Mr. Speaker, the bill should be named the David Chen bill, or the we thank David Chen for opening our eyes to the deficiencies of the Criminal Code, section 494, bill or, even more importantly, the why David Chen deserves credit when the Conservatives want to give Canadians none bill.
Why do I say that? Members might think me a little harsh, but David Chen, a legitimate store owner who runs a family business, who minds his own business, who calls in the police whenever there is a problem and there is a problem virtually on a daily basis, and he asks the court system, the justice system to help him make a living in Canada, like so many Canadians, and what happens? One day he sees a thief, someone who has stolen from him in the past, someone who has appeared on his video screen, someone on whom he has called the police on several occasions, someone who has more than 47 convictions for theft. He sees him come back not one-half hour after he has stolen from him.
He seized the thief and held him. He called the police and the police came, but they arrested him. They charged him with a whole slew of charges, including forcible confinement, arrest, kidnapping. Imagine, in a country like Canada where due process is a very important element of our life, the store owner, the defender of his own property, is the one who is charged.
For a government which likes to have these news bite type of titles to its legislation, it does not do that this time. Instead it sends its senior minister, the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, because of course this is an immigration issue. It is not a law issue. It is not a justice issue, it is not a tough-on-crime issue. This is an immigration, citizenship and political issue.
Off the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism goes, to demonstrate that the Government of Canada, no, I am sorry; what is its new title? It is not the Government of Canada. It has been personalized. The one individual, the guy who makes all the rules, the guy whose initials are S.H., dispatches his senior minister on a citizenship, immigration and political issue.
On September 27, 2009, and let us keep that date in mind because it is an important date, he says that this is an egregious problem and we are going to change this. I notice that the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice accompanied him. He said that this is a real problem and we are going to correct it because this is unjust, untrue and it is not right that a guy who tries to run a family business gets put through a process where he is a victim of somebody else's crime. He is a victim, again. He says that the Conservatives are going to change the law. That was on September 27, 2009. What is the date today? I am not sure if the government members can actually read a calendar, but the last time I looked we were in the month of March in 2011.
The government finally decided to present a piece of legislation. If I seem angry, it is because I am angry for all those citizens who, like David Chen, were looking for the government to do something right. They were looking to the Government of Canada, before it became the S.H. government, but it is all about evolution.
The interesting thing about September 27, 2009 is two things were happening concurrently. There was paranoia on the government benches about the potential of an election and the Minister of Justice was dialoguing with his colleagues, the attorneys general of the various provinces, about precisely what to do in a case like David Chen's, which apparently happens more often than not.
I asked my colleague from Windsor what he thought in his capacity as a former professor of law, about making this particular minor change that would have given direction to everybody. Just a few days ago, the Minister of Justice spoke on the bill and said that they are doing this because the courts pay attention to what Parliament says when they look for direction in law. Then he proceeded to give three, four, five, a million reasons as to why he wanted to consolidate the concept of reasonableness in law. However, the Minister of Justice knew in 2009 when David Chen was first ordered to appear at court that the law was going to change because everyone agreed it needed to be changed. What did he do? He allowed David Chen to use his own resources, at his own expense and stress in order to test that concept in court, to see what the courts would do. They did it for him.
So instead of thanking David Chen for saving the government all this money, the Conservatives said they are going to have a piece of legislation. Everyone wants to glory in the victory that appears on behalf of all Canadians. David Chen deserves not just a medal, but he also deserves to be compensated for all his work.
Two members of Parliament, the member of Parliament for Eglinton—Lawrence on June 16 last year presented a very brief proposal to amend section 494 of the Criminal Code, and the member for Trinity—Spadina did a similar thing in September 2010. We come to October 29, 2010 and the courts decide in favour of David Chen. The government rushes to congratulate him. The Prime Minister, the one who runs the government, for whom the government is named, says the government is going to make this its first priority and it is going to change the law. However, David Chen already had to go to court.
What does the Prime Minister do? Instead of taking up the offer of members of the House, the member for Eglinton—Lawrence and the member for Trinity—Spadina, he decided to have his justice minister come forward with a hugely complicated piece of legislation because he has to solve all the problems of the world, except this one. Why is there such urgency now? Because, as I understand it, he may decide he does not want to deal with Parliament anymore and he may want to go to an election.
I want to indicate a timeline here. As the member of Parliament for Eglinton—Lawrence, on November 2 during question period I asked to change the act. I suggested the government take the bill as we had already done all the drafting. The member for Windsor—Tecumseh acknowledged that there is a possibility of interpreting issues on reasonable grounds. Other professors have already done this. There have been all kinds of people who have decided to have input on this.
On November 4, we held a press conference and asked the government to come forward and accept the principle of Bill C-547 and the other one as well. However, on January 21, the Prime Minister finally decided he wanted to go to see David Chen again, to use him as a prop once more so he could say the Conservatives were going to come forward with legislation right away. Right away turned out to be March 4. February 15 was really when the Conservatives wanted to go ahead and give an indication that they were going to act.
I am not sure about the sincerity of all of this and I am equally suspicious about all the remonstrations of the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice who was part of the discussions going on in November 2009. Finally, during some of this negotiating after he had actually approved some of the wording that appeared in Bill C-547, he said that now he has been appointed parliamentary secretary he can no longer deal with the legislation, and by the way, he is not aware of anything that the Minister of Justice might want to do in this matter.
He washed his hands of the whole affair leaving all of the people who had been looking to the Government of Canada, that is the real Government of Canada, for some guidance and assistance in a lurch to look to members of the opposition to give them some guidance.
What did the government do? It came forward with an unnecessarily complicated bill in order to stall for time and do away with this.