Inside Politics

Liberal senator balks at Senate security advice to avoid First Nations marchers

A Liberal senator has issued a polite, yet pointed rebuke to Senate security for suggesting that she and her Upper House colleagues "avoid any interaction" with the hundreds of protesters expected to hit the Hill this afternoon as part of the Million First People's March to mark National Aboriginal Day.

Earlier today, the following advisory was sent out to Senate-side denizens by acting director of security Alain Laniel (emphasis added):

DATE: June 21, 2013
TO: All Honourable Senators and Senate Staff
FROM: Alain Laniel, Acting Director


In support of our nation's Aboriginal people there will be a march known as "Million First Peoples March" on Friday, June 21, 2013. The procession will begin at the Victoria Island at approximately 12:00 pm, and will proceed to Parliament Hill via Wellington Street. The demonstration should end at approximately 6:00 pm.

Approximately 1500 participants are expected to attend.

During the protest, please remember the regular security measures: ·

Keep your Senate identification with you and easily visible ·

Avoid any interaction with the demonstrators

The security barricades will be in place. Access control measures to the top drive and the East Block will be used only if necessary for your safety and to prevent impacts to Parliamentary activities.

Rest assured that the Senate Protective Service is working in close collaboration with its Parliamentary Security partners and other law enforcement and public safety agencies to coordinate the security and emergency procedures prior to and during these activities.

We thank you for your co-operation during this event.

In response, Senator Lillian Dyck -- who was actually scheduled to speak at the rally -- hit the reply-all to share her thoughts on the "directive" with the luckless Senate staffer who had forwarded the memo, as well as everyone else on the original distribution list:


Respectfully, I must question your directive to ''avoid any interaction with the demonstrators''. The plight of Aboriginal Peoples in this country is a very legitimate cause, as is this protest. Some parliamentarians and staff may wish to engage with the leaders of the protest to hear their concerns and suggestions; some may even wish to participate. I do not believe that the Security Operations of the Senate should dictate to parliamentarians and their staff with whom they may or may not interact.

In fact, I would encourage all of you to join me this afternoon in supporting this protest.

Thank you for your consideration,

Senator Lillian Eva Dyck

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