Mr. Speaker, it is a tremendous challenge to enter into a meaningful debate with the government side at the best of times, but when one's speech is interrupted by question period and the audience substantially changes it is even doubly difficult to carry on a meaningful debate.
In the remaining time I have, I will restate what I said before. Hopefully the people here will respond, think about what I have said and then vote accordingly.
The basic issue is that if the Senate brought an amendment to the House stating that sentencing for aboriginals ought to be 50% higher, those members would object. I believe every member on this side would also object because we believe in equality for Canadian citizens under the law and that there should not be a more stringent sentencing law for aboriginals based on their race.
This one is exactly the same except it is a different group. Instead of aboriginals being given a higher sentence, it is non-aboriginals being given a higher sentence. This is fundamentally wrong. As I said in my previous intervention, on all counts this is wrong.
We, as members of parliament, must exercise our right to vote against things that are wrong, and this is one of them. I have appealed before and I repeat that appeal to the members of parliament here to exercise their authority as elected members to look at this amendment and to use their own heads to decide to vote against it because it is wrong, and to go down in history as having helped prevent the Liberal Party of Canada from being named the Liberal racist party of Canada because they have given assent to a law that entrenches racism into the sentencing law for youth and specifically for aboriginal youth.
This is the plea I am making to members. In view of the fact that I cannot give my whole speech over again, I will simply reiterate that this is of utmost importance. I believe it is a false assumption to think that people in the Senate are incapable of ever making a mistake. They are ordinary humanoids like we are here. It is a false assumption to think that the government cannot ever make a mistake when it brings in legislation.
Instead of trying to solve the problem by bringing in the big mallet, time allocation, when the opposition strenuously talks against and opposes a bill or a motion, such as the one we have here, the government would be well advised to simply listen to the arguments and to do what is right. In this particular case, we need to vote against the amendment. If the bill goes back, so what.
I remember a long time ago seeing a little placard stating, “If you do not have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it again?” This is one of those cases. This is not being done right. It will take more time of the House of Commons, parliamentarians and committees to fix it if we were to pass it now than if we were to simply get it right now. I urge all members to consider carefully doing that.
I wish we could put away this idea of the whipped vote this time. I do not think members who vote against a bill should be punished by their party or that we must have another election. That is absurd.
The vote today is not about whether there should be an election. The vote is about entrenching a racist policy into sentencing in our youth law. The answer to that question is no, we should not.
The answer to the question of whether we should have an election is probably also no. There are two reasons to vote against the bill. I urge the Prime Minister, the House leader and the whip on that side to give the members over there a free vote so they can, in this particular instance, vote the correct way, do what is right and, without any serious consequences, make it possible for us to have a better law in Canada than what we are getting.