Mr. Speaker, I am very proud to follow my colleague's remarks on Bill C-51 and join the debate today. I am going to be expressing my concerns with respect to the bill. Once again, I cannot resist dwelling on the lack of priority to our public policy of the government, specifically justice policies. The lack of ambition in some areas is striking.
The Liberals' use of time allocation motions is equally striking, and we have before us a bill that is much ado about nothing in many ways. It is an omnibus bill on which they are using closure. They are time-allocating, ending debate, on a very large justice bill that contains one very important area that is critical for us to discuss in this Parliament. It is also critical for us as parliamentarians to discuss the elements contained in this specific part of the bill outside of this chamber in our communities, in consultations with victims groups, with law enforcement, and with students, and that is the zero tolerance toward sexual assault in our society. There are clear rules on consent and that consent cannot be given when someone is intoxicated, an approach that most of us think would be common sense but has been confirmed in this legislation, but it has already been confirmed by our common law and the outrage that occasionally happens when some judges have not followed that approach to our common law.
There are various provisions in Bill C-51 related to the important work on consent, on evidence in sexual assault trials. I would like to commend the MP for Sturgeon River—Parkland, our former interim leader of the Conservative Party, for her exceptional work on judicial training. I am highlighting that because it shows that, while the bill is well intentioned on this provision with respect to sexual assault consent and evidence at trial, our common law should actually take care of this. While it is good for Parliament to clearly weigh in and amend the code with respect to this, our judges are on the front lines and they should be approaching this with zero tolerance with respect to sexual assault cases in which the victim has been intoxicated, in some cases by the person who then perpetrated the attack.
All members here have no patience for that type of conduct in our society. I am certainly very proud that our government passed the Victims Bill of Rights and, for a time in Canada, put victims at the core of our justice system. That one part of this omnibus bill is important for us to talk about, even though the common law is addressing the issues that this bill purports to address.
The other aspects of this are unnecessary. With respect to the charter statement to be attached to all bills, there are already opinions given on the charter application, with respect to legislation, by justice lawyers as part of the legislative process. Other groups outside Parliament can weigh in with their thoughts with respect to the charter. However, there is no need for this sort of charter stamp to come with each bill, because Parliament is supreme. If the court determines down the road that there is a provision that needs clarification as a result of the charter, it is up to this Parliament then to provide that clarity.
As you know better than most, Mr. Speaker, because you are someone who is a champion of our parliamentary democracy, no Parliament is held to the laws of a previous Parliament. That provision with respect to charter opinions or the charter statements in the bill is unnecessary and is being done for political posturing.
Finally, the last part of this omnibus bill is the so-called removal or amending of no-longer relevant Criminal Code provisions or seldom-used Criminal Code provisions. Some would call this a clean-up part of the omnibus bill. Is that so pressing that we are here using closure on debate to ram this through?
I am not sure when the last time was that there was a duel in Canada. I know there is two sword lengths separating the government from the opposition, but I do not suspect they are planning on us calling for a duel.
As for witchcraft, these are provisions that are historical curiosities. What is outrageous is that the government, and I am glad the government House leader is here, has passed 19 bills in its time in this Parliament. Nineteen have achieved royal assent, yet the government is hitting around the 30th time that it has limited debate in this chamber on such a low record.
I tried to highlight this in a previous speech last week. It is startling, the hypocrisy of the government. The government House leader who is mildly heckling me now, her deputy was the one who would feign outrage in the previous Parliament if time allocation was used or if omnibus legislation was used. In fact, the member for Winnipeg North, who has now joined in her heckling, called it “an assault on democracy”. That is how he referred to omnibus legislation.
The last week in the House, all I have seen is omnibus legislation, shepherded by the MP for Winnipeg North. The hypocrisy is stunning. The government House leader is using closure more times than the government has passed bills. The denominator is not matching up to show that the government is actually being productive. It is limiting parliamentary debate and really getting nothing done. It is startling.
I will remind my friend from Winnipeg North, because he is so verbose in this place, that he just gives me a wealth of information to draw on. When it comes to time allocation, what did he say? In November 2012, he said:
...never before have I ever experienced a government that is so persistent in using time allocation, a form of closure, using it as frequently as this particular Government House Leader does.
His government House leader is using it far more than the Conservative House leader did. I hope that at least behind closed doors he is expressing to her the same amount of outrage and indignation that we used to hear regularly in the last Parliament. Between the assaults on democracy and the limitation of debate, it is stunning that he can stand in this place and speak without a smile. It really is startling.
I will use the remainder of the time I have to show why this is hurting public policy development in Canada. We have an omnibus bill that is full of removing critical parts of our Criminal Code, like witchcraft, yet the government is not passing Bill S-3, in response to the Descheneaux decision of the Quebec Superior Court. The Liberal government's indigenous affairs minister did not even call Mr. Descheneaux to the Parliament to consult on the bill. It had until July 3 to pass legislation with respect to that court.
However, this government House leader puts froward omnibus bills full of witchcraft and other historical curiosities, a motion on Paris that was meaningless, and other motions, but it is not getting its own work done. If it wants to do an omnibus bill on justice, how about addressing the Jordan decision. Victims have seen accused murderers and accused sexual assault criminals being released as a result of judicial delays. That is the reform we need to see to justice. We have been asking, for a year and a half, for the minister to appoint judges. We have been pushing to get delays down.
The government is allowing accused criminals to be released because of its inaction, and its so-called justice omnibus bill is addressing duelling and witchcraft but not the Jordan decision. That speaks to the priorities of the Liberal government, a lot of talk on victims while it is not funding a registry for dangerous sexual offenders, while it is not addressing the Jordan decision. It talks about nation-to-nation dialogue with our first nations, yet does not even call Mr. Descheneaux to help pass important legislation.
I hope that, when we all go back to our ridings in the summer, the government House leader and her deputy reflect on the decline of our parliamentary democracy under their watch and that we come back in the fall to a full apology from them.