Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have an opportunity to rise and indicate that I will be sharing my time with my colleague, the member for Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier.
I appreciated and enjoyed the presentation from the member for Halifax, who has the constituency adjacent to mine. I know that she and her constituents enjoy looking across at the wonderful constituency of Dartmouth—Cole Harbour.
We were provided some wonderful information about the Supreme Court decision that led to Bill C-55. I do not have the capacity to engage in the type of legal analysis my colleague did. However, on the question of legislative procedure, there is a need for all members of this House to understand what their responsibilities are and to ensure that they follow through on those responsibilities, so that each and every piece of legislation tabled in this House does not leave the House unless it has been fully examined and vetted and until we have ensured that it is the best possible piece of legislation that it can be.
These are the laws of our country. These are the laws that affect all of our constituents. These are the laws that will continue to exist long after we have left here. It is incumbent upon us to ensure that we dot the is and cross the ts so that a piece of legislation does not leave here and immediately get struck down by the Supreme Court of Canada, for example, because we did not show due diligence.
Members should understand that this bill, which is a direct response to a decision by the Supreme Court of Canada, is being introduced in this House with a time limit of 19 sitting days to deal with it. It is absurd that the government, in all seriousness, would expect members of this House to deal with a piece of legislation of this magnitude—one as detailed and specific as this is, and one with such serious ramifications for privacy and for the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court of Canada—in 19 sitting days. That means the justice committee will have about two days to examine this important piece of legislation.
Let us not forget that the current government does not have a very good record when it comes to issues of privacy or when it comes to introducing legislation and trying to ram it through this House.
We have already seen provisions in some of its justice legislation struck down and seriously questioned by some of the courts in this land. We know what happened to the bill that was supposed to take care of this, the bill that preceded this, Bill C-30, which was tabled approximately a year ago in this House. It was torqued up by the minister, who tabled it in such a partisan, mean and ugly manner that Canadians from one end of this country to the other responded with outrage at the manner in which the government and that minister were dealing with such a sensitive and important issue to all Canadians.
They spoke with one voice. They said that it was simply unacceptable that the Government of Canada would deal with a very important issue in such a partisan and irresponsible manner. It was later determined, as people sifted through the details of the legislation, that the government did not do what it said it would do, that it was flawed in so many ways that finally the minister and the government tried to kick it under the carpet, pretend they had never tabled it and that they did not know what people were talking about when discussing the infamous Bill C-30.
What I remember, and I suggest what many members on this side and many Canadians remember, was the second attempt, in part to deal with something that Bill C-30 was supposedly to deal with. The government tells us not to worry, that it has been dealt with it, that it has responded to what the Supreme Court of Canada has said, that it has been very specific, that it has limited it to the particular provision as it relates to section 184.4 and that it has it covered. Therefore, there is no need for members to be concerned or engage in a great deal of debate, so we do not need a lot of time.
The NDP critic, who gave such an eloquent and informative speech at the beginning of this debate, suggested that the government often introduced legislation with a sense of arrogance and knowing what was best: regardless of the members opposite and the constituents they represented had to say, the Conservatives were the ones who had all the answers, so when they brought in legislation that they said was good to go, we should say “fine” and let it go. However, that is not what we were sent here to do.
The government has shown that we have to be on our toes because it does not do its job. It has been raised in the House by members on this side on a number of occasions. They wonder why the government does not properly vet legislation. We understand that the demands of the Supreme Court are such that we are not, with completely certainty, able to say that a piece of drafted legislation will pass muster in the Supreme Court of Canada. Surely the government takes the time, and we have not had the answer, to ensure there has been some examination and sense of proportionality that any particular piece of legislation will pass muster in the Supreme Court of Canada, but it has not given us that assurance.
In terms of the legislation the government has presented to the House since May of 2011, much of it has been flawed in detail and substance. It sometimes seems that when the government produces legislation, it is more concerned with the title and politics of the legislation than it is with the details, the substance, the implications and the impact that changing the laws of our country will have on Canadians. That is very much a case of the government thumbing its nose at members of the chamber.
On initial review of this bill, we hope it will do what the government says it will in relation to the Supreme Court decision. There will be an examination of the bill at the justice committee. Let us hope we get the opportunity to examine the bill to ensure that when it heads out of the House, we have made sure it is in fact the best piece of legislation it can be.