STANDING COMMITTEE ON PROCEDURE
AND HOUSE AFFAIRS
COMITÉ PERMANENT DE LA PROCÉDURE
ET DES AFFAIRES DE LA CHAMBRE
[Recorded by Electronic Apparatus]
Tuesday, September 26, 2000
The Chair (Mr. Derek Lee (Scarborough—Rouge River, Lib.)):
I call the meeting to order, colleagues. We're going
to be hearing evidence today—we don't have to make
any decisions—and I see sufficient quorum in
accordance with the practice of the committee for that
Today we're delighted to have with us Major General
Cloutier, who is our Sergeant-at-Arms in the House of
Commons. I also see that he has been able to bring
competent staff and collaborators with him in
connection with this issue of the substantial
renovation project ongoing around Parliament Hill.
I will simply welcome you, Mr. Sergeant-at-Arms.
I would ask you to introduce those members of your
staff or the partners in the renovation project that
you think should be introduced to the committee.
Major General G. Cloutier (Sergeant-at-Arms, House
of Commons): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. This morning I
would like to introduce Lyette Fortin. Lyette works
for me. She is the senior architect for the House of
Commons. I think you've met Lyette on previous
What we would like to do this morning, Mr.
Chairman, is give you a brief outline, in the form of
a briefing, of where we're going with the renovations,
highlight them and the problems we have, and perhaps open
up to questions. If we may proceed, we'll go
The Chair: That's great. Let's go.
Ms. Lyette Fortin (Special Advisor to the Sergeant-at-Arms,
Long Term Architectural Planning Office, House of Commons): I'd
like to speak to you about our renovation projects and to do so, I
will be making a video presentation. Over the next 30 thirty
minutes, I will be presenting an overview of the renovation
projects planned for the Parliamentary Precinct.
I will be reviewing briefly the history of the Parliament
Buildings, a history with which you are probably already quite
familiar. Then I will focus on plans for the future. Lastly, I will
update you on those projects that have already been completed, as
well as those in the planning stages.
It is important to place the history of the Parliamentary
Precinct in context in order to ensure its orderly evolution. In
1857, Queen Victoria chose Ottawa to be the capital of the Province
of Canada. The site chosen for the future parliament building was
ideal: a plateau on an impressive escarpment presenting a
picturesque view of the Ottawa River. It was truly an enchanting
It was decided that the Parliamentary Buildings would be
constructed in the neo-gothic style of architecture. This was
considered an appropriate choice given that the vertical lines
would enhance the escarpment and highlight the natural features of
the site. The architecture in fact became an integral part of the
Originally, the boundaries of the Parliamentary Precinct were
clearly defined. It was bounded on the north, east and west by the
escarpment, and on the south, by the stone wall separating
Parliament from the burgeoning city. The Centre Block was the main
structure and site of various parliamentary activities such as
House and committee sittings and caucus meetings as well as the
offices of members of Parliament.
The East and West Blocks housed government departmental
offices. The Library of Parliament was located behind the Centre
Block. The buildings' functions were well organized with clear,
coherent and logical circulation patterns.
In 1916, fire destroyed the Centre Block, leaving one of the
key components of our federal identity in ruins. Some suspected
that the fire was an act of sabotage, given that the country was at
war, but this was never proven. The government was determined to
rebuild the Centre Block as quickly as possible.
Fortunately, the fire spared the Library of Parliament.
Reconstruction of the Centre Block began in 1917. A more modern
style of architecture could have been chosen, but parliamentarians
were adamant that the neo-gothic style so characteristic of
Canada's Parliament be retained.
Over time, demand for office space increased. The
Confederation and Justice buildings were erected in the 1920s and
1930s to house expanding government departments. It is worth noting
that the architectural style of these buildings complements the
neo-gothic character of the Parliamentary Precinct.
Today, parliamentary activities are conducted not only on the
north side of Wellington Street, but in buildings on the south side
as well which were never designed to house committee rooms or
Having core parliamentary functions spread in the
downtown core creates confusion. It creates kind of
an identity crisis for the precinct. There is
confusion not only from a functional and operational
point of view, but also from an urban planning and an
architectural point of view. So in planning for the
future, we must try to reinstate harmony between the
functions of Parliament and its setting.
Since the buildings were built in the late 1800s
and early 1900s, there has never been a comprehensive
master plan. Only emergency projects or punctual
projects were undertaken to address needs. To plan for
the future, a major comprehensive renovation plan is
required and is being developed by Public Works, in
consultation with the Senate, the library, the House of
Commons, and also other stakeholders.
