Mr. Speaker, first of all, today's discussion on Bill C-55 gives me another opportunity to congratulate the government for scrapping its ridiculous Bill C-30. The infamous Bill C-30 claimed to solve all the world's problems, but it showed that the Conservatives are unable to come up with a well-thought-out policy. It has now been replaced by the much more balanced Bill C-55.
The NDP feels that Bill C-55 is a suitable response to the court's demands, because it:
(a) requires the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness and the Attorney General of each province to report on the interceptions of private communications made under section 184.4;
(b) provides that a person who has been the object of such an interception must be notified of the interception within a specified period;
(c) narrows the class of individuals who can make such an interception; and
(d) limits those interceptions to offences listed in section 183 of the Criminal Code.
Of course, we in the NDP support this bill. However, I would like to point out a couple of things to this House. First of all, the Conservatives are forcing us to pass this bill in record time because the Supreme Court gave them until April 13 to amend the legislation. Yet the Supreme Court issued that request a year ago. So why did the minister wait until 20 sitting days before the Supreme Court's deadline to introduce the bill? That is not the most responsible way to treat such an important bill, nor is it a responsible way to govern.
Once again, the Conservatives are clearly trying to do whatever they can to project an image of competence and rational planning, but what we are really seeing in this House is the exact opposite.
The press release on this bill issued by the Minister of Justice states that, “the introduction of this legislation is part of the government’s plan for safe streets and communities....”
The Conservatives must really take Canadians for fools. Everyone knows that this bill is the result of a request from the Supreme Court. They did not really have a choice, and this is not the result of government policy. In fact, the government revealed its policy in Bill C-30, which was not at all what Canadians wanted, and the government had to back down.
It is nice to see that a good plan has been put forward, since the previous plan was so flawed.
In addition, the minister has the audacity to ask for our unconditional support of this bill.
I am sorry, but I am proud to say that my NDP colleagues and I will never give our unconditional support to a bill without thoroughly studying it first. We know just how irresponsible this government can be and we have seen its lack of respect for laws and justice. We also know that it is not very good at prior consultation.
Contrary to this government's irresponsible attitude, the NDP always wants to study anything, like this bill, that will have an impact on society, unlike the minister who views the formalities and procedures for complying with the Constitution and charter as luxuries. The NDP and I are aware of the public's concerns about wiretapping. We understand that very well, given that this government bases its position on vengeance and punishment rather than on justice.
After a rigorous study, we believe that this bill complies with the Supreme Court's decision. It even goes beyond that and strikes a genuine balance between personal freedom and public safety. This is a refreshing finding, particularly when we see how the Conservatives improvise here in the House from day to day. So this is a breath of fresh air, and the result of everything the public has done to combat Bill C-30. That was utterly incredible.
This also shows that, when the public mobilizes, it can force the government to do its job right.
The power to wiretap in emergencies is important for police officers. That is an undeniable fact. However, it is also true that these kinds of measures must be subject to an oversight and accountability mechanism.
Some Conservatives indiscriminately accuse us of trying to block the bill. I would like to remind them that the NDP submitted no amendments to this bill in committee because it was well drafted. The process was diligently followed. We examined the bill and we realized that the work had been well done and that no corrections had to be made. A number of amendments should normally be brought forward to make a bill acceptable from both political and constitutional standpoints. We in the House are often unsure whether bills are lawful.
In conclusion, although we deplore the way in which the debate was disrupted, the NDP has ensured that Bill C-55 respects, as far as possible, the rule of law, the Constitution and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The NDP will therefore support the bill.