Madam Speaker, I commend your wisdom of that point. If the hon. government whip who has just joined us would unplug her ears and plug in her earpiece, she would know very clearly that this is extremely relevant and important, and I invite her to listen to my remarks.
What the opposition, and I suggest many in her own government, would like to see happen is for the minister to simply divide up the omnibus bill and remove two rather controversial elements of the legislation. They would be returned in stand alone form and would advance, if she would agree to this, and improve in their standing and speed in which they would pass in the fall. By doing this, it would allow Canadians to have the benefit of this new legislation which would attach specifically to Internet stalking and pornography being sent around the country in this new way. This very nefarious practice could be addressed by bringing in this type of legislation now.
Why would we hesitate? That is the question that we are left to ponder. Why would the Minister of Justice refuse the opportunity to bring forward this very positive legislation supported by the opposition and by her own government? It seems she simply is doing this out of some defiance or stubbornness because it was an idea that originated on the other side of the House.
This is a practice that unfortunately we see far too often. Ideas somehow on this side of the House are lesser ideas or are ideas that somehow should not be given the same credence; the same way the Prime Minister would have Canadians accept that if members of this side of the House in the opposition do not get down on their knees, kiss his ring, ask for contrition and ask that we be given a pay raise, we do not get it.
This perpetrates again this idea that we have two separate classes of members of parliament. We have those who bow down and support the Prime Minister in his every effort and those who do not for some reason. They try to fulfil their role in opposition legitimately by questioning his ideas and vision, if there is one. This is the type of attitude.
We can talk endlessly about ways to modernize parliament. We can talk about procedural change and the way to empower members of the opposition and backbench Liberals. Yet it is this palace guard, pinnacle top-down approach, which we have seen from the Prime Minister in particular, that squashes that. It absolutely goes against any type of individual thought. It is meant entirely to put down anyone that might have an original idea.
If parliament is supposed to improve its lot, if we are to somehow improve the way in which Canadians view the legitimacy and the relevance of the Chamber, that has to change. Unfortunately, we can do everything in our power to try to change procedurally the way that the House works, but as long as this attitude exists, as long as there is this Prime Minister in place, as long as the PMO is going to view any sort of legitimate dissent or questioning of this unfettered power that has now accrued in the PMO, we are not going to see an improvement of this place. We are not going to see members of parliament encouraged to step forward into the breach on occasion against the power and the winds of change.
This is yet another example. We have a very clear, common sense opportunity to bring forward a piece of legislation that would protect children. It would increase the ability of our justice system to deal with individuals who act violently toward police. It would increase the ability of our justice system to respond appropriately and proportionately to those who engage in the very disturbing practice of harassment, of targeting a person and terrorizing his or her life.
The practice of criminal harassment, colloquially known as stalking, is something that has, for reasons that defy logic, taken on a whole new meaning. Quite frequently we see individuals, usually women, subjected to this very disturbing approach that destabilizes a people's lives. It injects itself into their stability or the way in which they can carry on their normal practices.
Again, this is important legislation. This is the type of bill that should be brought forward with great haste. What is the deterrent? What is blocking our ability to do that? It is the Minister of Justice who has the power and is embodied with the responsibility to protect Canadians in the first instance and to take every opportunity to bring forward this type of legislation.
I commend her for bringing it this far, but we are at the goal line. We are just about to bring the legislation forward through the House, on through the other place, into practice and into being law. Yet the minister, defying all logic, defying all reasonable approach by the opposition, and I suggest by lobbying within her own ranks, is refusing to do so, and is refusing to even answer why.
When questions were posed to her in the House of Commons, she pointed the finger in her academic, professorial way and accusatorially told the opposition that it was playing politics. We are playing politics because we want to support a government bill? That is playing politics? We are trying to bring it in so that it will be the practice to protect Canadians. That is playing politics? She is denying the opposition an opportunity to work with government simply because she feels perhaps this idea is coming from a place outside of her political world, a place outside the government's world, because only good ideas come from the government benches. That is inevitably what we are left to ponder. Why can the opposition not originate a good idea? It can, and I think most Canadians recognize that.
