Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to add some commentary on Bill C-60.
Most Canadians will recall the incident where a shopkeeper observed someone stealing from his market in Toronto and then took off. Then the person came back and did it again. The shopkeeper saw him, ran him down and held him.
It is fairly straightforward in the eyes of the public. It is interesting to note that there are some very sensitive questions of law. Most Canadians would say that they have the right to protect their property or to hold a person until the police arrive. We have seen many stories like that.
The issue of civil liberties is very sensitive in the law. From some of the speeches given to date, there is a question about whether the proposed amendments in Bill C-60 will, in fact, be appropriate.
It is my view, where there are technical, legal matters and where the House has brought in a bill, we are asked, without the benefit of expert witnesses and legal opinions, et cetera, to debate it the best we can do. Without hearing from witnesses, we are at second reading.
The importance of that is at second reading we kind of get the mood of the House and whether we are prepared to approve, in principle, a bill to go forward to the next stage, which would be to go to committee.
In the question about what is actually affected by second reading, it is important for members to know and to remember that when we give approval in principle, it restricts the scope of amendments that can be made at committee. Certain things cannot be touched. We will not be able to go beyond the scope of the bill. For instance, if it deals with this universe, these items and we wanted to make it bigger than it was at second reading, it could not be done. If we wanted to change, substantively, the intent or the essence of the bill, it could not be done at committee. That is one of the reasons I asked the question of the hon. member earlier.
I am a little confused. This case took place in October 2010. I think it was tabled in the House February 10. We are now in the beginning of March and we are finally starting debate.
This is a matter where Parliament could have shown a bit more leadership in addressing a very serious question of law. The bill could have been put forward, certainly before the Christmas break, and referred to committee so it could prepare its work and at least arrange for witnesses during the Christmas break. Then we could have started the hearings in committee when we came back in January.
It is an important issue of law. It is an issue which I think Canadians would expect us to deal with in a responsible fashion so we could address the questions of the day.
I raise those points because I think it is important. There is always a good reason to send a bill straight to committee rather than having second reading.
The other part has to do with the whole concept of the civil liberties. The member who just spoke laid out the fact that many of the amendments were problematic and might be more harmful than helpful in this case. When I finish my comments after question period, I hope to lay some of those out.