Madam Speaker, I support the essence and spirit behind Bill S-11, an amendment to the Canadian Human Rights Act to add social condition as a protected ground under the act.
I believe that the drafters of Bill S-11 intended it to provide protection to the poor, to prohibit discrimination based on economic discrimination. That is laudable and should be supported by members. How could we do otherwise?
My concern is not with the object and aim of Bill S-11, but rather with an overly broad and confusing nature of the exact wording. Simply using an open-ended term such as “social condition” I believe will add confusion to the act that will result in an endless sea of litigation.
Imagine the hay day the lawyers would have with this kind of wording. Maybe there are too many lawyers in the Senate. I will give an example in terms of the remarks made by the hon. member of the Conservative party. He talked about this government waiting and studying. That is not the case at all. Where has he been since 1993? Look at the budgets and look at what we have done in those budgets for training, education and other things in trying to grapple with these problems.
The hon. member mentioned the Minister of Justice and the child pornography issue. We believe in due process on this side. We do not believe in using the notwithstanding clause every time a judge makes a ridiculous decision.
Then the member talked about the minister of agriculture and the farm crisis. It is a little off topic, but I think I should correct him. The point I am trying to make is that the broad term of social condition could be given all kinds of different interpretations.
I think the House can see from my explanation how wrong the member opposite is in terms of how he views some of the things this government is doing.
The minister of agriculture acted very quickly prior to Christmas. In fact, one of the problems that the minister of agriculture has is getting the Progressive Conservative government on side in Manitoba to pick up its share of the funding so that those cheques can get to the farm community.