An Act to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (methamphetamine)

This bill was last introduced in the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session, which ended in September 2008.

This bill was previously introduced in the 39th Parliament, 1st Session.

Sponsor

Chris Warkentin  Conservative

Introduced as a private member’s bill. (These don’t often become law.)

Status

Not active, as of June 14, 2007
(This bill did not become law.)

Summary

This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.

This enactment amends the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act to prohibit the production, possession and sale of any substance or any equipment or other material that is intended for use in production of or trafficking in methamphetamine.

Elsewhere

All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, provided by the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

Controlled Drugs and Substances ActPrivate Members' Business

May 7th, 2010 / 2:05 p.m.
See context

NDP

Megan Leslie NDP Halifax, NS

Madam Speaker, currently, under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, the CDSA, it is illegal to produce, traffic or import methamphetamines and ecstasy, as it is for all illegal drugs. Bill C-475 would extend to the ingredients of methamphetamines and ecstasy and changes the act to make it illegal to produce, sell or import anything that would be used to produce the final product.

It is really a reincarnation of Bill C-428 from the 39th Parliament, only this version was changed to include ecstasy and a few other very minor wording changes. It is important to let people know that this bill does not include mandatory minimums, which is not like other crime bills that we have seen introduced by government members.

The main point about the bill is that it would not do very much to enable the justice system to deal more effectively or efficiently with methamphetamines or ecstasy. It may seem like it would because it talks about the ingredients of meth and ecstasy, but it would appear that the justice system already has an adequate way of dealing with this through its organized crime provisions in the Criminal Code.

At committee I was able to ask legislative counsel from the Department of Justice about the bill. I will like read from the transcript. The member from Halifax said:

Thank you, Mr. Chair. I have one question for you. Hopefully you can answer it. Do you see this amendment capturing any situation that isn't already covered by the organized crime provisions, or is it just the provision in and of itself that it's illegal to produce? Do you see this as actually having an impact?

The lawyer answered:

In terms of the production, I don't think so; nothing comes to mind. In terms of the impact on organized crime, I don't think it has an impact either.

The member from Halifax said:

Do you mean no impact positive or negative?

The Justice lawyer answered:

Hopefully it will have a positive effect in the sense that it will act as a deterrent, but in terms of the relationship between this offence and other offences, I don't think there is any.

The member from Halifax said:

Those are all my questions. Thanks.

Ultimately, it seems like it would not have very much of an effect. The lawyer did mention deterrence, however, the House has heard reams of evidence showing that deterrence is not really an effective strategy when it comes to drug crimes.

Should we support a bill that does not seem to have very much effect? Is this an example of the maxim, no harm, no foul? It is a private member's bill, so I submit that there are two considerations. First, I do respect any member's attempt to respond to the needs of his or her constituents by bringing forward a private member's bill. Our ability to bring forward legislation is a special privilege and it is a very challenging thing to see realized as there are so many steps to getting a piece of legislation through the House. Private member's bills are usually a direct response to the needs or the demands of constituents in a riding, so I tend to give a lot of weight to private member's bills, provided they are not harmful.

Therefore, I do congratulate the efforts that the member for West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country has made to see this bill through the House.

The second thing to consider when deciding how to vote on a private member's bill is the fact that it is a free vote and all members get to make up their mind on whether they will support it. If other members of the House were to ask me for my advice on whether they should support it, I would say that it was their choice. It does not seem to have much of an impact but it does not seem to have a negative impact either.

I would like to use the rest of my time to talk about what good drug policy would look like. Would it not be exciting to debate intelligent drug policy for Canada? First, with regard to drug labs, we have seen some really interesting non-criminal ways of dealing with labs in the U.S. The U.S. has seen more successes with commercial and consumer regulation which limits the quantity of over-the-counter medication that a person can purchase and it questions the reason for the purchase. This kind of regulation can serve to limit the production of drugs like methamphetamine and ecstasy and it can act like a preventive measure, unlike this bill.

The existing legislation that we have in the Criminal Code or in the CDSA, the CDSA serves more as an after the fact punishment if a person is caught rather than effectively trying to reduce the ability to produce.

