Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I, too, just want to express my disappointment in the motion that's before us to terminate moving ahead with this bill. I think it's a bill that has been well thought through. I think were some amendments that would have been tendered in the event that we would have an opportunity to proceed with clause-by-clause.
It was mentioned earlier that there were no amendments suggested by any of our witnesses, and I think that's not entirely accurate. I think some of them did suggest that they had trouble with the terminology “to prove the fact”, and there's an amendment that would address that. I think there's a response to that particular testimony; there were amendments that would have made the bill stronger.
I take comfort in the fact that this bill was through the Senate already, and that the Senate did their due diligence on it. The Senate sent it along to us, and Mr. Cooper took up the cause here on the House side of government. I think the Senate did a good job. I think Mrs. Wynn's testimony was very compelling. It was very emotional, and I would agree with Ms. Khalid that emotions aren't enough to change laws. We need something more substantive than just emotional testimony to warrant changes to our Criminal Code, and I think there was much more to it. I think there was a deficiency in the existing law. Emotions, perhaps, allowed us to see the flaw more clearly and see some of the impacts of that flaw.
We didn't hear from a broad variety of witnesses about other situations where similar decisions were made that didn't result in the consequence of a homicide, of someone being murdered. I'm sure there are numerous victims who have been victimized because somebody somewhere along the line didn't produce the evidence to a justice or to a judge that would have prevented someone from being released on bail. I think the flaw in the existing legislation is the word “may”. That's primarily what this legislation seeks to change, and it has been identified here today in several different ways. It has been called a human error. It has been called a mistake.
I don't think it is a human error or a mistake because the word “may” is there. When “may” is there, people have a choice to make. They may do it, but they may choose not to. So, if they choose not to, has a mistake been made? Has there really been a human error? I would suggest not. It's a choice that has been made. If we change that word from “may” to “shall” and it doesn't happen, now there has been a mistake made. Now there has been a human error.
The testimony that we heard from different witness groups seemed to be lopsided in favour of reducing the onus that changing that terminology would place on any group of people and that could have negative consequences for themselves or people within the association they represent. However, I think it's our responsibility to victims and to potential victims to make sure that we are providing a Criminal Code, a process, that is fair to them and that is fair to the accused. I think we've heard from the previous comments here that the only time delay would be when really lengthy rap sheets are presented. That would perhaps cause a bit of a time delay, but it would be a justified time delay. I think the changes that this bill seeks to make in our Criminal Code are necessary. I think they're good, and as we heard from many of our witnesses, it's happening anyway. We're doing it anyway. To that my response would be that if we're doing it anyway, then let's just say we're going to do it. Let's say we shall do it because nobody said it wasn't a good idea to lead the evidence. Nobody said that we shouldn't do it. In fact, they almost always said that it was happening anyway.
In this case, there was a mistake made, and I get back to my point. There was no mistake made because we gave them the option when we had the word “may” in there. I think it's important to change the word to “shall”, and in essence, that's really what this bill is doing. It is changing the mandate to “shall” from “may”. If we're going to do that, and if it doesn't happen then, then a mistake is made, and there's a matter of accountability.
I think that's the part that frightens the people who said we're fearmongering here, that this would create some kind of erroneous burden on people from a time perspective and from a workload perspective. I just don't think that's a warranted criticism.
I'm disappointed. I won't support the motion. I'll vote against the motion, because I think it's a bill that has been well thought through. There are amendments coming to address the concerns inside the bill.
I would urge my Liberal colleagues and my NDP colleague to reconsider their position. I think it's a good bill. I think it's been drafted very well.