House of Commons Hansard #97 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was system.

Topics

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Question No. 437
Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

NDP

Philip Toone Gaspésie—Îles-de-la-Madeleine, QC

With regard to Exploration License No. 1105 (as amended on November 23, 2011) of Corridor Resources Inc., issued by the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board: (a) what are the reasons for the two-year extension of Period 1 from five years to seven years (Fundamental Decision 2011.05); (b) what is the total amount of license rental fees that Corridor Resources would have paid during Period 2 before the November 23, 2011, amendment; (c) what is the total amount that Corridor Resources will pay in license rental fees after the amendment; (d) what are the reasons for amending License No. 1105 so that no deposit was required to extend Period 1; (e) has Corridor Resources ever posted a $1 million deposit under License No. 1105; and (f) has Corridor Resources posted deposits for any amount under License No. 1105, either before or after it was amended?

(Return tabled)

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, SK

Mr. Speaker, I ask that the remaining questions be allowed to stand.

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

Is that agreed?

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Members' Access to Parliamentary Precinct--Speaker's Ruling
Privilege
Routine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

I am now prepared to rule on the question of privilege raised on March 2, 2012, by the member for Winnipeg Centre regarding the difficulties experienced by certain members in gaining access to the parliamentary precinct that day during the visit of the Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu.

I would like to thank the member for having raised this matter, as well as the Minister of State for Science and Technology and the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario, the Chief Government Whip, and the members for Western Arctic and Winnipeg North for their comments.

In raising his question of privilege, the member for Winnipeg Centre claimed that, due to heightened security during the visit by the Prime Minister of Israel, certain members faced impediments when attempting to gain access to the parliamentary precinct. Some members were even sent back to their offices by RCMP officers to retrieve identification proving they were members of Parliament. While acknowledging the need to keep Parliament secure, he insisted that members' right to access had been interfered with to an extent that was unjustified, thereby impeding them in the performance of their parliamentary duties.

The member for Winnipeg Centre also raised questions regarding the broader issue of jurisdiction and control of the parliamentary buildings and precinct and suggested that these sorts of situations might not occur if the House and its members had greater control over the management of the buildings and the surrounding precinct.

On this point, in a ruling delivered on May 10, 2006, on page 1189 of the Debates, Speaker Milliken stated that it was the role of the Speaker “...to protect the House's control over its premises and to protect the access of members to these premises...”. These premises are defined in page 163 in the second edition of Maingot 's Parliamentary Privilege in Canada as including:

...those premises where each House, through its Speaker, exercises physical control to enable members to perform their parliamentary work without obstruction or interference.

As we all know, the parliamentary precinct and its buildings exist primarily to support the functions of the legislative branch. The Centre Block in particular, housing as it does the House of Commons and Senate chambers, is a working building where parliamentary proceedings are carried out and where members must be free to perform their duties without interference even when other activities are taking place. Needless to say, these heritage buildings, especially Centre Block, are also ideal venues for all sorts of events and we are all proud to showcase them for our distinguished visitors. However, when activities, such as the visit of the Prime Minister of Israel on March 2 take place, extra care is needed to ensure that competing requirements regarding the use of the buildings and precinct are understood, with due accommodations and with the proper balance.

The Chief Government Whip spoke of this need to balance security and access. However, the implementation of security measures cannot override the right of members to unfettered access to the parliamentary precinct, free from obstruction or interference.

The case before us today bears a striking resemblance to the one raised on December 1, 2004, in which, due to increased security surrounding a visit by the then president of the United States, George W. Bush, some members were denied access to the parliamentary precinct by security officers. Stemming from that prima facie question of privilege, the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs presented to the House on December 15, 2004, its 21st report, which was eventually concurred in by the House and stated, in part:

The denial of access to Members of the House--even if temporary--is unacceptable, and constitutes a contempt of the House. Members must not be impeded or interfered with while on their way to the Chamber, or when going about their parliamentary business. To permit this would interfere with the operation of the House of Commons, and undermine the pre-eminent right of the House to the service of its Members.

House of Commons Procedure and Practice, Second Edition, at pages 110 and 111, lists several other relevant precedents and states, at page 110, that:

Incidents involving physical obstruction—such as traffic barriers, security cordons and union picket lines either impeding Members’ access to the Parliamentary Precinct or blocking their free movement within the precinct—...have been found to be prima facie cases of privilege.

In view of the strong body of precedence in cases of this kind and given the information provided to the House by the member for Winnipeg Centre, I find that there are sufficient grounds for finding a prima facie question of privilege in this case. I, therefore, invite the hon. member to move the appropriate motion.

Reference to Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs
Privilege
Routine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

NDP

Pat Martin Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, thank you for the consideration you have given my appeal for a question of privilege. I move:

That the question of privilege regarding the free movement of members of Parliament within the Parliamentary Precinct during the state visit of March 2, 2012, be referred to the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs.

He said: Mr. Speaker, I do not want to debate the merits of the issue as I understand you have carefully considered the jurisprudence and precedents in coming to your ruling. I would like to take the opportunity to give some direction to the procedure and House affairs committee in the context of the ruling.

I would like to preface my remarks by saying that in no way do we intend any disrespect for or criticism of the security officers or the RCMP officers who were providing added security to the parliamentary precinct on that day in light of a state visit. We all understand the need for heightened security. Even those members who brought it to the attention of the Speaker that they were inconvenienced intend no disrespect or heightened criticism of the actual police officers in question that day.

