Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the excellent, elegant, hard-working and resourceful member for Halifax. She will be using the second half of the time allotted for this speech, so we will have the opportunity to hear from her.
I am rising after the member for Gatineau, who gave a wonderful speech about this issue.
We will be supporting this bill at second reading. However, it is unbelievable that the government is introducing a bill now, even though it knew for a year that changes were needed.
The Conservatives did nothing for a year. They introduced Bill C-30, which the public clearly rejected. The government even tried to denounce those who were opposed to their ill-conceived bill. The government reacted, but luckily, pressure from the Canadian people eventually forced it to abandon the bill.
Now the Conservatives have introduced Bill C-55, only 19 days before the deadline of April 13, 2013, which was imposed by the Supreme Court.
We have 19 days in total to debate it at second reading and to examine it in committee. We have 19 days to hear from witnesses from all over and to do the clause-by-clause study in order to avoid problems and ensure that the Supreme Court does not have to deal with another botched bill from this government. We have 19 days to get to third reading, to consider proposed amendments and to have a final debate and vote. That is completely ridiculous, when we have known for a full year that the government had work to do on this.
Once again, the government did not do its job. This is not the first time. We on this side of the House see this as a real problem.
As the hon. member for Gatineau put it so well, this government's bills are botched, improvised, flawed and nonsensical.
When our work is not done in the House, when witnesses do not have time to come and share their expertise, and when members do not have time to do the clause-by-clause and amend a bill based on what witnesses tell us, what happens?
True to form, the government moves a closure motion, and the bill passes, even if it is a bad, improvised bill. Canadian taxpayers are then forced to pay judges to examine the merits of the bill.
When the government does not do its job and disrespects the opposition members, Canada as a whole pays the price. Now the Supreme Court has to examine several Conservative bills that are botched, flawed and improvised. In fact, the Conservatives introduced yet another botched bill here today.
The Conservatives continue to have an attitude of entitlement. They think that they can introduce any bill in the House and that it does not matter if it is flawed. As a result, we end up spending a lot more time and tax dollars to fix these botched bills than we would if the Conservatives were disciplined and did their homework properly from the start. I think that Canadians are fed up with this.
That is one of the many reasons why more and more Canadians are saying that they look forward to 2015, when they will be able to get rid of this government and bring in a government that will introduce well-written bills, listen to witnesses and amend its bills accordingly.
In a democracy, it takes time to listen to the opinions of people across this diverse country and to fine-tune bills.
The government is being irresponsible and taking that time away from us. Even if we could work together since the deadline is 19 days away, the reality is that, if the government refuses to co-operate and tries to impose its opinion, then we will once again end up with a Conservative bill that is likely to be challenged in the courts.
If the government refuses to co-operate and tries to impose its opinion, we will once again end up with a Conservative bill that will be challenged in the courts, as we heard this morning and as we have been seeing for months. That is not what Canadians want. They want us to take the time to do things right here in Parliament.
We now have 19 days to put forward this piece of legislation. We have 19 days to get through every single level of speaking, hear from witnesses and get through all of this work. All of this could have been avoided if the government had simply done its work a year ago. After the judgment came forward from the Supreme Court, the government could have moved forward in a responsible way. It chose not to.
Yet again, we have the Conservatives basically asking the NDP to fix the mistakes they have made. Very many Canadians are looking forward to the day when we will not have to have Conservative mistakes fixed, when we will have an NDP government that can bring forward legislation that actually meets that test and receives the consent of the population.
I want to talk about the broader justice agenda. Bill C-55 is part of it. It is symptomatic of just how bad the Conservatives are on justice issues. We had crime prevention programs in the country that were doing a remarkable job. Crime prevention programs are a good investment for Canadians. When we put $1 into crime prevention, we save $6 later on in policing costs, court costs and prison costs. For every buck put into crime prevention, we see a $6 return. More importantly, we do not see victims, because the crime is never committed in the first place. That has always been the foundation of how the NDP has approached justice issues.
What did the Conservatives do? They gutted crime prevention programs. They destroyed them across the country. In my area and elsewhere, Conservatives have gutted the funding that would allow crime prevention programs to stop the crime before it is even committed, to stop having victims because the crime is not committed, saving $6 in policing costs, court costs and prison costs for every $1 spent on crime prevention.
The Conservatives have done far more in a negative way for Canada. The whole issue of putting more front-line police officers in place was a commitment made by our former leader, Jack Layton, and by the Conservatives before the last election. What have the Conservatives done? Nothing. They have failed on that front-line policing duty.
Most egregious, and there is only one way to put this, is the Conservatives' complete lack of respect for our nation's police officers and firefighters in terms of the public safety officer compensation fund. Members will recall that six years ago, before the Conservatives were elected, they voted for and committed to putting in place a public safety officer compensation program so that when our nation's police officers or firefighters are killed in the line of duty, killed protecting the Canadian public, their families are taken care of.
Since that time, I have talked to families who have lost their homes, kids who have had to quit university, and spouses who have had to try to put something together to keep the family together, because the Conservatives broke their promise to the nation's police officers and firefighters. For six long years now, firefighters and police officers have been coming to Parliament Hill. For six long years, the Conservatives have given them nothing more than the back of their hands. That is deplorable.
In 2015, when an NDP government is elected, what we are going to see is respect for the nation's police officers and firefighters. We are going to see in place a public safety officer compensation fund. We will never again see the families of our nation's police officers and firefighters left to fend for themselves because the federal government does not respect them and does not care about them.
We in the NDP take a different approach on these issues. We actually believe that bills should be brought forward in the House of Commons in a respectful way. We should hear from witnesses, improve the legislation, and make sure that it is not the type of legislation that is then subject to court challenges just to fix the mistakes the government has made.
We would take a more mature and more professional approach to justice issues. Like so many other Canadians, I can hardly wait for 2015.