New security measures for MPs in their constituencies

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New security measures for MPs in their constituencies

The Parliamentary Protective Service (PSS) is taking unprecedented measures to better protect elected officials in their constituencies.

The Parliamentary Protective Service will be more present to ensure the security of elected officials, in Ottawa and elsewhere.< /p>

Faced with increasing threats to elected officials, the SPP is forced to take new measures.

A constituency office damaged by a Molotov cocktail. A deputy who stops cycling because someone threatened to follow him in the car and an accident happened so quickly. Death threats against a politician and against the police responding to the call.

Elected officials feel increasingly targeted in their constituencies, and the SPP has been called in reinforcement.

Documents obtained by Radio-Canada show that the Service intends to become more involved in the protection of elected officials, even when they are not near Parliament.

It is exceptional, notes New Democrat MP Alexandre Boulerice, that the House of Commons has come to worry about the safety of MPs in the public square.

The SPP is normally responsible for security in the Parliamentary Precinct, which encompasses the area of ​​Ottawa around the parliament building and is home to many government buildings.

The jurisdiction of the SPP expressly excludes MPs' constituency offices, according to the 2015 law that led to the service's creation.

Following the occupation of the downtown Ottawa this winter by “freedom convoy” protesters, many MPs expressed concern about holding public events in their ridings, such as spaghetti dinners, block parties, tables rounds or national day celebrations.

According to our information, the Board of Internal Economy therefore approved a pilot project in June offering MPs a security program outside the parliamentary precinct for non-partisan events held in their riding, according to documents consulted by Radio-Canada.

With this in mind, the Parliamentary Security Office has therefore asked Members of Parliament to provide it with an assessment of the non-partisan events in which elected officials participate in a given year.

The objective is to assess the needs and the resources that would be necessary to improve the protection of Members of Parliament in their constituencies, in order to contribute to the implementation of an overall security strategy, one can read in the documents that we have obtained.

How many staff could be required, what is the budget for this pilot project?

Impossible to know. For security reasons, we do not release detailed information on security programs, writes the Communications Manager for the Office of the Speaker of the Commons, Amélie Crosson.

This pilot project is part of a broader strategy to protect elected officials, which includes MPs, ministers and party leaders, and which is due to be presented to the Council of Ministers in the coming weeks.

We continue to ensure that services are available when there is a real threat and that our democracy is protected, said Mark Holland, the government House leader. It's essential that everyone who works here, not just MPs, but our staff as well, is safe.

For Timmins NDP MP Charlie Angus, it was time for the SPP to become more involved in the safety of elected officials in their constituencies.

I have already been frustrated by the lack of action by Parliament, he said, and to recognize the risks of elected officials, in the face of the messages of intimidation received in his constituency.

The SPP told me to contact the local police, says the deputy. But threats can come from anywhere, and local police don't always have the means to really investigate.

The PPS pilot project is a critical step, according to Charlie Angus, this is a sign that Parliament now recognizes the threat from politicians across Canada.

It's a good initiative, but it's a big contract, says Bloc Québécois MP for Mirabel, Jean-Denis Garon.

“ There are parts of my riding where I would not even be comfortable going door to door, in places where certain radical ideas have been circulating. »

— Jean-Denis Garon, Bloc MP for Mirabel

The evening of Saint-Jean in Sainte-Marthe-sur-le-Lac, continues the deputy, there is a guy who came to attack me. I got rid of it myself. But the member of the CAQ, she escaped with security.

A situation that highlights in particular the difference that exists in the security measures offered between federal members and provincial.

Liberal MPs are also relieved that the Parliamentary Security Service is getting more involved in their riding. Like John Mackay, who laments that his nonpartisan community barbecues are targeted by protesters. Or Judy Sgro, who never leaves the house without making sure her panic button is fully charged.

For her part, Minister Karina Gould had to take her own precautionary measures after receiving threats.

I hired police to come to public events, to prevent something from happening. When we are inviting the community, we want to ensure its safety as well.

Bloquiste MP Julie Vignola is also delighted with the existence of the pilot project. I can handle verbal aggression. But I am 5 feet and 4, a physical assault would be something else.

But she remarks at the same time that public access to elected officials should not be too limited . We cannot check the pockets and bags of every person who comes to our events. If you put two policemen next to me, people might not come to see me.

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