do you think that would have stopped if there'd been no security here?
Mr Cordiano: I think the appropriate question to ask is: Is this occurring because this is the Legislative Assembly or is this occurring relative to other institutions in our society, if that's the level of civil disobedience that's occurring? Obviously, I believe there needs to be an appropriate level of security for this building and the entire precinct. What we're discussing today is the balance that has to be struck between a need for access --
Mr Stewart: If we have open access, how can you stop that sort of thing? The other, final question is, we've not talked about security or protocol or conduct or decorum in the House. We heard a few minutes ago that a gentleman thinks it's fine to get out of the seat, run up, demonstrate up in the gallery and then, I assume, come back down and sit down. I guess my big concern is that whether it be MPPs or various other groups, we are inciting to riot, and I don't care whether it's just standing up and saying, "Hey, Harry, start yelling some more," we are inciting to riot, and that causes --
Mr Cordiano: I don't want to get into that --
Mr Stewart: Well, we should, because it's the total package and we're just singling out one thing, because that type of security and conduct has got to be part of the security in that House because that's what incites people to do what they're doing.
Mr Cordiano: I think that's an inappropriate level for me in the context of what we're discussing today. I would separate those two. What members do in this Legislative Assembly, either waving placards or demonstrating or shouting catcalls at the government side: I don't think you can link that with the violence that took place on the opening of the Legislative Assembly back in the fall.
Mr Stewart: But you see, that violence may not have occurred the other day in that House if there hadn't been some inciting to riot by some of the people who --
Mr Cordiano: Because I could then make the argument --
Mr Stewart: I think it's a total package, that's all.
Mr Cordiano: Then I could make the argument that the way Bill 26 was introduced incites the public because it again antes up the stakes to the public, and a large segment of it felt that what was being imposed on the public was done so undemocratically, and therefore you've now incited the public in some way to demonstrate against that imposition of undemocratic legislation.
Mr Stewart: Other things have been done before, so what's the difference?
Mr Cordiano: We could argue about that incessantly, about how --
Mr Stewart: I think that's what we're talking about.
Mr Cordiano: I think you have to distinguish between --
Mr Stewart: It's a whole package, is all I'm suggesting.
Mr Cordiano: I think you have to clearly distinguish between demonstrators on the front lawns of this assembly and the security forces that are responsible and have to engage with members of the public and what their role should be and what their conduct should be. I think that's where we'd take real responsibility for the conduct of the security forces, and obviously the Speaker must maintain a certain tone and deal with that as his responsibility on behalf of all members of the Legislative Assembly.
Mr Frank Miclash (Kenora): Joe, you were indicating that you've been to a number of places. You talked about the American style and the armed camp mentality sort of thing that you saw down there. We're going to be looking at both Quebec and Ottawa in terms of access to their buildings. I'm just wondering if you have any comments as to how you would like to see a person secure access, whether it be to come here to look at our displays and display cabinets, to come here for committee hearings, to be part of or to be involved in watching the committee hearings or to visit a member's office -- just some comments around that from your experience.
Mr Cordiano: I think you can separate out the areas of the building where you would want the public to have free access and the parts of the building where the security measures should be enhanced. Where our staff work, where in fact we work, the committee rooms: I think you can certainly make a case for a different level of security in those areas. I don't know if that answers your question.
Mr Miclash: What you're suggesting is that the public would have access to, say, the first floor, but would not be allowed on other floors -- this is just an example -- where you'd find a lot of the displays, you'd find the committee rooms or -- you see, it's difficult.
Mr Cordiano: Some care would have to be given to that decision, but you do have committee rooms. Some committee rooms, such as 151, are on the main floor, so therefore you're obviously not going to secure the area around 151. I think you can use a certain amount of logic to determine that that room has to be secured in and of itself and perhaps not the area around it. But certainly these hallways can be more secure than the other hallways that are in the building. In the main part of the building, the entrance, the foyer, there can be unfettered access to those parts of the building.
