Monday 12 February 1996
Security of the legislative precinct
Legislative Assembly press gallery
Richard Brennan, president
Jeff Harder, vice-president, print
Ontario Motor Coach Association
Wayne Asquith, chairman, travel and tour committee
Margaret Marland, 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 present / 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 1305 in room 228.
SECURITY OF THE LEGISLATIVE PRECINCT
ONTARIO LEGISLATIVE PRESS GALLERY
The Vice-Chair (Mr John Hastings): The first item on the agenda today is representatives from the press gallery. Mr Brennan, would you like to identify yourself for the record and give yourselves some free advertising, I guess, and Mr Harder. We'll give you about a half-hour.
Mr Richard Brennan: I'm Richard Brennan, the president of the Queen's Park press gallery. I've held that position for just about five years. On my left is Jeff Harder, who is the vice-president, print, of the gallery.
Just over 20 years ago the Ontario Commission on the Legislature, chaired by Dalton Camp and including as members Douglas Fisher and Farquhar Oliver, concluded its section on the Queen's Park press gallery by noting:
"Obviously, the membership is not only keenly conscious of its responsibilities but sensitive to its rights and prerogatives. Furthermore, the members have a discernible affection for the legislative environment."
I'm happy to tell you that the Ontario Legislative Press Gallery holds the same views now as it did when the Camp commission reported in 1975. We are keenly conscious of our responsibilities. We are sensitive, now more than ever, to protecting our rights and prerogatives and we maintain an abiding respect and affection for the legislative environment.
Let me deal first with our responsibilities, particularly as they relate to security. As you know, and as the Camp commission reported, the legislative press gallery is a unique institution representing the entire spectrum of news media. It is worth noting that when the press gallery executive of the day made its submission to the Camp commission, it said that members of the press should have as much right to their seats in the press gallery as members of the Legislature have to their seats on the floor of the House. "On first reading, it is a startling statement," the Camp report said, "but it is also true."
With that privilege obviously goes responsibilities. The gallery has a right to accept or reject applicants for membership based on the standards set out in its constitution. The press gallery also has the right to discipline its own members, even to the extent of suspension of membership. These are considerable powers in (a) ensuring that only representatives of a bona fide news agency meeting strict criteria are granted either active or associate memberships and (b) ensuring members meet professional standards, and these are clearly understood by our membership.
Increasingly there have been requests for day passes from reporters not members of the gallery and from news agencies new to the Legislature. In addition to his considerable duties as information gatekeeper over a busy news operation, the press gallery steward, with the approval of the gallery executive, has taken on an increasing security function as first line of scrutiny for those applying for day passes. He inspects media credentials and issues applications for those wishing to present themselves to security to be issued a pass. As such, he has become an integral part of the overall security system.
In addition, I have worked closely as gallery president with Staff Sergeant Gary Skelding, who was head of the OPP detachment here when the new identification passes were in the planning stages. A new system was brought in with relatively few problems for journalists covering Queen's Park. The current level of security, with gallery members wearing identification tags, is generally considered acceptable.
The gallery's chief concern in any discussion of security is that it not impede our ability to do our job and that members understand that our role here is unique. As I have said, access to the building, to the members, to the cabinet ministers, to bureaucrats and to the offices that house our equipment is essential to the press gallery and we require this access 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
In recent months, during demonstrations reporters, photographers and camera operators have been denied access to the building or have not been allowed out. Whenever the media are denied access to a public building, the gallery considers that a very real problem. Emergencies are news and it is then more than ever that we require access to the players and our facilities.
Much it seems is being done in the name of security. One day our gallery member, even though she was wearing her identification tag, was stopped and had her purse searched. Television satellite trucks are now being prohibited from parking in front of the Legislative Building, again in the name of security. May I remind members of the Legislative Assembly that this is a public building and it is of great interest, for better or for worse, to the news media, be it print or electronic.
Often I have witnessed members of the media, people who have covered the Legislature for years, being asked to produce their identification while a tourist walks by unchallenged. There needs to be a written policy on how the Ontario Government Protective Service officers deal with the media. That should include instructions on what to ask for and where to send them to get identification to cover the Legislature if they don't already have it. As gallery president, I would be more than happy to work with security officials to draw up those guidelines so that rules can be applied uniformly.
Much has been said recently about the level of security in Ottawa and the assembly in Quebec, if it is what Queen's Park strives for. The fact that Queen's Park has always welcomed visitors and guests with as few restrictions as possible is what makes it a grand place. Speaking as a journalist and as a person who is an admirer of this historic building, I would hate that to disappear in the name of security. Thank you.
Mr John O'Toole (Durham East): Thank you very much, Richard. I appreciate your comments and agree for the most part with what you've said. In light of security and for the right reasons, for the safety of both visitors and people working here, what would you propose in the context of today's Oklahoma-type of situation as appropriate and adequate precautions for that safety?
Mr Brennan: This is where I find it a bit difficult, Mr O'Toole, because I don't feel I'm in a position to recommend or tell this committee how to go about security. I can only speak on behalf of the gallery as to how we'd like to see things as they affect the membership of the gallery specifically.
To answer your question, we are fairly happy with the way it is now. I can't see it being stepped up on our behalf, because I don't see how it would benefit us at all in our ability to do our job, and that's what I'm more concerned about. We're certainly concerned about security of the building and certainly the safety of the people who work here, but I'm more interested, as the gallery president, in how it would affect or impede our ability to do our job.
Mr O'Toole: Without prolonging this, and it isn't a debate so much as clarification, you mentioned in your presentation that in one incident a person was stopped while another person, theoretically a visitor or tourist, walked through without being stopped. Would you like to see consistency, whatever that standard is, applied uniformly?
Mr Brennan: Absolutely, and it's not just on one occasion I've seen this. I've seen it on several occasions. We might have someone walk in who is obviously a TV cameraman -- he has a huge, expensive TV camera on his shoulder and all kinds of gear -- and he'll be stopped and asked what his intent is, while a busload of folks from anyplace else in the world, because they've got a Handycam, they can walk wherever they want in the building. I mean, it seems ridiculous.
Mr O'Toole: So I'd guess you'd say security should be applied sort of uniformly. Would that apply to all persons entering the building, including well-established, perhaps 19- or 20-year, veterans conforming or showing leadership and that type of disposition to show leadership by example and showing their pin or their badge? Would that be acceptable as long it was applied uniformly?
Mr Brennan: I don't like security, I guess, basically, period. It's one of those necessary evils that we have to deal with. I worked here in the late 1970s and early 1980s as a reporter and we had protests out front, that kind of thing back then. There were huge protests as well. It seems to me, for example, in the case of somebody like Mr Cooke who's been here since 1977, if a security person doesn't know him by now, I've really got to question what they're doing in that job to begin with.
Everybody, I suppose, has to have some kind of identification. I'm sure you folks do have some form, be it a pin or whatever. You have to use common sense, I figure. Tom Walkom the other day -- we were covering cabinet. You know how we wait for the ministers to show up, the story of the day or something you might want to pursue on your own, it's a time for us to have access to the members -- and he didn't have his identification badge. We do forget them. You don't always wear your pins and we don't always remember our badges.
The officer wasn't going to let him in past the stairway door. He wasn't going to let him in until somebody brought it to my attention, and, you know, "He's all right." There again, they bring people in here who don't seem to be familiar with the surroundings, I find often, or the people who work here. That is a real problem for us.
Mr O'Toole: I concur. I think there are people who are recognized for their roles here, whether it's an employee or a member or press, and it comes back to there being occasions when there are new people, rotation of schedules, whatever. I guess I come back to the one thing: uniformity. If you're to apply things fairly and on balance -- there'll still be exceptions, I suppose -- but uniform application and courtesy from both parties in respecting those protocols. Would that be something you could live with?
Mr Brennan: Absolutely. I know my membership, although they gripe sometimes because they might have all their equipment on and coats and everything else, but for the most part it's not a big deal having to show your pass. We're not here to whine about that by any stretch of the imagination.
Mr David S. Cooke (Windsor-Riverside): I'll just pick up on a couple of things that Mr O'Toole said. Actually, I've been thinking for the last few days that this is my opportunity to get Richard Brennan. This is the first time I've had the chance to ask him questions.
I'm not really sure myself, when you ask Richard or anybody else about the appropriate levels of security, whether or not you can be using Oklahoma, Quebec City, London, Moscow or whatever as the criterion. I mean, they've all had some horrendous breaches of security. Quite frankly, if somebody wants to do in Toronto what they did in Oklahoma, all they have to do is drive a car or a truck up on University Avenue between the two buildings and they can blow away the Legislature and the building on the other side of University. I'm not sure how you can ever stop that unless you want to block off University a couple of blocks down that way and a couple of blocks down that way and have security driving up and down University.
I guess, for me, it comes down to common sense. We can do all sorts of things around here in the name of security. There has been a lot of talk about uniform application and perhaps having different coded cards or whatever for people getting in, so the tourists would have one type of card, somebody else would have some type of card. But I guess I'm still thinking to myself, we haven't heard any complaints about people who walk through the building.
The breaches of security that have taken place around here have been on two demonstrations: one in 1988 and one a couple of weeks ago with the students. Those have been the breaches of security. The other demonstrations, the demonstrators have all been kept outside. They've been rough, but the demonstrators have been kept outside.
So I want to ask you, not so much as a member of the press gallery but as two of you who work in this building, whether you've personally felt threatened by people who walk through the buildings, who are either tourists or visiting the building on business, and if not, as people who work here, do you think it's appropriate to take security measures on those people when we haven't had breaches?
Mr Brennan: I've never felt physically threatened while I've been here.
Mr Cooke: Other than by members. By members and the gallery, it's okay.
Mr Brennan: Well, at some of our meetings I've felt threatened, but other than that -- I've worked here for six and a half years now, and I've never felt physically threatened by anyone, albeit outside or inside. Again, security for journalists is always a big problem because security for us is a roadblock; albeit we realize there has to be security, it can be a real problem for us. When I can't get out of the building to do my job, that's a problem for me; if I can't get back in to file my story, that's a real problem.
I think it has the potential of being used as an umbrella for everything that ever could possibly be wrong or something that is not particularly liked, like the satellite trucks. I it's a way of life and I think this Legislature better get used to it. This place generates news and it will for a long time, and satellite trucks are now a fact of life and they're going to have to deal with them. But the point is that security has been used, as an example, to stop satellite trucks from parking in the driveway, and you start to pursue it a little bit, what's security --
Mr Cooke: That's why I really have concerns when somebody says, "Do you support uniform application of rules?" Of course, they should all be applied fairly, but if uniform application of rules means that if a member of either the gallery or the Legislature forgets their identification cards one day and it's uniformly applied, then you're out for the day. I don't think that's fair. If the security officer knows that you're Richard Brennan and you forgot your security pass for the day, we're not working in a place where there are 20,000 people working and we don't know one another. We do get to know one another. So uniform application would mean that if you forgot your security pass, you're out for the day, you cannot come into Queen's Park for that day unless you go home and pick up your security pass.
Mr Brennan: I guess this is what's always made this such an attractive place to work, that it is like its own little community and everybody does know everybody. Again, we talked about common sense. You can't apply hard and fast rules like that. If I show up some day without my pass, they're not going to let me in? Well, there's going to be a problem. The point is, we all forget things and there has to be some kind of allowance for that, be it you get a temporary pass for the day, which is what is done now basically. If I forget my pass, I go down to get the paperwork from Tom -- Tom Russell is our steward, by the way -- and I go downstairs and I go to the OPP bureau and get one for the day.
Mr Cooke: Why would you have to do that? There are only a few hundred employees in this building and they know who you are. So what are we doing? We talk about government bureaucracy creating paperwork. I don't understand why you wouldn't be able to get into the building, why you'd have to go get a temporary pass to get into the building, when you've worked here six and a half years and everybody knows who you are.
Mr Brennan: Mr Cooke, it's usually when the Legislature is in session, and I should have explained that. For example, I wouldn't need a pass today. They particularly want one when you go in the Legislature, I guess for obvious reasons. But that's the only time I'd have to get a temporary one. Enough people know me around here that I wouldn't need one.
Mr Jeff Harder: There is, though, a pretty enormous inconsistency in the application of whatever rules exist today. I know much of the examples are anecdotal and, unfortunately, that's really all we have to go on at this point. But it isn't uncommon, as Richard points out, for someone from the media, even perhaps with proper credentials, to have their bags searched completely, among other things they may or may not be carrying. At the same time, you will have alleged visitors roaming the place freely, seemingly without any restrictions whatsoever. The Premier had a press conference the other day that was hijacked by a couple of those people. I've come out of my office at 6:30, 7 o'clock at night, when there's nobody left over in the southeast corner of the chamber, and run into people just walking around aimlessly, without any direction of where they are or why they're there, and I find that a little uncomfortable. So whatever the rules are, it would be at least nice to have them known, made public, posted, or something along those lines, to give us some comfort as well.
Mr Cooke: In some respects I agree, because one of the incidents that's bothered me about not being particularly consistent was, I remember when the Minister of Health made his announcement on the lab for very dangerous viruses in Etobicoke being cancelled, there were some well-respected people in the medical community who wanted to come and say that was the wrong thing to do. They weren't allowed to come to the scrum, but the Minister of Health brought the mayor of Etobicoke through the security lines and made him available to all of you in order to say that the government was the greatest thing since sliced bread. To me, that's manipulation and use of the security rules in order to manipulate all of you in the gallery, and that, to me, is wrong.
Mr Harder: If the rules were stated and were plain to everyone, we could work much more easily within those guidelines, and we'd know when and if there was a breach or if there wasn't.
Mr Frank Miclash (Kenora): Gentlemen, thank you for your comments. Something that I'm wrestling with right now is the fact that we have the permanent barriers out there. Richard, you've been around here six and a half or seven years, you will remember the times when the podium used to be set up on the staircase coming into the main entrance. From your point of view, do you see that as being a better setup, to have the podium there, having whoever is leading the demonstration or speaking to the group speaking from that aspect out into the group and no barriers? How do you see that?
