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Speech 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 in Amendment Negatived and Motion Adopted

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 in Amendment Negatived and Motion Adopted

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;

And on the motion in amendment of the Honourable Senator Cowan, seconded by the Honourable Senator Fraser, 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. . .".

. . .

Senator Cools: Honourable senators, I rise to speak to Senator Carignan's February 17 motion. I note that today is only February 24. In my view, this question has moved along in terrible haste. I begin by restating, yet again, that I oppose the use of closure on this motion, and that I oppose this motion itself.

The reasons that I oppose this motion are actually articulated in the motion. I thought I could begin by speaking about the motion just a little. The motion begins by saying:

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 . . .

Colleagues, it is impossible for the Senate to recognize the necessity of anything with no evidence put before us. I do not know how the necessity for this full integration has been decided. Senators know nothing about it. We know nothing about what necessity entails. We do not even know about the costs. This is very difficult. I cannot support something when I do not know what it is, to put it quite simply. How was necessity proven?

The second matter, as I continue on Senator Carignan's motion, which continues ". . . as recommended by the Auditor General in his 2012 report . . ." Well, fine. What on earth does an Auditor General have to do with Senate security, the precincts, the questions of privilege, the two houses' privileges, and even the difficulties we have as independent chambers?

Honourable senators, I belong to that group of people who do not believe that the Auditor General should even be making recommendations in this area, because these are policy questions, not audit questions. There is a body of academia that studies the invasion of successive auditors general. I am not speaking of any auditor general, in respect of moving into the policy streams, away from audit streams.

The next issue in Senator Carignan's motion is "and as exists in other peer legislatures. . . ." We have no peer legislature in Canada. There is only one Senate and there is only one upper house in the Parliament of Canada.

The next sentence of the motion says, "and call on the Speaker. . . ." Well, we are senators and the Speaker is one of us. We have many ways to communicate with the Speaker, but none of them is calling upon him. I do believe we should have found a way in these issues and are finding ways — the Speaker is leading in this — to have better dialogue and communications with each other.

Honourable senators, the motion continues, "in coordination with his counterpart in the House of Commons. . . " The Speaker of the Senate, as I have said many times before, is not of the same nature as the Speaker of the House of Commons. The Speaker of the Senate is of a vice regal nature. He is the King's man. He is very high in precedence in Canada because of that vice regal nature. The Speaker of the Senate of Canada is a King's man, and a very good King's man — Queen's man, I might add — but the office is different from the House of Commons Speaker.

Honourable senators, the Commons Speaker is the mouth of the House of Commons. When House of Commons members rise, they address him as Mr. Speaker. We do not address our Speaker; we address each other. We say "honourable senators." Ours is an entirely different relationship. "Counterpart" is not a good term.

"To invite," this term is recurring. That casual, hip talk does not impress me, it does not tell us the kinds of powers and constitutional difficulties we are looking at.

Senator Carignan's motion continues:

. . . without delay, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to lead operational security throughout the Parliamentary precinct and the grounds of Parliament Hill. . . .

Perhaps if this motion had asked the Senate to consider the possibility that the RCMP could play a leadership role that would be different, but this is a conclusion that somebody else has dreamed up, looking to declare that the two houses have concurred.

The motion says:

. . . while respecting the privileges, immunities and powers of the respective Houses, and ensuring the continued employment of our existing and respected Parliamentary Security staff.

Honourable senators, the best way to respect the privileges, immunities and powers is to honour and obey them. The privileges, immunities and powers are such that the two houses, as intended, for centuries, can operate as independent and separate institutions.

Parliament has not sat together as one group for centuries. It separated in the late 1300s. Not only is the Senate one of the houses of Parliament, but it is the house of the Parliaments. It is the only house where Her Majesty can assemble the three estates together, as Parliament. The Senate, the upper house, is also the house of the Parliaments. The expression is "the Parliaments." Our Clerk of the Senate is also the Clerk of the Parliaments.

Honourable senators, I want to say this: I find the whole motion and the rush to judgment on it very disturbing. I find it especially disturbing. We know very little as senators about what actually transpired that day, last October 22, but one cannot help but be aware of what we read in the newspapers.

I wish to record here a particular newspaper article written by Josh Wingrove of The Globe and Mail published Monday, December 22, 2014. It is headlined "Several questions unanswered two months after Centre Block shooting."

