I'm obviously going to be the bearer of bad news. I think it is a bad idea to expand the scope on a private member's bill coming from the Senate, and I'll explain why.
There are a bunch of reasons each one of us should be worried about this. You open a door for any private member's bill, by any member, that reaches a committee to have this done to it, even after that member testified and expressly asked that the bill not have its scope amended.
That member of the Senate, Senator Yonah Martin, was very reasonable. She said, if there are language tweaks that need to be done and changes that need to be done for her intent to be captured, which is this two years of lost Canadians, to have their particular issue fixed, that was part of the deal she reached with her Senate colleagues in order to expedite the bill through the Senate and to the House of Commons. This bill did not receive another round of reviews at the Senate. It was expedited to the House of Commons, thanks to the understanding that it was tight in scope and had been already reviewed by the Senate in a previous Parliament. Therefore, when it got here, it got to us without the Senate having looked at it again.
Regarding the intent and scope of the bill, that member, before this committee, said repeatedly under questioning that she wanted it kept to her original intent and for the scope not to be expanded. The warning to all of us, and to all of you here, is that this could happen to any of you. Any of you who are so fortunate to have a private member's bill pass at second reading and come before a committee could have members come here and either deconstruct or vandalize your private member's bill with other things that were not your original intent.
I'm an originalist. I would like to keep the intent of the person, even if I disagree with their purpose. I have seen private members' bills before committees from Liberal members, from the Bloc and from the NDP that I disagreed with, and at no point did I ever think it was wise to go into a bill and insert things that a member expressly told me they did not want to see inside it. That's just, I think, good parliamentarianism. I want to be respectful of my colleagues, even those in other political parties and senators, whom I don't often talk to in that other place. The intent in their bill, once it passes to a certain stage of legislation, I want to keep it intact and have a straight up or down vote on the original intent and scope of the bill.
What's going to happen here is that, if you vote for this, it may happen to some of your private members' bills or Senate bills from your side of the House or from an affiliation with a Senate group that you feel particularly strong about. It might be me who comes to a future committee to sub in and be the one who leads that type of—I'm going to call it—vandalism of the original legislative intent of a legislator.
For those of you who have been here for quite a long time and who are sometimes nodding with me in agreement, you have seen this happen. I do not like it when it happens, because I think it is a bad idea. We have an opportunity here to pass this piece of legislation before a potential election in a minority Parliament where we don't know what will happen.
This type of scope expansion on a private Senate bill is going to leave the senators reviewing it at a committee. They're going to do it. They're going to see whether the original intent was kept or not. If they do a single amendment, they're going to send it back to the House and ping-pong it between our two chambers. It's very likely that those lost Canadians, whom Senator Yonah Martin wanted to help with a straightforward, very precise, focused bill, won't be helped. Then we'll be back to the starting point once again after another Parliament, and who knows what that parliamentary makeup may be.
The government, if it wanted to today, could table a piece of legislation and address whatever concerns there are. Members of the recognized New Democratic Party and members of the Bloc could do the same thing as well. They could propose a piece of legislation and come to parliamentarians, and we could see whether an agreement could be reached to expedite the bill and to have it go through a different process. All of those things could be done.
I'm just warning you: Expansions of the scope of a bill are a bad idea, especially when they're done expressly against the intent of the senator, who came before this committee, and the House of Commons sponsor did as well, and said expressly that it was not the purpose of the bill.
I don't know what types of expansions are being considered beyond the scope. I know there's been some debate over what those could be. However, members are free to table-drop amendments that are not submitted through the clerk for consideration, but there could be other ones that could be table-dropped once you expand the scope of the bill.
I'm warning you that I think it is a bad idea. I also think it is interesting that I wasn't given a heads-up ahead of time with ample time to consider whether this was a wise thing to do and to reach out to our caucus members who have an interest in the contents of the bill on whether it should be done. I have, from the beginning, been very clear and very direct. I don't like scope expansions. I try not to play games. I really try to limit those as best I possibly can. I am not perfect. Nothing is perfect in this world, but I think you had perfection in the way this bill was presented to you.
Many of the amendments that were submitted to the clerk—I can't mention them until we are considering them—we are absolutely willing to support because they keep the original intent of the mover. Therefore, we support them. That's the principle I'm applying here.
If you vandalize this bill, I will show up to other committees of your colleagues' bills and I will personally deliver the same type of treatment you're about to mete out to Senator Yonah Martin, who has been nothing but willing to work with stakeholders, with people and with all of us—government side and members of the other opposition parties as well.
I think you'll agree with me that Senator Yonah Martin is not a very partisan member of the Senate. She takes her work on behalf of constituents in British Columbia very seriously. She takes her work seriously as a legislator, and I hope we would honour her by not expanding the scope of the bill beyond her original intent.