Madam Speaker, it is an honour to conclude debate at second reading on Bill C-218, the safe and regulated sports betting act.
First, I want to thank all the members from all parties who have risen today to support this important legislation. It is not often we get members from the Conservatives, Liberals, NDP and the Bloc all rising in favour of a given initiative, but that is what we have this afternoon.
This Sunday is the biggest sport betting event of the year. It is the 55th Super Bowl. Millions of dollars will be wagered in Canada on everything from the win to the props, the point spread and then the coin toss and so on. Unfortunately, almost all that money will be going to offshore websites and criminal organizations. However, we can change that.
By passing Bill C-218, we can ensure that going forward, profits from sports wagering is put back into our communities, into health care, education, problem gambling programs, youth sports and other important services rather than the pockets of offshore companies or even criminals.
In December, the government introduced its own legislation to achieve the same goal as Bill C-218, and I supported that legislation. In fact, I told the Minister of Justice months before that he should adopt my bill as government legislation so we could get it through the process as quickly as possible. I did not care if my name was on the bill as long as the much-needed change was made in Parliament. Eventually, the minister finally took me up on my suggestion and introduced Bill C-13.
To show my good faith and desire to work with the minister and the government to get this single-event sports betting legalized, I traded down in the order of precedence to give the government a fair chance to bring its legislation forward. Unfortunately, though, the introduction of the government's bill has not sped up the process. In fact, if anything, it has slowed it down. Twice now the government has cancelled debate on Bill C-13 at the last second in favour of other legislation.
I get it. The government has priorities and there are other important pieces of legislation before the House. However, if the government cannot make Bill C-13 a priority, then it does not have to. The Liberals can support Bill C-218 and all the work can be done during the Private Members' Business instead of during government business. It is true that there will be some slight differences between my bill and the government's legislation, however, I am confident that those differences can be addressed at the justice committee and that amendments could be made if needed. I am sure that the justice committee can make the right decision on this.
Let us get the legislation passed at second reading, sent to committee, amended if necessary, and then back to the House so we can get it to the Senate. The legalization of single-event sports betting clearly has support from members of all parties and the government clearly realizes that we should legalize it. Let us not play politics; let us get this job done.
Sunday is the biggest betting day in the country and we are missing out on millions of dollars for our communities.
I want to thank all parties again for their support of legalized single-event sports betting. There is a little difference, as I mentioned, between Bill C-218 and Bill C-13, but let us pass the private member's bill that will come forward in the next two weeks and then we can have the discussion at the justice committee. We are open to the amendments. We realize the horse racing industry has issues.
It is a great privilege to bring the bill forward. As mentioned before, others from the NDP also brought it forward. Together in the House of Commons this will be for the betterment of the country if we can pass Bill C-218.