Mr Brennan: Like I said, I worked here in the late 1970s and early 1980s, and there weren't barriers then. I don't remember people making a mad dash for the door then. The barriers -- and I guess I'm almost speaking on behalf of myself -- when you tell a kid they can't do something, they want to do it all the more; I know mine do, anyway. You put a barrier there, and it's like that wall, you know: "We've got to get over that wall. We'll only make our statement and be heard when we get over that wall." Honest to God, I don't ever recall, in my years before, an incident where somebody tried to get in. They used to stand out front or at the podium and yell and scream away about the government of the day, and there wasn't a problem. It seems now that the big thing is to knock the barrier down and get over it and make a dash for the door. It wasn't a problem before.
Mr R. Gary Stewart (Peterborough): You were talking about 1977. Was there major TV coverage both inside and out back then?
Mr Brennan: Mr Stewart, certainly not like it is now. You've got to remember, back in those days the Tories had been in power for 37 years, or whatever it was at that point. It just didn't generate the kind of interest -- and I'm being quite honest -- that it does now and it has for the past six years.
Mr Stewart: But do you not think part of it is, though, with TV coverage being that much greater now and TV coverage inside the House now? Do you not think that's created some of the problems we have as well?
Mr Brennan: Well, you'd have to do a study on that. I don't believe that to be the case. I think there's more interest in the place, yes. I would agree with you there. But I don't agree or even suggest that there's more interest in doing harm to the place because of TV coverage. I just don't believe that. I'd have to look it up in my files, but when they started televising the House back in 1982 or 1983, something like that -- what was it?
Interjection: It was 1987.
Mr Stewart: So that could be one of the reasons why there were less problems. That wasn't really the question that I had. How often is there a change? In the two-month period in the Legislature that the Legislature is sitting, and you're talking about some of the press gallery having difficulty getting in and out, how often during that period of time, in that two months, would there be new faces appear to get in? I guess my point is, is there a big turnover?
Mr Brennan: There is a turnover about every three years, like usually a complete turnover. Yes, people come and go, but if you're talking when there's a whole group of people leave at once, you often find after a new government is elected, reporters go on and they do other things, so there's a whole turnover there.
Mr Stewart: But not on a daily or weekly basis?
Mr Brennan: Oh, no.
Mr Stewart: Would there be two or three a week that would change?
Mr Brennan: No, it wouldn't be that. It wouldn't be that in probably a year.
Mr Stewart: Okay. I guess the point I'm leading up to is that we've got open access to the whole building and we've got 12, 13 and 14 doors available here and over at the Whitney Block and so on. To solve possibly some of the problems, would your people consider having a single access to this building probably the way your own companies do?
Mr Brennan: The whole time or on a constant basis?
Mr Stewart: Period. That you would come in the west door, you'd come in the east door, and I know somebody's going to say, "Well, jeez, I've got to walk with equipment a little bit farther." But it could save us some problems, it could save you guys some problems as well. Do you think they would accept something like that?
Mr Brennan: I think there's some merit in it. If there's one entrance that we could come in and if it meant less hassles for --
Mr Stewart: That's what I'm talking about.
Mr Brennan: Yes.
Mr Stewart: Okay. The other thing is, a comment was made that we've only had two problems since 1988. One was a demonstration in 1988 and the other one was the students the other day, but yet we've had all kinds of personal threats up here. We've got 200 and some people in the computers of questionable conduct. We've had, I believe last year or the year before, 14 bomb threats. I guess my comment to you is, do you not feel that we have to perk up some security around here, but make sure that the rules are abided by and if there's set rules, they govern everybody?
Mr Brennan: Again, Mr Stewart, I believe that security is a necessary evil. Any further than that, I can't say because I'm not privy to all the information you certainly are. I just don't want to see this building, which I love dearly, become an armed fortress, a walled fortress. I don't see how that benefits anybody.
Anecdotally, I know there are bomb threats and death threats and that kind of thing. I know they've escalated, but they've always existed in one form or another. They may be more now because people are upset about this and that. People will always be upset regardless of what government's in power. I don't think that justifies a heavy hand, I really don't.
Mr Gilles E. Morin (Carleton East): I know that we are short of time, so it'll be two quick questions. The first one: You alluded to a written policy for the media. Could you be a little more elaborate on this and, if we were to establish a policy for the media, what are the main points that you'd like to see in it?
Mr Brennan: I guess it would be pretty simple. We have people coming here all the time who are journalists, but aren't members of the gallery -- you know, the health reporter from the Toronto Star -- and most of those people have passes because we're urged them to do so. But if they come up and they just present themselves at Queen's Park, it shouldn't require an inquisition. It should require just to walk in the door and say, "I'm with the Toronto Star" and show a pass. They say, "Okay, go to the third floor, please" and make out the necessary paperwork and then go to the OPP and get a day pass. It should be that simple.
But now we've got some people forbidding them to come in. We have some people sending them to God knows where and it's just a mess. It really is.
Mr Morin: In other words, what you're saying is, if there was a standard procedure that applies for everyone you wouldn't object to that?
Mr Brennan: If I had a say in it, I wouldn't --
Mr Morin: Pardon me?
Mr Brennan: If we had a say in it, yes, very much so.
Mr Morin: Right, right. So it applies for everyone who comes here?
Mr Brennan: Anything that makes it simpler. There's no reason for it to be an exercise in obstruction.
Mr Morin: The other question: Your criteria to accept new members in the gallery, what are they?
Mr Brennan: New members? You have to cover the Legislature either on a full-time or a part-time basis. If you're a full-time member, you have to cover this place -- just that, on a full-time basis. You do nothing but cover the Legislature and you have to work for bona fide news gathering and delivery agencies. You couldn't work for a public relations company. For example, if you had a newsletter, you wouldn't qualify. If you work for Corriere Canadese, you would qualify. You have to get a letter from your respective editor asking that you be made a full-time member or associate member and then it comes before the entire gallery and is voted on.
Mr Morin: Or to visit, for instance, a small local newspaper. They write to you?
Mr Brennan: If a newspaper reporter came from your riding, they would come to the gallery, get accreditation for the day -- let's say the House is sitting, for example -- and we would look after them, but that's just done right there. That's more a security thing. We're just kind of a conduit. We know what to ask for and how to deal with journalists when they arrive and that's why we've become part of the system. They would simply show themselves and we would look after them.
The Vice-Chair: Mr Bartolucci.
Mr Rick Bartolucci (Sudbury): You will notice that the Vice-Chair said the name perfectly correctly and I'm impressed.
Richard and Jeff, several points of insight are worth noting in the presentation, and I thank you for it. I think this committee is trying to establish a way that works, and works for everyone. I'm concerned now that we're going to have too many rules and too many regulations.
I guess I go back to my background as a teacher. When I moved into a school where so-called rules and regulations were necessary, I ended up having too many rules and regulations and they were a way for people to abuse the system rather than to operate within it, so I learned very quickly in administration that a much better way to proceed is through establishing protocol: for students, for teachers, for parents.
Richard, a point you made that is I think essential in the process is that you feel a part of the process. Are you more in favour, then, of a protocol in which you've had a say as opposed to a set of rules for you to follow? Would it work? Would a protocol work better than a list of rules and regulations?
Mr Brennan: I wouldn't like to see anything imposed on us -- in short, nothing. I would like to work with whoever on this committee or subsequent to this committee as it applies to reporters only -- that's the only thing I could speak on -- and how the rules and regulations would affect us and how they would be applied. I would welcome that and be readily available for that. But I would not like to see anything imposed. Reporters are an unusual lot and they don't like to be told what to do.
Mr Bartolucci: Last Thursday I introduced a motion to remove the permanent barriers. It was a motion on which the Chair asked for deferral because we wanted to deal with it when the time was appropriate, and I agreed with that. It was an interesting point that you made. I did this because I met with a group of students the night of the demonstration here. The students said exactly what you had said, "We don't feel a part of the place when there's something permanent denying us access to it."
If the protocol allowed for freedom of movement, but the movement is guided or structured, do you feel, from your perspective as reporter, that that would work for you as well? If you understood exactly what the ground rules were and you were a part of them -- this may be repetitive but it's a little bit different -- could you live with it and could you operate within it?
Mr Brennan: We're willing to operate within guidelines as set out by this committee and with our input as long as they aren't onerous, as long as it isn't something that we have to stand at attention and pay homage to security. We're not into that. As Camp said in his report, we are part and parcel of this building. There has been a press gallery in an informal way in this building since the late 1800s and in a formal way since the early 1900s. I think anything that's done we're certainly willing to work with and participate in, but I would not like to see it as something that is imposed on us or is heavy-handed.
Mr Bartolucci: Does the press gallery or a representative meet with the Sergeant at Arms on a regular basis?
Mr Brennan: No.
Mr Tom Froese (St Catharines-Brock): Thank you very much for an excellent presentation. A lot of the stuff has been said already and I'm stroking off the answers to the questions. I'm trying to get down to the few questions that I'll ask.
From my understanding of what you said, the times the press gallery has had a problem have been very few, that they're few and far between. There are not a whole lot of complaints from the press gallery as far as getting access to the building, or are there? I assume members of the press gallery would have questioned, "Why can't I get in the building at this particular time?" What reasons have you been given? I think Mr Stewart asked about the turnover of staff in the press gallery, and one of the problems you're facing is the turnover in security staff. It's probably impossible for people like yourselves who have been here for a long time, but some people from the press gallery who haven't been here for a long time -- I have been here seven or eight months and security doesn't know who I am. So are we seeing that kind of problem?
Mr Brennan: I get most of my complaints from people from the outside who come here for a particular purpose -- the example I use is the health reporter from some newspaper who can't get in -- or if they do get in, it's just an unbelievable hassle. That's where I get most of my complaints from, rather than from my members, who for the most part carry their passes and are known and they know they have to do this to get in. We don't have a lot of complaints about the way it is now.
Mr Froese: It was mentioned before what the criteria are for people getting in or visiting from a local newspaper or whatever. Is that information forwarded on to the Sergeant at Arms at all or does it just come through you? You mentioned about it being voted on as the press gallery -- I guess I'm unclear. Are those individuals who come in for the day or is it those individuals who are coming in for a specific period of time?
Mr Brennan: If you're just coming in for the day from a newspaper, a radio station, a television station or whatever and you just want to observe for the day -- this particularly applies when the House is sitting -- you come up and we check out your credentials to make sure you're a bona fide member of the news media. We'll give you the necessary paperwork, you fill it out in front of Mr Russell Stewart, you take that down to the OPP station and they issue the pass. They take your name and number again and all that.
If it's full-time members who are coming, they make application; we vote on it. That's what we vote on at the gallery. The other is just a kind of paperwork shuffle, basically; that's all that is. Then, if you're voted in, you are issued a permanent pass like the pass I have, and that goes on record downstairs.
Mr Froese: Just to sum it up, basically you want it as free and open as possible. You don't want to comment on the security provisions we need to look at other than your area because you're not informed and it hasn't been a hassle up until now. So as far as you're concerned, if it stayed the way it is right now, it's not a big deal.
Mr Brennan: It is a big deal in some ways. If there's a protest out front -- like Mr Stewart says, there are a lot of doors in this place -- and all of a sudden all the doors are sealed and I can't get out or I can't back in, that's ludicrous.
Mr Froese: That's assuming that things will change drastically. But the way it is now it's not a problem.
Mr Brennan: It is a problem. It's happened to our members several times. With demonstrations, we can't get in the building or out of the building -- in or out. That is a problem for us, absolutely.
Mr Froese: But primarily when it's a demonstration, that's when you found it the most difficult time.
Mr Brennan: Well, news is happening. That is a very difficult time because we're very much interested in what's happening outside, if there's of a demonstration or whatever. I might be out already covering it, and I go to get back in, and even though I have a pass and I go like that and I show the guard, he won't let me back in.
Mr Froese: Okay, so that has been a problem.
Mr Brennan: That has been a problem. That's happened on two occasions for sure.
Mr Harder: At least.
Mr Brennan: At least two occasions.
Mr Harder: You mentioned questions; you asked, can you get answers from people? You can't get answers from people. You ask the Sergeant at Arms and he says, "Talk to the Speaker." The Speaker says, "Talk to the Sergeant at Arms." Then you end up at the staff sergeant level. There's an institutional apprehension to discuss and explain why some of these measures are used.
The Vice-Chair: Thank you very much, Mr Brennan and Mr Harder. Any final comments you need to make?
Mr Brennan: That's fine. Thank you very much. I really appreciate the opportunity.
The Vice-Chair: Thank you for taking the time to come and present your views to us.
ONTARIO MOTOR COACH ASSOCIATION
The Vice-Chair: Our next deputant up is Mr Wayne Asquith, representing the Ontario Motor Coach Association. Do you want to state your name for the record and your position or office, Mr Asquith, please.
Mr Wayne Asquith: My name is Wayne Asquith. I am president of New Dimensions in Tours, a registered Ontario tour operator. I'm also chairman of the travel and tour committee for the Ontario Motor Coach Association. I'm here to represent them.
Just to give you a bit of background on the Ontario Motor Coach Association, it represents 90 tour operators in Ontario. Some are from the rest of Canada and there are some from the northern US. We also represent 75 motor coach tour operators. That represents about 90% of the provincial motor coach tour operators.
We're here to put our oar in the water and to say first of all that we experience very few problems visiting this building and Queen's Park in general. We are concerned, however, with what seems to be a growing trend towards limiting public access, reducing the number of opportunities for tours of public buildings, the closing of some public buildings. That impacts, I think, a great deal on tourism, and really that's what the Ontario Motor Coach Association is all about. We're here to satisfy the needs of tourists. We take tourism is the broadest sense of the word. If you've come from Powassan, Ontario, to visit Toronto, you are a tourist to Toronto as well as if you come from the US or from foreign countries.
