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View Craig Scott Profile
View Craig Scott Profile
2015-05-12 10:22 [p.13760]
That the questions of privilege raised on April 30, 2015, by the hon. member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley and on May 8 by the hon. member for Toronto—Danforth regarding the fact that hon. members were delayed when trying to access Parliament Hill be referred to the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs.
View Craig Scott Profile
He said: Mr. Speaker, I would like to share my time with the member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley.
I think it is important for me to briefly recap, for those who were not present or listening last week, why I felt that even a momentary delay of what I admit was less than a minute raises major issues that the procedure and House affairs committee really will have to take seriously.
What happened basically involved an indistinguishable stopping of everyone coming up one side of Parliament Hill heading toward the Centre Block within immediate proximity of the doors that MPs always enter. The reason, as was made very clear by the officer, was that she was under orders to stop everyone. I will emphasize again, as I did in my intervention last week, that the officer was firm and polite, and I have no concerns at all with the officer.
I am sorry; I am actually going to split my time with the member for Burnaby—New Westminster.
I have no idea how long the group was there as I was walking up the Hill before I arrived, but the fact of the matter is that when I arrived, I presented myself to the officer as I was trying to pass, and the conversation that ensued is now on the record of Hansard. The officer indicated that she was under orders to make no distinction between any members of the public, anyone else, and MPs. Indeed, structurally, there was nothing about the way the crowd control was working to suggest that any distinction had been made. There was no ability for an officer to stand and wave MPs through or to ask, “Are there any MPs here? Please go through.” There was nothing like that. It was a one-size-fits-all approach.
This was confirmed when she then called through to whatever was command central for this welcoming of the President of the Philippines to the Hill. They did not bother addressing the issue of whether an MP could go through while the others were waiting, because the moment she called, they solved the problem by letting everybody through. I assume that was a coincidence of timing. Nonetheless, it was clear from the overall situation that there were, again, indistinguishable orders.
On that front, I would like to now move to two arguments that I believe the Speaker has put in context in his ruling just now but that have been raised twice now by the government House leader on the question of privilege by the member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley and on my question of privilege.
One is, effectively, that he has come before the House and asked the Speaker to take his word for facts that he and the government have investigated in tandem with the RCMP. The first problem is that it is not the role of the government to conduct these kinds of investigations.
Second, I would like to read an excerpt from the House leader's intervention on the question of privilege by the member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley. He stated:
...I can tell you that the public safety minister's office has advised that that the Royal Canadian Mounted Police reviewed the surveillance camera footage and determined that the green bus in question was indeed delayed for some 74 seconds....
He went on to say that was a mere momentary delay and that for that reason, the privilege motion should be dismissed.
The fact of the matter is that the procedure and House affairs committee needs to look at what the lines of authority are here. The House leader comes into the House, gets word from another minister of the crown about what that minister of the crown had discussed with the RCMP, and then, in a not-so-subtle fashion, expects the Speaker to say, “Thank you very much for doing my work and thank you very much for reporting to me what the RCMP has said.”
I am very glad that the Speaker has obviously decided that this is not the role of the government and not the role of the House leader.
I would also like to point out that the Speaker went back into precedents and quoted one precedent that said that even a momentary delay can be a breach of privilege. However, the government is now trying to reshape the law of privilege around the idea that just any delay at all, as long as it is short, is not a breach of privilege. It went so far as to argue last week that the recent report on the question of privilege by the member for Acadie—Bathurst actually stated that the PROC report put forward the idea that momentary delays are not a breach of privilege.
No such words at all appear in that report. In fact, it is very clear that the committee was expressing concern by the very sentence that the Speaker just read in the House now on his ruling, when he read, in French, this sentence:
Cases of privilege in which Members have had the right to unimpeded access to the Parliamentary Precinct denied have occurred in the recent past with all too great a frequency.
For that to appear in the PROC report from the most recent case and for the Speaker to now read it again is diametrically opposed to the spin that the House leader is trying to put on the law of privilege in this House when he says that report ruled that a momentary delay meant there was no privilege breached in that case. That is a completely out-of-bounds argument, as far as I am concerned.
I took care, and I took care at the beginning of these remarks as well, to emphasize—and this is actually consistent with the recent report on privilege with respect to the member for Acadie—Bathurst—that there was no fault on behalf of the officers. The officers are working within a system. They are following orders. The question is the system. How are, in these two instances, VIPs handled? What kind of priority are they given over members of Parliament to access? What kinds of easy procedures could be available that the RCMP has so far declined to put into place? An example would be to have, at all access points, a designated RCMP officer to check or let through or look out for members of Parliament while everybody else has to wait. There is nothing like that.
