Mr. Speaker, if I may, I will start over to ensure that the Conservatives hear what I have to say.
I will cite the reference on the traditions and procedures of the House, the second edition of House of Commons Procedure and Practice by O'Brien and Bosc. The Speaker's role in matters of security is described on page 324:
The right of each House of Parliament to regulate its own internal affairs also extends to the management of the premises “within the precinct and beyond the debating Chamber …”. As guardian of the rights and privileges of the House, the Speaker ensures that they are respected within and outside the House. Within the precinct, the Speaker oversees matters of security and policing. Security within the buildings occupied by Members and staff of the House is the responsibility of the Sergeant-at-Arms, who acts under the Speaker’s authority (The Senate maintains its own security force in buildings occupied by Senators and Senate staff.). For this purpose, the House maintains its own security service. Arrangements are in place whereby the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) is charged with security of the grounds outside the buildings. There are occasions when the House security staff request and receive assistance from outside police forces, whether the RCMP or the local police. It is also well established that outside police forces wishing to enter the parliamentary buildings must first obtain permission from the Speaker to do so, and that the authority to grant or withhold such permission rests with the Speaker, who exercises sole discretion in this regard.
My first question regarding the motion is this: why does the government believe that the House of Commons security services and the role of the Speaker should suddenly be under the control of the RCMP and that the Speaker's authority to grant or refuse permission for the RCMP to enter this place should disappear?
The wording of the motion suggests that the terrible attack perpetrated by a disturbed individual on October 22, 2014, that resulted in the death of a Canadian corporal who was standing guard at at the National War Memorial justifies these changes. The motion alludes to the attack as a terrorist attack. However, this government and the RCMP have never been able to produce any evidence to prove that the October 22 attack was organized by a terrorist group or that the criminal responsible was associated with any terrorist group.
All we have is the slogan that the Prime Minister likes to repeat over and over again, even though it cannot be justified. In fact, the only evidence that the RCMP claimed was proof that the attack was motivated by terrorism—a video made by the gunman—was never made public. This does nothing to increase the public's confidence in how the RCMP is conducting this investigation.
Nonetheless, some facts about the events that occurred on that terrible day are now clear. On October 22, 2014, the RCMP had a number of officers on duty within the perimeter. For a variety of reasons, they were unable to keep the killer, who was openly carrying a gun, from crossing a busy street in downtown Ottawa, crossing the grounds of Parliament Hill and hijacking a car that he drove to the doors of the Centre Block. Those facts are clear.
There are a number of videos available to the public that show these events. Many Canadians have seen them. What is also clear is the heroic role that was played by the unarmed constables with the House of Commons security services throughout that terrible day. Constable Samearn Son, from our security service, was wounded by the killer when he intercepted him as he entered the building, and he alerted the other guards in the Hall of Honour. What is clear is that the men and women in the Parliament buildings that day, most of whom are members of the House of Commons security service, are the ones who stopped and eventually took down this armed man.
Kevin Vickers, the head of security, was given a lot of credit. He was completely deserving of that credit, not only because of his individual efforts but because of the performance of his devoted staff. Our security service is known for its excellent training and professionalism.
If find our government's response to this attack absolutely shocking. The government is going to give the RCMP, which failed in its duty that day, jurisdiction over the security force that managed to stop the attack, our House of Commons security service.
The fact that the motion uses the October 22 attack as an excuse to give the RCMP more power is shameful. It is an insult to the brave men and women who protected us so well that day.
As I mentioned earlier, there is no doubt that security on the Hill needs to be better integrated and coordinated. Better communication, better equipment and better training are also needed. Our people need more resources, and I know that my colleagues on both sides of the House have already supported the idea of giving them more. The official opposition will also support the full integration of the House of Commons and Senate security services.
This motion would have us believe that the idea of having the RCMP take over the Parliament Hill security services was somehow suggested by the Auditor General in his 2012 report on the administration of the House of Commons.
I have read this report, and on the contrary, it clearly states that integrating the security services would significantly improve security on Parliament Hill. The Auditor General never said that the RCMP had to take control here. In my opinion, any reference to the Auditor General in this motion is incorrect and inappropriate.
In fact, this motion is not designed to improve security on Parliament Hill. Rather, it is designed to remove control from our Speaker and our security services over security in this precinct and to give that power to the RCMP, which is controlled by the government.
However, there is no indication that the Hill will be more secure if the RCMP takes control of all security services on Parliament Hill.
We all know that the RCMP is an excellent police force made up of brave women and men who do not hesitate to risk their lives every day to protect Canadians. We can never thank them enough for their service. Our heart breaks over the tragic number of RCMP officers who have lost their lives serving Canadians, whether it is in Mayerthorpe, Alberta, or in Moncton. However, the fact that they do a good job across Canada does not make them the better choice to protect Parliament Hill.
I believe that if we allow our independent security services to manage security on the Hill with more resources, the thousands of individuals who use this place—members of Parliament, senators, journalists, employees and visitors—will be safer. The members of our security services understand how this place works. They respect the needs and traditions of our parliamentary institutions. They know our faces and our jobs. They always do their job with diligence and pride. They know how to keep us safe as we carry out our daily duties, all the while ensuring that this magnificent place remains a place where Canadians can meet, celebrate, mourn or express their opinions.
The RCMP is a huge organization known for frequently relocating and transferring its members and, admittedly, for the difficulties that it has had to face following allegations of sexual harassment. It is accountable to a government that, in turn, is increasingly known for doing everything in its power to stifle dissent and punish its political enemies.
I see here an excellent institutional reason for this House to reject the possibility of having the RCMP oversee Parliament's security services.
We are the legislature. We have a certain number of constitutional roles. One of them is to let the Governor General decide who has the confidence of the House.
In this system, there is a convention that determines which party leader will be called on to form the government. It is for that reason that there is a separation between the executive branch of government, the legislative branch of Parliament and the judicial branch.
This motion seeks to extend executive authority over Parliament by ensuring that the security agency that controls everything on Parliament Hill is the government's security agency—the RCMP. It is not the role of the legislature to serve the government. This House serves Canadians, not the government. The intent of this motion is to place security for this place under the control and direct authority of the government police service—the RCMP.
The role of the Speaker is to serve and protect all elected officials and the thousands of Canadians who come here, and not just to protect the Prime Minister and the government. I have no reason to believe that making the House of Commons security service a sub-section of the RCMP would improve security. I find it shocking that the Chief Government Whip is trying to adopt this measure now, when the process to integrate the House and the Senate security services is still under way.
I also find it shocking that the government whip is telling his MPs how to vote when, by voting that way, they will be giving up their own rights. If the government really wanted to talk about this in terms of legality and security, it would authorize a free vote. Based on the answer I got this morning, it seems that will be impossible.
That is why I am moving, seconded by the member for Burnaby—New Westminster, an amendment to the motion that I believe would address my concerns:
That the motion be amended by deleting all the words after “That the House” and substituting the following:
“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; call on the Speaker, in coordination with his counterpart in the Senate, to prepare and execute, without delay, plans to fully integrate the work of all partners providing operational security throughout the Parliamentary precinct and the grounds of Parliament Hill , while respecting the privileges, immunities and powers of the respective Houses, including the ultimate authorities of the Speakers of the Senate and House of Commons over access and security of Parliament, and ensuring the continued employment of our existing and respected Parliamentary Security staff, whose exemplary work on October 22, 2014, very quickly ended a threat to the security of Parliament.”