January 20, 1999 |
Parliamentary ban by Gilbert Parent alarms
THE SPEAKER of the
House of Commons claims that all parties
backed him in banning Ernst
Zundel's lawyer from the Parliament
Gilbert Parent, the Speaker of
the House of Commons, was wrong to ban the
lawyer for Holocaust denier Ernst Zundel
from the parliamentary precincts this
week, a spokesman for the Canadian Civil
Liberties Association said yesterday.
Douglas Christie refuses to leave
Borovoy, the association's general
counsel, said Mr. Parent issued what
appears to be an arbitrary edict that
ignored basic standards of fairness when
he extended a previous ban against Zundel
to his lawyer, Douglas
"Parliament ought to be governed by the
standards of fairness and due process that
have been the hallmarks of democratic
societies," Mr. Borovoy said, after Mr.
Parent's officials prevented Mr. Christie
from entering Parliament.
Last week, Mr. Christie booked an
appearance for Tuesday in a news theatre
administered by the Parliamentary Press
Gallery. The gallery, which has accepted
bookings by Mr. Christie and Zundel, says
any group or individual may use the room
to comment on issues of national
importance. Last June, press gallery
directors had refused to cancel Zundel's
booking for the news theatre. However, he
was subsequently banned from the building
Mr. Christie said he wanted to use the
gallery to issue a statement about
Zundel's hate-literature case before a
Canadian Human Rights tribunal in Toronto,
and about laws against the promotion of
Mr. Parent's press secretary,
Heather Bradley, said the Speaker
extended the ban to include Mr. Christie
after House leaders for all five parties
in the Commons agreed to support the
While the Commons approved the ban
against Zundel by adopting a motion from
Don Boudria, the government House
leader, there was no record of Mr.
Parent's ruling on Mr. Christie, or any
written reasons for the decision.
A senior Commons official verbally
informed the press gallery that Mr.
Christie would not be allowed into the
building, while Ms. Bradley, accompanied
[by] Commons security guards,
informed Mr. Christie of the development
when he arrived on Parliament Hill for his
Hansard, the official record of
Commons debate, contains a brief record of
the motion against Zundel, but the
reference does not include any reason for
"As far as I know, there are no
criteria governing access to Parliament
for these purposes," said Mr. Borovoy.
"There is a great risk of being arbitrary,
and Parliament should be governed by
standards of fair play and due process.
Those are the norms of democratic
Mr. Boudria said he agreed to ban Mr.
Christie because he is acting for Zundel,
even though he did not know what the
lawyer planned to say at his news
"It would have been somewhat
incongruous to say Mr. Zundel can't enter
the House of Commons to give a press
conference, but he can pay someone else to
do the same thing," said Mr. Boudria. "In
terms of what the content of his speech
was, I have no idea."
Mr. Boudria added no citizen has an
automatic right to enter the parliamentary
buildings, and Commons security has "a
list as long as my arm" of people who have
been prohibited from entering the
premises, generally for security reasons.
He said the public, in effect, seeks
permission, even for tours, by going
through a security screening station.
Heather Bradley said Zundel and Mr.
Christie could have used the media theatre
in the National Press Building across the
street from Parliament Hill, but did