Instead, they put a lone officer out under orders to block everybody, regardless of whether or not they are an MP.
My guess is they are putting out recent recruits to do this, people who have not even been properly versed on what parliamentary privilege is or why it is important for members to get to the House on time.
At one level, it is of absolute importance. If I wanted to be in the House because I had limited time to hear a debate or to possibly ask a question, et cetera, that, in and of itself, is enough reason for me to be in any hurry I want.
However, beyond that, votes are crucial in this place, and they can come up at unexpected times that overlap with times when VIPs are visiting.
The idea that 30 seconds or a minute or whatever is always de minimis is already in trouble with respect to the logic of the timeframes within which we operate in this place. The idea that the House leader has raised on occasion is almost a suggestion that MPs are sitting on their posteriors, waiting to the very last minute before they rush to the House, and, therefore, if they are delayed a bit at that point, they are to blame. In actual fact, votes disrupt everything else MPs are doing, and they often try to finish what they are doing in the knowledge that they will have enough time to get there in the ordinary course of events.
This just-in-time arrival of a good number of the people who are voting on any given motion is also a part of our life on the Hill, and the moment that gets interfered with, we are going to potentially have problems with multiple people not making votes. At the moment, we have been lucky with respect to those who have been delayed but who have managed to arrive just in time.
With respect to the whole question of VIPs, the mere fact that the RCMP officer said it was a VIP, as broad a category as that is, versus a visiting head of state, just to give it some context, suggests that a broad-brush approach is being taking by whoever is in charge of federal policing on the Hill. Ultimately, it is the Deputy Commissioner. I am now no longer personally convinced that the Deputy Commissioner is listening to any of these debates on what privilege amounts to. It would have been so easy to set up procedures to ensure MPs can get through. That has not been done.
I think we need to have the procedure and House affairs committee hear this matter—not in any extended way, but in a way that would focus upon systems so that we get precise information from the RCMP about what the orders are and what training procedures are in place. How do we know that the RCMP is even listening to these reports and to the Speaker's rulings?
View Mauril Bélanger Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Mauril Bélanger Profile
2015-05-12 10:33 [p.13762]
Mr. Speaker, I have a question for my colleague from Toronto—Danforth.
Would he agree to having the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs also consider the issue of linguistic ability? Four times now, when I arrived at the Hill gate by car, I was stopped and not one of the constables could speak French. All four times this caused delays. One time, there were three other people and I had to wait for a fourth person to arrive by car. This caused a delay of four or five minutes.
I wonder whether my colleague would agree to have this type of delay considered by the committee as well because it has held me up a number of times.
View Craig Scott Profile
View Craig Scott Profile
2015-05-12 10:34 [p.13762]
Mr. Speaker, this is certainly disconcerting.
I am not exactly sure what the Speaker's ruling delivered a few minutes ago encompasses, but when it comes to the surveillance and protection systems on the Hill, including those at Centre Block, I think they should include the ability to address the members in both languages. If that is not possible, this will lead to other problems.
I think this could be on the table during our discussions at the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs.
View Elizabeth May Profile
View Elizabeth May Profile
2015-05-12 10:35 [p.13762]
Mr. Speaker, this opportunity to discuss the role of Parliament, parliamentary privilege, security and the role of visiting dignitaries needs to be examined at PROC, and we need to go back to first principles.
Parliament is supreme. Parliament is not the place of the head of state. Parliament is where government happens. Traditionally in this country, and I am old enough to remember, most heads of state used to be greeted at Rideau Hall. That was the convention and it did not interrupt parliamentary procedure.
We have, in recent years, become inconvenienced in Parliament by the arrival of visiting dignitaries with the automatic assumption that if a head of state is visiting from another country and the Prime Minister wishes to roll red carpets through the middle of this place, unfurl flags and hold a ceremony, parliamentary activities have to be secondary to that activity.
I suggest that activity contravenes our Constitution, and we need to pay attention to the supremacy of Parliament, the role of parliamentarians and our ability to do our work without being impeded. The supremacy of Parliament is a principle that matters. The Prime Minister reports to Parliament, not the other way around.