The legislative buildings and Queen's Park are a great source of pride to those of us who live in Ontario. We're anxious to show off Queen's Park and the Legislature and the way Parliament works in the province of Ontario. It's a great attraction to many foreign visitors who come to Queen's Park. You have to remember that visitors to Canada do not experience this same kind of freedom in the countries they come from. I've travelled abroad and been asked to open up my suitcase at the point of a machine-gun. That's a little intimidating and it's not the kind of thing we want to come even close to here. It also doesn't endear you to going back to that country, that's for sure.
Most visitors to Queen's Park, as far the Ontario Motor Coach Association is concerned, are part of a pre-formed group. They would come with appointments. The exception to that would be people who are on a Gray Line tour who pull up in front of the Parliament buildings and want an individual tour or want to be part of a public tour. The tour of Parliament and the Legislature is always part of an Ontario student program visiting Ontario, and it is actually a necessary part of the Ontario Young Travellers program for northern Ontario students visiting the southern part of the province.
It provides excellent promotion and advertising for the province of Ontario. As I mentioned, pre-formed groups will come with a reservation and want a guided tour, and that's done as many as three or four months in advance and probably as short as two or three days, based on availability. Individual visitors would join public tours, and groups also come to tour the grounds or to begin a walking tour of this area of Toronto from the grounds of Parliament.
What we would like to do is encourage the MPPs to not limit access to the grounds or the buildings. Access to this facility has a very positive effect on tourism in the broadest sense, and that's visitors from Ontario, Canada and other countries. It goes to the image of Ontario politics and politicians, I think, and the openness of that to the Canadian and Ontario public.
Ontario visitors and particularly Ontario students, need access to the Ontario parliamentary process. What better way to teach students about democracy and the parliamentary process than to bring them to a facility like this and let them see how it actually works. We would like to encourage the members to continue with their access to the grounds and to the buildings. Parking, as you know, in Toronto is somewhat of a problem, but here at Queen's Park parking has been fairly well organized and coaches are allowed to bide their time where there's a tour going on.
One of the things that the tour business does and motor coach tour operators do is schedule things on a very tight schedule. So it's nice to be in and out. You know when we're coming. You know when we're going to be here. Cancellations are generally made way in advance, and we'd like to move in, move out in the allotted time and be about our business. I encourage you to allow us to continue to operate that way.
Mr Miclash: Wayne, thank you for your comments. When we were in Quebec and Ottawa we looked at a couple of the systems where the visitors would be asked to go to a specific door, come through that door and be checked in. You mentioned your notification of attendance which they indicate, especially in Quebec, was very helpful to them and allowed for quick passage through their system.
Let me explain to you what their system was. You would come in the visitor door and you would come through a first set of doors to receptionists and at that point, from the receptionists you would go on through a metal detector and your bags would be checked much the same as at the airport. This would be with two armed police officers there. They were quite noticeably armed in terms of side-arms and open to the public. Then from there, you would go to another two or three receptionists who would give you a badge to wear as you toured around and then on the way out you'd go out a separate exit and hand in your badge. You'd be checked through the system.
How do you feel about that system, compared to the openness that we have here at Queen's Park right now? Do you think visitors you bring to this area would have some problems with that kind of entrance?
Mr Asquith: That's common in Quebec and the province of Quebec also requires that tour operators send in advance a list of the people who'll be touring, their names and ages. I'm not sure what the age has to do with anything. Those are things that we're not afraid of and not upset by. If it slows the process up, if you went in a lineup waiting to be processed for a half an hour, that's a catastrophe for a scheduled tour. But if it moves, as it does in Ottawa and in Quebec, in a system that you're there, they know you're going to be there, they know how many they have to deal with and you're processed quickly, I've never had anyone complain about it and I don't see that as a major problem.
It probably doesn't present as open a picture as walking in the building and having free access, but I think we all understand those restrictions are somewhat necessary now. I don't think that's a problem.
Mr Miclash: Thank you. I appreciate those comments.
Mr Morin: In other words, you don't object to a well-established system, perhaps not as elaborate as what Mr Miclash just explained, but at least one entrance where visitors would come in, be checked and then processed as quickly as possible. You don't see any objection to that?
Mr Asquith: We see that as really advantageous. Then you don't mill around with a group of 40 12-year-old students who are anxious to get on with what they're doing and this is probably not the highlight of their four days, but it's a part of the process. We see that as an advantage. One door is easy. We do it in Ottawa; we do it at the Supreme Court. If we're sitting in on question period in Ottawa, we go through metal detectors to do that. That's not a problem. If it's run efficiently and does not delay the system, that's advantageous to groups moving in large numbers.
Mr Stewart: We're talking of two different situations. One is if you as a tour operator bringing a group here, whether it be a school or whatever, you can control that. You can control the list of names; a certain amount of onus goes on the tour operator as well as the school and the teacher. Would it be too confusing to have the same entrance used by somebody like Greyhound, whatever, that is just bringing up a group that they picked up from wherever, to have them go through on an individual basis? I might know your answer, but I want you to make a comment on that.
Mr Asquith: You mean to have the group --
Mr Stewart: You bring a busload from Sutton public school today and I bring one about the same time, but I pick them up in a number of locations. I just have Joe Smith Tours, I've got 47 people who have booked on it individually and I bring them here. The problem I see is that it's a major problem for a tour operator to do it that way if they all have to come through on an individual basis. Could we separate them without causing any problems for the operators?
Mr Asquith: If a tour operator had made an appointment two months ago to present his group at 11 o'clock in the morning and it just so happened that Greyhound pulled up with a group it had assembled about town and was not an announced arrival, as a tour operator I'd like to think that having made that appointment two months ago stands for something and that is our pecking order.
That's the way it happens in Ottawa. Ottawa will take individuals on a group tour on a scheduled activity. So every half-hour you can get a public tour of the Parliament Buildings; if you have an appointment as a group, you would go around that group waiting. Sometimes they'll tag those individuals on to the end of your group. I have no objection to that; that's not a problem. If it's a group of adult individuals, they don't want to see as much detail or are not as interested in the questions that students ask, but sometimes they are. If we've got an appointment and we keep that appointment, we'd like to be handled on that appointed hour and not be bumped for a public group that had no appointment.
Mr Stewart: So we put the onus on the tour operator to make sure it's pre-booked, to make sure he has all the necessary information-ie, the list of names of the students etc -- and then put it through.
One of the things I would say: How much onus do you think should be put on the tour operator and/or the school or whatever, to make sure that all the rules are abided by, which could solve some of the problems up here?
Mr Asquith: The terms of the way a tour operator works on a regular basis are, everywhere we go, it is with appointment. Those are made a long time in advance; rarely you have to make a shuffle at the last minute. I have no problem with a tour operator having to make an appointment, to follow the rules of lists of students or participants in the tour or whatever you deem to be necessary. Those are things that can be done way in advance and presented upon arrival.
If the tour company knows the rules, there's no reason we can't abide by them, provided they're not onerous and go beyond common sense. If we had an opportunity to participate in what those rules might be and knew them well in advance, I see no problem with making appointments, attending at the appropriate time, cancelling appointments -- I think those who don't do that could be subject to sanctions in the future. Rules are rules and we're quite happy to abide by them, because in the long run it makes the tour run more efficiently. If we arrive at 11 o'clock and can't do the tour until 20 after, because some other group didn't make an appointment and got bumped ahead of us, that puts my entire schedule out of whack for the rest of the day.
Mr Stewart: The reason I asked about the onus was the fact that when we talked to some of the security people up here, some of the things that they have taken out of the kids' knapsacks and bags and so on and so forth tends up to slow up the whole process, so what I'm saying is that maybe there should be more onus put on either the teachers or the tour operator, whatever, to make sure that doesn't happen before they arrive at this door out here.
Mr Asquith: If we take a group to the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa or the Supreme Court, where we have to go through metal detectors, we advise the students before they get off the coach to leave everything behind: "Don't take your purse with you, don't take your clipboard, don't take anything you don't absolutely need, because you're going to have to leave it behind. It's going to have to be checked and it simply slows the process." I've been with groups from other countries, and one of the leaders said to me, "What should I do?" and she handed me three pair of brass knuckles. I said: "I don't know what you do with them, but you're not going to get through that detector. Leave them behind." It's not appropriate to take them into a place like that.
Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): I enjoyed your presentation. Just to sort of flip your perspective over and take it from a different vantage point, you would obviously, I would think, feel some responsibility for the people who are with you, to a certain degree, in terms of their safety. As much as we know, from visiting the House of Commons and the National Assembly, that this operation here is much more open and accessible than the others, that's only one of the factors to consider.
I'd be interested in your thoughts on how you feel about the relative safety of the people whom you bring here, whom you take responsibility for bringing into this public building, given that right now it is one of the most accessible, probably, in the nation. I think a lot of us take pride in that, but there is the issue of, if you will, innocent citizens and visitors who are in the building and how much responsibility you and we and the Speaker have for their safety. With that in mind, what's your sense right now of your comfort level for their relative safety as they walk through the building under the current rules?
Mr Asquith: I'm extremely comfortable with that and would have no reason to advise groups to the contrary. It's an open building and we don't anticipate or expect or have any vision of any problems, but we didn't when they were shooting from the Parliament building in Quebec City either. But we still don't; that doesn't deter. We see that as a one-off situation that no one can plan for and is very difficult to prevent.
Mr Christopherson: If you had your druthers, in terms of the colour coding system where everyone in the building would be expected to be identified in one way or another, at least as part of a group, or some sense of who they are, do you see that as something that you'd like to see us do, don't care or would urge us strongly not to do?
Mr Asquith: I don't see any reason why you shouldn't do that. I don't see any reason to deter you from that kind of practice. I know that from a student point of view it may even add an aura of some importance to the student as he's going through with the group, because he now has this badge. Adults I don't think have any problem with that at all. If you feel that's a good way to identify a group or to identify an individual, I see no problem with that.
The Vice-Chair: Mr Asquith, how many tourists come through this building according to your member companies, if you could give us an estimate?
Mr Asquith: I am unable to do that. I called the Ontario Motor Coach Association to get those numbers. We've been in contact with the Metropolitan Toronto Convention and Visitors Association. There are no numbers that I'm aware of that would tell us how many visitors come through this building through our membership in a year; I have no idea, I'm afraid. Probably your security people would have a better idea of that than I do.
The Vice-Chair: What do you think from your own personal perspective, if you were putting a ballpark number on it? A hundred thousand a year?
Mr Asquith: Certainly hundreds of thousands.
The Vice-Chair: I assume you must attend other conventions of your organization with other groups throughout North America or the world?
Mr Asquith: Yes.
The Vice-Chair: Have you ever had the opportunity to discuss the whole concept of security and access, or has it been an item of discussion in any seminars at your Ontario or national conventions?
Mr Asquith: I have never had an opportunity to discuss security or the planning of security. I know that on occasion we get some concerns not so much about security, but restrictions: "You can't go to that part of the building. You're not allowed to see this. These doors are closed." I think it goes to the discussion earlier about physical barriers that seem to irritate people. If there's a physical barrier, they see that. Not that they'd want to cross it if it weren't there or they want to cross it when it's there; it just has that negative impact on visiting any sort of public building.
The Vice-Chair: Any further questions, ladies and gentlemen? Any final comments, Mr Asquith?
Mr Asquith: Thank you for the opportunity to come and speak.
The Vice-Chair: We appreciate your taking the time to come and make your organization's viewpoint known to us.
The Vice-Chair: Our next deputant is the esteemed MPP for Mississauga South, Margaret Marland.
Mr Miclash: "Esteemed" or "steamed"?
The Vice-Chair: Esteemed.
Mrs Margaret Marland (Mississauga South): I hope that's on Hansard.
The Vice-Chair: I'm sure they do corrections, Margaret. Welcome. By the way, before you start, Mr Bartolucci, since I corrected myself and made all these statements to myself afterwards --
Mr Bartolucci: I'm really impressed, Mr Chair.
The Vice-Chair: -- I figured maybe it would be worth a bottle of good Italian wine now as a reward.
Interjection: Niagara wine.
The Vice-Chair: Margaret, proceed.
Mrs Marland: Thank you very much, Mr Chair. I'd like to thank all the members of the committee for this opportunity, because the subject of security in the legislative precinct has long been a concern for me; it hasn't just evolved in the last seven months of the new government.
I was wondering how many times the Legislative Assembly committee or even other standing committees of the Legislature have discussed this subject or related subjects, because it's not a new concern that I have and it's not a concern that isn't shared. In my 11 years here I certainly have been aware, through many colleagues in all parties, on all sides of the House, that the complete openness and uncontrolled accessibility to the inside of this building perhaps needed some revisions. I personally would be opposed to revisions that would turn this public building into Fort Knox and I'm not looking for those kinds of changes, but I am looking, in the interests of public safety, for some controls that we don't currently have.
It's interesting that when you look at the history of what has been evolving in terms of incidents in this building, it matches pretty well what has evolved in our society generally in terms of a deteriorating lack of respect for law and public responsibility. Unfortunately, it is a sad commentary on our society but it's one that all of us, in all of our jobs here, have to be sensitive to because it's a fact of life. You only have to talk with teachers in secondary schools and in some elementary schools to know where society is going in terms of a diminished respect for law and order.
Some of the experiences that I have had personally in this building I can't speak to you about because this is on public record. I'm hesitant to publicize some of the experiences and events that I have personally been witness to because I feel very strongly that every time we publicize an incident in this building, or indeed in any other government building or Legislature across this country, that then becomes the potential forum for a copycat person, and perhaps someone who hadn't thought about how to vent their frustrations against government, whoever the government is, might then think, "Oh yes, that's something I could do."
