Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to have the opportunity to rise in the House today and speak to Bill S-231, an act to amend the Canada Evidence Act and the Criminal Code, otherwise known as the journalistic sources protection act.
I would like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude. There are sometimes issues that arise in the House for which there is all-party agreement that action is necessary and appropriate. In this case it is very appropriate for us to take the opportunity to acknowledge, first of all, the outstanding work of Senator Carignan, with the assistance of Senator Pratte, in ensuring that this very important issue was brought forward, as they sponsored bringing Senate Bill S-231 before the House. I would also like to take the opportunity to thank and acknowledge the work of the member for Louis-Saint-Laurent for helping bring the bill before the House.
The issue that is contained within Bill S-231 is an issue that affects and concerns all Canadians in the aftermath of the Lagacé issue that arose in Quebec. In other instances as well there is legitimate concern among Canadians about the protection of our journalists and journalistic sources. The independence of a free press is the hallmark of our democracy, and it is critical. All members of the House recognize the importance of protecting our journalists and allowing them to do their job.
The bill before us today reflects that shared value that everyone in the House and all Canadians feel about the importance of the fifth estate, of journalists, in helping keep Canadians informed and in having the ability and the freedom to bring forward issues that might not otherwise be made public, thereby protecting the rights and the values of all Canadians.
It is also important to acknowledge the important work that our Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security did. I want to thank the chair, the hon. member for Don Valley West, and the members of that committee for the very conscientious way in which they approached the bill to ensure that it reflects long-standing traditions in our common law and creates protections while upholding and maintaining the important values that were represented in the Senate bill. Frankly, as a former police officer, I feel that the clarifications that the public safety committee brought to the bill did much to restore all Canadians' confidence that the law will be appropriately applied.
In particular, I wanted to acknowledge the work of the committee to ensure that this legislation did not provide a shield for criminal behaviours that might be perpetrated by a journalist, yet provided those absolutely essential protections for journalists when doing their job. I am very confident that the legislation that has been produced and is before the House is worthy of all-party support.
While the amendments brought forward by the public safety committee are limited in number and scope, they are important for very many reasons. They ensure that the new measures in Bill S-231 will apply in appropriate circumstances without undermining the important protective measures that are arguably already in place in a very complex area of the law. Second, I believe that the work of the SECU committee in bringing forward these amendments provides more clarity in terms of how these measures are intended to be applied in practice. This will be invaluable assistance to those engaged in journalistic practice throughout the country and those who are tasked with the important job of keeping all of our communities safe.
I believe Bill S-231, as amended, will translate into better protection to all confidential journalistic sources to the benefit of all Canadians and I believe it is worthy of all-party support.