View Craig Scott Profile
View Craig Scott Profile
2015-05-12 10:36 [p.13762]
Mr. Speaker, these are very good points, and the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands has made them before in other debates on privilege. It is a serious point, the question of whether our head of state, the Governor General, should presumptively be the one at whose residence and workplace foreign dignitaries are received, with the exception being otherwise where planning can go on in a way that still allows for all of our activity to go on.
There is a constitutional issue, and there is a de facto constant infringement going on when the executive branch is using the parliamentary precinct as its way of dealing with the rest of the world through VIP showcasing. The Speaker said that these are great premises and we want to show them off to the world. We cannot disagree. However, the idea of using this as an automatic place for whenever the Prime Minister wants to put on a diplomatic show probably does need to be looked at to see whether this could be better done, and probably with less cost, at Rideau Hall.
View Peter Julian Profile
View Peter Julian Profile
2015-05-12 10:38 [p.13762]
Mr. Speaker, thank you for the ruling that you just made.
It is worrisome that other members are raising additional questions regarding the quick changes that were imposed by the government a few months ago to the structure that has always been in place on Parliament Hill.
This debate will allow us to talk a little more about an extremely troubling trend. We are seeing more and more opposition members rising in the House because they are being denied access to Parliament. As we have seen in the case of the member for Toronto—Danforth and the other cases that occurred just within the past few days, involving the member for London—Fanshawe and the member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley, the pattern is becoming increasingly clear.
The member for Ottawa—Vanier also just raised an important point about the equality of the two official languages as it pertains to access to Parliament Hill.
We are seeing these increased concerns raised by members of Parliament and the trend is very worrisome. More and more frequently we are seeing members of Parliament who are not able to access their workplace here on Parliament Hill.
As members of Parliament, we are called upon to do many things and to work very hard on behalf of our constituents. That means often coming into the House with a few minutes' notice to speak on important bills. Often the government does not provide us with the notice that it should, so we have to rapidly get to the House. We also have a government that will often hold surprise votes, particularly on closure and time allocation. We have seen 95 of them through the course of this Parliament. That is beyond, without any doubt, the worst history of any government in Canadian history. It has invoked closure or time allocation 95 times. These votes are often a surprise.
As members of Parliament, we need access to the House so that we can debate the issues, often at a moment's notice because the government does not want to provide that notice. Often at a moment's notice we come here to vote on issues such as time allocation.
The idea that somehow delays of a few minutes are inconsequential and should be dismissed has been the argument we have been hearing from the government side now for a couple of weeks. As these incidents multiply, there are more and more concerns about the ability to actually get into the House of Commons. I profoundly disagree with the idea that the government raises, that it is inconsequential for a member to miss votes or to not be able to take their place in debate,.
Mr. Speaker, why has there been this multiplication of blocked access to Parliament Hill? You know the reason as well as I do. We raised one of the concerns a few months ago when the government rammed through the House major security changes. It rammed them through with very little notice, no consultation with the Speaker, no consultation with opposition parties. It simply rammed through directly from the Prime Minister's Office this idea that they could change the scope of security on Parliament Hill.
I want to quote the member for Hull—Aylmer, our whip at that time, who raised these concerns when the government provoked that sudden debate to shake up the security system here on Parliament Hill. At that time she said that the motion before us will not achieve “better integration, better training, better equipment and more resources dedicated to our safety”, upon which all members of Parliament would agree. She said, “This motion is nothing more than the government's attempt to take away the historic responsibility that the Speaker's office has under the Constitution to protect parliamentarians from the unilateral intrusion of government authority.”
She said:
The fact that the government is using the power of its whip to try to take constitutional rights away from the Speaker and permanently hand control of security in this place over to its own security service is a direct attack on our traditions, our practices and our Constitution. This is an unprecedented attempt to control security in the only place where the government cannot control it: this Parliament. This once again demonstrates that this government, led by the Prime Minister, is obsessed with controlling everything.
What we have seen subsequent to that is the government overriding the Speaker's ability and the Speaker's prerogative. It is a multiplication of the government's attempt to usurp what had been Parliamentary traditions in place in this country for almost a century and a half. We saw that in the reaction both to the issues raised by the member for Toronto—Danforth and the members for Skeena—Bulkley Valley and London—Fanshawe. The government simply said that it has investigated and it dismisses it, when it is your prerogative, Mr. Speaker.
