The government has gone too far by doing away with preliminary inquiries

Elizabeth May

Mr. Speaker, one of the parliamentary rights we have as members of Parliament is that we not need to yield to our whips. The member need not yield to his whip. He could continue to speak for 20 minutes. The Speaker recognized the member and there was no need for the member to yield when he had a 20-minute speech, and I am sure all 20 minutes are important. I regret that the power of whips over individual members in this place is so uniformly accepted. The member for Kitchener—Conestoga has graciously and without any particular reason yielded his spot to someone else.

I agree with him about the elimination of preliminary hearings. We may find that will create more delays. That has certainly been an early critique of this bill, that preliminary inquiries can speed up matters by allowing early decision making about whether there is enough evidence and whether a case should proceed to trial.

I wonder if the member wants to expand on whether he thinks the government has gone too far in Bill C-75 by proposing to completely do away with preliminary inquiries.

Harold Albrecht – Member for Kitchener-Conestoga

Mr. Speaker, let me first address the issue of sharing my time. One of the things I had hoped with Bill C-75 was that we would have robust debate and that all members of Parliament who wished to speak to this issue could speak to it. I am thrilled to share my time with my colleagues on my side of the House because we need their input. I have no problem with that.

As to the issue my colleague has raised, I quoted from an expert who clearly pointed out that by eliminating preliminary inquiries and simply shunting them off to another level of court would save some time at one level, but it would clog up the courts at another level. It is on that basis that I am opposed to the legislation.