IN THE HOUSE ~ C-59 An Act respecting national security matters

Mr. Speaker, it is unfortunate that I have only five minutes left to contribute, because the government essentially brought in closure. Instead of submitting a problematic bill to the House of Commons for debate and improvement, the government decided to resort to a form of closure that would prevent us from exploring every aspect of this bill.

The NDP is against referring Bill C-59 to committee in part because it does not achieve what the Liberals promised to Canadians. During the last campaign, the Liberals said that they were wrong to vote in favour of the former Harper government's Bill C-51, which encroached on Canadians' civil rights, including the right to privacy. The Liberals said they would right that wrong when they were in power.

What they did was introduce Bill C-59, which also raises some serious concerns around privacy protection and does nothing to fix the Bill C-51's mistakes. The Liberals introduced a bill that does not fix any of the Harper government's flaws or mistakes on this issue. They are continuing along the same path, and as such, Bill C-59 will not address the gaps in Bill C-51. That is why we, the NDP, oppose this bill.

However, what the Liberals have done is put in place a procedural trick, and it is a procedural trick that is a type of closure. What this does is twofold.

As you know, Mr. Speaker, when we look at rules for the House of Commons around omnibus legislation, Standing Order 69.1 would give you the power to divide this legislation, because it is omnibus legislation with negative impacts on Canadians. However, because of this procedural trick from the Liberal government, you, Mr. Speaker, are not permitted, under the very strict framework of Standing Order 69.1, to divide this legislation. Therefore, we are forced to vote on a motion of the government that does not allow each and every one of us as parliamentarians to actually vote on the rare but still occurring positive aspects of the bill, and vote against the negative aspects of the bill. It is the heart and soul of parliamentary democracy to know why we are voting and to vote in the interests of our constituents, to stand up in this House and vote. The Standing Order 69.1 provisions were put into place so that we do not have this bulldozing of parliamentary democracy by the government, because the Speaker has the power to divide the bill. That is, except in the case of this particular procedural motion that the government has put into place, which stops your ability, Mr. Speaker, to divide this, so that, as parliamentarians, we can vote in the interests of our citizens, the constituents.

The current government has done even worse than the former Harper government. When we look at the number of times proportional to the number of non-appropriation bills passed, the new Liberal government is 25% worse than the old Harper government in its invoking of closure. I am not even including this procedural trick. What we have is a Liberal government that made many promises back in 2015, and one of the Liberals' promises was to respect parliamentary democracy. What the government is doing today is symbolic of what it has done over the last two years. It is 25% worse than the Harper government on closure, and now it is putting this procedural trick into place so that Canadians cannot have members of Parliament voting on each aspect of this omnibus legislation. It is for that reason that we say no to the motion and no to the bill.

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