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.