I don't happen to think that we need even that level of security, personally, but am I to argue with others who perhaps have a different view, some staff, who feel less secure? I've never felt insecure, to tell you the honest truth, my own person. I've never felt that we needed any more security than we've had over the years, but I suppose you're hearing a different story and you have a certain amount of insight and knowledge that I have not been privy to and that may change. I'm qualifying what I'm saying to you as a result of that.
Mr Miclash: Sure. I like your idea of separating the building and of access to certain portions of the building. You talk about the entry. We were down there yesterday taking a look and I kind of like the idea that a person walking into the building should at first feel welcome when they come in. I'm looking forward to going to Ottawa because the last time I went in, I didn't feel welcome. I felt I was intruding on somebody the minute I walked through that front door. So the comments that were made yesterday down there along with your comments today: I think it can be a happy mixture.
Mr Carl DeFaria (Mississauga East): Mr Cordiano, you mentioned the visibility of the police force can encourage violence. I happened to be at some demonstrations where the lack of visibility actually causes more violence. I've seen demonstrations where you'd see only two or three officers visible and people get carried away and become more violent and all of a sudden you see a SWAT team of 30 or 40 officers throwing people to the ground and arresting them.
Don't you think that if the police force around this building would be more properly trained and sensitive to the fact that a peaceful demonstration is a democratic right of individuals to undertake, if they'd be sensitive to those issues, when you have a large crowd like we had at the opening of the session, the visibility of officers in uniform, sensitive officers who would be trained in crowd control, that would actually prevent what took place on that day?
Mr Cordiano: I can't disagree with you. I think that having these officers properly trained is a given. I think you would not want to have anybody who's not properly trained, and I would assume that that is the case already. But having a large assembled force that sits in the wings waiting to pounce on people, I don't think that's a very positive message to that crowd. Ultimately, if that use of force is necessary, there must be a protocol by which that can be carried out. There must be other ways in which to set up a system that would permit that.
But to see happen again what happened the first day of the legislative sitting would really sadden me. It would certainly not make this place an open Legislative Assembly, open to people who want access to it. I think that you then again go back to this level of one-upmanship which will occur. The next crowd will be even more vociferous and even more agitated and the level of anxiety will increase. I honestly believe that. That is my belief.
Mr Rick Bartolucci (Sudbury): Thanks, Joe, for your comments. Certainly they're based on experience and I appreciate them.
I'd rather not talk about the outside. I think right now we should be concentrating on the inside, because the majority of the problems that happened on the opening day were because of a plan that didn't work on the inside. So maybe from your experience you could give us what your interpretation would be with regard to chains of command. We know that the Speaker is in charge of the security, but on any opening etc he's busy with other responsibilities. He designates that to the Sergeant at Arms. Should he be, then, that person who makes all the decisions with regard to security within the building?
Mr Cordiano: Again, I would like to ask these questions of those who were engaged in that. I'm sure there were others involved in making decisions and in offering advice: the head of the OPP detachment, who would have made his or her advice available; the other government security officers who are part of this assembly, the top-ranking official there. I would imagine that the Sergeant at Arms would have input from those people, and if that's not the case, then that should be the case. The decision would be arrived at based on information that is available, information that's gathered about the type of crowd it is and information that I'm sure is made available at that time and was made available regarding the incident at the opening of the Legislative Assembly.
Mr Bartolucci: I think, without divulging anything that was discussed in camera, because we don't want to do that, it's very clear and it was said in open meeting that there were mistakes made, and the mistake was that there was no clearly defined order or chain of command, which is so important. But as I talked to committee members after the committee, we all have the same frustration. Nobody wants to accept who is responsible here. That's why I'm asking for your input. As a member with experience, should it be the Sergeant at Arms who, designated that power by the Speaker, is responsible for ultimately making those decisions, within this building?
Mr Cordiano: I think the Speaker should be a part of every decision that's made. I don't think the Speaker should be left out of that decision-making process. The Speaker has to become apprised of that information and what's involved with security. That's part and parcel of his responsibility, so he has to become more knowledgeable in that area. He has to be able to make those decisions, albeit difficult decisions; someone has to decide that. If we believe that the Speaker has the authority, then the Speaker should make those decisions, with the information available to him as I described in the protocol that's appropriate, with those security officers at the table.
