Thank you very much, Chair.
You know, I wish the parliamentary secretary would raise those same points when people from her side are speaking.
At any rate, I will go on to say that I do know members of the Muslim community who are working very hard. They are looking to the government for support and they are very, very concerned that there is very little in this piece of legislation that would actually address the serious issues of raising children and the kind of challenges they face, especially if they are being attracted into something that is violent and not good.
But let's get back to the number of days. What we're looking at here with the subamendment is eight sessions of two hours. That's 16 hours. During those 16 hours, we're going to hear from 48 witnesses. I just want us to take a moment to reflect on that and how little time that will give the opposition and people on the other side to actually ask informed questions but also to hear the testimony that we need to hear.
This bill is creating a lot of concern right across this country. It's not just the NDP. I know sometimes people across the way seem to think we are the only ones who are objecting to the timelines here, but we are hearing from people from coast to coast to coast that they want to see more debate. So I'm left with some questions here. Why is it that the government wants to rush this legislation through at breakneck speed? What is it they want to hide? What is it they don't want people or the opposition and expert witnesses to shine the light on?
Surely, like us on this side, they must want to have good legislation that goes through the next stage to ensure that we don't end up in litigation that could end up costing hundreds and thousands of tax dollars. I mean, come on; this government has a history of passing legislation that ends up in the courts. Then the poor taxpayers end up having to defend that. If only we could take the time to come up with good legislation, that is, go through the rigorous process, listen to the input, take a look at what is being said, and maybe even adopt a few of the amendments that might improve the legislation, that might not be a bad thing.
We realize that the Conservatives have a majority. They will get their own way on this bill. Whether they accept one of our amendments, or amendments from the other party, that is totally in their realm. What really puzzles me is not only are they going to get their way but they don't actually want us to have our say. That just doesn't seem right. Surely—surely—they have nothing to lose.
I would say that they have a huge signal they could send to the Canadian public: “We can work together. Yes, we're worried about this bill and its contents, and we want to reassure you that it's what we say it is, so let's hear from all the experts.” They have all the tools in their hands to get their own way at the end. Why, then, would you use a baseball bat to shut down the debate over and over again unless you really do have something to hide?
If I could see an imperative to pass a piece of legislation, i.e., we have to get it through tomorrow because we don't have anything right now, then I would say, yes, let's take a look at expediting it. But even in Halifax, when the police heard about a threat, they could do an intervention. They could intervene even now if they heard that somebody was thinking of doing something. They have those powers right now.
These additional powers, because they are so overreaching and because they do impact our civil liberties, really do deserve a thoughtful process, one that isn't being expedited or truncated and one where debate is not being shut down.
I look at the number of organizations—and these organizations, by the way, don't represent small numbers in membership. They are huge: Amnesty International, BC Civil Liberties—