Regulations like the U.S. legislation requiring photo ID and a signature also provide ways to track, identify and police offenders who purchase over-the-counter drugs for meth and ecstasy production. Therefore, why are we not looking at U.S. solutions that have worked like consumer and commercial regulations, instead of adopting solutions that have failed, like a bloated prison system?

Why are we not looking at harm reduction? We have Mainline Needle Exchange back home in Halifax and Vancouver has Insite, a safe injection site. Despite the life-saving successes of harm reduction measures, such as needle exchanges, successes in reducing the spread of HIV and hepatitis C among drug users and successes in increasing access to treatment, in 2007, the Conservatives introduced a new anti-drug strategy for Canada that removed all references to harm reduction.

Instead, the government has put greater emphasis on law enforcement. What a big surprise. It moves Canada closer and closer to an expensive and failed U.S.-style drug system. Right now, Canada spends 73% of its drug policy budget on enforcement. Still, drug use continues to rise. If we look at the numbers, there is 73% to enforcement, 14% to treatment, 7% to research, 2.6% to prevention and 2.6% to harm reduction.

In 2008, the National Framework for Action to Reduce the Harms Associated with Alcohol and Other Drugs and Substances in Canada convened a working group. Members included federal agencies and provincial health agencies like Health Canada and the Nova Scotia Department of Health Promotion and Protection. It also included related agency representatives from the Correctional Service of Canada, the College of Family Physicians of Canada and the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse. That is quite the team they put together.

The working groups points out:

Research findings suggest that providing appropriate services and supports across a range of systems not only reduces substance use problems but also improves a wide range of outcomes related to health, social functioning and criminal justice. Such a spectrum of services and supports is also a good investment for government, because it returns economic benefits that far outstrip its cost.

The group is calling for a national treatment strategy. This national treatment strategy would look at building capacity across a continuum of services and supports. It would look at supporting that continuum of services and supports. It would look at developing a research program and would also consider reducing stigma and discrimination. How we would do that and what that would look like?

That is intelligent drug policy and that is the kind of drug policy that we can get behind. The NDP is calling for better and more prevention programs directed at at-risk youth. We are calling for more resources for prosecution and the enforcement of existing laws. We are calling for more officers on the street, as promised by the Conservatives but not yet delivered. We are calling for an overall co-ordinated strategy focused on gangs and organized crime and also toughened proceeds of crime legislation.

Controlled Drugs and Substances ActPrivate Members' Business

November 30th, 2009 / 11:40 a.m.
See context

NDP

Joe Comartin NDP Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak to private member's Bill C-475. This is a reincarnation, if I can use that term, of Bill C-428 that was presented to the House by the member for Peace River and passed by the House in the last Parliament. Like so many other bills, it died on the order paper when the Conservative Party and the Prime Minister decided to hold an election. So it is coming back and I want to acknowledge the work that has been done by the author of the bill, the member for West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country. It is lovely countryside and I enjoy going out there whenever I get the chance.

The bill deals with what is, by any standard, a scourge, a really horrendous problem for our society, particularly for our young people. It attempts to further control access to methamphetamines and the drug ecstasy, to use its street name. It is a tragedy that we repeatedly run across. All members of the House at some point have had constituents come in to talk to them about this.

The drugs ecstasy and methamphetamines are both highly addictive. Not only are they highly addictive, but they are also addictive at a very rapid pace. Sometimes just an initial taking of it is enough to hook people on it and, certainly, if someone uses it three to five times there is a very high probability that he or she is going to be addicted. Also, if it is used repeatedly in any kind of high volume, strong medical evidence now shows that it causes brain damage.

The availability of this drug has an interesting history here in Canada, but what has been very clear is that it is particularly attractive to young people. As we heard from my colleague from the Bloc, even children in elementary schools get access to it. It is cheap. It is cheap to make and therefore is quite accessible on the street.

It has an interesting history here in Canada in that it started as an epidemic in the smaller communities in the mid-northern parts of the country, particularly in the western provinces. The explanation we have been given by the police authorities who have been dealing with it is that it was cheap to set up the labs and the labs were easily concealable in smaller communities. Fairly clearly, it was street gangs that were doing this as opposed to the larger organized crime syndicates that we have, although there is some indication that they are now involved in it quite substantially as well. But the initial phases were in small rural communities and it became an epidemic within a year.