Our concern is that the procedure and House affairs committee understands fully the context and parameters of the grievance that we have brought forward today. In light of that, we did want to remind the members of the committee of the incident in 2004, the visit of George Bush, and the 21st report of the procedure and House affairs committee that you, Mr. Speaker, made reference to in your ruling. I am sure they will be guided by it and perhaps will use it as a starting point as they consider the implications of what happened on March 2. I would also like to point out work in the same vein just prior to and since that time.

I begin by making reference to page 19 of the 1992 report of the Auditor General of Canada. I will not go into great detail, but I will simply say that at that time the auditor general was seized of the issue of whether or not the House, the Senate and the RCMP should be working together to harmonize and communicate their security policies for the command and control and development of procedures that affect the parliamentary precinct. Denis Desautels, the auditor general at that time, made recommendations which I think we would find useful today as the procedure and House affairs committee deals with this issue.

I would also like to point out the subsequent work of the former auditor general, Denis Desautels. In 2001 he was put in charge of the parliamentary precinct oversight advisory committee, which was established to put together a long-term vision and plan for Parliament Hill. Part of that was the massive renovations undertaken, but another part of that was to revisit the entire question as to whether or not there should be one central agency that takes over the maintenance, operations, security and control of the parliamentary precinct.

As he put it in this study, which is worth looking at, there are too many cooks in the kitchen. This has added to a great deal of confusion and difficulty for the basic administration and control of the parliamentary precinct, and has led to what we believe is the reason everything costs 10 times as much and it takes 10 times as long to get anything done. There are far too many agencies involved with the maintenance and operations. The same could be applied to the security measures, the Senate security, the House of Commons security, the RCMP and the general police forces that oversee these things.

We would like the procedure and House affairs committee to take seriously the recommendations of this blue ribbon committee that has been studying this issue for a great length of time. Among others the committee includes Denis Desautels, Frank LeBlanc, who is a professional engineer, Jean-Claude Marsam, who is an architect and urban planner, Terrance Williams, who is an architect as well, and former Speaker Fraser, who of all, talked about whether we should be masters of our own domain, whether we should be merely tenants of the parliamentary precinct or if we in fact are an integral part, the directors and controllers of the parliamentary precinct.

In that light, I would ask the procedure and House affairs committee to expand the parameters of its review and look at other jurisdictions, such as Westminster and Washington. Their capital precincts are overseen by a single office and agency. In the case of Capitol Hill, it is the architect of the Capitol Hill that oversees all of the maintenance, operations, control and security. In Westminster, it is the architect of the precinct there.

The final thing I would ask people to keep in mind is a study undertaken by former Speaker Milliken as recently as 2005 or 2006. He, in concert with the Speaker of the Senate at the time, made recommendations that there should be one person in charge of the parliamentary precinct. He believed it was a mistake, and the Speaker of the Senate agreed, that they had abdicated jurisdiction and control over the parliamentary precinct to Public Works and Government Services Canada, the Department of Canadian Heritage, the National Capital Commission, to all of the other bodies that now have influence and control over Parliament Hill. We believe that has led to a great deal of confusion.

Therefore, if it is the right of members of Parliament to have unfettered access to and freedom of movement and control of the parliamentary precinct, we as tenants should be seeking to have a tenants revolt to take back control of our parliamentary precinct.

I hope the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs can be seized with this issue and come back with meaningful recommendations that will give some satisfaction to those who were inconvenienced on March 2, but also to give us the control of the parliamentary precinct, which I believe we deserve as parliamentarians.

Reference to Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs
Privilege
Routine Proceedings

March 15th, 2012 / 10:20 a.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre
Saskatchewan

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I have a comment more for clarification for the benefit of the member for Winnipeg Centre. I am a member of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs. We already are examining a question of privilege. Mr. Speaker, you had found a prima facie case with respect to the group Anonymous and its threats against the Minister of Public Safety and in fact all members of Parliament. That study is ongoing.

As you know, Mr. Speaker, prima facie questions of privilege take precedence in our committee. However, since we are already engaged in a study on a previously ruled upon question of privilege, I would say to the member for Winnipeg Centre that I am sure we will be dealing with his question of privilege at our first opportunity, but that may not be for several meetings while we examine the question of privilege currently before the committee.

Reference to Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs
Privilege
Routine Proceedings

10:20 a.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I thank you for your ruling. I thank the hon. member for Winnipeg Centre for raising this issue so that we may have an opportunity to maintain the House of Commons and Parliament Hill as a place where citizens belong.

I want to raise a slightly different point and I hope that my comment will be taken up in the ongoing investigation of this matter. The traditional and constitutionally appropriate place for greeting visiting heads of state is Rideau Hall, not Parliament Hill. Traditionally, heads of state have been greeted at Rideau Hall and the ceremonies there have been appropriate. It is much easier to provide security at Rideau Hall.

I can see that some of the members opposite are becoming exercised by this point, but heads of state have been greeted at Rideau Hall. I would like to suggest it is one very appropriate way of ensuring good security, which we all must have, and at the same time, ensuring that the business of the people in the House of Commons is not impeded.

It occurred to me as I tried to leave the House of Commons that day and was impeded by several tanks that had to be removed before the green bus could get out of the way that things were coming to a point where business of the House of Commons could be impeded by security. I ask the hon. member for Winnipeg Centre for his comments.

Reference to Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs
Privilege
Routine Proceedings

10:25 a.m.

NDP

Pat Martin Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, I do not have anything to add to that.

Reference to Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs
Privilege
Routine Proceedings

10:25 a.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

Is the House ready for the question?

Reference to Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs
Privilege
Routine Proceedings

10:25 a.m.

Some hon. members

Question.

Reference to Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs
Privilege
Routine Proceedings

10:25 a.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

The question is on the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Reference to Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs
Privilege
Routine Proceedings

10:25 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.