House of Commons Hansard #79 of the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was use.

Topics

Controlled Drugs and Substances Act
Government Orders

1:40 p.m.

Liberal

Larry Bagnell Yukon, YT

Mr. Speaker, I was happy the member mentioned the four pillars. I would like her to comment further on the pillar about other activities that would reduce the use of drugs, especially among youth.

While she thinks about that, I will talk about a project in my riding. Young aboriginal carvers who have exceptional talent but have problems with employment or substance abuse have been funded for this program. Some of them are now master carvers. It is an excellent use of their talent and gets them into a positive activity. It has been a great project, but I think the funding is running out. I hope the member would support more funding for it. She might have ideas of other projects similar to that so that the total answer is not simply incarceration.

Controlled Drugs and Substances Act
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

NDP

Olivia Chow Trinity—Spadina, ON

Mr. Speaker, yes, I too have seen from small towns to big cities the fact that we need to believe in our young people because they are our best allies against illegal drug use in order to keep our streets safe. I have seen very effective holistic approaches that deal with drug addictions.

I have seen young people living on the streets who are trapped in a cycle of addictions and violence, yet their lives completely turn around when they discover self-confidence, when they discover, in the case of the hon. member's riding, being able to carve.

In downtown Toronto there are programs to teach young people art, whether it is mural painting, making music, or sketching or even small things like making jewellery so they can sell it. It gives them a sense of self-confidence.

Once they have that sense of self-confidence and a feeling of pride of who they are and that they are no longer living in a cycle of poverty, that they have some means of employment or some hope so that they can go back to school or return to their families, then we see their lives turning around.

They feel they no longer need drugs in order to feel that they are important. I have seen young people who abused themselves and abused drugs because they did not feel important. They did not feel loved but once they found the power within themselves it liberated them to have the confidence to say no to drugs, to say no to that cycle of living on the streets and living in violence.

However, these kinds of programs are very holistic. They are not cheap because they deal with the people as individuals, as human beings rather than as criminals to be removed from society, thrown away in jail or locked up so we will never have to look at them again. This approach of locking them up and throwing away the key, and these young people do come back out on the street and they become hardened criminals, makes the entire matter far worse.

Controlled Drugs and Substances Act
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

NDP

Denise Savoie Victoria, BC

Mr. Speaker, I have heard the police in my riding say that without a solid harm reduction strategy, they are really helpless in dealing with drugs. What they are dealing with is essentially, and I quote a public statement that some police made, “a social and health issue”.

My colleague has explained very well the inadequate response of the Conservative government, providing very minuscule amounts to prevention, detox and treatment. I see the leadership is really coming from local community groups. I see groups in Victoria like the Cool Aid Society and Our Place Society, and there is another group wanting to start a therapeutic community to help young people. They are all struggling to make ends meet to deal adequately with this issue.

I am wondering if my colleague would like to comment on the kinds of difficulties that such groups have in their communities because they are underfunded by the federal government.

Controlled Drugs and Substances Act
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

NDP

Olivia Chow Trinity—Spadina, ON

Mr. Speaker, there really is a complete lack of funding, whether it is a drug prevention program or a drug treatment program or an enhancement for the community so that it has the capacity to come up with innovative solutions.

We know the answer lies in strengthening a family, strengthening a community, strengthening a neighbourhood, but they often find the funding is short term.

It goes from project to project; it is project-based. Once the project is finished, even though it is tremendously effective, creates a lot of goodwill in the community, brings lots of hope and excitement and is in the community, maybe after a year, perhaps after two years, all of that goodwill, all of those effective strategies completely go to waste. Five years later maybe the community is offered yet another pilot project funding.

There is absolutely no opportunity for administrative support, to learn from successes, and to take the best practices of all these wonderful neighbourhood and community-based successful programs. They are not used collectively to create a permanent long term strategy. That is not done because of a complete lack of leadership in drug prevention programs and strategies here in Ottawa.

There are also many other things, even something as simple as a 24-hour crisis hotline for people who are abusing drugs. If I notice that my teenage daughter or my teenage son may be abusing something and getting into dangerous territory, what do I do as a parent? Am I able to call a 24-hour hotline? Is there a crisis intervention strategy across the country? No. So parents are often left alone, struggling to figure out what to do.

If there were mandatory minimum sentences, we would see some teenagers, because they just got caught up with the wrong groups of people, gangs or whatever, facing huge criminal charges, and these could be first-time young offenders. They need an opportunity for a second chance. Once they go to jail, they learn to become hardcore criminals. They have a criminal record. They graduate from jail and become completely trapped in that cycle of poverty, drug use and violence. That is a completely wrong approach.

Controlled Drugs and Substances Act
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

Liberal

Tina Keeper Churchill, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to participate in this important debate today.

The bill is being introduced to further the Conservative tough on crime agenda. It is clear, with the number of justice bills the Conservatives have introduced over both sessions of the 39th Parliament, that this will be one of the major focal points of their re-election campaign.

