Mr. Speaker, I will be correspondingly brief in my speech.
I have spoken on Bill S-2 before. I join my colleagues from Gatineau and Charlottetown in indicating that this bill is a sleeper. It would have major implications for the health of our democracy, and it deserves to receive a lot more attention in the media than it has.
The ability of governments to use ambulatory incorporation by reference to smuggle in over time rule changes processed by outside agencies, transnational and private agencies, or even mixed agencies on which governments sit, and the possibility of that would be greatly enhanced by this piece of legislation. Ultimately, it is a piece of legislation that would continue a whole variety of actions by the government over the last four years as a majority and almost ten years in government that seriously undermine our democracy.
I would suggest that, rather than go in this direction, we have to think seriously about how to beef up the current joint committee on the scrutiny of regulations in the Senate and the House of Commons. We should possibly consider the need for an officer of Parliament. I would suggest that a commissioner for statutory and international instruments is probably something that needs to be discussed. It would be an officer who would make sure that the House is not just on top of static incorporation by reference, but incorporation by reference of external documents as they occur. It would then make sure, in the reporting fashion, that the House knows that something has changed that may be of consequence but that the House has had no say in until that point in time.
I indicate that such a commissioner, for example, would look at both statutory instruments, regulations and their like, and international instruments, treaties and their like, because in the globalizing legal environment in which the government is operating, it is those two features, executive action and transnational action, that are increasingly joining hands and taking away governing space from publicly elected legislators.
The bottom line is that this bill needs safeguards. Some four amendments were brought forward by the official opposition in committee. All of them were rejected, as usual, by the government. If we took the problems that the official opposition had and still has with the bill seriously, we would be looking at how to enhance the oversight and review functions of this body over the regulation-making authorities, not undermining it, as Bill S-2 would.