Mr. Speaker, like my colleagues from other parties, I will be keeping my remarks on these amendments quite brief. I rise on behalf of the coalition to add some thoughts on this issue.
As others have said, there is more than just a touch of irony that the unelected other place was successful in getting these two substantive amendments to Bill C-24, despite the best efforts of opposition members, especially at the justice committee, to get similar amendments through in the House of Commons. Unfortunately that speaks volumes to the attitude of the government in its approach to legislation, specifically its approach to the consideration of amendments to its legislation.
Unfortunately something very similar transpired with Bill C-36 more recently, despite assurances from the government, the Prime Minister and the Minister of Justice that adequate consideration, and a common sense approach, would be given to representations from individuals, groups, opposition MPs and its own backbenchers. Once again we saw a flawed process brought to a very speedy close with the use of time allocation.
I would like to congratulate the Senate for bringing forward these two amendments to Bill C-24, the organized crime legislation. I refer specifically to the one increasing independent review or civilian oversight. That is especially appropriate, but not only for this legislation.
Similar concerns were put forward not only by opposition members of parliament, but by groups concerned about the rights and privileges of individual Canadians and the risk of abuse by police forces in how they would implement the new powers contained in Bill C-36. Very serious efforts were put forward by a number of organizations, including the PC/DR, to have an independent oversight agency or individual hold the police and law enforcement agencies that would have the new powers, such as CSIS, accountable rather than individuals going to court to hold the government and law enforcement agencies accountable, if they felt their powers were being abused.
That is an important amendment to Bill C-24 made by the other place. Hopefully, something similar will be included in Bill C-36. The same concerns are being expressed about Bill C-42, which we are just now beginning to debate.
The fact that the system had to ultimately rely upon the Senate to bring forward amendments successfully points to a serious flaw, as other members from other parties have said, at the committee level and in the House of Commons. We do not have a system of free votes. I would argue very strenuously that if we had that, much better legislation would be passed in this place. That legislation would then go to the Senate and it might not be required to make amendments that should have made here originally.
Hopefully it is something the government will consider in the future. It is hoped the government will free up its members to vote more independently, especially when dealing with something as common sense as amendments being put forward to legislation at the committee stage. It could ultimately have the effect of parliament being more democratic and also of the House of Commons operating much more efficiently and effectively.
Legislation would come back from committee properly amended. I suspect there would be fewer amendments put forward at report stage on the floor of the Chamber. In many cases that is one of the few tools the opposition members have to draw public attention through the television cameras to what they feel is flawed legislation. They bring their amendments forward at report stage in the Chamber.
Obviously the legislation, as has been said before, is targeted at organized crime, specifically at some of the horrific activities of biker gangs, especially in the province of Quebec. We are all aware of those activities. We do not need to rehash those ongoing issues. We want to ensure that our law enforcement agencies have the necessary resources, powers and the tools to combat organized crime wherever it occurs.
On that one specific issue, concern has been expressed by the coalition and by other parties about the financial resources available to our law enforcement agencies. In the eight year history of my involvement as a member of parliament I have spoken many times about the need to ensure adequate resources for the RCMP.
As the previous speaker for the Canadian Alliance alluded to, the legislation once it goes into effect can easily involve substantial expenditures by our police forces. That obviously would be at the local or city police level, provincial police forces or the RCMP, or presumably even an agency such as CSIS, in combating organized crime. It is much similar to the need for all those same agencies to wage the successful war against terrorism.
We want to ensure that we provide the tools that these agencies and law enforcement organizations require to do the job, to go head to head with organized crime and terrorists. We want to ensure that they have the adequate financial resources as well.
It is little help to them if we only say that we will make the necessary legislative changes to ensure that they have the power to do their jobs effectively and hold those individuals to account, whether those individuals are in organized crime, or undertake terrorist activities, or encourage others to undertake terrorist activities. It is simply not enough to give them the necessary legislative tools without giving them the financial resources.
Obviously all of us in this place and all Canadians will be watching with great interest the presentation of the finance minister's budget on Monday. We will be watching to see what financial resources will go hand in hand with the legislative tools to ensure that our law enforcement agencies have the resources and funds necessary to take on organized crime and terrorists wherever they may be lurking and hiding and conducting their filthy business in our country.