‘These rules are ridiculous’: senator blasts federal office security

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The senator for the NWT is shocked, dismayed and saddened by treatment he said he received from security staff and building maintenance personnel at the Greenstone Government of Canada Building. 

Sibbeston admits that he did not have an appointment when he showed up on Tuesday hoping to meet with Lee Montgomery, manager for Parks Canada.

He said he showed his Parliament Hill photo identification to a security guard, but the guard told him it did not matter if he was a senator – he could not see her under any circumstances without making an appointment first.

The senator said the guard refused to phone Montgomery. Rather, he said he was told to wait until a security officer was available to escort him up one flight of stairs to the Parks Canada office.

A visibly frustrated Senator Nick Sibbeston walks away from security officers Aug. 23 at the Greenstone federal building. Despite showing his Parliament Hill senator photo identification, Sibbeston said security would not allow him to go to the Parks Canada office on the second floor and threatened to call RCMP after he did so on his own. John McFadden/NNSL photo

Sibbeston said after waiting for about 20 minutes and with no security officer in sight, he decided to make his way to the second floor. He said he was then followed by a security guard, who Sibbeston said threatened to call the RCMP on him.

“I told the security guard I am a senator,” he said. “Are you going to stop me from doing my duties as a senator for the North? He just kept saying there are the rules, over and over.”

Sibbeston eventually left on his own without meeting with the Parks Canada manager.

The next day, the senator came to the Yellowknifer office to explain what had happened to him the day before.

He said his senator photo ID does not and should not give him free run of the building, but he added he was shocked that he was treated the way he was and that security refused to make any accommodation for him.

Yellowknifer accompanied Sibbeston back to the Greenstone Building to try to get a photo of him at the security desk and to ask the guard for his version of events.

The building maintenance manager, who refused to give his name, used derogatory language toward the Yellowknifer as he claimed no photos could be taken in the lobby of the public building. At one point, as Yellowknifer tried to get a photo of the senator, the security staff began taking their own photos of Sibbeston.

“These rules are ridiculous,” said Sibbeston. “I work in Ottawa and I have been in many federal buildings and there isn’t this level of security. If I as a senator have a hard time getting into a federal building, how much more difficult must it be for an ordinary person in Yellowknife?”

The senator pointed out that the bottom floor office in the Greenstone Building is called Service Canada but he received no customer service, adding the bureaucrats who work in the Greenstone Building are there to serve the public but he saw little of that in his two days of visiting the building.

“Are these government employees ever cocooned,” he said. “They are insulated from the public. How can a person go have a talk with a federal civil servant if this is the extent of the security?”

At one point Wednesday, Sibbeston met with a security guard who had not been involved in the earlier incident. She apologized to him for the treatment he received from her colleagues.

Public and Services Canada oversees the operation of the building. Yellowknifer reached out to for comment on the situation, but received no response by press time.

Sibbeston said he was not what, if any further action he was planning on taking over the incident.