Nunavut legislature to have tighter security for winter sitting

Nunavut's legislative assembly has made some changes to security after last October's shooting on Parliament Hill.
John Quirke, clerk of the Nunavut Legislative Assembly, says there will be tighter security this winter after last October's shooting on Parliament Hill. (CBC)

There will be tighter security at the Nunavut Legislative Assembly this winter after last October's shooting on Parliament Hill.

"Obviously what happened in Ottawa shattered everything, the whole concept of how we think security," said John Quirke, clerk of the legislative assembly.

After the fall sitting, the RCMP emergency response team toured the building and a group from the Ontario legislature also assessed security. The group from the Ontario legislature sent Quirke a report in January.​

He says both groups were taken aback by how intimate the chamber is.

"First thing that struck them was the fact that the assembly is quite a cozy place, probably the only assembly where visitors in the gallery can lean over and touch a member," he said.

Quirke says security changes include swipe key access for the media and translators area and limiting public access to only one chamber entrance. There will also be an RCMP officer on duty. 

Quirke says there could be bigger changes down the line such as security screenings similar to ones before boarding an airplane.

Business on the agenda

The winter sitting starts Tuesday afternoon at 1:30 p.m. ET, and is the first since the cabinet shuffle late last fall.

Bills to be debated include Bill 1 The Northern Employees Benefits Services Pension Act, a bill the Nunavut Employees' Union says will negatively impact pensions, and Bill 11 An Act to Amend the Corrections Act, which provides rules around when and for how long physical restraints can be used on inmates. It would also allow more access for certain visitors to inmates in segregated confinement.

As well, the 2015-2016 Main Estimates budget is expected to be tabled Wednesday afternoon.

Before today's sitting begins, PauloosieKeeyootak will be sworn in as the new MLA for Uqqummiut at 9 a.m. ET in the chamber of the legislative assembly. 

Keeyootak won the seat earlier this month in the byelection to replace Samuel Nuqingaq, who was expelled from the legislature last fall.

Last week, Government House Leader Paul Quassa said it will be nice to have a full house working together.

Follow @jsponagle and @JordanKonekCBC on Twitter for news from the Nunavut legislature until the sitting wraps up in mid-March.

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