Public Works, as you know, is the custodian department
responsible for developing the long-term plan, and also
for all of the renovation and construction projects for
the parliamentary precinct. The three
institutions—Senate, House of Commons, and
library—are tenants of these buildings. The
institutions provide input in the development of
project plans. Other organizations, such as the
National Capital Commission and the federal Heritage
Building Review Office, provide feedback in the
projects. The body overseeing the long-term plan is
the Parliamentary Building Advisory Council. That is
chaired by the Honourable John Fraser.
To plan for the next 50 to 80 years, the House of
Commons requirement has been established in the report
Building the Future. A copy was distributed to
all members of the committee. The report was adopted
by the Board of Internal Economy last fall and was
tabled in the House of Commons in December 1999. It
has also been available to the public on Internet since
In Building the Future, the House of Commons has
established guiding principles for the development of
the precinct. The guiding principles are derived from
an understanding of the design and planning concept
that shapes the parliamentary precinct, as we saw
These principles are as follows: that all core
functions—the chamber, committees, caucus,
parliamentary offices—be located within a clearly
defined precinct, as it was originally planned; that
designs for renovations and new construction respect
the original design intent, the heritage value, and the
role of building and site as a symbol of Canadian
democracy; that facilities be organized to reflect the
relationship among parliamentary functions; that
Parliament be open and accessible, easily understood by
visitors, and reinforce public access to
parliamentarians; that there be appropriate
infrastructure for circulation, for security, for
information technology; and finally, that all
renovation and construction be built to last, and to
protect and respect the environment.
In the report Building the Future, the
requirements are based on a full assessment of members'
four lines of business: in chamber, committees, caucus,
The current chamber does not fully address the needs
of members or the visiting public. With the number of
members expected to increase, additional seating and
layout of the chamber will have to be addressed.
Also, currently temporary alterations are made to
address specific needs for universal accessibility,
etc. Long-term integrated solutions that take into
consideration the special needs of visitors and members
will have to be developed in future projects.
Presently members of Parliament have limited access to
information technology infrastructure required to do
their work in the chamber—for example, access to
portable computers or even maybe future electronic
voting. Unless appropriate infrastructure is put in
place, it will be very difficult to accommodate
For committees, the work carried out by committees has
evolved greatly over time, and facilities have not kept
up with the pace and magnitude of change. As a result,
committee rooms are now far below the standard required
to meet current and future needs in terms of number, in
terms of location, and in terms of information
technology. As we can see here, people are sitting,
having no access to translation. Committee rooms of
uniform quality are required to meet the needs of
committees today and for the future.
For caucus, adequate committee rooms that are used by
caucus must provide acoustical privacy and also
Also, the research functions of the five officially
recognized parties are currently housed in buildings
that are in the downtown core. Issues of proximity and
security could be addressed by locating party research
staff in a flexible, well-equipped, centralized space
adjacent to the parliamentary precinct.
Finally, for offices, the demands on members and the
way they do their work has changed significantly over
the years. Office accommodation has lagged behind
these changes. Office size, configuration, and quality
vary widely, with some members working in sub-standard
offices. Currently, some members are located outside
the legal limits of the precinct.
Ensuring that all members have standard offices within
the parliamentary precinct will require a gradual
migration to the standards as existing buildings are
renovated. As well, additional space will be required
to replace those offices that are inadequate and also
to address the increasing number of members of
In Building the Future, requirement for support
services is addressed. In future projects we must
ensure that administration and support services are
consolidated and properly located to provide the most
effective service to members of Parliament.
In terms of information technology, IT represents a
vital link between parliamentarians and a range of
services and information. The major renovations offer
an excellent opportunity to integrate the required
infrastructure to the buildings and site, to allow for
constantly evolving technology to be upgraded while
minimizing visual and physical intrusion to the
heritage fabric of the precinct.
The Parliamentary Precinct is the ideal forum for those
wishing to espouse a particular viewpoint or cause. Most often, it
is the focal point of peaceful demonstrations. However, in recent
years, Parliament Hill has often been the site of highly charged
demonstrations, resulting in a corresponding increase in the threat
While existing security infrastructure addresses current
risks, steps need to be taken to ensure that the Parliamentary
Precinct can meet future challenges. Therefore, it is important
that the security systems infrastructure be integrated into all
building and site renovations projects.