That's why I'm always appalled when somebody is killed by a modified starter pistol. The next day on the front page of the Toronto Star -- I have seen this; that's why I mentioned that particular paper -- there's the full, detailed diagram about how to convert a starter pistol to a means of killing someone, or at least causing bodily harm.
I'm only going to refer to incidents that were on the public record in terms of what I've experienced in this place in the last 11 years. Those are incidents that no one would want repeated because of the level of risk that the public here at that time was placed in.
We can go back to just last week, of course, to the incident with the university and college students from all over, the 905 area certainly. I heard they came from as far afield as Sheridan College in the west. My concern was for those students themselves. I really felt that when they're breaking down doors with 100-year-old bevelled plate glass in it that isn't safety glass, we could have had some terrible tragedies with injured eyes, at the very least, with that kind of glass last week. I'm thankful there were not those kinds of injuries sustained by those students. But the possibility of that kind of thing happening has just simply not to occur again, and we have a responsibility. We're the people who are responsible for this building and we have that responsibility to ensure their safety.
I hope you're going to have great questions, David. You said you were.
Mr Cooke: We will have to stick to the topic, though.
Mrs Marland: I'm going to be very disappointed if you don't have great questions.
I guess there's no one -- well, maybe Mr Christopherson, Mr Cooke, Mr Morin and certainly Frank. I can't remember what year it was that we had this female who got on to the floor of our House. We've all heard of the incredible experience of the young man who got on the floor of the House of Commons and got to the point that he wanted, which was to lift the mace. That's stood as an example of lack of security in the House of Commons.
If anything, our breach of security was even worse. At least the man in Ottawa came through the main front door into the chamber. In our case, this woman got all the way through the government lobby and came in behind the Speaker's chair. It was only when she was at the point that she was level with the mace, which meant that she'd got all the way past the Clerk's table, that somebody realized it. I was sitting there thinking, "This must be a staff person, but a staff person isn't allowed on the floor of the House." Then, just at that instant, Mr Stelling and some other staff within the chamber went for it and surrounded this woman, who was yelling that she wanted to get at Ruth Grier, who was then I think Minister of Health -- I'm not sure which ministry she had. But the irony was that this woman had walked past Ruth Grier. Ruth was sitting at her desk, so this woman was so out of it that she didn't even know the woman whose name she was calling.
In any case, that person could have been anyone. That person could have had any agenda and could have been armed. She was already around from behind, so she had walked in front of other staff, under the press gallery, past the Speaker's chair and now almost past the Clerk's table to the centre of the floor. Those of us who were in the chamber that day were so stunned afterwards, thinking about the potential of what that could have been.
Also, for those of us who were in the chamber the day the injured workers were up on the second landing, they were outside of our chamber, outside of those glass doors that are the main entry into our chamber. I remember hearing this thunderous noise, and it was the jumping and the chanting. I didn't mind that people were inside the building to say they had a concern. To tell you the truth, I can't even tell you which government it was. I don't know whether it was five years ago or more that this incident took place. I'm being advised it was when the Liberals were the government. But the scariest thing of all was that this is a 100-year-old building. That floor isn't designed to hold that number of people. The concern was that the floor, being on the second landing, would give way and those people, those injured workers, would fall through to the first floor.
Those are the incidents that I'm illustrating for you, where there hasn't been control on entry to this building and on behaviour once within the building.
I've often had people come to my own office. The interesting thing for me is that the first five years I was here, I was in the north wing on the ground floor and always grateful that at least if I had to exit quickly, I could exit through the window into the parking lot, which some of us in the north wing have been known to do in certain circumstances.
Then, the last six years I've been on the main floor in the main building, and particularly the last five years had the pleasure of being between the Premier's office and the mail room. If you want to be in a safe office location in the legislative precinct, I would suggest to you that between the Premier's office and the mail room is probably the worst place to be: If the parcels are either hand-delivered or come through the mail, it's nice to know your office is between the two ultimate sources. I did have a very serious experience with an individual outside my office, the details of which I'm not going to place on the record.
I think if anything, the reason that my concern for the public in this building and for the staff who work here eight-plus hours a day is escalating is because of the number of times that we have been evacuated due to bomb threats. In the first five or six years I was here, we probably were evacuated maybe once every 12 or 14 months; without putting a number on the table again now, all of you in this room know how many times you've been evacuated since you've been here.
We don't always have the evacuations when the House is sitting, or necessarily in the afternoon when we're here, so it means that it's our staff who are evacuated; it's our staff who have been at risk. If the House is sitting, we have 24-plus pages, young people for whom we are directly responsible, who also have been evacuated. Then, on top of that we have the public, to whom we have an open invitation to visit this building.
The legislative precinct belongs to the people of Ontario. It is the seat of their Parliament. We must have a building that they can come to freely, which is of primary importance, and equally important, that they can come to safely. I'm not sure right now that we are meeting the second obligation, that they can come here and know they are safe. I want them to come here freely but I want for us as legislators in this building to guarantee their safety as far as possible.
How we do that: I think by now, after your deliberations -- and I know there has been a core subcommittee of this committee touring other jurisdictions -- you probably have better, more up-to-date ideas than I have. But I do think it's essential that we limit the public access to certain doors. Whether that is one door or more or one point of entry or more is a function decision. I think right now there are seven entries to this building. Now, the public may think there are five, but actually if they are knowledgeable they would know there are seven, and they don't have to do anything except say "Hi," if there happens to be someone there, and walk right through. So I think we have to, in the interests of engineering something that is a control so we know who is in this building, change the access through certain doors.
It's important that staff have full access in all doors, because they're often coming from different directions from outside of the building. All staff are wearing ID cards. There can easily be a system of a swipe reader at that entry point that they just swipe their card through and they come in very easily.
I notice that your previous deputation was someone who brings people here in large groups from the motor coach association. I think that where we have organized conducted tours, those tour operators have to be responsible for the people they bring in and they have to know who they bring in. Obviously, if you're operating a tour, they do have a list of who's with them; they come and sign in their group. They are responsible for that group and their behaviour while they're in the building.
The casual individual visitor to the building shouldn't be made to feel any less welcome because they're not part of a group. But this idea, you know, that you just go to the desk and you fill out, "Margaret Marland, such-and-such an address, Mississauga," and I don't have to show any identification that this is who I am, and then I have free roam -- right now, I can go anywhere in this building. I can hide out in a washroom until after hours. It's a wonderful building. It's a 100-year-old building, and those of us who know the building well know how many nooks and crannies there are for somebody to hide, should they choose to hide, to a later time in the day when there are fewer people around. So I think who is in the building has to be recorded.
There's an irony, isn't there, from the fact that our staff have to wear identification so we know who they are, but anybody else, we don't need to know who they are? You can come and hide in my washroom right beside my office and stay there as long as you like. As somebody who works till 2 and 3 in the morning very often, I am a little nervous, to say the least, late at night because I'm wondering who is already in the building. I'm not worrying about who's come in after the doors have been closed and we're then limited to one access. I'm just concerned about who's been there earlier.
The other tremendous irony that we have in our current operation is, when do we put people through metal detectors? Isn't it ironical that we put people through metal detectors before they enter the chamber? That's the only time. What a farce that we're saying, "Oh, well, the members must be protected." The members are in the chamber and very few staff, and there are visiting public in the public galleries in the chamber, but suddenly we say: "Come in the building, walk wherever you like, stay as long as you like. We don't care who you are. We don't care what you may or may not have on your person. But, ah ha, if you go in the chamber, the hallowed halls of the chamber where the members are, we're going to put you through a metal detector and X-ray everything else on your person." That is the most ridiculous system that we have, and I know the arguments now are that metal detectors don't detect plastic bombs and other things. Then why use them going into the chamber? If we use a system of monitoring people coming into this building, we should use it at the point of entry, not just going into the chamber.
I don't know whether it was Mr Hastings or Mr O'Toole who pointed out to me very early on that we have ground windows, ground-based windows, some of which go into the basement around this building, that are constantly left open. I mean, for something as simple as that that is happening, we obviously need extra protection and alarms for ground-floor windows.
If we have the public coming for meetings, if somebody's coming in for a meeting with Margaret Marland, they should be able to say, "I have a meeting and I'm going to room 169," and the access is completely open to that person. If that person doesn't know where 169 is, then I think they just phone up to the office the way they do in the House of Commons and say, "Are you expecting John Smith?" and the answer is yes and they go to that office.
There are some areas of the building, which I won't take your time to discuss, that I think perhaps need more protection, more supervision than others. I also think something very obvious is that whatever you decide to do about the access through the main front door, which I would think from an architectural standpoint should be the main entry for the public, you have to remove things from that door that can be used as ramming rods, when you look at the damage to the doors that was done last week -- by what? Guess what? Our ashtrays, our stone cylinder holders for ashtrays, where they became a weapon in terms of a ramming rod and destroyed those 100-year-old doors and the beautiful old iron hardware.
Members of my own family have come in my office in the early evenings when we've been elsewhere in the buildings in meetings, and taken 10 or 15 minutes going through my drawers looking for the spare car key, which they knew I had, and said to me afterwards, "You know, I got in without anybody having me sign in." This son isn't in this part of Ontario very often, so he's not known. He came in, walked freely into my office, which I had not been in the habit of locking, and, as I say, took 10 or 15 minutes going through my drawers. He could have taken anything and, worse, could have stayed in my office for me to come back, had he had a malintent. Then he took off. I didn't even know he'd been there. That's just one example. And I don't think that's an example just because my office is on the main floor.
So I wish you well in your recommendations. I hope that you will come to some conclusions this time that will manifest themselves in workable recommendations that everybody can support, because as I said at the outset, we are in changing times, and like it or not we have a responsibility to deal with those changing times. Because as much as we would like to continue the way we have in the past, in the free access and entry and circulation of people in this building, it's no longer feasible and I don't want to be the person who voted against a recommendation until we have a tragedy of any scope.
We're not dealing any more just with bomb threats. If you've stood out on Wellesley when the Metropolitan Toronto Police bomb truck comes in and you've seen the robot detonate the bomb, you know that those are things that weren't happening five years ago.
Thank you, Mr Chairman.
The Chair (Mr Ted Arnott): Thank you, Mrs Marland. I have five members with questions. If you would care to stay and answer them, we'd appreciate your continuing advice.
Mr Miclash: Margaret, thank you for your comments. You touched a little bit on the metal detectors in terms of going into the chambers, and I think you brought up a very valid point there. Do you see any problem with those metal detectors being at one specific entrance for visitors -- you've mentioned the main one as well -- and having people go through them, much the same as an airport in terms of entrances? Do you see any problem with that at all?
Mrs Marland: The only problem I see is how we do it. As I say, I don't want the building to turn into Fort Knox. So I hope there's a way architecturally that it can be accomplished without there being a big lineup, the kind of lineup that's outside our chamber currently. So I think it can be incorporated into the door jambs or some way that it's not apparent. It might even be better if it's not apparent, because if somebody is trying to slide through with something -- sometimes they have a way, you know, of distracting the attendant on duty and avoiding walking through the definite archway.
Mr Miclash: True. A second area I'd like to touch on is the idea of having the podium set up on the front steps for demonstrations. You'll remember back in the days when we actually supplied that podium, allowed the speakers of the group and anybody who would be addressing the group from the Legislature to be out there. Do you see that as a deterrent for people wanting to storm the building, as we've had in two cases?
Mrs Marland: Well, you know, it's interesting because it's not in the past. We currently provide the podium, and the students last week knocked the podium over. The podium was already set up for the students last week, and they knocked it over in order to get into the building.
I think if the public wish to address their government, it's logical that they would come to Queen's Park, and we have to give them the assistance that we can. Certainly giving them a microphone and the podium, as far as I'm concerned, is just a courtesy, that we do that. What we do behind that or what kind of barricade we have to use is the decision that has to be made.
Mr Miclash: As has been pointed out from that particular occurrence, apparently the podium was actually not on the steps. It was down, I guess, closer to the crowd. The barricades were set up, and from somebody who was in that crowd, they had indicated that there were a number of people with megaphones, leaders of the demonstration, who were appealing to those who were going through the barricades from behind the crowd and of course were not being heard at all. I'm just wondering whether having those who maybe were in charge of the demonstration, who have already put their name on a permit or whatever, being visible in front of that group would have made a difference.
Mrs Marland: Well, maybe we have to develop a recognizable staging area and maybe it doesn't have to be right at the bottom of the steps. Frankly, if I'm a member of the public who has an appointment in this building or I'm just visiting, I would like to be able to come in and access the building. But if there's a demonstration going on, I might be terrified if I've got a little child in a stroller or something and I'm trying to get through a crowd. So maybe we have to give the loudspeaker or PA system a separate staging area just away from the bottom of the steps so that the other public access is retained during a demonstration.
Mr Bartolucci: Margaret, thank you so much for your information and your experience, certainly. Just a question. The committee as a whole has discussed the possibility of a recommendation being the removal of the permanent barriers. Given your history and given --
Mrs Marland: The removal of which barriers?
Mr Bartolucci: The steel permanent barriers outside the front door. What are your suggestions or what are your thoughts with regard to that?
Mrs Marland: I haven't given that a lot of thought, but it is a very serious consideration for you, because we didn't use to have them, although I have a photograph of Bob Rae and I parading, interestingly enough, arm in arm around the bottom of the front steps when we had a demonstration with our native people one year, and this is back about 1986, and I notice in the picture there were some barricades behind there, but we didn't have them set up permanently. I think that was the thing. They pulled them out when there was to be a demonstration. But I also understand that they in turn have become a weapon. I don't know, maybe what we have to do is something that architecturally is more accepting.
I don't like the appearance of those railings and if they can just be flipped over they don't serve a purpose anyway. Maybe what we have to do is invest in some kind of architecturally integrated wall. I don't know if we can still get this wonderful sandstone any more, but if we could do something that would narrow the entrance. I think part of the problem with our front door, as opposed to Ottawa -- if you look at Parliament Hill, the main access is through a very small door. They don't have these beautiful big doors across the front of their building. I would hate to lose the architectural beauty of the front of our building and I think perhaps that's what we would have to do: spend some money on some kind of a graduated wall that was a control point but didn't deter from the appearance of the building. But I share your concern about the railings.