If we are looking to overhaul, re-haul, redo, reconfigure security here on the Hill, in and outside of the precincts, I would have thought that we would do so by a serious study on these difficult issues. Now I would like to read from this Globe and Mail article by Josh Wingrove. Mr. Wingrove writes:

Two months after the Centre Block shooting, several probes continue in secrecy with no official account of the attack. Separate Ontario Provincial Police, Royal Canadian Mounted Police, coroner and forensic-pathologist investigations are ongoing and unfinished.

We should learn more of these several reports. Continuing, I read:

Tensions have emerged between the RCMP and House of Commons over the handling of the response and the investigation, and members of both sides believe they fired first at Mr. Zehaf-Bibeau in the final shootout.

This is not healthy. This is disturbing. Another paragraph states:

RCMP who had been chasing the shooter heard the gunfire and took cover, delaying their entrance to the building. Mr. Zehaf-Bibeau was struck at least once by a plainclothes guard —

— that would be a House of Commons protective staff —

— stationed atop the short flight of stairs into the rotunda . . . . It didn't stop Mr. Zehaf-Bibeau, though, and he ran down the Hall of Honour toward the Library of Parliament. A second plainclothes guard shot at him, halfway up the hallway and across it, as he ran by, sources say, lodging a bullet in the opposite door leading to an NDP caucus meeting. Some guards believe that shooter also struck Mr. Zehaf-Bibeau, and Mr. Vickers himself has suggested Mr. Zehaf-Bibeau was struck several times. . . .

Colleagues, this is most upsetting. I think we should think long and hard and well, and try to discover much more about what is actually going on. Wingrove continues:

House of Commons sources say many of their guards shot Mr. Zehaf-Bibeau that day, both before and during the final showdown, including Mr. Vickers, who is said to have slid on his back to fire at the gunman. "It was our guys, and Vickers," but not RCMP who finally brought him down, one House of Commons guard said. Another House of Commons source stressed Mr. Zehaf-Bibeau was dead as Mounties who had chased him inside arrived. But the RCMP Commissioner suggested it was RCMP who first returned fire in the final shootout, when asked specifically if it was "Sergeant-at-Arms Vickers who actually did shoot" Mr. Zehaf-Bibeau.

In an Oct. 23 news conference, RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson said "Mr. Vickers and others did engage" Mr. Zehaf-Bibeau outside the Library, with Mr. Vickers and Mr. Zehaf-Bibeau shooting at each other. "The suspect repositioned himself to get a better shot at Mr. Vickers, when our [RCMP] officers engaged, and you may have heard the sort of multitude of shots." Mr. Paulson went on to say that "Mr. Vickers did shoot," and was "engaged in that, as were some of his [House of Commons security] team members, as were some of my [RCMP] team members."

One must wonder why the RCMP Commissioner is talking about deadly force activities in the House of Commons, which is not on his watch. This is quite disturbing, I find. Your Honour, with your great sense of integrity and that very sharp mind, I hope that you will probe and get a handle on this so that we can better understand what really happened in our ken.

The Globe and Mail continued:

The gunfight was captured, meanwhile, by House of Commons cameras, footage that has been provided to police but not been released publicly.

Why was the footage inside the precincts handed over to the RCMP? We should know about all these investigations. We should take no action until we know. This is very important, these next four statements from Wingrove's article, "Several questions unanswered two months after Centre Block shooting":

From the minute Mr. Zehaf-Bibeau was dead, tension has emerged between RCMP and House of Commons security.

This tension is worrisome.

House of Commons guards say they received late, and therefore misleading, information from Mounties, who told them a gunman was on his way to Centre Block from the National War Memorial after Mr. Zehaf-Bibeau had already been killed. The warning, of course, referred to Mr. Zehaf-Bibeau, but was not delivered in time, and left guards scrambling to lock down Centre Block for fear of a second approaching shooter, sources say.

To reach Centre Block, Mr. Zehaf-Bibeau made his way across the Parliament Hill grounds, hijacking a car before sprinting into the building. Those grounds are RCMP turf, and Mounties were unable to stop him. Once inside, he was under jurisdiction of House of Commons security.

A day after the shooting, RCMP held a press conference where they played video of Mr. Zehaf-Bibeau's approach to Parliament Hill. That Oct. 23 press conference left Mr. Vickers and others in the House of Commons upset — "aghast," one source said — because the videos revealed details of security measures, namely camera locations, on Parliament Hill. House of Commons security say RCMP, who failed to stop Mr. Zehaf-Bibeau's advance, allowing him to reach Centre Block, went "aggressively" public the next day to counter questions about whether their efforts fell short.

My final quote from The Globe and Mail  is:

After the shooting, the OPP were called in to investigate how the RCMP responded.

