Pre­serv­ing or­der in the House

The Glengarry News - - News - BY SCOTT CARMICHAEL News Staff

Pat McDonell, a re­tired 30-year vet­eran of the Royal Cana­dian Mounted Po­lice who’d risen to the rank of as­sis­tant com­mis­sioner of the Moun­ties by the time of his re­tire­ment in De­cem­ber 2010, was named act­ing Sergeant-at-Arms of the Cana­dian House of Com­mons re­cently.

The Ottawa na­tive – and brother of former Stor­mont, Dun­das and Glen­garry On­tario Pro­vin­cial Po­lice de­tach­ment com­man­der and fel­low high-rank­ing RCMP of­fi­cer Mike McDonell – has a strong Glen­garry con­nec­tion.

His par­ents, Fran­cis and Kay McDonell, live in Loch Garry, and he has a num­ber of aunts and un­cles in the Loch Garry/Green­field area.

Mr. McDonell re­places former Sergeant-at-Arms Kevin Vick­ers, who was ap­pointed Cana­dian Am­bas­sador to Ire­land in Jan­uary.

The News re­cently con­ducted an in­ter­view, via email, with Mr. McDonell.

The re­sults of that in­ter­view, in a ques­tion and an­swer/Q & A for­mat, fol­low:

Q: Is this a tem­po­rary/in­terim or per­ma­nent post­ing?

A: My cur­rent po­si­tion is Deputy Sergeant- at- Arms and Di­rec­tor Gen­eral, House of Com­mons Pro­tec­tive Ser­vice. I have been in this po­si­tion since Au­gust 2014 on an in­de­ter­mi­nate (per­ma­nent) ba­sis.

The po­si­tion of Sergeant-at-Arms is a Gov­er­nor- in-Coun­cil (GIC) ap­point­ment and that po­si­tion is cur­rently va­cant.

That said, in the in­terim I have as­sumed the cer­e­mo­nial role of the Sergeant-at-Arms. I share the re­spon­si­bil­ity for se­cu­rity in the Par­lia­men­tary Precinct with my peers from the Se­nate and the RCMP.

Q: What does this pro­mo­tion and ti­tle mean to you?

A: I am very proud to be lead­ing the House of Com­mons Pro­tec­tive Ser­vice in this pe­riod of great change. We have a highly skilled team that is ded­i­cated to keep­ing Par­lia­men­tar­i­ans, em­ploy­ees and vis­i­tors safe and se­cure.

Prior to join­ing the House of Com­mons, I was Di­rec­tor of the Se­nate Pro­tec­tive Ser­vice. I have noth­ing but great things to say about that team as well.

I am also very hon­oured to be per­form­ing some of the Sergean­tat- Arms’ cer­e­mo­nial du­ties, in­clud­ing lead­ing the Speaker’s Pa­rade.

Q: I know you were on duty dur­ing the shoot­ing in­ci­dent on the Hill last fall. How would you de­scribe that ex­pe­ri­ence?

A: The best way to de­scribe the in­ci­dent is sur­real. While I have been in a lot of dif­fi­cult sit­u­a­tions in my nearly 30 years with the RCMP, it is very dif­fer­ent to be tasked with pro­tect­ing your friends and col­leagues. These are peo­ple that I talk to ev­ery day. Fur­ther­more, it was the first time in our his­tory that Par­lia­ment un­der­went such an at­tack.

That said, I knew that the Pro­tec­tive Ser­vice per­son­nel were well-pre­pared for such an in­ci­dent and that we were in good hands.

Q: How long were you Deputy Sergeant-at-Arms and how did you at­tain that po­si­tion?

A: I still hold the ti­tle of Deputy Sergeant-at-Arms and Di­rec­tor Gen­eral, Pro­tec­tive Ser­vices, and achieved it through a com­pet­i­tive re­cruit­ment process.

Q: What are the du­ties of the Sergeant-at-Arms?

A: The Sergeant-at-Arms per­forms many cer­e­mo­nial and ad­min­is­tra­tive du­ties.

Bear­ing the mace, the Sergean­tat-Arms pre­cedes the Speaker as he or she en­ters and leaves the Cham­ber each day.

The Sergeant-at-Arms oc­cu­pies a desk at the Bar of the House when the House is sit­ting, and in ac­cor­dance with the Stand­ing Or­ders, the Sergeant-at-Arms is also re­spon­si­ble for pre­serv­ing or­der in the gal­leries, lob­bies and cor­ri­dors of the House.

Q: In con­clu­sion, if you don't mind me ask­ing, how old are you? A: I am young at heart.

*** Mr. McDonell is not the only per­son with Glen­garry ties to hold the ti­tle of House of Com­mons Sergeant-at-Arms.

Since Con­fed­er­a­tion in 1867, there have been 11 sergeants-atarms – in­clud­ing Mr. McDonell and Au­drey El­iz­a­beth O’Brien (2005/2006), both of whom have held the ti­tle on an act­ing/in­terim ba­sis.

The first Sergeant- at- Arms, Don­ald Wil­liam MacDonell ( 1867- 1892), was a Corn­wall na­tive who served as lieu­tenant­colonel (com­mand­ing of­fi­cer) of the 4th Bat­tal­ion of the Stor­mont Mili­tia – a pre­de­ces­sor unit of to­day’s Stor­mont, Dun­das and Glen­garry High­landers.

Wil­liam John Franklin, who held the ti­tle from 1945 to 1960, was born in Pendle­ton, but moved with his par­ents to the Lag­gan area when he was a young boy.

A soldier with the Cana­dian Army in the First World War, he later com­manded the Glen­garry com­pany of the 154th SDG High­landers, and was named com­mand­ing of­fi­cer of the High­landers in 1932.

He was ap­pointed House of Com­mons Sergeant-at-Arms in the sum­mer of 1945, with Prime Min­is­ter Macken­zie King – also the by-elec­tion vic­tor for the Glen­garry rid­ing – mak­ing the an­nounce­ment dur­ing the Glen­garry Lib­eral As­so­ci­a­tion’s an­nual meet­ing at Alexan­der Hall in Alexan­dria on Au­gust 24. Mr. Franklin died in Oc­to­ber, 1976 at the age of 83.

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