The Controlled Drugs and Substances Act regulates certain types of drugs and associated substances. The new legislation would amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, focus on drugs in schedule 1, which includes opiates such as opium, heroin, morphine, cocaine and methamphetamine, and schedule 2, cannabis related, including marijuana.

Currently there are no mandatory prison terms under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, but the most important serious drug offences have a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.

Under the proposed legislation, anyone found guilty of a serious drug offence would automatically receive a mandatory term of imprisonment. For the purposes of this initiative, serious drug offences mean production, trafficking, possession for the purpose of trafficking, importing and exporting and possession for the purpose of exporting.

The bill would amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act to include mandatory prison terms for drugs listed in schedule 1, such as heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine, and in schedule 2, such as cannabis, marijuana. Generally the mandatory sentence would apply where there would be an aggravating factor and would also be increased where the production of the drugs would constitute a potential security, health or safety hazard. Also, the maximum penalty for the production of schedule 2 drugs, for example, marijuana, would be increased from 7 to 14 years.

Commonly known date rape drugs include GHB and Flunitrazepam and will be moved from schedule 3 to schedule 1 and it will provide access to higher maximum penalties for illegal activities involving these drugs.

The legislation would allow the drug treatment court to impose a penalty other than a mandatory sentence on an offender who has a previous conviction for a serious drug offence where: (a) the offence involves no other aggravating factors; and (b) the offender successfully completes the drug treatment court treatment program.

As we can see, this is a very important debate. It is certainly a conversation or dialogue that Canadians are having from coast to coast to coast. We heard members speak to the bill today. Liberal members have said that they are supporting the bill going to committee because of the importance of the dialogue Canadians are having.

We agree there must be a balanced approach. The hon. member for Trinity—Spadina spoke extensively about the four pillars approach, which includes prevention, treatment, harm reduction and enforcement, on the war drugs.

The Conservatives are taking a hard-nosed approach, which does not seem to be designed to encourage the four pillars approach. It is very reminiscent of the Republican approach with its war on drugs. The Conservatives are tagging this as a war on crime. The problem with this is it is not a balanced approach. As Canadians are engaged in a dialogue about the increase in crime and the types of crime, the increase in gang violence and the increase in serious offences related to drugs, there absolutely has to be a dialogue.

When we look at the drug policy budget in Canada, 73% of it is spent on enforcement, and rightfully so, but when there is not enough money budgeted to begin with, only 14% goes to treatment, 7% to research, 2.6% to prevention and 2.6% to harm reduction. The budget is not adequate. We need to be resourcing all sectors of these strategies.

When we talk about the Conservative approach, it is a war on crime and a war on drugs. I will quote Dan Lett, a writer for the Winnipeg Free Press in response to the Prime Minister's announcement yesterday in Winnipeg to battle auto theft. He said, “Harper's pledge Monday was to introduce tougher laws to crack down on the trafficking—

Controlled Drugs and Substances Act
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Bill Blaikie

Order, please. The hon. member knows she should be using the quote in such a way as to not mention the Prime Minister by name. Perhaps we will end it there. The member has 14 minutes left.

We will move to statements by members.

CTV
Statements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

James Rajotte Edmonton—Leduc, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to welcome anchors from CTV and A-Channel who have travelled to Ottawa from across Canada to mark their long-standing commitment to local and national news.

It was not fancy, but it was over 50 years ago that the first images, originating from the little log cabin, flickered across TV sets in northern Alberta. CTV Edmonton has been the overwhelming choice for local news and information ever since. Thousands of constituents in my riding tune in every night for the information they need.

Local newscasts from CTV and A-Channel stations have been a vital part of Canadian communities like Edmonton since the 1950s, telling stories that matter to millions of Canadians and supporting the causes that contribute and build our communities. Distinctive local and national news continues to be a vital element of Canadian cultural fabric.

On behalf of the Conservative caucus, I congratulate CTV as it marks its long-standing commitment to local and national news.

Women for African Grandmothers
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Joe Volpe Eglinton—Lawrence, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise to praise a constituent who is leading the Toronto chapter of Women for African Grandmothers. Beverly Britz is spearheading the effort to ensure that affordable drugs reach the developing world for the treatment of HIV-AIDS. Right now in Africa more than 11 million orphans are being raised by their grandmothers.

This group is currently working to have Canadian law allow the free flow of affordable drugs to developing countries by pursuing legislative changes to Canada's Access to Medicines Regime in the House of Commons. Parliamentarians must come together with the political will to save lives and eliminate suffering. Legislative measures should be taken now by the Minister of Industry to improve access to medicines for the developing world.

Beverly Britz and her group are doing their part. I urge all members of Parliament to support Women for African Grandmothers in this noble cause to help those suffering and dying from HIV-AIDS in Africa.

HEC Montréal
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Bloc

Jean-Yves Laforest Saint-Maurice—Champlain, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Standard Life—HEC Montréal fund team took first place at the eighth Redefining Investment Strategy Education (RISE) Forum. Created in 1999 with a $2 million donation, the fund now has a market value of nearly $4 million, making it the second-largest student fund in Canada.