Mr Bartolucci: A final question. You spoke about the importance of having an entry strategy, an entry protocol that's appropriate. As part of that entry protocol, I guess there should be a corresponding exit strategy as well. It's not good enough to control them on the way in; we must know who leaves, otherwise they can still hide in the bathroom, correct? So you're suggesting when you talk about having some type of controlled entry that there be a controlled exiting strategy as well?
Mrs Marland: I think it would have to be. In other jurisdictions, of course, you are given a temporary pass and you do sign in and you have to hand that pass back in as you leave. It's not complicated and it's not labour-intensive either.
Mr Morin: I'm aware, Margaret, that if you want to demonstrate in front of Queen's Park you need the authorization of protocol and then you have to be sponsored by a member of Parliament, and it's quite an easy thing to do. You write to the member of Parliament. You say, "I want to demonstrate in front of Queen's Park at 1430 on such-and-such a date." The member of Parliament advises the protocol, "Yes, I'm sponsoring them." Do you feel that it should be the responsibility of the member of Parliament to sponsor a group that demonstrates and, if so, what kind of procedures, what kind of regulations, what kind of rapport should the member of Parliament have with the demonstrators or the heads of demonstrators? I'd like to have your opinion on that.
Mrs Marland: I think there's no point in us being made responsible for a group by sponsoring them unless we are truly responsible. I have declined to sponsor some groups just to use our media studio, which is another area that has to be sponsored by a member. We have been totally irresponsible and inefficient in how we've dealt with this problem all along. If a member sponsors a group to come and express its opinion at the front steps, that member has to know who's responsible for the group and what the expectation of the behaviour is. There are still going to be examples where, with everybody knowing who the key organizers are and the key players are, there are going to be some individuals where it gets out of control. But if the onus is ours, as members, we'll be a little more fussy in following through on who is coming and how they're going to behave.
Mr Morin: Do you feel that it should be the responsibility of a member to sponsor a group? Do you think the member should have that power? Do you think the member should take the full responsibility of the demonstrators? I think of the incident of the students, for instance. It was one of our colleagues who sponsored the group. She's brand-new. It could have happened to any of these newly elected officials here. Of course, she accepted readily, but there was no communication with the group.
I know myself, if somebody were to ask me, "Gilles, would you sponsor our demonstration?" I'd say: "Sure, but under my conditions. Here are my conditions: that you will be self-policing; that you will respect the procedures, the regulations of the House," and a few other things. I would tell him or her, "Repeat that to me," so it would be repeated, and I would copy this down. I would also say to these people: "If you demonstrate with violence, if you demolish the building, if you do any harm, you will be held responsible. You will pay for that cost, not the public. You will do that. Either your group or yourself personally, whoever is discovered, should be found guilty and condemned accordingly."
What do you feel about this, Margaret? You have many other occupations as a member of Parliament, many other responsibilities. What kind of a system would you favour? It's a difficult question for you to answer. Should it be taken out of the hands of a member?
Mrs Marland: The thing is, if it's taken out of our hands to do the sponsorship, then the question is who would do it? I suppose you would say it's up to the Speaker then; it would be perhaps the Speaker who would give permission to these groups to come. I really think our greatest problems and our greatest occasions when I feel people in this building have been at risk, and I recall -- and I'm trying to remember, to tell you the truth. It wasn't one of my colleagues. I think maybe it was one of your colleagues who two or three years ago had the same man visit him three times carrying a gym bag with a very large knife in it. You will perhaps recall the incident. That man visited that particular member three times with that gym bag and that knife inside. My own personal experience only involved one individual.
Where the public is at risk in this building I think, generally speaking, is more likely to be from an individual or an individual representing a group, either through the depositing of parcels in the mail and, as my case was, an individual person there, than it is the risk of the incident like we had last week. If you and I think, Gilles, since we've both been here the 11 years, we've really only had three or four instances that involved a large group. My greater fear isn't so much controlling the large group as it is the individual putting the larger number of people at risk. Unless you want to assign the responsibility of sponsorship to the Speaker, then I think members can continue to do it, but be very careful about how they do it.
Also, I think it would be fair to suggest that we're still going to be at greater risk by the non-sponsored group that decides to form up at Front Street and parade up University Avenue and we don't know they're coming. The police hear en route that they're on their way, and they may be the most volatile group that puts us at the greatest risk and nobody sponsored them.
The Chair: When you ask your questions, keep them brief and to the point.
Mrs Marland: Brief and to the point.
Mr Cooke: I notice you tell people to be brief now that it's our turn.
Mrs Marland: Don't feel restricted.
Mr Cooke: I only have a couple of questions. I wouldn't mind making a comment on that, though. I think you've maybe nailed it, that the only advantage to having MPPs sponsor the demonstrations is that at least generally we know that there's going to be a demonstration. If you put some responsibility on to the MPPs which could never be exercised that they're going to be responsible for the demonstration they've sponsored, as you said, then exactly what you've just said will happen: Of course there will still be demonstrations, but we won't know they're going to happen. So there'll be absolutely no preparation at all for those demonstrations. I think that would be really dangerous.
Mrs Marland: How do you go back to the member anyway and say, "It's all your fault"?
Mr Cooke: Exactly. It would be impossible. I guess I generally agree with the approach you're taking. You're saying there are some security concerns you have but we've got to maintain the integrity of public access to this building because that's fundamental to Parliament. But we've also got to be smart about how we provide access.
Some of this stuff has affected all of us. My mom called me a week ago and said, "The Legislature's resuming on the 18th" -- she was under the impression that there was going to be a throne speech -- "and your dad and I wouldn't mind coming down to watch the throne speech," and before I even recalled that there wasn't going to be a throne speech, I said, "Well, I'm not quite sure that I want you to come down." They've both had heart problems, and I thought if there's a big demonstration and an evacuation and the elevators are off and you have to start using stairs, it puts their health at risk.
That's pretty minor compared to some of the security concerns that you're expressing, but we have to keep in mind that access means access for everybody, and access for everybody means people with disabilities, people who have health problems, and if they're frightened to be in the place, then they're denied access in effect. I think that's a concern that we have to have.
One of the areas I think we should look at, Mr Chair, that Margaret has raised is access to the lobbies, the east and west lobbies. It's long been a concern of mine that virtually anybody can get in there. We now have security guards on both sides, but anybody signs the forms, and that's one where you probably could hold the MPPs accountable. If you're going to sign a form, and they're going to have access to the galleries right on the floor of the Legislature virtually, the MPPs should be held accountable for whom they're signing forms and allowing them in. The visitors who come in there -- I don't know if you have that problem on the government side as we used to -- the number of people who come in there is just incredible.
Mrs Marland: It's terrible.
Mr Cooke: And I don't know who they are. When we were over there, I didn't know who most of them were.
Those are a couple of areas where I think you've made very valid points. I do think you're probably right on when you say that -- the limited breaches of security from demonstrations I think is something that we've got to keep in mind. We cannot justify taking all sorts of actions based on the two demonstrations, in 1988 and the one last week, where there have been major breaches of security. I don't think ultimately, if there is a threat, that's where the real threat comes from.
In some of the other areas, I think you've struck not a bad balance and we should take a look at some of the recommendations that you're making. What comes to my mind, though, is that we're not just talking about staff here, we're talking about MPPs and security of MPPs. It still will never answer the question of when cabinet ministers or the Premier are on the road, where bigger demonstrations occur and quite frankly more access is available in terms of those demonstrations and individuals, and at constituency offices for MPPs.
I have not felt threatened in this building; I have felt threatened a couple of times over the years in my constituency office. I don't know how you ever get to deal with that. We're not talking about that here, but every other time in my 18 1/2 years at this place that we've talked about security, we have talked about constituency offices. Maybe we're not talking about it here because no one's ever been able to answer how we deal with it. I don't know what your experience in your constituency office is, but that's where I felt threatened a few times.
Mrs Marland: Fortunately, I'm relieved to tell you that my experience hasn't been in the constituency office but, having said that, I wrote a note immediately to Marilyn Churley after her experience, and Bob Mackenzie, because my heart went right out to them. I mean, I don't care -- everybody knows in this building that my collegiality goes across all party lines, because that just happens to be the way I am. When something happens to one of my colleagues of any nature, I'm very concerned for that individual on a human base. Wow, what they experienced, which was in all the papers -- I'm not talking about something that wasn't known either -- I couldn't imagine anything more horrific for them personally, Dave, but also for their staff.
When you talk about the cabinet travelling, whichever government it is, yes, by the very essence of their job and what they're doing they are always at risk from even one individual wacko. It doesn't have to be a justifiable cause representing a large number of people. It's the essence of our job.
But when we talk about this building, I think what you just said about your parents is an example that's important for us all to consider here, because I didn't address that. It is true that if we're looking at the safety of the public in this building, we have to ensure that if they are older or frail and we're going to cut off the air circulation and the elevators, if that happens, it has to happen for a very good reason.
As I said, we've been lucky in the years that we've been here that those two major examples, last week and 1988, have been the only two major ones where the people outside have gotten in and been out of control inside. But the fact that there only have been two doesn't mean there are not going to be more. I think you just have to look at how society is behaving. We didn't used to have vandalism and demonstrations after sports events either, but we've had the kinds of stuff we've had going up and down Yonge Street after a few events last year. Those were things we've never had before either.
We are facing a changing society, and as far as I'm concerned, it just increases our responsibility to think that if your parents or somebody else -- every aging person is related to someone, and we have a responsibility to say, "Yes, come down to the throne speech or the budget and be safe from demonstrations." The way that's going to have to be managed is that we know those people are coming and we are responsible for them as our visitors and our guests. If there are some who don't know any of us, we still have to know who they are, and on those kinds of days, they're going to have to come in through one of our controlled members' staff access points so they're not put at risk of coming through where there may be a demonstration. So that would be one way of addressing that concern.
Mr John Hastings (Etobicoke-Rexdale): Thank you, Margaret, for coming and making your points known, particularly about after-hours security. What specific things do you think we ought to be doing with respect to after-hours security for staff? I was thinking more of staff than other folks in here, not just political staff but staff of the building, say after 5 or 5:30 in the evening. You have alluded to a number of things without mentioning them. I think I understand why. You have a hesitancy to do so for several reasons, I suspect, but what sort of solutions do you think we ought to undertake on that side of the coin?
Mrs Marland: I think it has to be mandatory for people to sign in once the building -- when the House sits until 6 o'clock, until 6 o'clock all seven entrances are open. I think it would be great that once all the other entries close, we do a sweep of the building. The officers are sitting there at all these different entry points. If six entries are closed -- and presently it's the east door that's left open -- then I think they should do a sweep of the building.
I find when they do a sweep around midnight to see if my light's on because I'm there or I've just left my light on, and they try the door, I feel comfortable then, but I really would have liked them to try my door at 7:30 as well. It's actually easier after hours because they are down to one entry point and everyone signing in. And when I'm talking about signing in, I'm not talking about coming in and nodding and saying, "Hi, Ed" or "Hi, Joan." Do you really know who that person is? I want to be sure that you do know who that person is who's signing in and that they are going to the Premier's office or Mrs Marland's office and know that they go where they say they're going. It's very easy to walk in and say, "Oh, I have a meeting in the government caucus meeting room."
Mr Hastings: What do you think we should do with the freight elevator on the east side of the building, particularly?
Mrs Marland: The wonderful one that goes -- well, you see, I don't even want to talk about where that goes.
Mr Hastings: I know.
Mrs Marland: Because that's the elevator that's right outside my office, and that is the worst example. I'm glad you're going to be discussing that, because if people knew a little bit more about that -- it was you who walked around with me, I think, wasn't it, and pointed out some safety concerns last summer?
Mr Hastings: Yes, especially that one, because of where it leads to and from.
Mrs Marland: I know.
Interjection: Where is that?
Mr Hastings: It's on the record.
Interjection: I'm curious now.
Mrs Marland: I'll show you.
Mr Hastings: Yes, we'll show you.
The Chair: Mrs Marland, thank you very much for your presentation to this committee. You've stayed a little longer to answer our questions. We really appreciate your advice and your input.
Mrs Marland: Thank you, Mr Chairman. I've appreciated the opportunity, especially since I was given 45 minutes. That's pretty amazing.
Mr Cooke: That's a normal introduction to a speech by you.
Mrs Marland: Yes, but if you've noticed, I don't get to speak any more. Thank you very much and good luck with your report; it's very important.
The Chair: I'll call forward now Mark Keilty. Could you just introduce yourself and tell the members who you are and why you're here?
Mr Mark Keilty: Hello, committee. My name is Mark Keilty. I am a 12-year veteran of the Ministry of the Solicitor General and Correctional Services. I have worked at the Toronto West and the Toronto Jail and presently am a recreation officer at the Toronto East Detention Centre. I am also the local president of OPSEU. I would like to thank the committee and Ms Freedman for making a phone call on Friday and offering me a chance to speak before this committee.
I was, I guess you could say unfortunately, here on September 27, the day of the -- in my opinion, it was a serious riot. Even though the people on the outside did not actually get in, they were close to challenging the security of this building. Quite frankly, I can't say that I was proud to be part of that group outside. When the actual barricades came down, it was pretty well every man, woman, child and grandparent for themselves. I was affected enough that I wrote Mr McLean a seven-page letter, which I understand you have in your possession right now. I'm going to read a few of my own personal excerpts out of that letter as I do my presentation.
To begin with, I would like to quote a couple of things from the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. I'm sure you've all heard them before as members of this Legislature. However, as part of my presentation I've highlighted a few things which I'd like to express.
