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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—Debate Continued

 

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.

. . .

Motion in Amendment

Hon. James S. Cowan (Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators, for the reasons I've described, therefore, I move:

That this motion be not now adopted, but that it be amended by inserting immediately before the words "while respecting the privileges, immunities and powers of the respective Houses" the words "reporting to the two Speakers", so that this portion of the motion would read: "to invite, without delay, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to lead operational security throughout the Parliamentary precinct and the grounds of Parliament Hill, reporting to the two Speakers, while respecting the privileges, immunities and powers of the respective Houses. . .".

 . . .

Hon. Anne C. Cools: I have a question for Senator Cowan.

The Hon. the Speaker: If it's on debate, other people may have questions.

Senator Cools: No, I am not ready to speak yet. Senator Cowan, I thank you for your remarks. I think what is already becoming very clear is the insufficiency of the motion itself, and that the motion itself does not really capture the true intentions of the proposition, I hope to make myself clear.

This motion speaks in terminology of inviting the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, if we so choose, or designate the RCMP to be the force in question. Our choice of RCMP is not in the nature of an invitation. A motion is always in the nature of an order. It could be in the nature of a designation, or it could be in the nature of an agreement between the RCMP and the Senate. What Senator Carignan's motion has assiduously avoided is the determination and the clarity on the question where does final power rest. That is extremely important because these houses, because of their independent structure and their powers, privileges and immunities, cannot surrender the power given to us by Her Majesty to anybody else. The houses cannot be controlled by any superior power.

Consequently, one of the first issues that has surfaced, and has become clear in the so very few minutes of the debate is the question of where the power rests in this proposed relationship between the RCMP and the Senate. To my mind, the term "report" to the Speaker is insufficient. It would be better to see words like "under the direction of the Speaker of the House of Commons and the Speaker of the Senate."

Senator Cowan, I want your comment on this power relationship because the language of this motion is insufficient to the high importance of the power relationship involved. Remember, we are talking about security of life and limb here.

Yesterday, Senator Carignan went to great pains to explain that his motion flows from the terrible October tragedies that unfolded in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu and here. The issue here is the use of deadly force. The motion should use language that is clear on the exercise of power when we are dealing with deadly force. Such a motion should be clear. We must be certain that control over these precincts and over our two houses is never surrendered to anybody who is not a member of these houses.

Your Honour, I intend to develop these thoughts next week when I have more time, but the real issue is: Who has the last word? Is it the RCMP or the two houses? That is a question that Senator Carignan has not addressed in his motion. Senator Carignan, I know that you will take this to heart and look at this question very carefully. This is the question that is central to the whole matter, and if it is not resolved early, I am afraid the motion should be ditched.

The Hon. the Speaker: Senator Cowan, do you have a comment?

Senator Cowan: I'm not sure that was a question. I'll answer for my friend Senator Carignan. I was looking at the dictionary with my friend Senator Hervieux-Payette a moment ago, and the definitions in the Oxford Dictionary talk about "reporting" as having supervision or responsibility to. I was trying to get away from saying "at the direction of." Our Speakers are not security experts. I wouldn't think it would be appropriate for them, as our representatives, to be telling our security personnel how to do their jobs. They're not going to decide where security vehicles ought to be placed or where security cameras ought to be placed and that sort of thing.

But as I see it, they are, on our behalf, supervising the security function which is taking place, and it's in that sense that I used the word "report" — in the sense that they are responsible for and answerable to those up the line to them. That's the concept that I was trying to catch.

Senator Cools: Honourable senators, I am very pleased that you have said that, Senator Cowan, but as I said before, we are dealing with a definition of power relations. I do not think anybody is concerned about the pedestrian, mundane, day-to-day administrative minutia as to where police cars are parked and so on, unless, of course, senators were to discover that we cannot park our cars on the Hill anymore, for whatever reason, because so many more police cars were needed.

What I am asking you, Senator Cowan, because you have done more work on the matter than I have, flows from the fact that we, the Senate, have not looked at the nature of the power relationship that would pertain between the houses and the security forces. One of the reasons that such unification and other changes have not occurred in the past many years, is that when it comes to the fundamental questions as to who is really in charge, the situation gets very murky and very cloudy. I do not expect every senator to be a proficient expert on security issues, but I do expect that our dear beloved Speaker Nolin here will take a more than ordinary interest in the matter, if we choose to go down this road.

Honourable senators, it is a question of power. This chamber should not surrender any power to any stranger, to use a nice parliamentary term. No stranger should hold that kind of power over the institution, or over senators, and gentlemen and lady senators, these are where the problems will arise. It is not in the wide conceptual idea, but it is the principles that will govern the houses to the police relationship.

Senator Cowan: Just to follow up on that, I meant to mention earlier, and I think I did in the course of my speech, that I took the wording that I used in my amendment from the statement released by the Joint Advisory Working Group on Security on November 25, and I'll just read that one section again:

The unified security force will be led by one senior executive who will

report to the Speaker of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Commons through their respective Clerks.

So that's the origin of the word "report." It's taken from the statement of the joint working group. I'm not part of that group. You might have a word at some point with Senator White, or he may be able to shed some light in the course of this debate on why they chose that word rather than "control" or "supervision" or something else. I took that word because I wanted to track the work that was already done by our joint security working group.

Senator Cools: Senator Cowan, I thank you for that, but now I'm providing you with an opportunity to rethink it.

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