We had never heard those words from any government in Canadian history, but the current government is one that has attacked the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and the Parliamentary Budget Officer, that has diminished the ability of the Auditor General to do the valuable work that he provides and that has attacked the Chief Electoral Officer. The government has absolutely no respect for institutions, and the Prime Minister seemingly wants to control more and more.
If they want the control, control comes with responsibility. On this side of the House, we have been fighting every step of the way. I profoundly believe that on October 19, we are going to see Canadians, as they did in Alberta, push back on this idea that one party can control everything. They will be electing a vastly different House of Commons on October 19. That vastly different House of Commons will have a majority of New Democratic Party members, and those members will choose a different path under the leadership of the Leader of the Opposition.
They have then taken this control. The PROC report, as my colleague for Toronto—Danforth mentioned so eloquently, actually provided guidelines for that control, and what was needed was better planning. What we have seen is worse planning, which is why the situation on access to Parliament Hill has deteriorated so markedly over the last few weeks. That is why increasingly members of Parliament do not have access to Parliament in an immediate and automatic way, which risks leading to missed votes. It certainly leads to the risk of not being here to speak in debate. However, the better planning has not happened.
Under the Prime Minister's direction, we have seen instead a lot of improvised diplomatic shows, as the member for Toronto—Danforth said so eloquently. The government does not seem to want to answer questions in question period. The Prime Minister does not seem to want to rise to answer questions in the House of Commons. In fact, members will recall that in May and June, 2014, the Prime Minister rose to answer questions in the House only five times in the final five weeks of Parliament. Only five times did the Prime Minister deign to actually respond to questions that were being asked in the House of Commons.
We are seeing the same pattern repeating. I do not recall the last time that the Prime Minister actually rose in the House to answer questions. I think it might have been a week and a half ago. I am not even talking about the quality of questions. I am talking about the fact that he is not rising to answer them at all. However, we are seeing lots of diplomatic shows arranged at the last minute, increasingly preventing our access to Parliament Hill.
This breach of privilege is quite clear, Mr. Speaker. I am glad that you have ruled in favour of the member for Toronto—Danforth and the member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley, with the participation of many other members. This trend has to stop. The government has to start respecting the traditions of the Speaker and it has to plan better, not worse. Hopefully, the debate that we are having today will lead to better planning on the part of the government so that it is not stopping opposition members.
The officers involved are showing good faith and professionalism, but they are under the direction of a new security apparatus that the government pushed through the House and put into place. The government has the responsibility for better planning to avoid these incidents in the future.
View Anne-Marie Day Profile
Mr. Speaker, I would like to raise a few points.
First, I would like to talk about security when there is an emergency situation. For example, when Mr. Bibeau attacked Parliament, the entire security system deployed. Under such circumstances, even members lose their rights and that is fairly normal.
However, I would also like to mention the questionable 74 seconds that the Speaker seems to have accepted. That is completely unacceptable, since before that, a shuttle bus could not get through when the new security barriers, which retract into the ground, failed because they are already rusty and corroded from the salt even though they are new.
What does my colleague think about that? Would the member like to add that to the requests that other members are making?
This system jammed. The bus had to do the whole tour and come back to try to enter. The RCMP does not have a checkpoint when we come by shuttle bus to get to the East Block. We have the right to go straight through when the barriers go down and there was therefore no reason for the RCMP to stop the shuttle bus from entering at that time.
View Peter Julian Profile
View Peter Julian Profile
2015-05-12 10:49 [p.13764]
Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for her question.
These are all examples of measures that previously were the responsibility of the Speaker's office. In my opinion, everyone had confidence in the structure that was in place. Improvements to training and coordination were needed, as we have always said.
However, the government did not consult us. It could have said to the opposition that this issue requires discussion by all MPs in order to find common ground in the good old Canadian tradition, and to have a consensus on improving the security system and preventing the problems that the member mentioned. Instead, the government is proposing absolutely nothing, neither solutions nor discussions.
The Prime Minister's Office imposed this new system without planning. Even though all police officers are acting in good faith, they have put in place a system that is making access more and more difficult. Naturally, that is a problem.
What we always say to the government is that instead of being partisan, it could sit down with opposition members to reach a consensus and improve security without preventing the public and members from having access to Parliament Hill.
It is obvious that a more practical and understanding government would have a discussion with opposition members. That was not done in this case and we can see the results.
View Pierre-Luc Dusseault Profile
View Pierre-Luc Dusseault Profile
2015-05-12 10:51 [p.13764]
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his speech on this very worrisome and increasingly common problem. It is something we hear about more and more.