As you well know, more and more people visit Parliament Hill
each year. A wide range of special events are staged within the
Parliamentary Precinct. Therefore, renovations of any kind must
take into account the need for readily accessible facilities and
reception services for the visiting public.
That was a brief summary of the needs identified in the report
Building the Future. I invite you to consult this document for
further details. These requirements have been conveyed to the
Department of Public Works so that they may be integrated into the
drafting of the long-term plan.
Now I will take a few minutes to highlight some
projects. I will talk about the exterior conservation
of the Centre Block; then I will talk about the Centre
Block underground service project; then I will talk
about a project that is une actualité, the
Justice Building renovation; then the library project;
and finally, I will conclude with the West Block
The Centre Block exterior conservation was completed
in 1997. As I mentioned to you earlier, construction
of the new building started soon after the fire of 1916
that destroyed the original Centre Block, during the
wartime period. In fact, a lot of the problems we have
discovered in the Centre Block were because of the fact
that it was built during the war, when there was a
shortage of good-quality construction material and a
shortage of skilled workers.
The Centre Block construction reflects the changing
technology of the time, when the introduction of steel
framing into the building was incorporated within the
traditional massive masonry exterior walls. Why I am
telling you this is because when you have open joints
it is very problematic, because the water can penetrate
these joints, reach the steel structure that is behind,
and the steel structure can then start corroding, which
we can see here from this photograph. In order to
prevent the deterioration of this important building,
it was really critical to address the masonry repair
and conservation, which has been done.
The problems we encountered with the roof were due to
the fact that the copper that was used was too thin and
also that there was a lack of skilled workers. At the
time of the war, copper was very difficult to acquire.
If you look closely at this photo, you can see the
copper has rippled and is cracked. This is due to the
fact that instead of building an appropriate joint,
which is flexible to allow for contraction and
expansion of the copper, the joint was stiff. Again,
inexperienced workers created poor workmanship. All the
roofs of the Centre Block main facade were therefore
Many people ask why the roof of the Peace Tower was
not replaced, as we can see here.
The Peace Tower was completed in the 1920s, after the
war. At that time there was good-quality copper, the
right size, and skilled workers to construct the roof
properly. The roof of the Peace Tower is good for
decades to come.
I would now like to focus on CBUS, or the work carried out
beneath the Centre Block. Construction of a two-story underground
facility adjoining the northwest corner of the Centre Block was
completed in September 1998. The facility houses, among other
things, the new heating plant, emergency generators for the Centre,
East and West Blocks, as well as the communications control centre
for Parliamentary Precinct systems. The area was landscaped to mask
any evidence of construction activity.
Now for the Justice Building. This building was built
in the 1930s to provide accommodation for the Royal
Canadian Mounted Police. The building was later
reassigned to the Department of Justice; hence its
name. The building has been renovated to permanently
house office suites for members of Parliament and their
staff and also the necessary support services. The
work in the building is almost complete. There are
minor deficiencies and some technical problems that are
presently being addressed by Public Works. For the
interior of the building, the few spaces that did
retain their original design and finishes, such as the
main lobby, were restored.
There were some unfortunate interventions in the
1970s, so the wall partitions, suspended ceiling tiles,
and inappropriate interior finishes that were added in
the 1970s were removed, and the original layout, with
central corridor, was recreated with suites on either
The standard office suite approved by the Board of
Internal Economy was integrated in the renovation of
the Justice Building. A member's office suite consists
of three offices: office for member of Parliament, for
executive assistant, and a central reception area for
Office suites in the Justice Building were divided
following the approved standard floor area, while
respecting the grid of columns, respecting the pattern
of window opening, the original circulation pattern,
and the architectural characteristics of the building.
While all office suites respect the standards, they all
are unique because of their location within the
building and the intrinsic architectural characteristic
of those areas.
With the intent of reinstating the original
character of the building, which was lost through the
years, details such as mouldings, light fixtures,
fabric, carpets, and paint colours were selected to
enhance the architecture of the building. A standard
furniture layout will be implemented, as approved by
the Board of Internal Economy. All suites will be
furnished with appropriate furniture to complement the
architecture, to comply with ergonomic principles, and
to adapt to existing and future functional and
information technology requirements. The inspiration
for the furniture design comes from the original
furniture items created in the 1920s for the Centre
Block, designed by the architect of the building, as we
can see here from this historical photo.