The Chair: Thank you, Mr Cordiano. We appreciate your advice. Mr Phillips, you're next. Welcome to the committee.
Mr Gerry Phillips (Scarborough-Agincourt): Thank you very much. Is this where the witness sits?
The Chair: The ones that aren't getting paid.
Mr Phillips: Let me try and give you my concerns or my hopes that the committee might consider. I think in an era when the public is looking for openness and access and instant communications and feeling a part of things -- you know, all the 1-800 numbers and that sort of stuff -- we're in danger of going in the opposite direction. Maybe we have no choice, but at least we should examine whether there is a choice or not.
This place is almost a metaphor for closedness in that if you look at the place, it's surrounded by a moat. There's only one traffic light that allows you to cross the street. It's a throwback to an era when, I guess, governments knew everything and the public was not particularly welcome to the institutions. There isn't even a taxi stand here. Actually, it's a fairly tough spot to get to for the public, and I have a feeling that may have been deliberate.
Right now at the municipal level, access is pretty easy. People feel they've got access to their elected people there routinely. They at least know where the decisions are being made and they know there's some vehicle for them to come and express their views, and every municipality has those forums for them. Here, for a variety of reasons, we're going the other direction, which is that the access is even tougher now. I understand why we got to where we are, but I think there is a risk that we are going to make the situation worse by people feeling even less access to their government. I would think, particularly for the government members, they may want to really think this one thing through, because almost the last thing you want to do is to look isolated, to look like, "Boy, they are holed up in their bunker and there's no way we can even see them." So that's the challenge.
Frankly, I don't have a lot of creative solutions. I hope you people have the time to examine creative solutions, but I think we are sowing the seeds of more isolation from government with the direction we're going. I suspect that inevitably, when there's a demonstration, there are the professional demonstrators who come looking for an opportunity to do whatever they do. But in that crowd are a lot of people who have never been to the place before. It's the first time they've come, they're frustrated about something, and their first exposure is that it looks like an armed camp of some sort. I suspect that the route we may go is we're going to make it more like that. You know, we're going to head off any opportunity for another mini-riot of some sort so we'll do certain things. As I say, maybe that's inevitable, but at least I would hope the committee might try and think creatively about other ways that we could operate.
I don't know what that is. It's giving people a forum to express their views in. It's finding ways that the public has true access to the Legislature somehow or other. I don't know whether it's anticipating a concern that there's a group -- I don't know all the solutions. I'm just saying, before we focus on where we erect the barricades and where we cut off access here, at least challenge ourselves: Is there any other jurisdiction that has been successful in dealing with this in a more creative way? I suspect that if we don't do that, we will find professional solutions to this by professional security people that reflect the same security they might put on a drug lab or a military base or something or other, when in fact we're here only because some people have voted for us to come here. We don't own the place, they own the place, and in theory they've got access to it.
I don't have solutions for the committee other than asking that you spend some time thinking about the message we want people to feel about this place. Having said all that, I realize that there will be times when there is need for some significant security.
Another thing is that I accept there are some people who have some real problems wandering around this place -- if you haven't yet had them in your office, you will -- who are a threat to you or your staff, and we have to deal with that too.
I'll stop there, Mr Chair. My purpose in coming here was just to ask the committee to step back a little bit, and maybe they've already done that, in trying to think of some creative ways we can tackle this as well.
The Chair: Questions for the witness?
Mr O'Toole: Just briefly, we thank you for taking the time out of your schedule to appear here and to give us your insights and background and your experience here. I think it is kind of a unanimous thing that we don't want to portray -- at least I don't think that we should portray -- a sort of fortress mentality. I completely agree with you. Some of that's symbolically.
I personally disagree with the barbed wire fence and the bicycle stands out front there that act as a barricade. I think it's tragic. It destroys the façade of the building. I have a look at it, as a new person, perhaps from a small difference of view, but I think of the sort of subtle messaging, and even the way you suggested the fortress mentality is kind of deliberate. In fact, it probably was. If I look at the Christmas card, for example, that was sent out, it did have a wrought iron fence around it at one time, sort of an estate type. That's 1915, I think, that picture was taken. They had a fence around it, a wrought iron fence that made it difficult and probably channelled the traffic flow of people.