I would like some clarifications about the discussions that members of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs will have if we adopt the motion we are talking about today, regarding the problem underlying these two breaches of privilege with respect to the member for Toronto—Danforth and the member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley.
The underlying problem is that the government is taking control of the parliamentary precinct, and this will only get worse in the coming months with the implementation of new security measures on Parliament Hill.
Could my colleague talk about the risks associated with this? Is it important for the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs to examine the fact that the executive is taking control and is trying to control everything that goes on, instead of Parliament itself having sovereign control over Parliament Hill and the parliamentary precinct as well as over the movement of members of Parliament within the precinct?
View Peter Julian Profile
View Peter Julian Profile
2015-05-12 10:53 [p.13764]
Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the comments from the member for Sherbrooke, who chairs one of the most prestigious committees on Parliament Hill.
This member has a good understanding and quickly learned the rules and procedures of the House of Commons, as well as the importance of a dialogue among all the parties in the House. However, there was never any dialogue because the government took control. A motion was imposed on the House and now we can see the outcome: there is less access and the planning is worse than before.
Things obviously need to change, and we hope that the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs will look at this issue and give the government some very clear direction.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2015-05-12 10:54 [p.13765]
Mr. Speaker, my comments will be somewhat brief. I have the good fortune of being the Liberal Party's representative on the procedures and House affairs committee and have had the opportunity to deal with this. It is an issue that has come before PROC relatively recently. We have had the Commissioner of the RCMP and many different security personnel come, including the former sergeant-at-arms, Kevin Vickers. Listening to what was said, both publicly and in camera, members will find that members of Parliament of all political stripes treat the issue of privilege and access to the parliamentary precinct in a very serious fashion.
The House of Commons deals with the passage of laws, the making of budgets, and different programs. There are very important debates that take place in this House and obviously many important votes. A member having a sense that he or she has access at any time is of critical importance. No one wants to see delays that would prevent members from getting into the chamber in a timely fashion.
In listening to the discussions at PROC in dealing with this, I was of the opinion that there was a great deal of general good will to try to improve the system.
When this particular issue of privilege was raised, I stated that if we are going to err, it is better to err on the side of having to review this once again as opposed to not taking this issue seriously. That is the reason I am quite comfortable and pleased with the Speaker's ruling that this matter be debated once again and voted on and then, hopefully, go to the procedures and House affairs committee.
My concern is that if it goes to the procedures and House affairs committee, we will get different presenters to come before the committee and provide input as to where we go from here, and I am not convinced that this the best course of action. We could be looking at ways we can actually develop a process with which all members are comfortable.
I am not convinced that people are comfortable with the process. If members of Parliament are not comfortable with the process, I suspect that there is a greater likelihood that we will have points of privilege in the future. We need to establish that process or protocol so that all members feel comfortable that they do indeed have access.
There needs to be coordination at the security level. We recognize the importance of security, for obvious reasons, here on the Hill and in the parliamentary precinct. However, there has to be a balance, recognizing that it is of utmost importance that members of Parliament have unfettered access to attend the House of Commons in a timely fashion. It goes beyond just the floor; it also includes committee responsibilities and so on.
I understand that there are issues that could be discussed at PROC with the idea of seeing if we can come up with a unanimous report on how to put this issue to rest.
I recognize that there are major renovations that have been taking place over the last number of years. Some of those renovations have led to the problems we have had. However, there are going to be a great many more renovations in the future, which may impact state visits and what takes place here on the Hill. My colleague from Ottawa has raised issues as well.
I suspect that there could be a great deal of value in caucuses, along with independents, having an opportunity to convey their concerns. Perhaps members who have an interest in the issue may be invited to participate at the PROC meeting.
When we look at what takes place inside the House, including the making of laws, the passing of budgets, and the many different votes that take place, we recognize how important it is that members of Parliament have the right to have access. Therefore, it is very important that we do what we can to protect that right.
On a side point, I would suggest that this is not a reflection whatsoever of the fantastic work all the different security forces do to provide a safe environment here on the Hill. They are outstanding in what they do for us, but we need to take a better look and come up with a process we are all comfortable with.