To address information technology, this is what will
not be done in the Justice Building. The approach that
was taken for the Justice Building is one that is
integrated, as we can see here. An enhanced network
infrastructure, combined with structured cabling, was
integrated in the building, which will allow for easy
future upgrades to meet evolving service requirements,
while maintaining the architectural integrity of the
The security systems are also integrated to respect
the architecture of the building. Card readers are
integrated behind the signage, which will be used to
gain access for offices and other spaces in the
As far as the Library of Parliament is concerned, plans and
specifications for the exterior restoration and interior renovation
of the Library are nearing completion. Construction is scheduled
for the years 2001 through 2003.
In order to carry out work in the main facility, the Library
of Parliament will be temporarily relocated to the Scotiabank
Building on Sparks Street which is now undergoing renovations for
The final project on the list is the West Block.
This project, the West Block, will incorporate a
temporary chamber inside the courtyard. As you can see
here, the courtyard will have a permanent structure
that will be used temporarily to house the chamber
function. The intent is to convert this into committee
rooms when chamber functions are no longer required, and
the entire courtyard would be enclosed with a steel and
Here is a cross-section that gives you an idea of the
concept. Here is the building. Here is the courtyard.
This would be the permanent structure that would
temporarily house the chamber function. The government
lobby and opposition lobby would be a temporary
structure that would be removed when no longer
required. A roof covers the entire courtyard, so it's
usable space year-round, and the ground floor would
house new, permanent committee rooms.
This rendering gives you an idea of the new chamber.
It would be a contemporary space, but some elements,
such as the Speaker's chair, would be brought in from
the present chamber to be incorporated in the design.
So this gives you a bit of the flavour of the
renovation for the West Block.
You will probably ask when this project will begin
for the West Block. As I said, Public Works is presently
developing the long-term plan, which will include the
sequence of work, the scheduling, and the costs for all
projects. Until this plan is reviewed and approved...then
we will have more detail.
In conclusion, the goal of all of these future projects is to
develop a Parliamentary Precinct that will meet the operational
requirements of Parliament's three institutions, as well as the
needs of employees and visitors for the next 50 to 80 years, while
preserving at the same time the heritage of the buildings and of
the site itself, the most visible symbol of our democracy.
The House of Commons is committed to ensuring that as all of
these projects are realized, the history and vision of the people
who originally designed Parliament Hill remain a source of
inspiration to everyone who goes there.
That concludes my presentation, Mr. Chairman. We would be
happy to answer any questions. Thank you for your attention.
The Chair: Thank you very much. That
was very informative and, if I may say so, very
professional. I'm sure it was useful to members.
I know members will have some questions, so I'll
look first to Mr. Reynolds of the Canadian Alliance
Mr. John Reynolds (West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast, Canadian
Alliance): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
What is the process when Public Works are putting this
together? Do they go out to tender for all the work
that will be done? How is that handled? Is there a time line
for it all when the tender goes out?
MGen G. Cloutier: Most of the projects
you have seen were obviously under tender.
Basically, we are at a different stage at the moment,
where we are still awaiting the long-range
plan approval by the Minister of Public Works.
Let's go back as far as the time line is concerned. Let's go
back to last year, when the advisory council was formed
in the spring of 1999. At that time, the minister
asked the council to review the requirements of the
Hill, produce a report, and from there he would
consider the options available to him. I would
suspect from there he would develop a further model,
with the approved plan and the financing required to
carry out this plan over a period of 25 years.
In our report Building the Future, we do make
reference to the requirement for a solid financial
framework for these projects. In the past,
we've discovered that there were plans,
projects, for building or renovations that would take
place without us knowing ahead of time. It put
the House of Commons in an awful position at that time
because we were surprised by it. Just think of
the support services that we do require if we have a
new building or move to a different location.
To return to the time line, the staff of the House of
Commons produced a report last summer and
presented that report, Building the Future, to
the board and subsequently to the Minister of Public
Works in December. We didn't hear until May 2000
from the advisory council or the Minister of Public
Works, although both of us were invited to make a
presentation on our requirements to the council in late
In the period between January and April, the library
and the Senate, I suppose following a review of our
plans and requirements, produced their requirements.
Where are we now? The requirements are in the hands
of Public Works. The advisory council is reviewing
those commitments, and I would expect they would
come back to us, the House of Commons, with
preferred options. They have consultants who are
reviewing how Parliament Hill should be expanded.
Should we keep the core functions north of Wellington?
