Mr. Speaker, anybody who has been in the House for any length of time knows the government controls the order paper. The order in which bills are brought forward is entirely in the hands of the government, and there is nothing the opposition parties can do in that regard. I sometimes think that is a mistake in our system. On the basis of democracy and in a minority government situation, that rule should not be there. Opposition parties should have more control over what comes before the House, but this is not the case. The government completely controls this.
The member is right in terms of bills sitting on the order paper, and I will use Bill C-27, the dangerous offender bill, as an example. It sat on the order paper for almost six months. The bill was introduced in the House in the fall of 2006 and did not get to a vote for second reading and go to committee until well into the spring of 2007. For a good six months, it just sat on the order paper. That is a good example of how backlogged the justice committee was at that point.
As I mentioned in my opening comments, a more efficient approach would have moved the bills along much faster. Let me just emphasize that point and explain what happens.
When bills get to justice committee, there is a tendency to call the same witnesses on specific points. I have been saying in the House that the bills should have been bunched together. The government should have done that originally. It cannot be done now because these bills would be delayed again.
The Canadian Bar Association was forced to appear before the justice committee eight or ten times. Representatives could probably have come once or maybe twice, spoken on all the points and given us their input.
This goes back to consultation in terms of the member's question. The Conservative government has refused to consult with a number of groups because I think it sees them as ideologically unfriendly. Conservatives talk to members of police associations, but do they talk Canadian Bar Association? Maybe some. Do they talk to criminal defence lawyers, who have some significant input to provide on these bills? Hardly at all.
I could go down the list of some of the groups that deal with people who have been charged and convicted of crimes. For women, there is the Elizabeth Fry Society. For men, there is John Howard Society. The government does not talk too much to these people.
That delays the process at committee. These groups come forward at committee to tell us what they think the problems are with the legislation, and that is the first time we hear about it. Perhaps it could have been taken care of by consultation before it ever arrived at committee.
I have already mentioned the issue of street car racing. All parties in the House supported that and we put it through as quickly as we could.
With respect to the age of consent legislation, I fought with the former Conservative justice minister, my colleague from Manitoba, and convinced him that we should put it in. We tried to put it into the child pornography bill in 2005. It resurrected itself in the age of consent bill, Bill C-22, that finally came before the House. The bill went all the way to the Senate. Now it is back before the House and we have to go over it all again.