At the end of the day, we should feel comfortable that if there is a need to get into the chamber, MPs will be afforded the opportunity to get here as quickly and directly as possible for the many different meetings, whether they are in MPs' offices, the Confederation Building, the Valour Building, or the justice buildings. MPs need to feel comfortable knowing that they can get here in a timely fashion without being stopped and detained, which could ultimately lead to an MP missing a vote or an opportunity to contribute to a debate.
View Charlie Angus Profile
View Charlie Angus Profile
2015-05-12 11:01 [p.13765]
Mr. Speaker, we have a rule by tradition in this House, because this is the House of Commons. It is the house of the common people, with the right of the people of Canada to have their representatives come and represent them. It is why we have the Sergeant-at-Arms and the door closed. It is to protect our right to do our democratic duties.
However, there have been two dramatic changes we have seen under the current Conservative government. First of all, it is taking the control of the House of Commons outside of the House of Commons and is turning it over to the RCMP. This is not a slur against the work of the RCMP, but we are now under a different security service, and the supremacy of Parliament has been changed.
The other element I would like to ask my hon. colleague about is the fact that the current Prime Minister continually uses Parliament now as a photographic backdrop for his events, where this has not been the tradition.
In the case of my colleague for Toronto—Danforth, he was allegedly told by a police officer that there may be a vote but he was not allowed in the House of Commons because it was for dignitaries. That is something I am deeply concerned about. Parliament is supposed to be for the work of parliamentarians. That parliamentarians are not allowed to access the Hill because it is for dignitaries and important people for a photo-op is deeply disturbing.
I can see my colleagues on the other side who ridicule and shoot their mouths off, because they show no respect for Parliament, but I am here to represent the rights of parliamentarians to speak in the House.
I would like to ask my hon. colleague what he thinks about the issue of our being told, as parliamentarians, that when a vote is happening or our work is under way that we can be held up because Parliament, our building, the House of Commons, is being used by the Prime Minister for photo-ops and various photo issues with whoever is coming at a given time. I find that an affront, and it is a threat to what we have established through hundreds and hundreds of years of parliamentary tradition. No matter what—
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2015-05-12 11:04 [p.13766]
Mr. Speaker, with regard to the security changes that we have witnessed over the last number of months, one thing I do know is I am very opinionated member of Parliament, which is a fair comment that members may agree with, but the other thing is that I am not a security expert. I depend on security experts and individuals who have a far better understanding of how we can protect the public and elected officials in Parliament from potential threats. Those decisions are best made by security personnel.
There are institutions such as the Board of Internal Economy and others that ultimately provide guidance, in co-operation, I suspect, with the Speaker's office, and I have faith in that system.
I am very encouraged to see security on the floor of the House. From what I have witnessed, the former security guards are now on the floor of the House of Commons doing the security checks and so forth, which is great. However, that is a little off topic.
My primary concern with respect to state visits is ensuring they do not impinge in any way or fashion on a member's ability to fulfill his or her roles and responsibilities in the House, which includes everything from votes to debates on laws and budgets, or to have access to committees or the House of Commons if they want to listen to what is taking place and potentially make an intervention of some fashion.
Those concerns really need to be taken into consideration when we talk about state visits.
View Elizabeth May Profile
View Elizabeth May Profile
2015-05-12 11:07 [p.13766]
Mr. Speaker, I want to reiterate something that was just mentioned by the member for Burnaby—New Westminster and ask my friend from Winnipeg North about this.
There have been dramatic changes in the security here that I believe do infringe on fundamental constitutional principles of the supremacy of Parliament, the role of the executive and the differences in how parliamentary security should be handled. There was a snap motion on Friday, February 6. I was fortunate to be able to change my plans and be here for the whole debate. We did not hear witnesses or experts before it was pushed through the House of Commons to would change our security measures to a different parliamentary precinct approach, which puts the RCMP in charge.
Again, this is no disrespect to the RCMP, but I am very concerned about the primacy and supremacy of Parliament and the constitutional role of the House of Commons security, not to mention the fact that the security officers were the ones who most bravely and unarmed did the best job protecting us on October 22. Regardless of what may have been the executive's intention, many of those House of Commons security guards now feel demoted.
Now we have Bill C-59, bringing with it Division 10 of part 3, pages 73 to 97, which is all about creating a parliamentary protective service in an omnibus fashion. Again, we will not have enough time to study it and it requires the director of parliamentary protective service to be a current standing member of the RCMP always by law.
Does my friend from Winnipeg North think we are rushing into these changes without adequate study or review and could this motion on privilege give PROC a better chance to dig into these issues?
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