Should the committees be housed in a new committee
building? All those options, I gather, are being
reviewed now. I expect the council will
probably report to the Minister of Public Works by
Christmas with a set of options for his consideration.
From that position, the minister will have to
certainly not only review the functions but open a
dialogue with the Senate, the House, and the library on
The Chair: Thank you.
Five minutes, Mr. Bergeron.
Mr. Stéphane Bergeron (Verchères—Les Patriotes, BQ): Thank
you, Mr. Chairman. Clearly, we face some major time constraints in
so far as long-term planning is concerned. Earlier, someone said
that this project was designed to meet requirements for the next 50
to 80 years. However, at the rate things have been going for the
past several years, it might well take from 50 to 80 years for this
project to be completed.
Having said this, it's likely that elections will be held
sometime in the next few months. It is equally very likely that
when MPs return after these elections, they will be assigned office
space in the Justice Building. The West Block will be completely
vacated so that the renovations can commence. This begs the
question: Where will committees meet? Will they meet in temporary
quarters and how much will that cost, or will we erect once and for
all a building to accommodate parliamentary committees? My question
is very simple: In the event elections are held sometime in the
next few months, will Members' offices be relocated to the Justice
Building and will the West Block be evacuated? In the affirmative,
where will committees meet?
MGen G. Cloutier: To answer your first question, as Lyette was
saying earlier, we have yet to finalized arrangements for occupying
two floors in the Justice Building, although I've made no official
decision to go with these options. As Lyette mentioned, we are
currently grappling with a number of technical problems, heating
and otherwise. We are awaiting a definitive report on the status of
the system and on several other points, including soundproofing.
However, we are prepared to move furniture and we expect to be
ready to relocate Members after the elections.
You also talked about the West Block and the committee
question. As you know, a number of committee rooms are located in
this building and a number of possible solutions have been
advanced. It has been suggested, for example, that committee rooms
be relocated to the fourth or top floor of the East Block and that
four other committees take up temporary quarters in the Wellington
Building. We have examined these options carefully and concluded
that neither location would be suitable for this purpose.
Therefore, if elections are held within the year, we will
certainly relocate members, but for the time being, we would not
move committee rooms. We have rejected all of the options presented
to us. Perhaps Lyette would care to say something further.
Ms. Lyette Fortin: The options put forward represent temporary
solutions which fail to meet the minimum requirements for committee
rooms. As Mr. Bergeron said, the ideal solution would be to have a
permanent building ready to accommodate committees before the West
Block is vacated. However, time is a factor here, not to mention
the fact that the condition of the buildings is deteriorating.
We are, therefore, in somewhat of a difficult position. We are
awaiting further proposals from Public Works to see if any options
would meet the committees' requirements for temporary space while
a permanent facility is being erected.
Mr. Stéphane Bergeron: Are you saying then that to all intents
and purposes, we could return following elections to an empty West
Block, even though we would continue to use the committee rooms,
thereby delaying the start of the renovations to the building even
MGen G. Cloutier: That's correct. You're quite right. It's a
Mr. Stéphane Bergeron: That would delay everything, including
the renovations to both chambers and the temporary relocation of
the House of Commons to the West Block. As I was saying earlier, at
this rate, work will drag on for the next 50 to 80 years and we
won't have adequate facilities in the meantime.
MGen G. Cloutier: You may recall that in 1993, we were told
that we would be moving into the Justice Building in the summer of
1997. The fall of 2000 is now upon us and we are still waiting. The
plan presented to us at that time is behind schedule.
Even the recommendations of the advisory committee, that is
the options for the minister's consideration, have yet to be
finalized. It's already the year 2000. I expect that we will be a
few years late in meeting the objective set three or four years
We're talking about a 25-year plan, therefore I don't think we
need to be concerned. Take the Justice Building, for example.
Renovations were first mentioned in 1993 and the work will be
completed in the year 2000. Therefore, the process has taken seven
years in all.
In the meantime, we are giving some thought to putting up a
new building to house committee rooms so that these can be
centrally located on Parliament Hill, as committees are a very
important function of Parliament. Then we can proceed with the
renovations to the West and Centre Blocks.
Since the plans have yet to be submitted and the work is
scheduled to take at least 25 years, I don't expect the renovations
to be fully completed before 2025 or 2030.
The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Sergeant-at-Arms.
I suppose I should suggest that we're not moving so
quickly on any of this that we're likely to lose our
I do have a couple of short questions in the absence
of another member indicating an interest.
