Honourable colleagues, I do intend to be brief on this issue, given the fact that I’ve always assumed that there was some consensus on this motion, which has clear objectives to do nothing other than to reinforce the independence of this institution.
The spirit of independence is the basis in which this motion was tabled both by myself and Senator Saint-Germain.
There is nothing more important, of course, than the role of the Clerk of the Senate and Clerk of the Parliaments in this institution, a position that serves in supporting the Speaker in his work in the Speaker’s office and supporting leadership in all caucuses and all senators in our work here. The role of the Clerk of the Senate and Clerk of the Parliaments is a role where he is at the service of this institution, an institution that is part and parcel of our parliamentary system. We all recognize that, traditionally, it has been the Privy Council and the Prime Minister’s Office that has appointed the Clerk of the Senate and Clerk of the Parliaments, but it doesn’t necessarily make it right.
We have, over the last few years, evolved and tried to work very hard in making the place transparent and accountable, and I believe this motion, if it does anything, it basically serves to give an added value to the actual role itself and to have the Clerk of the Senate and the Clerk of the Parliaments appreciate his independence rather than be beholden by the person by whom he had to be interviewed and signed off on.
Now, the Government Leader, of course, after the remarks of the chair of Internal Economy, asked a question with regard to the legality of this initiative and asked him a question in terms of what this chamber has done to see if it meets legal standards. At the end of the day, this is a chamber of Parliament. We make laws in this country. We make legislation in this country. It’s not the executive branch that dictates to this chamber laws and legislation.
Furthermore, I also want to correct and point out to the Government Leader that the Clerk of the Senate is the Clerk of the Senate, and he has the title the Clerk of the Parliaments, but he doesn’t have any administrative role with the House of Commons. Of course, the term, Senator Harder, Clerk of the Parliaments, implies the duration of the Parliament because, of course, this is the upper chamber that opens a new Parliament and closes an old Parliament. That’s why he has that title. In no way, shape or form does the Clerk of the Senate in any way infringe upon the responsibilities of the Clerk of the House of Commons in an administrative fashion.
I believe that this is the sage thing for us to do. We’re going to have a vetting process in place approved by Internal Economy, taking into consideration, of course, the role of the Speaker and having his involvement in the process.
For me, we’re not so preoccupied by the process itself. It’s more the symbolism, which I think will help to give complete independence without any inkling of a doubt to the position and role.
And Government Leader, with all due respect, if the Prime Minister of Canada can accept advice from independent vetting bodies to name senators, he can certainly take the advice of the upper chamber of Parliament when it comes to recommending names for a role that serves exclusively this Parliament. In no shape, way or form is the Clerk of the Senate an instrument of the executive branch.
For all those reasons, I think it’s only one small step towards a continued process of independence. I also want to point out to the Government Leader that we’re in no hurry to get this done. We’ve gone through the process and it seems like the process might take a few months longer. By the end of the day, it might not even be a problem for your government to deal with. It’s probably to be a problem for a future government to deal with. I can tell you, Senator Harder, the position I have vis-à-vis the important independence of this role today in opposition is the same position I held when I served another role in a previous government, and it will be the same position that I will keep and maintain when a new government is sworn in in the fall.
I really don’t have much more to add than that. I hope that this chamber will unanimously support this motion. I think it makes a lot of sense. And we can continue to go forward. Thank you.