Ex-mp says experience of discrimination by parliamentary security

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A former MP says she experienced discrimination by parliamentary security

Celina Caesar-Chavannes served as an independent MP for Whitby from 2015 to 2019. (Archives)

Celina Caesar-Chavannes said she was interviewed by members of the Parliamentary Protective Service in June as she attempted to gain access to the compound wearing her parliamentary pin.

The pin, worn by current and former MPs, is intended to allow the wearer access to any building within the parliamentary precincts without having their bags and person searched, she said.

But she said security asked her where she got the pin and tried to search anyway.

Ms. Caesar-Chavannes was elected as a Liberal MP in 2015 for the riding of Whitby, Ontario, but left caucus in March 2019 and served as an independent MP until the elections the following fall.

Parliamentary Protective Service officers, June 2022

Ms. Caesar-Chavannes said that after she was questioned, former NDP MP Peggy Nash was able to pass through security without incident.

Peggy left politics long before me, underlined Mrs. Caesar-Chavannes. Nobody expects them to recognize us, but the brooch is universal. Security knows what it's like.

Ms. Nash served as the Member of Parliament for Toronto's Parkdale-High Park riding from 2006 to 2008 and regained her seat from 2011 to 2015.

Although she did not see the first part of the encounter, Ms. Nash confirmed that she arrived at the entrance to the Senate building with her own pin and that security told her. waved through.

Ms Nash recalled that Ms Caesar-Chavannes said at the time that when security asked her where she bought her pin, it& #x27;was like they didn't believe she could legitimately be in possession of a parliamentary pin.

This is not the first time the security service has been called out for racial profiling on the hill.

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

In her farewell speech in 2021, Mumilaaq Qaqqaq, who served as an NDP MP for Nunavut, said she did not feel safe on the hill. She described being chased in hallways and subjected to racial profiling by members of the Parliamentary Protective Service.

Ex – Member of Parliament for Nunavut, Mumilaaq Qaqqaq, during a speech in the House of Commons (archives)

Every time I walk on the grounds of the House of Commons, speak in these chambers, I am reminded at every step that I don't belong here, said Ms. Qaqqaq.

In response to a Twitter post from Ms. Caesar-Chavannes on the day of the incident, former NDP MP Laurin Liu said: This daily racial and gender profiling when I was on the Parliament Hill ten years ago made me dread showing up for work.

New Democrat MP Matthew Green, who is a member of the Parliamentary Caucus blacks, said the group also heard of other incidents.

We need to work with senior management to ensure there is adequate training for all staff, Green said, noting that he is in discussions with caucus members to ensure x27; ensure that this type of situation does not happen again.

This is not the first time security has been pulled over for racial profiling on the hill.

Ms Caesar-Chavannes said Larry Brookson, acting director of the Parliamentary Protective Service, responded quickly to the incident and apologized. But she thinks more should be done and said an apology without action means nothing.

Ms Nash remembers Ms Caesar-Chavannes asking Mr. Brookson what action the service would take.

It didn't appear to have been fully thought through, but there was a commitment to working with her moving forward and ensuring staff were properly trained, Ms. Nash said.

< p class="e-p">Ms. Caesar-Chavannes said Mr. Brookson had invited her to meet with their diversity, equity and inclusion specialist, but there was a delay of about five weeks in scheduling the meeting. During this meeting, she demanded accountability and clear measures to prevent similar situations from happening again.

The conversation has died down since then, she remarked.

In a position of power and authority […], you have the ability to make decisions about what happens next for people in this space, she said, adding that she was advocating on behalf of those who are subjected to the same type of treatment and have less privilege to #x27;express.

I think they would be wise to take this seriously because it's 2022 and this kind of egregious abuse shouldn't be happening here, Ms. Nash said.

“As long as there are persistent stereotypes, and as long as people dismiss complaints about someone's hurt feelings, truly representative parliaments will not will not be able to take their full place, and that is quite simply undemocratic.

—Peggy Nash, former MP

When asked about the incident, the Parliamentary Protective Service said it was following a process to evaluation and capacity building.

We remain committed to continuous improvement, fostering genuine conversations and receiving constructive feedback, the service said Thursday, adding that its top priority was the safety and well-being of employees and visitors to the hill.

We need to do better, said Ms. Caesar-Chavannes.

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