The minister of justice has a lot to answer. She seems, for reasons known only to her, to have dug in and said the government will not bring the bill forward. It will not allow Canadians to have this protective, positive legislation in place before the recess, because it has bigger priorities. It has to get pay raises through. It has to somehow improve its own lot and not that of those who would be affected by this type of criminal activity.
This report speaks volumes. This report came about as a result of the same type of action and pattern of arrogance that Canadians sadly have come to expect and have borne witness to during this government's administration. We saw the minister brought before a committee because of this type of action before, yet it does not seem to have had the desired effect. It does not seem to have made any kind of an imprint on the minister's mind as to why she should perhaps listen on occasion to the opposition and why she might somehow open her eyes to the fact that the opposition is not always out for blood. It is not always out to try in a partisan way to embarrass the government. There are occasions where we simply want to try to support the government. This is just one of those occasions.
This is a bill that very clearly would improve the criminal justice system in the country. All it takes is a little compromise. All it takes is the minister's recognition that to give a little she would get a lot. She would get the support of this party, and I am sure other parties in the House, to bring forward Bill C-15 in a new, revamped way that would attach to these provisions and remove some of the controversial provisions.
As I said before, those issues that deal with firearms and cruelty to animals would return in the fall in a stand alone form, advancing from where they currently sit on the order paper. They would move in a more rapid pace when we return in the fall.
It seems so logical, so common sense, yet the minister has chosen to simply ignore this request, which was first brought forward through the government House leader. She was approached in a number of ways and in a number of forms. I know the member for Provencher wrote to her with a very similar straightforward request and was flatly turned down with no reasons given. That is not accountability and that is not good enough.
The Minister of Justice has something to answer to here. Because of this report, there should be a bit of a sword of Damocles hanging over her head. She has exhibited this type of strident attitude before, ignoring the pleas of the opposition and ignoring the wishes of Canadians who predominantly would support any efforts to bring in legislation that would protect them, their children, their homes and their law enforcement community.
This is the reason behind bringing this matter forward. We in the opposition have on occasion limited opportunity to ask the questions and bring forward legitimate issues. The government sets the agenda to a large extent, particularly the legislative agenda and the priorities.
Again we are left to wonder why is it that we would rush headlong into a bill that enhances our pay and our pensions? Why is that the priority before we go home? Why, in the remaining days of parliament, will members of the House and members of the Senate be dealing with that? Surely it is not consistent with what Canadians expect? Surely this is not where we should be focusing our efforts in the remaining time that we have in the Parliament of Canada. If we have an opportunity of choice between taking a pay raise or helping children, surely the answer is obvious. Why the minister of justice cannot see that and embrace that is beyond comprehension.
I commend the Minister of Justice for coming before the committee and making proper apologies. She admitted there was something wrong. She was prepared to make changes to ensure that this type of practice would not occur again. Yet at the very first instance, when an occasion arose where the minister could show a little understanding and willingness to compromise and work with the opposition not against it on behalf of Canadians on a very legitimate issue, her bill, she did not.
This is not something that originates from the opposition side. We simply are saying to the minister “Let us pass the bill. Let us get this legislation through quickly”. We want to work with her and support the legislation because it is such a positive initiative.
However, no, it does not seem like that will happen, and why? We have not heard from the minister yet. I guess the response is just because, much like the Prime Minister, because the government can. Why do animals do certain things to themselves? Because they can. As vulgar as that may sound that appears to be the response we get. There is no response because the power is there to do so and therefore the government is prepared to exercise it.
That is what enrages opposition members. That is what offends Canadians. They see that members of the Parliament of Canada cannot work together on such positive issues as protecting children and improving the way in which our justice system works. What is more fundamental than that? What is more important than that? Surely it is not pay raises. Surely it is not the way in which we can improve our own lot in life. We are elected to come here to bring forward important pieces of legislation that would do very good things.
With that, my time has expired. We would hope that we might hear at some point from the government at least, if not the minister herself, as to why this seemingly indefensible position has been taken by the minister and her department.