Firstly, there is to
be constructed at some point in the future a second
chamber, which will be used by the House and the Senate
while the main chambers are being renovated. Has there
been any view to retaining the second chamber after its
main use is completed and to using it as a second
chamber, as the Parliament in Westminster has done?
They run a second chamber in tandem with the
main House of Commons, and it's put to use quite
effectively by members. Has some view been given to
that in the long-range plan?
MGen G. Cloutier: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. There
has been some talk about it exactly in the way you
mentioned, using it as a second chamber, or if
we do not have the committee building, then using the
space there for committee rooms.
The Chair: Thank you.
Secondly, I know this is not your responsibility, but
it appears that the advisory council is carrying on and
generally representing the House of Commons. You may
or may not have an answer to this, and I may be leading
you a little bit, but I had noted that there was a
senator sitting on the advisory council, presumably
representing the Senate, and I had noted that there was
not an MP sitting on the advisory council, which causes
me to question how we are represented there. I know
there is a linkage, and I believe the Speaker has
carefully constructed whatever representation is there,
but could you describe how we as members of Parliament
and I suppose you, representing the House, are
represented on the advisory council?
MGen G. Cloutier: We are represented at the moment
by a former deputy clerk for administrative services, Mary Anne
Griffith. How this came about is that Ms. Griffith
was retiring from the House of Commons at that
time. She had had a lot of experience in the House and
had been involved in many of the discussions we had on
this subject either in executive committee or on the
board, and following a review of the situation, I think
the board felt she would be a very good representative
of the House. Therefore, she was selected to be a
The Chair: Okay. I guess that's a good
explanation. I have no doubt about Ms. Griffith's
confidence either. But I did want to flag that
superficial and apparent absence of direct
representation on the council, whereas the Senate, the
other place, did have someone. I'll leave that issue
for members if they wish to comment.
Thirdly, there is the definition of the parliamentary
precinct. If I had an office in the Wellington
Building, which I do not, although some of those around the
table may—there are a number of members of Parliament
with offices there—I would question why we hadn't yet
gotten around to redefining the parliamentary precinct
to include them in their offices.
Added to that, am I right in my
understanding that the Confederation Building is not
defined legally as being within the parliamentary
precinct at this time?
MGen G. Cloutier: This was brought up at
the meeting for the estimates last year as well. At
that time I mentioned that we had lawyers looking at
this project. Since then we've had our own lawyers and
the justice department
inquiring and seeing what definition applies to
the parliamentary precinct. For the time being, they
say that any building where members of Parliament are
housed is part of the precinct.
If you recall, my concern was not only the office
space on the south side of Wellington Street, but also the
extension of Bank Street. At one stage they were
thinking of opening up the water frontage north of the
Wellington Building as well. In the expansion of the
parliamentary precinct and the construction to try to
locate within the core area without extending it way
beyond the Supreme Court, it became sort of a thorn in our
planning. Who owns Bank Street? Who owns the
extension of Bank Street? I've received a legal opinion
in the last month from the justice
department that it's certainly the
House and that the Bank Street extension is part of the
The Chair: Are there any downside risks or negatives
associated with us accepting and living with a de facto
parliamentary precinct, as opposed to a legally defined
I'll just go back to the Wellington Building or the
Confederation Building. I have an office in the
Confederation Building. If it is our collective will
and view as parliamentarians that this should be properly
and legally defined as parliamentary precinct, then why
wouldn't we just do it and include the Wellington
Building, the Justice Building, and whatever else?
Some people may regard that as a mere technicality of
interest to intellectuals only. So I'm asking, is
there a practical aspect that might be negative for us
in failing to properly legally define the parliamentary
precinct as it exists?
MGen G. Cloutier: No, there isn't, and I think we
should do it. I don't want to get into the privilege
aspect here, but, as you know, we do apply privilege
within the precinct. As far as I'm concerned,
certainly from a security point of view, we ought to
have this. That's why we've been striving with the justice
department to make sure that the legal rights of members operating
within the legal precinct of Parliament should be well
understood by everyone. I think you're going to see
The Chair: If this committee were to draft a bill
to redefine the precinct and to send it to the House,
would you be able to provide us with your advice on
MGen G. Cloutier: Yes, indeed.
The Chair: And you could flag any reason we
should not do it.
MGen G. Cloutier: Right now most people feel that the
legal boundary is the river,
Wellington Street, the Chateau Laurier canal, and the Bank
Street extension. That's what people think about when they
talk about the parliamentary precinct. But it has grown.