Obviously, the people outside have been trying to maintain that the present government listens to them; I guess that's why they're doing these things. The beginning of the Charter of Rights states:
"Whereas Canada is founded upon principles that recognize the supremacy of God and the rule of law:
"Guarantee of Rights and Freedoms
"1. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees the rights and freedoms set out in it subject only to such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society," of which the fundamental freedoms -- and I guess this is what the people outside are trying to do. Unfortunately, it's not working out that way.
"2. Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms:
"(a) freedom of conscience and religion;
"(b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication;
"(c) freedom of peaceful assembly," which certainly doesn't look like it's happened in the last few months, "and
"(d) freedom of association."
Freedom of expression is detailed, of which I've highlighted two quotes I would like to take to pass on to the committee.
"Freedom of expression was entrenched in the charter to ensure that everyone can manifest thoughts, opinions, beliefs and indeed all expressions of the heart and mind, however unpopular, distasteful or contrary to the mainstream. Human activity cannot therefore be excluded from the scope of guaranteed free expression on the basis of content or meaning being conveyed...."
It goes on, and near the bottom of freedom of expression -- this is where the people and the demonstrators are fallen into violations of the freedom of expression:
"While the court has held that expression which is communicated in a physically violent form may not be protected, communications such as hate propaganda cannot be considered as violence nor as analogous to violence so as to fall outside the protection of this subsection. Moreover, even threats of violence fall within the protection of this subsection and their suppression must be justified" under the freedoms.
There are restrictions on picketing which have to do with unions and setting up peaceful and democratic pickets, as well as freedom of assembly, and freedom of assembly is the one that I will discuss a little bit later on.
To begin with, before I get into my actual letter to the Honourable Mr McLean, I would like to discuss a couple of things that I believe can be enforced via the police and the crown, and that's under unlawful assembly in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms as well as the Martin's Criminal Code.
The demonstrators on Wednesday -- and I have seen the news clips. I was not down at that, nor do I plan on being at any more where there's actually violence, nor do I plan on being down here period when I hear of a protest. What I've seen is that people are just becoming a little bit too aggressive in their conveyance of the freedoms, so I personally will not be organizing any more demonstrations. However, I will still exercise my right to freedom of expression.
The four student demonstrators who were charged -- and I know that this legislative body had nothing to do with section 51 of the Criminal Code. I agree with the theory that to charge these students with this is -- definitely they were intimidating the Legislature. However, after further review of the Criminal Code, I think there are other options that we can -- not threaten, but we go can forth and actually charge these volatile protestors with if need be. I want to read a couple of them to you just to enforce what I'm saying.
Section 51, in my particular opinion, is if they had showed up with firebombs and if they had shown up with a tank out front and if they actually tried to cause some serious damage to this building. But a lot of the demonstrators, as I saw on TV -- and I have actual videotape footage from out front -- what they did was they got by the security brigade and they got by the police and then they actually caused some severe damage and unfortunately some unequivocal damage to this House that's never been seen before. I was listening to Mrs Marland and she was quite passionate about the building and how it was damaged, and that to me is totally unacceptable.
I think what we have to convey to the people is that if you do show up mad and if you do go above and beyond your expressions, you will be charged. The courts should be taking these people seriously and the police should be abiding by the Criminal Code, and that's what I'd like to get into right now, before I get into the actual excerpts from my letter.
Under section 63 you have a chapter known as "Unlawful Assemblies and Riots." I would like to read out sections 63, 64, 65, 66, 67, 68 and 69. I won't go into the actual interpretations. I'll just read out the charges. I think you'll all agree with me that a lot of these people out front could have been charged, and maybe in future can be charged, with these actual Criminal Code bylaws.
"Unlawful assembly -- Lawful assembly becoming unlawful -- Exception.
"63.(1) An unlawful assembly is an assembly of three or more persons who, with intent to carry out any common purpose, assemble in such a manner or so conduct themselves when they are assembled as to cause persons in the neighbourhood of the assembly to fear, on reasonable grounds, that they
"(a) will disturb the peace tumultuously; or
"(b) will by that assembly needlessly and without reasonable cause provoke other persons to disturb the peace tumultuously.
"(2) Persons who are lawfully assembled may become an unlawful assembly if they conduct themselves with a common purpose in a manner that would have made the assembly unlawful if they had assembled in that manner for that purpose.
"(3) Persons are not unlawfully assembled by reason only that they are assembled to protect the dwelling-house of any one of them against persons who are threatening to break and enter it for the purpose of committing an indictable offence therein."
64. "A riot is an unlawful assembly that has begun to disturb the peace tumultuously."
Out of "Riot" I'd like to read the annotation that I've highlighted: "It is essential to prove of a riot that there be actual or threatened force and violence in addition to public disorder, confusion and uproar.
"Moreover, even if a tumultuous disturbance of the peace breaks out during an assembly, the accused must be shown first to have taken some part in that disturbance in one way or another. In addition, the requirement that the persons in the neighbourhood of the assembly fear `on reasonable grounds' that the members of the assembly will disturb the peace tumultuously requires that these grounds be manifest to any reasonable person within the assembly.
"Punishment of rioter.
"65. Every one who takes part in a riot is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years."
"Punishment for unlawful assembly.
"66. Every one who is a member of an unlawful assembly is guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction."
"Reading proclamation," which basically is reading the Riot Act -- having worked in the prison system for almost 12 years, we've had to read the Riot Act in-house a few times ourselves. This happens when: "A justice, mayor or sheriff, or the lawful deputy of a mayor or sheriff, who receives notice that, at any place within his jurisdiction, 12 or more persons are unlawfully and riotously assembled together shall go to that place and, after approaching as near as safely he may do, if he is satisfied that a riot is in progress, shall command silence and thereupon make or cause to be made in a loud voice a proclamation in the following words or to the like effect:
"Her Majesty the Queen charges and commands all persons being assembled immediately to disperse and peaceably to depart to their habitations or to their lawful business on the pain of being guilty of an offence for which, on conviction, they may be sentenced to imprisonment for life. God save the Queen." -- Very strong.
"Offences related to proclamation.
"68. Every one is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for life who
"(a) opposes, hinders or assaults, wilfully and with force, a person who begins to make or is about to begin to make or is making the proclamation referred to in section 67 so that it is not made;
"(b) does not peaceably disperse and depart from a place where the proclamation referred to in section 67 is made within 30 minutes after it is made; or
"(c) does not depart from a place within 30 minutes when he has reasonable grounds to believe that the proclamation referred to in section 67 would have been made in that place if some person had not opposed, hindered or assaulted, wilfully and with force, a person who would have made it."
I would like to comment on section 69 near the end.
"Neglect by peace officer.
"69. A peace officer who receives notice that there is a riot within his jurisdiction and, without reasonable excuse, fails to take all reasonable steps to suppress the riot is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years."
Thanks for staying with me for that.
I think you can back up section 51 through the courts with those sections in the Criminal Code. Personally, I think that there'll probably be a few more demonstrations in the next few years. Like Mrs Marland said, change is coming and people don't accept change that well. I don't think it's out of the question that the security of this institution may be challenged again in the future. Unfortunately that's reality; that's not fearmongering.
In Correctional Services we have the tools in place to quell riots. We can read the Riot Act. We can also charge the inmates in our custody with inciting the disturbance. The same goes for the police force. They must ensure that they abide by the Criminal Code when they are dealing with public disorder. Therefore, I think you'll get the message across that if people want to come to this assembly and challenge the security, that they are going to be dealt with in a strong and serious manner. Section 51 certainly speaks of that: Up to 14 years incarcerated is a very strong sentence.
There are a few things that I'd like to read from my letter of September 27, just to put it on the record, that concerned me as someone who was out there with staff from my institution as well as from all points across the province. If you'd like further comments on them you can question me on them; if not, then this is how I saw it as one of the people who was out in front. I think Mr Christopherson was out in front with the group. He certainly saw that there was a large crowd out in front. That was before all heck broke loose. I've actually put in a couple of recommendations as to how maybe we can handle these things in the future.
"I arrived at Queen's Park with my colleagues. We made our way to the front of the crowd. We spoke with the Metro police officers who were guarding the barricades. I was informed that there were 55 officers on duty to protect the Legislature -- of which 18 were from the mounted patrol unit. They were dressed in riot gear. One officer asked me" on the front line "how many demonstrators were going to show up. I told him, probably about 3,500." He was a young guy. "He looked surprised, yet slightly nervous.
"1230 hours: With the crowd starting to fill in, the demonstration was beginning to heat up, especially when the crowd saw photographers peering out the upper windows...." When we were down below, we could actually see a photographer hanging out one of the windows on the second floor. As soon as he stuck his head out with his camera -- the next day I think this picture was in the Star, because it certainly looked, from the vantage point I had -- he was actually a Star photographer. As soon as the crowd saw that, that was the beginning of the frenzy, in my opinion. They knew that it was "showtime," and I think I put that in my letter. "Total presence was approximately 25 officers. The mounted patrol unit was off around the corner of the building -- behind the media area. There was another group of mounted officers behind the television mobile units. The atmosphere of the crowd started to heat up."
The beginning of the actual demonstration was when they actually started speaking on the loudspeakers. Unfortunately, the loudspeaker was in the middle of the crowd and no one really knew where it was coming from. It was almost like they were passing the mike from person to person. I think they had a gasoline-powered Honda generator there for the actual power to the microphone. It was quite effective because you could certainly hear it, even though at times I wasn't paying attention to what was being said.
However, the one thing that I distinctly remember was when the throne speech was about to begin -- I believe it was 1400 hours, or 2 o'clock -- the individual on the mike at the time stated: "The throne speech is about to being. Let's go in and hear it for ourselves." Well, that got the crowd going and, as you read in the letter, I certainly stated that the barricades were used at that time as battering rams on the front door. The police were still there. However, they didn't want anything to do with the barricades on the front lines. There were two barricades, I believe, individual barricades actually being thrown up into the crowd at the front of the doors. I was off down to the side by the pillars just looking on in disbelief.
The actual disturbance -- I'm quite critical of how the police handled it. I believe that they themselves were not getting proper guidance from whoever their superiors were as to what they should do, because as soon as they saw the crowd rushing -- I say this in my letter to Mr McLean -- it was a "fight or flight" option. Several of the officers fled the stairs and just went down and around to where the mounted patrol unit was and that left a bunch of the officers actually at the front of the doors which, we saw in the news, is where the actual confrontation began with the public and the police. I'm not knocking what the police did, because it was a frightening experience for them, I'm sure.
Just in regard to what happened on February 7 last week, I do have videotape footage of the disturbance. I was scanning the news waves and I picked up a couple of things that sent up a red flag. One of them was the officer on the front. I think he must have been a staff sergeant or even above that. What I did see was that he gave the motion for the officers on the stairs to move off the stairs, and that's when the students were charging. I don't think he had any will to fight these students, nor would I have if I was in that situation. I think they recorded that 200 to 300 students actually rushed the front doors of the Legislature and there were only, I believe, based on the media reports, 32 officers who were being utilized that day, as opposed to roughly 80 on September 27.
In my opinion, on September 27 -- once again, about 300 people rushed the stairs, there were enough officers actually on scene to quell that and that's why they didn't get into the doors. The doors were also chained that day. I don't think they were chained last Wednesday. That was another thing that probably should have been done or could have been, but I understand you don't want this place looking like it's locked up for public entrance.
Getting back into the police presence, we in Correctional Services have a ratio of staff to inmates that we like to keep topped up. Our institution, for instance, houses about 500 inmates, of which on any given day we can have 40 correctional officers on scene, which is a ratio of one correctional officer per 12 inmates. We don't want to go much below that.
With the demonstration on September 27 you had 6,000 demonstrators -- roughly 5,000 to 7,000 was the media report. It looked like it was in the 7,000 range, in my opinion, because it was right down to College Street. If you have 80 police officers on the scene, you had a ratio one to 75 protesters, but that's actually one to four if you look at the fact that there were only 300 demonstrators who were actually wanting to use force and charge the Legislature. That's why, in my opinion, there were enough to handle it, providing they were effectively dispersed.
On February 7 you had 1,200 students, based on media reports, and you had 32 officers, which is a ratio of approximately one to 37; or if you take the actual 200 demonstrators who challenged the doors, that's a ratio of one to six -- until they got in, had they not been met with force. That's when the Queen's Park security and OPP's backup units were in place, and held the demonstrators at bay in the foyer.
Before I open it up for your questions, one personal opinion I have is that in Margaret Thatcher's election in 1980, one of the first mandates she put in place was actually giving the police a raise. The coal miners were on strike, they'd been on strike for a long time and they were, pretty well daily, visiting the House of Commons and showing a lot of force on the House of Commons. She knew that she needed the police force to back her up, so she actually gave them a raise to basically say, "I'm with you and you're with us" -- not that I'm advocating that the police get a raise, but when you're looking at a trial balloon of $90 million in expenditure cuts to the OPP and even your own Queen's Park security here, as a member of OPSEU I know what they're actually having thrown their way. There are threats of privatization and security cameras, bringing down the numbers of security and all that. That's one thing: It must be demoralizing for the front-line troops. After all, these guys are performing the front-line services that are protecting the legislators in this House just like in Correctional Services we're protecting the public from the inmates escaping.
Once again, you've got to look at a little humanistics here. These guys are protecting you in this House. In my letter I said that I want you to be protected, and that's why we didn't participate in trying to challenge the doors on the 27th. Once that happened, we just said, "Whoa, this is out of hand." But I do say that the morale among these guys must be a little bit wishy-washy in that, "Am I going to get hurt, when these guys are going to pass legislation to cut me or cut my job or cut the services I provide?"
I think you should take that into consideration, because these guys in the blue suits out there are your safety valves. That's not, in my opinion, too political; I think that's reality. I know a few OPP guys,and I know a few Metro police boys, and they're talking just like Joe Citizen out there, okay? The front-line service providers are the guys that are going to protect you and they are going to protect the peace. However, I think that everyone should be working as a team, including the police and the MPPs in this House.
