Yes, Mr. Chairman. I do thank the minister for this opportunity to question him. I quite enjoy this kind of give and take. I think this committee of the whole is a very useful provision. People watching on television and going through the Hansard proceedings will see that there is a lot of value in the give and take between the minister and opposition members.
I want to reiterate a problem we have. The Quebec chiefs of police asked for legislation like this back in 1994. We are probably five days away from an election call and now, because we want to be good folks here on this side, we find that we have to pass the bill in a day because if we do not the bill will not become law before the election. That is unfortunate because it taints an otherwise honest attempt by the minister to address a serious problem. It also taints it with that feeling like this is another one of those photo ops in the last week before the election, which is too bad.
However, I take the minister at his word that this has been in the works for a long time. It is just too bad that we are forced to deal with it at the 11th hour. I believe it is going to throw out a lot of questions and comments on this bill that were unnecessary. I have all kinds of newspaper articles that state that politics are coming before good legislation. I am sure the minister does not need that on his resume. It is unfortunate that it has happened.
To continue on that same line, I remind the minister that 10 days ago some amendments on sentencing provisions of Bill C-41 and Bill C-45 had to be brought in. Things slip through when we are in a hurry. Again we agreed to do that in a hurry to allow the minister to correct some imperfections in the bills. Even Bill C-68-about which we consistently chastised the minister-the first set of regulations that came down were all withdrawn and reintroduced.
All those are signs of things done in haste. I hope the minister is right that this bill will stand the constitutional challenge and will do what he wants it to do. But things done in haste this close to an election run the risk of not being done properly.
This is not a huge and long bill but it amends many sections of the Criminal Code. Some received the bill Friday or even this morning. We had people who worked on the weekend. Many of us tried to find out exactly what the bill would mean with consequential amendments and all that stuff. It was very difficult to do.
I have a couple of questions for the minister about this. Am I right that in the first part of the definition of criminal organization where it consists of any body consisting of five or more persons that persons refers to anybody older than 12 years of age? Is that what I heard the minister say?