Now you could walk in from any direction, technically, and I see people running across the street. So it's very hard to manage outside. I think it's a difficult building, primarily because it doesn't have any traffic direction to it except for that one entrance coming in across the front.
But that point being made, that external part, I think there are trained police that regulate public places, whether it's Nathan Phillips Square, the CNE grounds, rock concerts, whatever. They're trained in crowd control and that kind of thing. I think that's what's outside.
Inside is probably where my biggest concern is, and for the same reason as yours: people wandering around. I haven't had that occasion of a stranger wandering into my office, but I can tell you one incident. This is a fact. This is true. I had come in one Monday morning rather early. It would be around 7 o'clock when I got here. The back door here doesn't open until 7:15, I believe, on the north side. That's where my office is. So I came around and came in the west door and walked down. The section I'm in is all being renovated. There were no windows, no boards, nothing; you could have just walked right in the window. And the place was freezing. I thought, Jeez, you know, and that's just about the time that we were having the odd bit of threat around the area. So I called the security and said, "Gee, this is kind of lax, isn't it?" I mean, not that I care. I don't think anybody's after me. I haven't done anything. But you know what I'm saying? It's sort of, where does the responsibility rest?
I did speak to the Speaker about it, and I had a couple of calls on a couple of other internal incidents. I think there has to be some sort of responsibility to some one person, so that if I ask a question or Dave Cooke asks a question in the House or you ask a question, "Who made that decision to bring in the dogs to sniff for bombs?" or whatever they were doing, somebody has to be accountable. Would you agree that somebody should be accountable?
Mr Phillips: Yes.
Mr O'Toole: Would you like to it to be the OPP or would you like it to be the Speaker or some other party?
Mr Phillips: It's a tough job for the Speaker because he or she is then put on the spot of being second-guessed by someone. I think the magic in it is probably, for maybe this committee, to try to figure out some ground rules that would help guide the Speaker on circumstances. I do think you need one person, otherwise we're going to be ducking it all the time.
Mr O'Toole: That's right, not getting any answers.
Mr Phillips: My judgement would be that the Legislature owes the Speaker a little bit of help in that decision, because if he's going to be second-guessed at every turn because there wasn't enough, there was too much, that's a pretty onerous responsibility. I guess the group's looking at some guidelines that you could all agree with, "In circumstances like this, the appropriate response is something like this," so that he's not out completely on a limb by himself.
Mr O'Toole: Just one last point, if I may, and I appreciate the very candid remark. In your definition I'm questioning: Do you see that there is currently a change of accessibility, a philosophy of openness? That was implicit in your opening remarks, that there is this shift to a bunker -- is that your honest belief, that there's a real agenda here in this government to become bunkered, to become somewhat unopen? Do you think that is part of our agenda as a government?
Mr Phillips: I didn't mean it that way. As you proceed down this road, you are forcing yourself into that perception, I think. The permanent barriers out front, the chained-down barriers may very well be necessary but it's become a bit of a symbol for groups.
Mr O'Toole: Yes, that's a good point. I agree with you. If I may interrupt, I myself can't find out who made the decision to put the bolts in that new stone. That to me -- you're exactly right -- is symbolic. It's like the Christmas card is a symbolic gesture. It was done, I'm sure, in the best of taste but: "There's the fence, and now we've got the barricades. They were put up by this government. They're not open for business."
That's the siege mentality that I don't think we have control of. That definitely is not the agenda of, certainly, the members I've heard speak here, although we would respect the need to have some sense of screening or access to the building. So I'm making a statement, and secondly, do you think there needs to be some sort of controlled access to the building, or should people just walk in the west door, the south door, the north door at random -- it's their building?
Mr Phillips: I'd like to know what other jurisdictions can do. I suspect that uncontrolled access to the whole building is probably not in the cards in the years ahead, and then it's a matter of where you draw the line between there. But you will have somebody come to your office who will threaten you or your staff before you're finished here.
Mr O'Toole: I hope not.
