Security within Parliament
The other organization hidden from public scrutiny, the Board
of Internal Economy of the House of Commons, issued a statement
that it is to expand security measures within the Parliamentary
precincts, following the tragic loss of life to terrorist actions
on September 11 in the United States.
As one whose service in the House of Commons spanned three disparate
attempts to inflict death and destruction on its Members, staff,
and people in the public galleries of the Commons Chamber, the
publisher of www.vindicator.ca expresses unqualified support for
all necessary preventive measures consistent with open democracy.
Former parliamentary authorities baulked at the one remaining
step that should be taken to shield those whose duty requires
their attendance in the Commons Chamber. It is time to consider
once again the installation of what is generally termed bullet-proof
glass panels in the Chamber itself
If done tastefully, their
appearance would present no obstacle to the right of the public
to see and to hear their representatives talking, debating, questioning,
and acting like jackasses whenever the mood strikes them.
Such a measure was undertaken in the United States Congress during
the presidency of Harry Truman, following a gun-firing terrorist
attack. It is time a similar step be taken to protect Canada's
Of the three incidents mentioned above the most serious took
place in May 1966, when a deranged individual, Paul Joseph Chartier,
planned to toss a dynamite bomb from the Ladies Gallery onto the
floor of the House of Commons.
"Providentially, the fuse was mistimed and Chartier blew
himself to pieces in the washroom on the third floor as he was
preparing the device."
A photographic recreation of the bomb exploding in the Chamber
is still used in training sessions for security staff.
A few years earlier, a visitor seated in one of the Members'
galleries threw a carton full of animal blood into the centre
of the Chamber.
The carton "sailed over the government benches, splattered
the suit of at least one member, the Hon Paul Hellyer, narrowly
missed hitting a Hansard reporter's elbow, and splashed all over
the green carpeted floor."
It could just as easily have been a bomb.
In both instances a plate glass shield would have provided protection.
The third incident had a more speedy resolution.
"Is Trudeau still there?"
"Who is speaking, please?"
"I'm coming to get him!"
"Who-where are you?"
"Montreal. And I'm coming by train."
A quick call to Gene Grace, a member of the Hill security force,
resulted in my telephone caller being arrested the moment he stepped
off the evening train from Montreal. Apparently, he was well-known
to the authorities as a harmless weirdo.
But I've never forgotten his telephone call, as I worked alone
that evening in the Hansard office on the third floor of the Centre
| Canadian Vindicator