The students managing this year's fund were awarded this prestigious international prize as part of an annual competition organized by Dayton University in partnership with the United Nations Global Compact program.

The funds are evaluated on the basis of their performance, and the HEC fund came out on top in the international category, with a 10.83% annual return. The students manage the fund through a management committee and act as portfolio analysts and managers.

On behalf of my Bloc Québécois colleagues, I would like to extend our most sincere congratulations to the HEC students for this top prize.

CTV
Statements By Members

April 15th, 2008 / 2 p.m.

NDP

Judy Wasylycia-Leis Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, I remember the first time I was invited to a TV newsroom. Like most ordinary Canadians, I found the experience slightly overwhelming. A whirlwind of cameras, cables, lights, microphones and a lot of people with big hearts keep it all together with the help of plenty of duct tape, of course.

CTV News is celebrating 50 years of providing Canadians with the news they need. When CTV World News first launched it was broadcast from Ottawa and was hosted by three anchors, names we recognize today: Charles Lynch, Peter Stursberg and Peter Jennings.

Since then CTV has been home to Canada's longest running morning show, Canada AM. The CTV weekly news magazine W5 has been a Canadian investigative news powerhouse since its first broadcast in 1966.

Where would we be in places like Winnipeg without the CKY supper hour news? Where would we be without that constant voice in our local communities? I want to thank all those involved in Winnipeg, the technicians, the journalists, the anchors, the administrators, everyone who has brought us such a powerful local news network.

Now calling itself Canada's #1 network, I would suggest that CTV News—

CTV
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Bill Blaikie

The hon. member for Lévis—Bellechasse.

Monique Leroux
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Steven Blaney Lévis—Bellechasse, QC

Mr. Speaker, “In the near future, a woman will become president of a major Canadian financial institution”. This was the prediction made in 2006 by the woman who was elected, on March 15, as President and CEO of the Desjardins Group.

Ms. Monique Leroux is the first woman to hold the highest position at the largest financial cooperative movement in Canada in 108 years.

A talented musician and exceptional businesswoman, Ms. Leroux is already introducing some dynamic views on decentralization while maintaining her cooperative convictions. Established in Lévis, the cradle of the cooperative movement, Desjardins is the largest private employer in Quebec. Its 6 million members, 40,000 employees—including 8,500 in the Lévis and Quebec City areas—and assets of $144 billion, make Desjardins a strategic force in the Canadian economy.

Ms. Leroux is following in the footsteps of Alphonse Desjardins, who worked here in this House and who dedicated himself to the movement. I wish her all the best in her mandate at the service of the cooperative movement in Canada and abroad.

Vaisakhi
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Gurbax Malhi Bramalea—Gore—Malton, ON

Mr. Speaker, this week the Sikh community celebrates Vaisakhi, the 309th anniversary of the founding of the Sikh fellowship, Khalsa. Vaisakhi is one of the most important dates in Sikhism and is marked by cultural and religious events across Canada and around the world.

Each year since I was first elected to the House of Commons, I have hosted a Vaisakhi ceremony in my Ottawa office. I wish to thank all my colleagues who were at this morning's event, including the hon. Leader of the Opposition, the hon. opposition House leader, and the hon. chief opposition whip. I would also like to thank you, Mr. Speaker, for attending every Vaisakhi ceremony on Parliament Hill since 1994.

To all the people who attended today's ceremony, I give my most sincere thanks.

Recreational Vehicles
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Dean Del Mastro Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Recreational Vehicle Dealers Association of Canada's members, along with industry partners from Campgrounds Campings Canada and other RV stakeholders,are on Parliament Hill today as part of their annual industry advocacy day.

Representatives will be meeting with a number of MPs to discuss the growing RV trend and the important role that the RV industry plays in exploring this wonderful country that we live in.

According to its national ownership survey released in 2007, 14% of households own an RV and 90% of RV owners say that their number one priority is exploring Canada. In fact, a 2007 survey on vacation patterns revealed that RV owners were more than twice as likely to spend their vacation time and dollars in Canada as compared to non-RV owners.

I am sure my colleagues in the House will agree that with the strength and continued growth of this family friendly industry, recreational vehicles will continue to play an essential role in showcasing Canada as the beautiful country that it is.

Rural Mail Delivery
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Bloc

Mario Laframboise Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, Canada Post is currently conducting a review of rural mailboxes. A number of citizens have already been informed that their mail will no longer be delivered because the location of their mailboxes is dangerous. Canada Post is making a unilateral decision to deliver mail to community mailboxes without first consulting the citizens concerned, causing much anger in the rural communities.

The Canadian Union of Postal Workers is calling for a moratorium on rural mail delivery. The Bloc Québécois supports this request. Canada Post must stop making decisions on rural mail delivery without consulting the citizens concerned and the labour leaders representing the letter carriers working outside urban centres. Every possible delivery avenue must be examined with the public and the workers concerned, who are the best placed to find solutions that are acceptable to all parties. I am also asking that the review of the rural mailboxes already underway be done again in consultation with the public through their municipality.