Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to speak to Bill C-13.
I will put my speech aside, because I want to respond to the accusations just made by the member opposite. I am actually the chair of the justice committee, and as chair, part of my responsibility is to make sure that everyone gets a fair opportunity to be heard. I think members of the committee work very well together, to be perfectly honest.
The way it has worked and will continue to work at committee is that each party is able to submit the names of witnesses they would like to hear from. Based on the numbers we get, we ask members to prioritize who they would like to hear from, because time may run out.
If I recall correctly, there was no set time for this particular bill. If the committee did not hear from certain segments, it was because those witnesses were not recommended or brought forward. The committee did not call those witnesses not because the government was trying to do something inappropriate but because the witnesses were not asked for. The government cannot be blamed for not calling witnesses who were not asked for.
Conservatives had an opportunity to ask for witnesses. New Democrats asked for witnesses and the Liberals asked for witnesses. I take some offence that the member said this was not done appropriately. It was absolutely done appropriately. It was done in this committee in dealing with Bill C-13 and is done for all other legislation that comes to the committee.
I think the committee is operating well, and everyone has an opportunity to have their say. If parties, including my own, want to hear from witnesses, they can put them on the list. There will be a discussion as to how many meetings there will be on it, and then we will hear from those witnesses. That is how it has worked and will continue to work as long as I am in the chair. We will see if that continues.
I also want to respond to the issue of splitting this omnibus bill. I have the bill in front of me. It is in French and English, as all bills are. It is 53 pages long, plus 12 pages of explanatory notes. It is not a very big bill. If members can read it in both languages, that is great, but let us assume that most read in one language or the other. That would make it about 25 or 26 pages long. It did not need to be split, in my view. I think there is lots of opportunity to talk about all the issues. It is not a very difficult bill to grasp. I think someone could read it in a few hours.
There are a number of issues in the bill, but the process at committee did not limit members to talking about just certain parts of the bill. Members could have brought forward witnesses and we could have had a discussion, which we did, on all parts of that bill. I have to take some offence on the issue of what happened.
As we know, as the minister and the previous speaker on this side have pointed out, the bill would do a number of things, but in general, it would create a new offence for the distribution of non-consensual pictures on the Internet.
I did not know how big a problem it was, to be perfectly honest. I had not really experienced it in my office or had anyone come to see me. I took the opportunity to ask my daughters, who just graduated and are in university now. They were able to illustrate to me a number of actual cases, in their own high school, of young women who had had photos taken of them that were then posted on different people's sites as revenge or cyberbullying. This was a surprise to me.
That does not make the news. What makes the news is when it goes too far and the bullying is so egregious that someone, unfortunately, takes his or her life. Then it makes big news. This is a problem that is happening every day in every community across this country, so we needed to act.
There was mention of the previous legislation that was brought forward in Bill C-30, and appropriately so. The government recognized that there were some issues that needed to be dealt with, so we brought it back, took it off the table, and redid the bill.
We made changes based on the public and the response in this House in terms of the changes that needed to be made. I believe that those were made. Do we get credit as a government for making those changes? No, and the previous speaker criticized us, saying that we did not do it right in the first place.
I am sure that opposition members believe that they are perfect, and maybe even some of us think we are perfect on this side, but let us be honest. We had a bill in front of us, we recognized that there were some issues, we took it back, and we made changes and improvements. We addressed those problems and brought something back that we could all pass.
I am not sure what the NDP are doing. I heard from the last speaker that the Liberals are supporting the bill going forward, and I appreciate that.
I do not think as a government that we should be criticized for hearing the concerns and then making changes. I will agree that there were a number of amendments put forward, 30-some amendments, and one, on a review period, did pass, which I personally supported. I do not vote on the committee as the chair, but I do support that.
As we all know, it takes some time for legislation, especially with the Criminal Code, to get through the system, get in place, and get tested in practice. I think it will take some time before this piece of legislation is tested, and that length of time for the review is appropriate.
The other issue we heard a lot about was that the bill would give the police a lot more power than they already have. I think the issue on Bill C-30 was that it looked like the police could do things without a warrant. Well, this bill would clearly resolve that issue, in my view.
Bill C-13 clearly indicates that for preservation orders and for the police to be able to do their jobs in terms of attacking the problem of cyberbullying in particular cases, they need judicial support to move forward.
I think it is important to give the police those tools. In this electronic environment of the Internet, things move so fast, on or off, we need to be able to do that.
We experience that around here all the time. If a member of Parliament makes a mistake or does something on the Internet, and somebody catches it, a few hours later, if not less, it is gone. We have all experienced that in this House with members of Parliament doing things on electronic systems.
When it is a criminal activity, we need to have the police able to go after it quickly. We need to give them those tools to make that happen. I am very supportive of the opportunity for the police to be able to do their work.
We have been asked as a government to do something about the cyberbullying problem. This is not an easy area to legislate. We cannot legislate cyberbullying to stop. It is not that easy. I appreciate that we have looked at opportunities and issues in terms of addressing cyberbullying through our legal system, which is what this bill would do.
Bill C-13 would give the police better tools to track and trace telecommunications. It would streamline the process of obtaining multiple warrants so that the police could execute their jobs.
The witnesses we saw whose families were affected by cyberbullying were fully supportive of what we were doing. I want every member of this House to think about that. If it was their son or daughter whose photo was online and who was being bullied, would they want the police to be able to act to resolve the issue and have a penalty for cyberbullying? I believe the answer is yes, and it is yes for the vast majority of Canadians. That is why we need to support Bill C-13.