Madam Speaker, I would like to add a couple of comments on Bill C-415 which is a bill to amend the criminal code with regard to hate propaganda. It also seeks to expand the definition of what is called an identifiable group, in the area of hate propaganda in the criminal code, to include any sector of the public distinguished by sexual orientation.
This bill makes me ask the question: How are our laws made and conformed? We went through the debate some time ago on the matter of amending the charter to include sexual orientation as prohibitive grounds for discrimination. One of the discussion points dealt with a list. If we make a list then someone must be left out. It is an interesting point for me because I would have thought that charter amendments to the human rights code, or whatever, would automatically be conformed in legislation. I am not sure about the legal point of whether all legislation which emulates a list would have or should have been conformed. I am not sure why that is the case. Therefore, I wanted to identify that question and get the answer.
Many groups within our society could be identifiable. Currently the criminal code specifies colour, race, religion, and ethnic origin. Bill C-415 seeks to add the identifiable group sexual orientation. I do not think there is any question with regard to the principle matter of hate propaganda. I have often thought that to have a list, if it tends to leave an identifiable group out, is perhaps not as inclusive as it should be. I would have thought the criminal code would identify hate propaganda as a criminal offence, period.
Regardless, Canadians, citizens or not, would be covered by the charter provisions, the provisions of the human rights code and by the laws of Canada. We should seek to be more inclusive in the legislation by not creating lists which somehow seek to be more inclusive when the existence of the list itself presumes that someone is left out.
As time goes on other groups will say to include them too. All of a sudden we would get into a situation where we would have to balance the relative priority. Have we done legislation a service by somehow continuing to change it? Provisions such as this appear in a number of pieces of legislation. I am not sure whether or not we have the formula for making changes to the extent that the intent is to make a parallel. That parallel should be consequential to the main change that was made and all other related references, in whatever pieces of legislation, would consequentially be made.
I wanted to raise that point not so much with regard to the specific bill and what it is seeking to do but rather to identify that it seems to be a long way around to do something that should be done automatically. The member should not have to have a bill before this place to do something which this House has already dealt with.
It is an unusual situation. I hope that in the future as we come to similar matters, whether they be government bills or any other bills, they be more omnibus in nature and seek to make consequential conforming changes which would reflect the decisions of this place. In this way the same debates would not happen over and over again.
I thank the member for raising the bill. I congratulate him on being selected in the lottery and having his bill become votable. Obviously he has sought and obtained substantial support for his bill.