It now includes the Confederation Building, as you
mentioned, and there's the Justice Building
coming up and whatever other buildings will be
incorporated within that land.
The Chair: Okay, thank you. I think I'll just
invite the clerk to formally ask you—copy the Speaker,
I guess—to advise on an appropriate definition of the
parliamentary precinct, and your view as to whether or
not we should proceed to amend the definition in the
Parliament of Canada Act.
MGen G. Cloutier: You want more than what we have
The Chair: That's correct, yes.
Members, are there questions or comments? Mr.
Mr. John Richardson (Perth—Middlesex, Lib.): Mr.
Chairman, I was just listening to the discussion today,
and it's a pleasure to see this unfolding in front of
us. But I have never heard anything about whether
there should be some concerns by the members of
Parliament about anything in here—that in its
development, there is anything that could be overlooked
in the human side. I mean in the sense of the members
of Parliament. I haven't heard anything about that.
Certainly the bricks and mortar have been pre-eminent,
and the architecture. But when you get into it, all of
the concerns or all of the agitation that may come with
something like this, whether you perceive it or not,
there will be some hiccup, and it will be attached to
the human dimension.
So I just wondered if you might keep that in the
forefront, if possible. It's always the one little
thing that sticks out. They say, why didn't you look
at that when you were going along with it? Well, if
we just keep in the back of our mind the human
dimension, I don't think there will be any squawking
from the MPs—as long as it is considered.
MGen G. Cloutier: Yes, Mr. Chairman, that's an
excellent point, and perhaps we can give you a couple
of ideas of how we think that way.
There's a tendency, of course, from departments,
particularly owner departments, to say, hey, you're
just the tenant in there; we have the budgets and we'll
tell you what to do. Well, we have entered into a
different era. There is a tenant. We are the tenant
and we are also a very important person that you have
to satisfy. If you look at the big picture, for
example, of whether we should expand beyond the Supreme
Court for the future, we had better look at that,
because even now some nights I have problems bringing
members of Parliament to a vote. As you all know, at
the bottom of Bank Street I have to have the RCMP to
make sure we stop the traffic to allow you to come to
vote on time.
Secondly, when we looked at the development of our
future committee rooms, we felt we needed input from
members, and I'm very thankful to the Liaison
Committee, who spent many, many hours with us—and
Lyette—to try to get a design that would meet the
requirements of all members of committees.
Perhaps Lyette.... That's a very good point.
Ms. Lyette Fortin: Yes. Just to continue on with
what the Sergeant-at-Arms has said, the fact that the
House of Commons has a knowledgeable client is
important to communicate to Public Works—the
requirements of members of Parliament. It's not an
outside department that tells the House of Commons what
they need, and that's really important. All the needs
that are identified are validated and reviewed by
members. Particularly for committee rooms, as the
Sergeant-at-Arms has mentioned, the input was really
essential, because you are the ones who work in the
space, who know how the day-to-day activities go on.
It is really critical to know all these details so that
the designs that are put into architectural vocabulary
reflect exactly the human aspect of day-to-day life.
So that's an excellent point. Thank you.
The Chair: Ms. Catterall, for five minutes.
Ms. Marlene Catterall (Ottawa West—Nepean, Lib.):
Can you give us a brief summary of what the unresolved
issues are from the point of view of the advisory
committee? In particular, what are the issues they are
and will be dealing with that affect members of
Parliament, their office space, parking—whatever
affects us in how we do our jobs? What are those
decisions that are pending, and what's the timeframe
for these decisions to be taken?
MGen G. Cloutier: I think the main one is the
occupancy of the Justice Building. As you recall, at
one stage we had told our members, after the election
of 1997, that they would be moving within a year or a
year and a half. So the whips are sort of in a spot
right now, if I may say so, because nothing has
happened since. I feel we should clarify that
situation for the members, in that we certainly expect
to be in there by the election.
The next point I think we have to clarify is
the committee work. You have members who are going to
the Promenade Building, 151 Sparks Street, doing
committee work in rooms that really are not up to it.
They are complaining, and rightly so; it's just awful
there. We've promised to have upgraded committee rooms
by the year 2000. Well, as I mentioned earlier, no
doubt there will be a delay. So the pressure should be
on now for that advisory committee to produce their
options a little bit quicker maybe, and to get on with
I find it a little bit devastating in a way that it
takes so long to get things done. You can put a hotel
up in this city in 27 months, so when I'm told that it
takes about six to seven years to put a four-storey
building up, I sort of lose my patience a little bit.
