The purpose of this bill is to improve and update existing provisions of the Criminal Code. These provisions already state that if an act is committed against a place of worship, the penalty can be increased. This was in response to a number of tragic events throughout Canada, and particularly in Quebec.
What we are doing here is broadening the scope. It would apply not only to places of worship, but also, for example, schools or possibly sports centres. It could even include libraries or other places patronized by members of a group specifically referred to in existing regulations, also known as identifiable groups.
I am going to pick up the pass from the Bloc member who asked a question. We had the opportunity to hear from the person who tabled the bill, the member for Châteauguay—Saint-Constant, supported by the NDP and the official opposition. They made their points clearly.
Even though, as you stated, Mr. Speaker, we are not allowed to ask questions or make comments at this stage to a government member, I can still say that I am not very far away from the member in question. I spoke to the member for Peace River after his presentation, because I too did not understand whether or not the Conservatives were going to support the bill. He replied, with a little smile, “You will see.” So, I was not the only one, nor was the Bloc member who just spoke the only one who was unsure whether or not the Conservatives were going to support the bill.
I can say that we will be watching the Conservatives very closely. All things being equal, the support of the official opposition, the Bloc and the NDP should be more than enough to win the vote. But recent events concerning sexual orientation have made us very wary of the Conservatives' attitude.
I held a press conference with a gay man from Malaysia who was facing possible deportation. According to Amnesty International, which is helping us with his case, the penal code in Malaysia orders up to 20 years in prison and in some cases even lashings for one's sexual orientation. Despite that, the Conservatives proceeded with his deportation, even though he had been in Montreal for years. He was not a risk to anyone, he contributed to society and could have been an excellent citizen.
Then there were the clearly homophobic remarks uttered by a Conservative member. The response was: “That was a long time ago. He has since changed his mind. He said he was sorry.” True, but the fact remains that that is part of a bigger picture.