Mr. Speaker, I wish my constituents of Vietnamese origin a happy Vietnamese New Year.
[Member spoke in Vietnamese]
On Bill C-42, I would like to add my comments to this lively debate and explain, in part, why the NDP is forced to object to it and will be voting against the bill.
We proposed reasoned, positive, progressive amendments to the bill, but they have all been rejected. They included adding mandatory harassment training for RCMP members specifically within the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Act, ensuring a fully independent civilian review body to investigate complaints against the RCMP, adding a provision to create a national civilian investigative body that would avoid police investigating police, and creating a more balanced human resources policy by removing some of the more draconian powers of the RCMP commissioner and by strengthening the external review committee in cases involving possible dismissal from the force.
One of the reasons the bill is here is that the RCMP itself has been subject to a lot of criticism, which has generally been levelled at the top echelons of the RCMP. More recently, the criticism has come from the realization that there is a huge and potentially much bigger than reported problem with systemic sexual harassment in the RCMP. None of us on this side of the House have any intention of allowing this to continue. One of the proposals we made was to ensure that the culture of the RCMP would in fact change.
Change does not happen through legislation. It does not happen by someone telling the boss to fix it. Change happens from the ground. Change happens from the individual RCMP members being taught and given anti-harassment training in the workplace and being made to understand that it is no longer culturally acceptable. It is no longer acceptable in this country that women should feel threatened when they are members of the RCMP or that they should feel they cannot complain about the practices they feel harassed by. That is a key element of the NDP's position on the bill. The sexual harassment that has come to the fore in the last few months must be rooted out quickly. However, that is not going to happen with the bill that is before us.
While we recognize that some improvements are being made by giving a little more power to the commissioner and by the other tinkering the bill undertakes, it goes nowhere near far enough. The bill does not deal with the systemic problems in the RCMP that have caused a litany of complaints about the RCMP to be made public over the past 15 years or so. In one case, the allegations of sexual harassment appear to go back 23 years. That is a long time and a lot of culture that needs to be corrected. It is not going to be corrected overnight and it is not going to be corrected without direct action on the part of the Conservative government to introduce and force mandatory anti-harassment training on the RCMP.