As a result of this, we find ourselves now slipping. I
have a lot of patience, because the first time the
Justice Building was mentioned at this committee, the
members' services committee, was in 1980. It took 20
years. I'm very happy that I'll see it before
You can appreciate that the other issue is parking.
Parking is always close to everybody's mind and
everybody's heart. Everybody wants parking and
everybody wants parking very close to the building
where they work. Well, we have to change our approach
on that. When you put a building up.... Obviously
we're going to have a committee building. We're going
to have an extension probably to the Confederation
Building to meet the requirements we've outlined in the
Building the Future report. We're going to move
people out of these parking spots. It's very simple:
just dig down, and put the parking under the buildings,
rather than push them up, push them up, push them up.
So now the NCC and Public Works are well aware of our
position on that. Yes, we need parking; just don't
push parking. But we don't want to see parking....
If you look at the back of this building, we had a lot
more parking than we have now. We have 40 parking
spots at the moment all around here. When you face
Parliament Hill from the front, what do you see?
You're seeing a lot of green area this way, and you see
a whole bunch of cars on the side of the Senate. It
looks like.... Parking has become a priority for the
workers. A lot of the time I go by very close to the
building and I just check the plates, and they're not
the senators; they're not senators' plates. Sometimes
they're not members' plates either. We can green the
area a little bit more but have the right location for
Now, the chairman of the NCC, Mr. Beaudry, has told me
that in his plan he has a major facility right close to
Wellington Street. So I'm looking forward to that,
where we can go in there as well. For our staff we can
relocate. So parking is always an issue.
Is there anything else?
Ms. Marlene Catterall: Access to the Hill,
allocation of space in the Centre Block.
MGen G. Cloutier: Well, the allocation of space in
the Centre Block is being reviewed again by the
council, by the advisory board. I believe we'll retain
the space the House of Commons has in the Centre Block.
We have 66% of the building.
How we will use the building in the future, and
whether it will be a legislative building more than it
is today—that decision has not been made yet.
Ms. Marlene Catterall: These are some of the
issues that I'm not even sure members of Parliament are
aware are up for discussion. I wasn't even aware of
that issue, as a member of the Board of Internal
I think the chair raised an interesting question, and
that's representation of members of Parliament on the
advisory council. Is Ms. Griffith there to
represent the House of Commons, or to represent the
members of Parliament? They're two distinct things.
MGen G. Cloutier: Good point. Not only that, as you
look at the future, that advisory council has been on
and off for two years, really. Members who will be
members of the next Parliament would perhaps be more
au fait with their requirements than someone who
has retired, who has worked in the last twenty years
here. You might want to consider that. You might want
to consider at least discussing that.
Ms. Marlene Catterall: Does the Senate have
representation in addition to the senators having
MGen G. Cloutier: No.
Ms. Marlene Catterall: So Senator Carstairs
represents the institution as well as the senators.
MGen G. Cloutier: That's right.
Ms. Marlene Catterall: Thank you.
The Chair: Okay. Are there any further comments
or questions from members?
Seeing that there are no further questions, I want to
thank very much our Sergeant-at-Arms, Major-General
Cloutier, and Madame Fortin for a very good
presentation. We've at least touched on a number of
the issues. Your testimony and presentation has been
very helpful to members.
Did you wish to say something?
MGen G. Cloutier: Yes, just one more point, Mr.
Once we have the options from the advisory council,
you might want to think about getting a briefing so
that you'll see at least what is the long-range plan
for Parliament Hill. Right now we've talking very....
We say we need a new committee building, but the
options will crystallize in the next six months. So
you might want to hear from us, or the advisory
council, or whatever.
The Chair: I'm sure we will, and thank you for your
advice on that.
Colleagues, I just want to bring to your attention the
possibility that we may need to call a quick and
special meeting of the committee tomorrow for the
purpose of adopting the committee memberships
throughout the House of Commons. It's only by doing
this that we'd be able to adopt and table within the
timelines in the Standing Orders and to allow a couple
of committees our colleagues sit on to get up and
running by the end of the week. So please note for
your own agenda and your staff's that a meeting notice
could drift in. And if it were to occur, it would be
only for the purpose of confirming committee
memberships. That would essentially be a five-minute
meeting. Okay? Even if it isn't okay, that's always a
Seeing no further business, we'll adjourn, either to
the quick Wednesday meeting or to Thursday. We're