Mr Miclash: Mark, thank you for your presentation. I certainly like the points you have given us in terms of both the barricades and the public address podium.
Mr Keilty: Sorry to cut your question off. One thing I did want to say and I didn't mention -- you've all got a copy of the letter -- is that as to the barbed wire on the barricades, I've spoken to a few people that that's a little bit much, that that's almost turning it into Fort Apache. However, I think I did say "if need be." We're not quite at the "if need be" yet, I don't think.
Mr Miclash: That's something I was going to get on to. Going beyond both the barricades and the public address system, entering the building -- you're obviously quite familiar with the area and what goes on around Queen's Park -- how do you feel about people being asked to go through a metal detector to have their bags, briefcases, purses -- the airport setup -- how do you feel about that at the front entrance of this building?
Mr Keilty: I heard you ask Mrs Marland the same question, and I listened to her answer and I thought her answer was pretty good. Personally, I don't have a problem with that. I would walk up and I would have a metal detector flashed on my body and I would let you view my bag if need be. You walk into our institution, for instance. Lawyers have been known to take knives upstairs in their briefcases, yet they call them pocket knives. We don't know what they're doing with those knives, and we've had a few confiscated off the lawyers. The first thing they do is they have to go through a visual wand. We've got the wand. If the public has to do that, I don't think that after what's been going on down here they'd have a problem with that. Personally, I wouldn't have a problem, because I have a security conscience.
Mr O'Toole: I have just a comment. You've gone to a great deal of trouble on this absolutely detailed report. I agree with you. The challenge for this committee is really to balance the demand for safety and security for everyone, both visitors and people working here, on the one hand, and to have freedom of access. The Fort Apache mentality is certainly not what we want.
There were a couple of points in here. How about the use of any sort of mace or pepper spray? Do you think that has a place here? You mentioned in your report on page 6 that pepper spray was used. Do you think it has any place here at all under any circumstances?
Mr Keilty: The staff who are presently in charge of security?
Mr O'Toole: Yes, the security force.
Mr Keilty: As I think Mr Cooke said earlier, you don't know when the demonstrations are coming. As Mrs Marland said too, they could be walking up from Yonge Street or wherever and the police only know they're on their way. What you're going to rely on is the first team of front-liners, meaning your in-house security and a few of the OPP. I think it would be a good idea, just in case it's needed. Even in corrections, we're advocating that when we do community escorts we would like to have some pepper spray.
Mr O'Toole: I have just a few little points here. You said you have studied riot phenomena. A crowd mentality takes over. I took psych 101 one time in my life, and they do cover that whole mob mentality and attitude. Are there symptoms or signs that the police or trained people like yourself would know when a certain mob mentality has taken over?
Mr Keilty: As I said, I don't know if on September 27 the crowd actually felt they would be getting into that, but I think certain people within the group were prepared to take it above and beyond a civil demonstration.
Mr O'Toole: To return to my point, really the follow-up to that was, do you feel that there are professional instigators involved in these? That was suggested in some of the news reports, that several of these people have been videotaped as key focus people in many of the demonstrations. My question is, very specifically, do you think that it's appropriate for action to be taken quickly when this repetitive pattern, the same protest groups and people show up, that some action should be taken in advance?
Mr Keilty: Well, yes, and I said to use the Criminal Code against them if you can actually pinpoint the person. That's why I said the podium too is a good idea. Mrs Marland said there was a podium set out for the students that day, but there was none on the 27th. I had said I'd been to a demonstration in July 1993, I think it was, and there was a huge podium, but it was brought in by the CAW. When it pulled up to the front of the House, it had a band on it and everything and people didn't care about storming the Legislature. Mind you, it was a Saturday. But that's the thing, they were looking at the band and listening to the speakers on the back of the truck, so they didn't care.
However, getting back to the point, if there are certain people who show up to these demonstrations with the sole purpose of probably causing civil disobedience -- and that one individual I mentioned in my letter knew the crowd was worked up into a frenzy before the actual speech began inside the House, so when he got on the mike and said, "Let's go and hear the speech for ourselves," the crowd was already going nuts. Then they burned a placard of Mike Harris's face in effigy, and that right there is where you could have got them on section 51, because they were burning a placard of the Premier's face. That was definitely inciting something. You can't pinpoint who it was, though, because it was in the middle of a crowd with a microphone on a generator.
Mr O'Toole: On the whole thing of crowd control, the last two points I'd like to have some help on, there's some question of video surveillance. I'm familiar with the Quebec situation and Ottawa. The video thing itself seems to be a funny dilemma as well. It's sort of a further intrusion into the public right to privacy, in a way, and people being flashed up on the 6 o'clock news can result from those very pictures. Yet it can cause the confrontation we're trying to avoid. People see the video cameras doing a scan or somebody filming what's going on. I've heard recorded that one of the members was very concerned about his picture being taken. That in itself is an infringement, an intrusion. What's your response? Is that more confrontation?
Mr Keilty: Yes, I think so. That's Mr Wright's question anyway. I think he's had a few comments on that. I know, just speaking in-house, we had a concern within our facility that they were videotaping -- they're called codes. When a code goes off, in-house they were videotaping the officers responding to codes. We challenged that saying: "That's a violation. We don't come in here to get videotaped. We come in here to handle problems when problems arise."
Mr O'Toole: You mentioned Margaret Thatcher and that the current venue for security is a high-mount camera surveying the whole city, watching everything. That's the new mode of policing in Britain.
Mr Keilty: Just like they can do from satellites now.
Mr O'Toole: They can zoom right into a bathtub.
Mr Keilty: As a deterrent, I think having a couple of cameras on the outside of the Legislature is like having a couple of cameras on the outside of our prison. They're a visual deterrent, yes.
Mr O'Toole: It's coming. You mentioned in your long, detailed memo here that the increased presence of the boys in blue -- I think that's your term -- sort of heightened the idea of we versus them.
Mr Keilty: It did.
Mr O'Toole: How do you handle that? Do you keep them inside until the problem and then rush them out, or what do you do?
Mr Keilty: The next day, watching the legislative network, I think Mr Cooke mentioned that he wasn't too happy, and I think Mr Conway said the same thing, that around the back they had everyone sitting with guard dogs in the cars. I think you should not have that on a regular working day, but I think it would be a good idea to have that when you know there's going to be a demonstration of substantial numbers.
That's the thing. The people were looking up and you could see three rows of officers and then when the jostling began on the gates, the actual police came back down and all the cops were on the front line and that just stirred everybody right up, because then it was definitely a confrontational setting. That's why you need somebody up on that podium just to have someone addressing the crowd because everyone was hearing the stir-ups, the war drums and everything. It was going nuts. You heard it in here, I'm sure. I could hear it on the TV. When I videotaped it, I could hear the war drums beating in the House while he was doing his speech.
The Chair: Thank you very much, Mr Keilty. We really appreciate your presentation. Your very thoughtful letter to the Speaker was very helpful to the committee as well.
Mr Keilty: Thank you for the opportunity.
The Chair: Our next witness is Ms Maria Frangos. Welcome to the Legislative Assembly committee.
Ms Maria Frangos: I'd like to start off by saying that I thank the committee for giving me an opportunity to express my views and opinions this afternoon.
First of all, I want to start out by talking about the September 27 demonstration. I was there that day and, looking back on it, I see it a little bit differently than most people have described it. As to the atmosphere, the climate that was out there, because I was right up at the front, I saw a lot of anger. I saw people so angry at the policies brought about by this Conservative government. Basically, I would call it economic warfare. Now some may agree and some may not agree. However, that's the way I see it.
When you have a whole bunch of people faced with this, when you wage war against a large part of the people in this province, when you're causing children to starve, when you're causing people to be out on the streets, when you're denying people basic human rights, you're in a situation where you have no recourse in many ways. You feel like you're isolated. You feel alienated and you feel like you can't speak out and defend your rights because you don't have the energy sometimes to do that except at a demonstration. You're standing around and you're looking around and people are all in solidarity. I don't think the people stormed the front because they saw somebody hanging out of a window with a camera. I don't think it was showtime, as our previous speaker said.
I think Mr Harris's government has taken an offensive stand against the people of this province and they're not being protected from his economic warfare. I think he should be able to take a defensive stand and I haven't heard him once speak to this in detail as to what has caused this frenzy.
Since Mr Harris's election in June 1995, more money has been allocated to security and policing, especially out of Queen's Park, than it had in previous governments.
Denying people access to Queen's Park is going to alienate them even more than that of his economic policies and it makes them feel powerless, like they have no voice. It's hard to speak out and defend your rights as a citizen when you are placed in that position.
I don't think that cameras or metal detectors or more policing or barricades is going to help the situation. What people need right now is to be listened to, and I think that once people are listened to, the violence will end.
I remembering taking several history courses and learning about stuff like the French Revolution and the American Revolution, how during the French Revolution people were starving in the streets and they stormed the Bastille and they broke through the prison. We look at that, and our teachers taught us that this was a good thing, that this was how democracy came about in France, for example. When we look at our present situation in Ontario, nobody seems to link those two events.
I think no other government has faced such extreme opposition as this one has. I demonstrated against Bob Rae during a student day of protest when Dave Cooke was Minister of Education. You never saw students storming the front and breaking things. I think the reason for that was because they felt that even though they couldn't change things, they were listened to. But with this government, people do not feel like they are listened to and that's why you're getting all this violence.
During the September 27 riot, a lot of people were brutally beaten. I was one of them who got hit in the head after a police officer told me to leave. I was on my way to leave, I turned my back and I was hit on the head three times with a police baton. I'm not one who goes up against the cops, because first of all I'm epileptic and the last thing I want is a head injury. If a cop's going to tell me to leave, I'm going to leave.
I looked at some video footage and I slowed it down and I saw cops, one in particular who I can't even identify, reaching out, going out of his way to strike a woman on the head over and over again, when she was being dealt with by a couple of other officers. In the security situation during that day, I don't think the cops were afraid at all. I think that a lot of people were badly hurt and excessive force was used.
However, I do see the concern for the need for security, after what happened on the national student day. I do see people's concern because innocent bystanders could be hurt, more damage to property, which would result in the taxpayers paying for it, and I don't think that's necessarily fair. I also don't think that it's the best way to go about challenging the government, because I think you're just going to get hit harder in return. I am personally in favour of general strikes. I think it's better to hit people in the pocketbooks, because it's the only way they can listen.
So I don't agree with this violence, but I can certainly understand it. I think that -- again I can't stress it enough -- once this government starts listening to the people and stops saying, "We're a majority government. You voted us in" -- I bet if you were to call an election tomorrow, this government would not come in. Time and time again, Mr Harris said during his election campaign, "If I break one promise, I'm going to resign." He's broken several promises and I would like to see him challenged on that election campaign. Of course, I don't think there's much chance of that happening.
I don't know how to improve the security here. I don't have any answers. All I know is that there are a lot of people hurting out there and there are a lot of people who are angry and I don't think this is going to stop whether you put surveillance cameras, barricades, metal detectors, build a fortress right around Queen's Park, this is not going to stop.
That's all I have to say today.
Mr Bartolucci: Maria, thank you very much. You know, it's very important for us as committee members to hear that you as a young and future leader advocate non-violent methods of demonstration, because that's so important.
Having said that, could you maybe give us your idea with regard to demonstrations and the responsibility that the demonstrators should have for their conduct? How could you see a protocol being developed so that demonstrators have ownership in the method in which they demonstrate?
Ms Frangos: I think that during demonstrations there are various different groups that are there. When a demonstration is called, group leaders should be contacted to let the people in their group know that this is going to be a non-violent demonstration, because they're going to be hit hard back, whether it's with police batons or with prison sentences of up to 14 years. I think that should be stressed by group leaders, because a lot of people who come in, they get worked up into a frenzy, they're angry. I just think that group leaders should sort of stress that before, because you're not going to have -- I'm not saying it's the group leaders' responsibility. Many times it's just individuals who sort of come up to the front and then they get worked up and down the barricades go, but I think it should be stressed that way. I don't know what other way it could be stressed.
Mr Bartolucci: Just I guess one final point, and it's something that I have to tell you that all the members of the committee, whether they're on the government side or on the opposition side, have had some concerns about, and that's with regard to the permanent barriers. Because you've demonstrated out in front, do you find the permanent barriers an object to heighten the anger of the crowd?
Ms Frangos: I don't think it directly heightens the anger of the crowd because of the barricade physically existing. I think it alienates people because it denies them access. I don't think that that mob would have stormed the front if the barricades were not there. I seriously doubt that. I remember when we used to demonstrate against, like I said before, the NDP government for students' rights, the microphone was right up at the front and people would speak from there and there was no problem. There was never any problem. I think that if you allow whoever's speaking during demonstrations, union leaders or what other groups, if you put the microphone up at the front and then just have a few cops around like it used to be, I don't think people will want to get past that.
Mr Morin: I want to congratulate you for having the courage to come in front of the committee. You're a young person, you voice your opinion. That is democracy. Not everyone may agree with what you say, but at the same time you take the time to come and see us.
You participated in two demonstrations. When you participated in those two demonstrations, was there a sponsor?
Ms Frangos: No, there wasn't a sponsor.
Mr Morin: You know when I say sponsor, because normally the procedure is that a member of Parliament must sponsor you.
Ms Frangos: Right. No, I'm not --
Mr Morin: That you're not aware of?
Ms Frangos: No.
Mr Morin: Were you responsible for the demonstration yourself or you were part of the demonstration?
Ms Frangos: I was just part of the demonstration.
Mr Morin: Who was the group that was demonstrating?
Ms Frangos: Many groups: the Ontario social justice committee, the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty, OPSEU was part of it. There were many different --
Mr Morin: But was there a head? Was there someone responsible for the whole thing, that you know of?
