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Question in Senate Chamber: Motion to Recognize the Necessity of Fully Integrated Security throughout the Parliamentary Precinct and the Grounds of Parliament Hill and to Invite the RCMP to Lead Operational Security



Motion to Recognize the Necessity of Fully Integrated Security throughout the Parliamentary Precinct and the Grounds of Parliament Hill and to Invite the RCMP to Lead Operational Security—Debate Continued 

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Carignan, P.C., seconded by the Honourable Senator Marshall:

That the Senate, following the terrorist attack of October 22, 2014, recognize the necessity of fully integrated security throughout the Parliamentary precinct and the grounds of Parliament Hill, as recommended by the Auditor General in his 2012 report and as exists in other peer legislatures; and call on the Speaker, in coordination with his counterpart in the House of Commons, to invite, without delay, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to lead operational security throughout the Parliamentary precinct and the grounds of Parliament Hill, while respecting the privileges, immunities and powers of the respective Houses, and ensuring the continued employment of our existing and respected Parliamentary Security staff.


Hon. Anne C. Cools: I thank Senator Carignan for his speech today, and I commend his good intentions in many ways. I am wondering about the modus operandi of the Leader of the Government and the way of bringing this matter to senators. I would think, Senator Carignan, that the privileges, immunities and powers of the two houses, particularly of the Senate, should guarantee us, as senators, better notice and better involvement in this decision as opposed to the fixed idea that has been put to us as a motion that only seeks a yea or nay result with no real input.

I am wondering, Senator Carignan, if you have considered the possibility of coming to the Senate to seek a reference for a Senate committee to study the issues in substance and in form. This would be an opportunity for us senators to present their ideas on the matter. Senator Carignan, why is it that you have not asked the Senate for a reference for one of our committees or a special committee, or even a joint committee with the House of Commons, to study these difficult issues?

Senator Carignan: I don't know whether you were here yesterday when I spoke to the point of order. I quoted a resolution from Internal Economy, which was adopted in 2012, to have a unified and fully integrated security force. The Auditor General also set out this resolution, which dates back to 2012, in his annual report that year. This resolution was part of the recommendations made in a number of Auditors General's reports, in particular in 1980, 1991-92 and 2012. This topic has been studied. As for the 2012 resolution, I remind senators that this resolution was the subject of an in-depth study by the Auditor General. From what I recall, the Auditor General consulted external security resources for advice on this issue. This was a long process. A large number of people and many senators shared their thoughts. A number of senators participated in these committees and always came to the same conclusion, particularly Senator Stratton and Senator De Nino, distinguished colleagues who left this chamber before their recommendations could be implemented. In light of these events, especially those of last fall, it is time to take action to prevent similar events from happening as we continue to study this issue.

Senator Cools: I thank the honourable leader for his response, but I do not think he has answered my question.

I am impressed to see that the government is cozy with the Auditor General and is citing Auditor General's reports in respect of unification of the two houses' security. Quite frankly, I do not think it's any of the business of the Auditor General, but that's beside the point. I have been observing this coziness quite a bit recently.

We must come back to the fact that there is a motion here which is unsupported by a Senate study and hard evidence. I am not suggesting that the honourable leader does not have some evidence, but I say that we ought to be able to study and to test that evidence and hear witnesses on that evidence. It may surprise Senator Carignan, but there have been many players, some easily identified, who have been pushing for unification of the two houses' security for quite some time.

There are many senators, now long gone, who always resisted such unification because senators' experience with the House of Commons is that the Senate always loses in respect of the House of Commons because they are so much larger and they have so much more money and proximity to the government.

I notice, Senator Carignan, that you keep referring to "Parliament," and you used the word all through your speech, but Parliament has three different parts. So I am never too sure when you say "Parliament" whether you are speaking about the House of Commons or the Senate. However, Parliament has three constituent parts: the House of Commons, the Senate and the Queen. The word Parliament is not always helpful. The government in the House of Commons uses the term "Parliament" to refer to the House of Commons all the time. It is not a helpful term. We, the Senate, never use the term "Parliament" to describe the Senate. What I am saying to you, Senator Carignan, is that there are many hard-working and good senators here who would be pleased to accept the challenge of constituting a committee or working on a committee to study the questions in depth and who, at least, would be acting from the constitutional position of being a senator so that the Senate's interests would be better represented and more clearly articulated.

This, unfortunately, to me is an idée fixe, as we used to say. I do not think that you should properly begin at the end. This motion is a conclusion —

The Hon. the Speaker: Do you have a question?

Senator Cools: Yes. I was just asking the leader if he would reconsider his position and ask the Senate for a reference that could enlist the assistance of many able and interested senators.

The remainder of this day's Senate Debates are available here.