Evidence of meeting #26 for Justice and Human Rights in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was justice.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

11:50 a.m.

Conservative

David Wilks Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Thank you, Mr. Minister.

You alluded to drug courts. I wonder if there are any plans to establish these courts in remote communities. As you are aware, they are in six communities across Canada right now.

11:50 a.m.

Conservative

Rob Nicholson Niagara Falls, ON

Again, we work with our provincial counterparts, and again, they are not just limited to those that are supported by the federal government. I know my provincial and territorial counterparts are very involved with making sure that people get the treatment and the help they need. But again, we are continuing to support the drug treatment courts, and again, that was accommodated in Bill C-10.

11:50 a.m.

Conservative

David Wilks Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Thanks very much.

11:50 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Dave MacKenzie

You have a little time left.

11:50 a.m.

Conservative

David Wilks Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Mr. Minister, as you know, my background with the RCMP was in drugs, so I am very happy that Bill C-10 is moving forward with regard to that.

I wonder if you could speak a little more on the importation of drugs into this country and how it is affecting our youth.

11:50 a.m.

Conservative

Rob Nicholson Niagara Falls, ON

I never sit down with people in the law enforcement business without their raising, at some point, the issues of drugs and drug trafficking. They tell me that, for instance, quite apart from how dangerous grow op facilities are to the neighbours and to the community, the pot that these traffickers or these people who are in the business of selling this product grow very often becomes the currency for some of the other drugs that come into this country, like heroin and cocaine and ecstasy. It is part of the transaction that takes place. So we all have a stake in getting the message out.

I mentioned the national anti-drug strategy. If we have a careful look at the messages delivered through that program, they are to encourage people not to get involved with this kind of activity. They are to educate people, including parents, to recognize what may be happening to their child before it's too late.

The bill is very specific. It goes after drug traffickers, who are very often the individuals involved with organized crime, and these are sophisticated operations. Our laws have to stay up to date in this area, and that's what that bill does. And I can't let the opportunity go by without thanking you for all the encouragement you have given and all the support you have given to moving forward—

11:50 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Dave MacKenzie

Thank you, Minister.

Go ahead, Madame Borg.

March 13th, 2012 / 11:50 a.m.

NDP

Charmaine Borg Terrebonne—Blainville, QC

Thank you for joining us today, Mr. Minister.

My first question will also be on drug treatment courts. We have heard about the problems of accessibility to those courts and about their effectiveness; there has been a lot of discussion about it.

I am also concerned that, given the new measures in Bill C-10, there will likely be more people charged with drug-related offences. But we see no additional funds for those courts, simply the same amount.

Mr. Minister, do you feel that it will be enough to deal with all the new charges we are going to get as a result of Bill C-10?

11:55 a.m.

Conservative

Rob Nicholson Niagara Falls, ON

I think the drug treatment courts are part of our overall strategy and the initiatives we have taken. I have been informed by those close to a number of these issues that many times you're getting the same individuals. Again, these individuals are involved with organized crime and the drug trafficking is not just something that somebody came up with one day when they decided they were going to sell a few drugs. No, they tell me this covers individuals who have been involved with this activity many times or for quite some time. While these individuals from time to time do get caught up in the criminal justice system, many times we're dealing with the same individuals.

One common denominator is that they tell me the people who get involved with this kind of activity are part of organized crime. These individuals who get involved with this kind of activity are professionals. As you quite correctly point out, the drug treatment courts are one part of this. I know the provinces have a number of different programs that will work with this. When I talk about a national anti-drug strategy, I don't mean to indicate that it's just the federal government. When I get together with my provincial and territorial counterparts, they are very vocal about what they are doing to assist those who get involved with the drug business in this country.

I say to them and I say to you that we all have a stake in this. While the federal government is part of that and part of the initiatives you've seen me outline here today—and I've talked many times before—we're part of an overall larger scheme to try to assist people to get off drugs, to stay away from drugs, but also to go after those individuals who are in the business of supplying them with these sometimes lethal items.

11:55 a.m.

NDP

Charmaine Borg Terrebonne—Blainville, QC

Thank you.

My second question deals with the fact that federal payments to provinces for youth justice services will not increase at all in the 2012-2013 main estimates, according to the figures we have before us today.

Why is the government not planning to increase those contributions that are so important in helping to reduce youth crime rates, planning instead to send the bill for prisons and the justice system under Bill C-10 to the provinces?

11:55 a.m.

Conservative

Rob Nicholson Niagara Falls, ON

Again, we do actually contribute more to the provinces each year. In last year's budget, the increase to the provinces over and above what we've given was $2.4 billion. There have been considerable increases over the six-plus years in which we have been in government, and again, that's one of the items—what we are transferring to the provinces—that I for one always have a look at on budget day. Again, it's $2.4 billion at a time when there are restraints, and as they say, money doesn't grow on trees.

I was pleased to see the increase to the provinces last year, and again, we'll have to wait for this budget.

Noon

NDP

Charmaine Borg Terrebonne—Blainville, QC

I would like to speak more specifically about young people. I understand that you always have to evaluate the transfers, but there are going to be changes that will have consequences for the courts. In fact, changes have been made to the youth justice system.

That was a choice. Since the government imposed those changes, why did it not choose instead to help the provinces?

Noon

Conservative

Rob Nicholson Niagara Falls, ON

Well, I do believe we assist them.

With respect to young people, the bill we had before us last night, which was voted on in the House of Commons, targets a relatively small group of out-of-control and dangerous young people who are often a danger not just to the public but to themselves. Again, we work with our provincial counterparts at all different levels of this, and again, we have increased the contributions that the provinces can spend on young people, adults, and seniors. I believe it's quite substantial—$2.4 billion in the last year alone.

I won't speak for this budget here. That would be beyond my mandate, but certainly all of us look forward to the budget coming up in the next couple of weeks.

Noon

Conservative

The Chair Dave MacKenzie

Thank you, Minister.

I thank your officials for being here.

We do understand you need to be somewhere else, so we will suspend briefly and go in camera.

[Proceedings continue in camera]