Ms Frangos: Not that I know of, no.
Mr Morin: I'd like to know more about this, because there are certain responsibilities given to a member of Parliament, I think, that should not be given, because why should a member of Parliament be responsible for demonstrations that turn into violence when there's no procedure set or there's no communication that is established between the people who organize the demonstration.
Would you see a form of procedure to demonstrate that should be in place, that should be in existence? Let me give you an example. Let us say, for instance, I'm a ham operator, a radio operator, so I demonstrate against the government because I feel that it won't allow me to put up an antenna. So that is my goal. I come along and I get in touch with the member across here and I say, can I demonstrate? He says, "Yes, I will, but at the same time please let me know what you plan to do." I would explain to him exactly and it's non-violent and just to voice an opinion. Do you think it should be his responsibility or it should be a body completely separate? It could be the police, it could be anybody else. How would you see it, because obviously you are preaching non-violence.
Ms Frangos: I don't think anybody can be responsible for individuals' actions. Forty or fifty different groups can come together and they can assure whoever sponsored the demonstration that it's going to be a non-violent demonstration. Nobody has any way of knowing that. Nobody knows what the climate is going to be like.
Mr Morin: But do you feel, if you are to demonstrate, anyone, that there should be conditions attached to it?
Ms Frangos: Yes, but whether those conditions are adhered to is --
Mr Morin: Yes, but the conditions are up to whoever the experts are to establish: "These are the conditions. If you want to demonstrate, yes, that is your right, but we don't want any violence. If you are to commit violence, if you destroy the public property, you'll have to be responsible for it; you'll have to pay for it."
Ms Frangos: Obviously that's already set out in our laws, right? I don't know what else can be developed.
Mr Morin: Yes. Thank you, Maria.
Ms Frangos: I just wanted to add that you mentioned that I was young. I'm not as young as I look, actually. I'm 26 years old and I used to actually work for the federal government for Citizenship and Immigration Canada. I just wanted to add that I remember when I was reading reports from different countries, countries that we accept refugees from, there was a lot of violence going on there and we'd provide political asylum for these people. I just don't want Ontario to end up like that.
Mr Christopherson: Thank you very much for your presentation, and I agree with Gilles in terms of it's good to see you come forward and feel comfortable enough to express your opinions.
You mentioned that if the microphones and speaker system and podium had been at the front, as it was with previous demonstrations, you think things might have gone differently. Do you think that act alone would have made a big difference at that event or is it just one piece of it?
Ms Frangos: I think it alone would have made a big difference, because I was speaking to a lot of people prior to the barricades going down, and they said, "Why are we so far back?" Because people were going past the speaker, and a lot of people were complaining about that, a lot of people were angry about that. They felt that it was another tactic to keep the people as far away as possible from the Legislature. Then after the barricades went down, I heard that a lot of people were really angry about not having the speaker up at the front. So I think it was a significant factor in what happened that day.
Mr Christopherson: Just on that, Mr Chair, I don't know if we've ever had a chance to pursue how that happened, but I do know that Dave Cooke had raised in the House the fact that for some reason the usual procedure hadn't been followed. Maybe you can help me as to whether or not we've done any work on that, trying to establish that.
The Chair: I don't recall that Mr Cooke pursued that in the committee.
Mr Christopherson: I'd like to raise it again just as something that we did say we wanted to find out if there was a communication problem or procedure problem, but why that happened.
The Chair: We'll try and get you an answer.
Mr Christopherson: Thank you.
The other question I would have for you, and I don't expect you to be an expert in this, I just want your thoughts on it, but let's assume you've got a podium at the front and you're doing everything you can to -- you've got a reasonable police presence etc, things are sort of as you might expect as you show up -- and I've been to lots of demonstrations before I actually hung out a shingle here myself -- once things get out of hand, in a case where they do, and it's usually a very small group of people who are doing that, what sorts of things do you think the security people here should do?
For instance, let's say that suddenly you've got 15 or 20 people who are banging on the front door and getting themselves more and more worked up. From the point of view of, say, yourself, working as a staff person or a friend or a relative who's on the other side of the door looking at that and then trying to have the balance between the public's right to access, all the things that we're doing here, what do you think would be sort of a reasonable response in a case like that, just off the top of your head?
Ms Frangos: A reasonable response?
Mr Christopherson: Yes, by the security people on the inside as they see people starting to clamour and hammer at the door.
Ms Frangos: You could always lock the door with the chains. If it gets to that point, obviously you want to protect the people who are inside here from that sort of violence, and I think that's acceptable.
I can tell you what I do not find acceptable.
Mr Christopherson: Yes, please.
Ms Frangos: I don't find taking a police baton, if you're a police officer, and just swinging it at people. I don't find that acceptable. If it gets to that point, obviously you want to protect the people who are inside here from that sort of violence, and I think that's acceptable.
I can tell you what I do not find acceptable: I don't find taking a police baton, if you're a police officer, and swinging it at people -- I don't find that acceptable.
If you increase the number of security at the front but limit the amount of weapons, so you can have more people but less actual physical force as far as weapons are concerned, I think that might be another way. There are ways to approach a crowd. If you're going to start hitting them, they are going to start fighting back even more. I think there are ways. Or have the person at the podium call back and say: "Can you please step away from the door. This was meant to be a non-violent action," sort of working together as a team, the people putting the demonstration on and even the people in here.
Mr Christopherson: I think that makes a lot of sense, and one of the things we heard from our counterparts in Quebec City was that, as much as possible, the security people out of the Speaker's office try to contact the organizers of the event. I think it would make sense. If you've got the podium at the front and you've got a combination of organizers who are there to take responsibility and security people as a buffer, standing there trying to orchestrate things between the podium and the doors, I suspect that you could go a long way to keeping things calm.
Ms Frangos: Also, I think it would be a good idea if you had marshals from the groups themselves, because I know that when we go on marches or whatever, I'm usually marshalling, and I try to keep the people on the side of the street so they won't block traffic or whatever. I think that if you tell each group to supply 20 or 30 marshals each, you're not going to find you'll have a problem like that.
If you leave a lot of it up to the people who are demonstrating to organize a peaceful demonstration and you don't alienate them by putting up barricades and such, I think you'll find that it will change a lot, that the climate will change considerably in that it will be less violent. In fact, I think you'd be surprised at how less violent they would be.
Mr Christopherson: I agree entirely, and maybe one of the things we need to look at is that there be a stronger protocol internally for attempting to reach out. Now, not every group is going to be as cooperative as we might suggest here, but I think the vast majority would.
Ms Frangos: Oh, for sure.
Mr Christopherson: Maybe that's an area we can look at in our deliberations, to put those procedures in place, that there's an actual checkoff of what will be done, and being sure that kind of outreach is happening.
Thank you again very much for coming forward.
Ms Frangos: I know that one of the organizers, I guess, blamed for what happened on September 27 was John Clarke from the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty. I'd just like to add quickly that he was visited by a police officer a couple of months ago. He was not home at the time; his wife was at the door. He told me the story himself. The police officer basically said that he should "watch out." So I think intimidation tactics like that aren't going to work either. I think the police should be a little less volatile.
Mr Hastings: Maria, thank you for attending today, although your historical perspectives with the French Revolution aren't necessarily that accurate. Do you come here as an individual citizen, I presume, and if so, when you were at the most recent demonstration, were you there as a member of any particular group, university group, or what?
Ms Frangos: I wasn't at the last demonstration, when the students went through. I was at the September 27 one. I came as an individual. I hadn't demonstrated in a long, long time, but I felt that I wanted to exercise my right to.
Mr Hastings: My only question is -- you were beaten with a baton last September?
Ms Frangos: Right.
Mr Hastings: Have you approached and made a formal complaint to the Metro police?
Ms Frangos: Right. I have.
Mr Hastings: And has Mr Clarke's wife specifically got the badge number of the officer who attended --
Ms Frangos: I think a badge number was --
Mr Hastings: And was there a complaint laid?
Ms Frangos: I'm not sure. I haven't spoken to John for a while, so I don't know what happened since then. I know what's happening with my complaint, but I couldn't say about what's going on -- whether he lodged one or not.
Mr Stewart: As a demonstrator, do you not feel that you have some responsibilities too? It always appears that you're always talking about the other guy, you know, the other guy hit you or the other guy was trying to intimidate you or the other guy instigated it. What about you as a demonstrator, do you not feel that you have any responsibilities for what happened? Unfortunately these days, if you are going to be involved with this type of rioting, which I believe is what it is, then you have to have some responsibilities too and not totally blame it on the other guy.
Ms Frangos: I'd like to say that, first of all, I wasn't carrying a weapon. When you're removing a person and they're a demonstrator and you perceive them to be acting violently, there's a way to remove them from the situation. I had my back turned when I was hit. I was leaving after I was told to leave. In my case, I was listening to what the officer told me. I didn't get his badge number, I was stunned.
Sure I have a responsibility, and I also think that there is something called excessive force. If I was coming up with a gun and waving it and shooting it around, yes, I would expect to get shot, or if I was coming up to the Legislature with a knife, I would expect to get hit.
Mr Stewart: How do we know you don't have, though? That's the concern. If you were coming to me with 1,000 behind, how do I know that you don't have a knife in your handbag or a gun or whatever? You're a great wave of people coming towards me, what am I supposed to do? Tell me.
Ms Frangos: How about I'm walking down the alley and I see this shadow and a man's walking towards me and I think, I'm a woman, I'm alone, he has a knife. So I pull out a knife, I run up to him and I stab him or something like that. There's no way of knowing. You can't really start shooting at people or hitting them without having proper reason to do so. As far as I know, that's what police are supposed to be trained to do. I don't know whether they are or they're not.
Sure the demonstrators have a certain responsibility and so do the police, but the way I saw the demonstration, it wasn't the demonstrators who had weapons on that day. It was the police who had weapons and used them. Like I said before, I saw the footage and I slowed it down and you could actually see -- I mean, like, you'd have to be blind not to see that this was excessive force when you look at the footage. Just to add, I mean a lot of the people targeted were women during that demonstration. A lot of the people hit were women.
Mr O'Toole: Maria, at the beginning of your presentation you were a little bit nervous, and I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend your right to say it. With that in mind, you said at the beginning a couple of things that led to very serious interpretations on my part that I want to clarify.
You really said it's "economic warfare." You said it's wage war. It's "an assault on human rights and we have no recourse." I'm asking you a specific question: Do you approve of the use of violence in any form as a legitimate form of protest?
Ms Frangos: No, I don't. I believe in general strikes, shutting the whole province down until there's no choice for the government but to actually listen. That's what I believe. I believe in general strikes. Like I think that's the best way, the most effective way to demonstrate. Violence isn't going to get anyone anywhere. It's just going to get people landed in jail and there's going to be no one left to demonstrate.
Mr Froese: Thanks for coming. I just want, before I ask you a question, to make sure that there's an understanding on your part -- and probably if there's one committee that's non-partisan, it's this one on security.
Just so that you understand, it's not the government of the day that is responsible for the security. It doesn't matter if it's the NDP, Liberal or PC. Although I don't agree with some of your comments at the beginning, I understand that there could be frustration with people. The right to demonstrate is there, but it's not the government of the day, it's the Speaker of the House, the OPP and the security force within the building that's responsible for the security. So what happened should not be viewed as it's the government that influenced the forces as you might view it. It's not the government of the day that sanctions or instructs the force that has happened, unfortunately, the last couple of times.
You've alluded to the individuals responsible for their actions. I guess I'd like to further Mr Christopherson's questions. How do we stop the violent action? Can you give us suggestions other than moving the podium to the front on the steps and having maybe marshals? Unfortunately, you don't know, like on September 27, as you said, you came together, everybody came together. There was nobody really in charge of that and so how do you handle a situation like that or what suggestions from a security point of view can you give us to handle maybe some of that stuff?
Ms Frangos: First of all, you said that no matter which government is in, security is sort of separate. Right? Is that what you said?
Mr Froese: Yes.
Ms Frangos: I'm just wondering if the OPP decided to put up barricades or the Metro police decided to put up barricades that day. I mean, like, I don't think it was. Obviously somebody told them how to set up. Mr Harris's government expected a large crowd and they wanted to prepare for that.
Other recommendations that I might have? If you're looking for me to say dress more cops up in riot gear, get more horses out there, I think I'm the wrong person to ask about that. I think the answer that I gave to Mr Christopherson is the one that I'd stick by, I think as the one that's going to calm down the violence. I mean, I'm serious. I know it sounds crazy, but I really think it's going to calm everything down if you treat people differently than they have been treated at recent demonstrations. Get rid of the barricades. Put all those marshals down. Like we've never had problems when we use marshals. They listen. Like when I tell people to step back, they step back. I don't have a weapon. I'm not an intimidating force. You line up the marshals up at the front of the steps, they're not going to let people go by. People are not going to go past the marshals. They're going to respect the marshals, they're not going to go through.
Mr Froese: So what you're saying is, rather than having the police, have their own marshals right on the front steps.
Ms Frangos: You've got to have some police just in case, right? but just not, you know, as much of a presence.
Mr Dave Boushy (Sarnia): Besides demonstrations, have you ever submitted a brief with ideas to the former government or to us for any of your recommendations, or you don't believe in that?
Ms Frangos: Recommendations concerning the security or through different --
Mr Boushy: About your ideas, recommendations that should be done.
Ms Frangos: No, I haven't actually. I've written letters to the federal government, different departments, but never to the Ontario government; not because I don't want to, I just hadn't got around to it. I guess I just haven't yet.
The Chair: Thank you very much, Ms Frangos, for coming in today and giving us your view of what happened on throne speech day.
I just want to inform committee members that we meet again tomorrow at 10 am and I look forward to that and thank committee members for giving the Chair the latitude to extend the meeting to hear the presentations this afternoon.
This committee's adjourned until tomorrow at 10 am.
The committee adjourned at 1604.