A New Brunswick blogger and political activist has been permanently barred from entering any buildings or stepping on any property within the provincial legislature district in Fredericton.
Charles LeBlanc, a prolific blogger who writes about poverty and the province's political and corporate power brokers on his website, was issued the barring notice on June 19.
The notice, posted on LeBlanc's blog, accuses him of demonstrating "unacceptable behaviour within the legislative precincts, which has included harassment and disrespectful behaviour toward legislative staff, members of the Security Detail and members of the public."
The notice includes a map of the district, with lines drawn around the streets where LeBlanc is prohibited from walking.
If LeBlanc refuses to stay away, the notice says he will be charged with assault under the Criminal Code of Canada. The notice is signed by the legislature's Sergeant-at-Arms Dan Bussières.
Bussières says fewer than half a dozen other individuals have also been barred from the legislature grounds.
David Peterson served as clerk of the New Brunswick legislature between 1978 and 1993, and says nobody was ever banned during his time on the job. He said MLAs resisted his attempts to tighten security at the house because they didn't want to limit access from the public.
"We had people practically push the doors off the hinges and they've never done anything like that," Peterson said.
The notice does not give LeBlanc any right of appeal, or offer any venue to argue whether the ban is appropriate.
Peterson, now a lawyer in private practice, said the threat of an assault charge is strange. "I would love to be the defence lawyer for somebody who is just passively sitting on the front steps of the legislature [and is charged with assault]. It seems a fair stretch."
The legislature's administration committee approved the ban, including Liberal house leader Kelly Lamrock, who says his office must protect its staff from harassment.
"There are cases where security decisions are made for the well-being of members or the staff people," Lamrock said. "And there is an employer's responsibility to protect employees. Those have to be balanced with the very, very, very high duty to keep parliament open and accessible to everyone."
But Liberal MLA Abel LeBlanc says banning the blogger just doesn't make sense. "I disagree with Charlie being barred from the legislature. I disagree. Everybody has the right to come to the legislature. Their favourite saying, the Tories, is that 'It's the people's house.' Well, he's a person and he should have the right."
LeBlanc has gained notoriety in recent weeks for attempting to join New Brunswick's legislature press gallery and getting arrested at a trade conference in Saint John.
The barring notice comes just days after the arrest, which happened as LeBlanc began photographing a group of protesters as they stormed into a meeting of business leaders in Saint John.
LeBlanc spent four hours in jail, and says police deleted all the photos from his digital camera. He is due in court next month to face a charge of obstructing justice.