Evidence of meeting #35 for Procedure and House Affairs in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was security.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

12:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Joe Preston

I know I said we're done, but what has been said has spurred a couple of other quick questions.

Mr. Hawn has one.

12:25 p.m.

Conservative

Laurie Hawn Edmonton Centre, AB

Yes, just really quickly, because I was using Bob's time before, not my own.

I'm just disappointed, and I'm not going to disagree with Joe about the parliamentary privilege, and people have died defending it, and so on, but you know what? Carry your ID. I'd be concerned if somebody died because of the privilege, so carry ID. It's not that tough.

12:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Joe Preston

All right. Thank you.

Mr. Lukiwski, go ahead really quickly.

12:25 p.m.

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, SK

Yes, just as a quick follow-up. I'm trying to find a solution here more than attach blame, I guess.

We talked about how, when there's a special visitor coming, there will always be a couple of entrance points. You're going to put up perimeter fencing around, so there's only going to be one, or two, or perhaps three at most. It just seems to me that it would make sense as a standard operating procedure to have cooperation between security forces in the House and the RCMP, by having some of the in-house security people out at the checkpoints to assist the RCMP if they couldn't identify a member of Parliament. But I think what I'm hearing here is almost like that old territorial imperative crap that's going on, a.k.a. pissing matches between two security forces, right?

Can't we just find a way that, only on those occasions when we have visiting heads of state or special occurrences, it's just a matter of course to have cooperation between the two security forces, so that they can avoid the problems that we've had? It would seem to me a pretty simple solution.

12:30 p.m.

Sergeant-at-Arms, House of Commons

Kevin Vickers

Mr. Lukiwski, nothing is easy. We have an association that our security services belong to, and much that we're required to do outside the precinct relies to a great degree on their cooperation, and on their collective agreement, and you also get into issues of health and safety. There are all kinds of other issues that we deal with.

Speaking as a previous senior member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, I would expect these highly trained professionals.... They're educated people, and they have been paid, I think, to the tune of about $50 million a year to ensure your unfettered access out on the Hill. Without crossing that idea of two competing or two non-speaking forces, I can assure you that the degree of training, the degree of cooperation, between the force and the House of Commons security is incredible, but as I mentioned to you earlier, there is an expectation that, as trained professionals, they have a job to do. They have the jurisdiction, and every time one of these visits comes up, there's an expectation on our part that they're able to recognize you, and make sure that you can enter the building.

12:30 p.m.

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, SK

As it stands now, is it the situation that the RCMP would have to invite House security forces to come out before that would happen?

12:30 p.m.

Sergeant-at-Arms, House of Commons

Kevin Vickers

No. Regarding this Monday's visit, we have received a request, and we will be out there with them this Monday.

Also, there's a tremendous difference in these visits when they take place when Parliament is sitting and Parliament is not sitting. I can speak for my director of security. Just to have enough people here in the precinct looking after our own mandate, and looking after the chamber and all your security, can be very challenging at times. So it's not like we have this luxury or flexibility all the time to be able to respond. As I said, we have our mandate in the building here, and first and foremost is to make sure that the mandate is carried out. Resourcing challenges, as I say, can have a bearing on our flexibility to assist.

12:30 p.m.

Clerk of the House of Commons, House of Commons

Audrey O'Brien

Perhaps, Mr. Chairman, if I may, through you to Mr. Lukiwski, from what I've heard today, I can sense there's a certain frustration on the part of members with the tangled, labyrinthine web of security forces, security directives, and so forth. Perhaps I can undertake for the committee to review with the sergeant and the director of security the specific practical arrangements surrounding those limited number of checkpoints to see what we can do, either using the security forces or in some other way, to prevent this particular Groundhog Day from recurring.

12:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Joe Preston

Agreed. We're looking for solutions.

12:30 p.m.

Clerk of the House of Commons, House of Commons

Audrey O'Brien

I'm promising to try.

12:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Joe Preston

Right.

One more one-off question, Mr. Miller, only because I've been mistaken for you.

May 3rd, 2012 / 12:30 p.m.

Conservative

Larry Miller Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound, ON

Other than the hair difference I guess I can understand that.

It's more a comment than anything. Obviously I just subbed in for Mr. Kerr and didn't hear all the discussion. It sounds like Mr. Stoffer was unable to go someplace where he probably should have been able to, and mistakes happen and that's unfortunate.

There are two observations I have and you can take these for what they are. My personal opinion is that I think there is probably way more security down here than we need, but at the same time you could maybe say that about airports some days too. We all know though it's for our protection so you have to go along with that.

One thing I do find bizarre is all the different security detachments, if I can call them that, here on the Hill. I just find that very bizarre and it doesn't make sense in Parliament or business or whatever. So I just throw that out.

One thing I really do want to get out is that I get asked the odd time as well, and actually I take it almost like a compliment, like going to a bar and getting asked for my ID. But the staff, the security, wherever I go are always very courteous, most of the time a lot of them call me by name and they're certainly professional at the same time, and I appreciate that.

I just wanted to say that.

12:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Joe Preston

At that point I think we'll end it.

I thank the Clerk and the Sergeant-at-Arms for coming and visiting us today. You shared with us information that will help us write the report on this and hopefully we've shared some ideas that may help also.

Thank you very much for your time today.

12:35 p.m.

Clerk of the House of Commons, House of Commons

Audrey O'Brien

Mr. Chair, I'd like to thank the members for their suggestions and observations and their kind remarks.

12:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Joe Preston

I have a question for the committee and it's on committee business further to this study. I would entertain a motion to go in camera as it's committee business, or not, if the committee is willing to just schedule our day on Tuesday without doing that. It's up to the committee.