POLITICS

RCMP head Bob Paulson to testify on MPs' access to Parliament Hill

10/21/2014 08:49 EDT | Updated 12/21/2014 05:59 EST
The House procedure committee is set to hear from RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson, Ottawa Police Chief Charles Bordeleau and Sergeant-at-Arms Kevin Vickers as part of an ongoing investigation into a privilege complaint lodged by New Democrat MP Yvon Godin earlier this fall.

Godin found himself temporarily prevented from carrying out his parliamentary duties last month when he was barred from Parliament Hill's Centre Block by RCMP and Ottawa police officers overseeing a visit by German president Joachim Guack.

Mobile users: Read the live blog here.

According to Godin, who rose in the House to formally protest the treatment later that same day, he had been trying to make it back to the Commons Chamber for a late morning vote when an RCMP officer stepped in.

 "I told the RCMP officer that I was a Member of Parliament," Godin told the House.

"He said, and these are the exact words he used: 'I don't care,'" he recalled.

When Godin pointed out that a vote was about to place, he said, the officer replied that he didn't care, and insisted him that he was "under strict orders" to prevent anyone from going through.

Such an attempt to curtail the free movement of an MP within the parliamentary precinct could constitute a breach of privilege, he argued at the time — and as it turned out, House of Commons Speaker Andrew Scheer agreed.

Paulson can expect to be grilled on the RCMP's response to a similar incident that took place in 2012, which also sparked a privilege complaint.

At the time, RCMP assistant commissioner James Malizia assured the committee that the force was in the process of updating its protocol for handling visits by foreign dignitaries to avoid such situations from arising in future.

The committee is expected report its findings — which could include a recommendation that the matter be treated as a possible contempt — back to the House later this fall.