Respect For Communities Act

Elizabeth May: Mr. Speaker, I am glad that the hon. minister who is before us today also has a background as a lawyer. I have been researching and considering a substantial point of privilege to be made at a later date, because the use of time allocation in this place is not part of parliamentary procedure; it is unprecedented.

I look to the decision of the Supreme Court of Canada in the case about a previous Speaker, Gib Parent, and Satnam Vaid and the Human Rights Commission. There are some very interesting comments by the Supreme Court about the nature of privilege. It is basically that in our work here, as a matter of privilege, and the court stated that we must function:

…as a legislative and deliberative body, including the assembly’s work in holding the government to account, that outside interference would undermine the level of autonomy required to enable the assembly and its members to do their legislative work with dignity and efficiency.

I put for the hon. minister that surely 74 limitations of debate in a period of one Parliament is not only unprecedented by a bit, but it is unprecedented by a country mile over anything that has ever taken place in this Parliament, ever since Confederation. Would the minister not agree with me that it begins to be an abuse of democracy that offends our privileges here as members to do our work on behalf of our constituents?

Rob Nicholson: Mr. Speaker, we have to respect what it is the court has said. The court has set down a number of conditions for drug consumption sites where illegal drugs are used. It has set out conditions, and we want to ensure that they are implemented, that they are part of the law of this country. The minister actually goes further than that. She has added another 10 different considerations that should go into this; so every precaution is taken to ensure that we get it right.

I am surprised that the hon. members of the opposition do not want to have this before a committee. That too is a vital part of our parliamentary system, the committee hearings. That is the only thing I would urge her. There has been full debate on this. If they are part of a group that says there will never be enough debate on it, I accept that, but this is why we in government have to make decisions. However, I would say this for the member. Let us move forward. Let us have Canadians have their say on this important legislation.