Mr Miclash: Gerry, I like your comments about the moat. I hadn't actually thought of it that way before, but you're right. I can remember the first time I got off the subway to come to work here. The very first day I looked up at the building and thought, "Wow, what an intimidating place." You're correct.
Something I'm going to wrestle with as well as we move through -- and you've already mentioned this -- to other jurisdictions is to take a look at the actual access. That's an important one. Mr O'Toole has brought that up already and you've answered his question about that.
I'm sure you've been to Ottawa and have entered their system. Have you felt intimidated through their system or have you felt that's something that was welcoming to you when you went into that building? How would you see our system compared to that? Do we go that far? Again, that's something I'm going to wrestle with.
Mr Phillips: It is a problem there. I'm from Scarborough and we've got a city hall that is very open, very accessible. There are concerts there every Sunday and there are people coming and going all the time. The access to the offices is closed but there's a tremendous feeling of openness. When you go to the offices, they've got glass doors and you need a little plastic access card. The elevators are the same thing, or at least I think they are; I can't quite remember. But it's a combination of complete openness and reasonable security.
Mr Miclash: I think you're right in terms of creativity. We're going to have to be creative when we take a look at this. We've heard a couple of times that maybe some areas should be closed off, some areas should be open, but it's going to take some creativity to ensure that happens.
The Chair: Any other questions for Mr Phillips?
Mr Dave Boushy (Sarnia): I'm just sitting back here, listening. Are we exaggerating a bit? I know I've had a lot of people come to see me since June 8, I would say close to 100 people from my riding -- average citizens -- and they have never complained about security and how they were treated. They've always felt it's a good place to come in and they were free to come in and go out. The complaints I receive of course are from those people who were picketing and all that.
Do the average citizens in your riding complain to you, when they come and see you, about entering this building? I haven't received any complaints.
Mr Phillips: No.
Mr Boushy: So what are we talking about, "The place is just like a fortress and it's not a comfortable place to come in"? I'm confused. You look at the Parliament Building in Ottawa. As soon as you see the building, it strikes you the same way as any other public building.
Mr Phillips: I'll try and help you a little bit. As soon as word is out that there's going to be a demonstration out front, I think the barricades go up, and anybody who comes then feels, "Gee, I was just coming here to let people know how I felt about something or other and they've got the barricades up." I was with a bunch of students who were over from the U of T, a pretty mild-mannered group, but the barricade was up. There were, I don't know, 20 security officers behind the barricade; nobody could get over it, blah, blah, blah. I think that's where you start into the siege mentality.
Mr Froese: Thanks, Gerry. I didn't hear all your presentation, but I appreciate from you, being here a lot longer than us on this side anyway, the caution to go easy and to think creatively and think about what we're doing here. I'd like to reiterate I really believe this is not a one-party issue. It's all of us together.
I like the comments you made about Scarborough city hall -- I guess that's what it was -- and Nathan Phillips Square is the same way. I've been there and the Niagara peach celebration was out on the square. The openness and access to that area was fantastic to promote the tender-fruit industry of Ontario. So that was great. I don't know if we can do that here or not and allow that, or do we allow it or something like that, but I think that's one way of doing it.
It's good to pull back a little bit and review the whole situation. You made some comments on it, but again, I take it at face value and we don't want to go to that fortress-type thing. I totally agree with you. On the other hand, what do you do when there are demonstrations, and they're becoming more violent? It appears to be. Some can. If we could ensure that the people who are doing demonstrations were not going to be violent, I think that whole barricade and everything could be taken down. So those are some of the concerns that we have to address. But just a statement -- I appreciate your, "Slow down a bit, pull back," and there are other issues here. Thanks a lot.
Mr Phillips: Good luck.
The Chair: Thanks, Gerry. That completes the business we had planned for this afternoon. I just have one thing to remind committee members of. We resume sitting on this committee next Monday at 10 o'clock. First of all we have the Legislative Assembly occupational health and safety committee, and then at 11 am representatives of the press gallery will be here to express their views on this issue.
Thank you very much, committee members, for your help and cooperation this week. This committee stands adjourned.
The committee adjourned at 1424.