Honourable senators, I have just put these upsetting accounts to the Senate so that we can begin to properly understand the situation, the background and the environment that our two Speakers will be operating in, most particularly, alleged tensions between the RCMP and the House of Commons protective staff.

Honourable senators, it is very unfortunate that this sort of thing is in the public press. I do not like it at all. I belong to that group of individuals who believe that you support the people who protect you and all those fine principles. Such political disagreement cuts to the quick.

I note that none of these questions has been put to us as senators. We know very little of the full range of what those proposed new security forces will be doing. All we know is that a motion has been put through the Senate very hastily seeking and forcing a positive response.

Honourable senators, it is interesting that the House of Commons did not adopt a joint motion, and did not send us a message asking us to concur, but the two motions are identical motions and were not written by anybody who knows anything about the Senate.

Honourable senators, earlier today I was expressing my own dismay at the fact that these two motions were moving ahead under very stringent and harsh conditions, mostly a closure motion. I would like to appeal, yet again, to the senators across the way to avoid using these drastic measures, because there has been no obstruction whatsoever to Senator Carignan's initiative. Quite frankly, I was looking forward to a good, healthy and rounded debate on the subject matter, because even though these events occurred here on the Hill, we on the Hill know remarkably little.

In the face of all of this, earlier today I had said members opposite, supporters of the government, should prevail upon Prime Minister Harper to make Senator Carignan a minister.

The Hon. the Speaker: Is five more minutes granted to Senator Cools?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

Senator Cools: Honourable senators, I had prevailed upon them, saying that they should prevail upon the Prime Minister to recommend Senator Carignan to the Governor General to be appointed a minister so that we can honour the age-old traditions that the leaders in both chambers, both houses, should be members of the government. They should be cabinet ministers.

The motion that Senator Martin relied on for her closure motion was created in 1991, when for the first time a rule was introduced that government business had priority over other Senate business. Before that, government business proceeded like any other bill.

It seems we have to prove now that the Constitution intends that the Leader of the Government in the Senate, as in the Commons house, should be a minister. Having looked up many of the books of authorities, such as Beauchesne and Bourinot, I decided I should look to the Salaries Act. The long title of the Salaries Act is "An Act respecting the salaries of certain public officials."

Most senators here may not know much about the appropriation process, but this is the act that dictates the salaries to be paid out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund to the Prime Minister and to ministers of the Crown.

I looked up this act very carefully and made sure it was up to date, because I had not looked at this act for years. This Salaries Act has a section 4 headed "SALARIES OF MINISTERS FROM APRIL 1, 2004," and it's current. This was current right up to a few days ago, February 4, 2015.

Section 4.1(3) says:

Despite subsection 4(2), . . . the annual salary of the following ministers, being members of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada, is $67,800 . . .

Interestingly, though, that subsection lists from subsections (a) right through (z) the many ministers by responsibility, such as the Minister of Justice, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, et cetera. I went through, looking, checking every one, looking for the "Leader of the Government in the Senate," and, colleagues, I found it. I found it, as I did find the "Leader of the Government in the House of Commons."

These two minister leaders are contained in section 4.1. Subsection 4.1(3)(o) states:

(o) the Leader of the Government in the Senate.

Subsection 4.1(3)(z.3) states:

(z.3) the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons.

Honourable senators, my point is that the Salaries Act proves that the Leader of the Government in the Senate is supposed to be a minister of the Crown. We have been working in a very grey area of law here where our leadership call themselves government leader and deputy leader, but they are private members just like you and I are.

This has bothered me, because I do think that the Constitution, as I gave some references and precedents earlier, intends that the leaders of both houses be members of the cabinet, ministers, because responsible government is achieved in that way.

In any event, I thought that I should put that on the record so that we can understand that the system and our rules, which all say "government leader" and "government business," are all premised on the presence and the membership in this place of a member of the government, a minister. I think, colleagues, the Senate should accept no less. The Senate, for donkey's years, has had a minister as leader, and it is that minister's governmental credentials given by the Governor General that allow him to move measures and call them government measures or government actions.

Honourable senators, I just wanted to record this, because we as senators are existing in a very grey area here. I do not think the Senate should exist in a semi-grey legal and constitutional area. We should stand firmly on the law of the Constitution.

Honourable senators, having said that, colleagues, I put to you that this ghastly event that happened on October 22 last was a terrible and horrible thing. We should be dealing with this based on very sound principles, trying to keep the politics and the personal and professional interests and conflicts, if we can, to a dull roar as a minimum.

Senator Nolin, I am counting on you to lead on that. Thank you, senators.

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