OTTAWA – The department responsible for security on Parliament Hill has apologized after an apparent incident of racial profiling took place on the Hill this week.
A spokesman for the Parliamentary Protective Service said the force is investigating the incident, which took place Monday during an event known as Black Voices on the Hill.
“Our security personnel must always conduct themselves with professionalism and respect towards parliamentarians, employees and visitors,” Joseph Law, the chief of staff to the director of the PPS, said in a statement. “We need to do a better job in ensuring that this standard is maintained across our workforce. The Parliamentary Protective Service has zero tolerance for any type of discrimination.”
The Federation of Black Canadians said several participants in Monday’s lobbying event were asked to wait in a parliamentary cafeteria ahead of their meetings with federal cabinet ministers.
In a statement Thursday, federation spokesman Len Carby said that, according to people involved, a security guard responded to a complaint from a government employee who had been taking pictures of the attendees.
“He responded by labelling the delegates ‘dark-skinned’ and telling them to leave, even though established regulations allow civilians with the appropriate pass to be in that space,” Carby said.
The federation said it has requested a meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as it seeks a “formal commitment to end racial profiling at the federal level.”
It has also asked for a meeting with House of Commons Speaker Geoff Regan to seek an official apology.
Neither Trudeau’s office nor Regan’s immediately responded to requests for comment Thursday.
However, Regan did address the incident briefly in the House on Wednesday, after Liberal MPs Greg Fergus (Hull-Aylmer) and Andy Fillmore (Halifax) asked him to investigate it.
“This place belongs to all Canadians,” Fergus said. “Therefore, I ask you to investigate this matter immediately and to suggest measures to make this place the welcoming and open place it should be for all Canadians.”
Regan responded that he takes the matter “very seriously,” and promised to look into it.
Carby said the federation, along with a coalition of other advocacy groups, will hold news conferences in cities across Canada on Friday to push for action in the wake of Monday’s incident.
“The coalition will ask for a more comprehensive government-wide approach to eradicate anti-Black racism,” Carby’s statement said.