Interestingly, what then happened, which I suppose is not that unusual, is that it expanded eastward and southward in this country and then southward into the United States. We have become, as we have heard from other speakers today, a major exporter of these particular drugs to the United States.

As a bit of an aside, I would like to relate some of the work we have done and information we have received both at the justice committee and public safety committee, where we heard from our police forces and communities. I want to praise these communities, particularly in the rural parts of the country. They moved as communities to effectively shut down the labs in a number of the communities and developed treatment for the youth who had been affected and addicted to these substances. It really is a good news story from that perspective. Community by community, they learned from each other and responded to this problem.

I am not going to suggest this was the be all and the end all to ending it. However, a number of the smaller communities, especially in the western provinces, were quite effective at responding to it once they had identified how bad it was.

I have to say it has been less successful in other parts of the country and is being worked on now, in co-operation with police forces and community groups. As well, there is more and more evidence that the addiction can be treated. Obviously, the person has to get off it completely. It is fairly clear that the work to rebuild a person's psychological strength can be done.

There is one other point I want to raise with regard to this phenomenon vis-à-vis Canada. The precursors, the chemical components to these drugs by and large come in from other countries. Some come from the United States to a significant degree. Some come from Asia, as well. There was a problem, for instance in the state of New York, and the stories we heard were well documented to be accurate and not just anecdotal, that people would clear the shelves of Sudafed. There are components in Sudafed that are used to make these drugs. People would go in to drug stores and literally take all of the Sudafed. The state of New York has moved to ban that. People are allowed to buy only enough Sudafed to deal with a cold, not enough to be used in the production of other drugs.

The state of New York and other states in the United States have moved to regulate those chemicals at source. If a person is manufacturing these precursors and then selling them, the person buying them has to show what they are going to be used for and why the volume being bought is needed. It has been quite effective in restricting the labs in the United States. What had been happening, and is still happening here, is the purchaser would conveniently sell it in smaller batches to any number of people. Clearly the person would have to know that some of it was getting into the hands of gangs to be used for the purposes of making illicit drugs.

Some states have shut that down by regulating it. They did not use criminal law, they used commercial and consumer regulation. What happens now is that a chain is created. The producer has to report to whom it was sold and in what volume. The person purchasing it has to do the same thing. If people then break it into sublots and sell it off, they have to show to whom they have sold it and they have to have an explanation as to what it is going to be used for. It has been quite effective in the United States to use the regulatory framework, not criminal law, to shut it down, to a great extent, leaving Canada, as I and other members have said, as an importer. The same process is going on in Canada, in terms of the sales, but the regulatory infrastructure is not in place in this country.

I do not want in any way to demean the effort of the member with respect to this legislation because we are supporting it; it is one step that is needed. However, in order to really get at this, we also need to regulate this from the producer right through the whole chain so that we are assured that it does not get into the hands of the gangs, or if it does, that we are able to trace it right to them and use this legislation to charge and convict them.

Financial Administration ActPrivate Members' Business

May 30th, 2008 / 1:30 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Chris Warkentin Conservative Peace River, AB

moved that Bill S-201, An Act to amend the Financial Administration Act and the Bank of Canada Act (quarterly financial reports), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to stand in the House again this afternoon to speak. This time it is with regard to Bill S-201.

Mr. Speaker, before I get started, I want to commend you and the other chair officers who have been working late hours the last couple of nights and yet you are still here on Friday afternoon. I would like to commend you for your diligence in this respect.

Today I am here to talk about Bill S-201, An Act to amend the Financial Administration Act and the Bank of Canada Act (quarterly financial reports).

I will begin by commending Senator Hugh Segal who brought this forward and has been working diligently with respect to the matters that are addressed in this bill and issues of accountability and transparency that the senators and I share.

I know this bill had a previous incarnation in the Senate before prorogation last fall but, unfortunately, it did not get out of committee before prorogation and therefore had to go through the whole process again.

I know that the careful consideration that was given by the hon. senators in the other place, especially within the national finance committee, is greatly appreciated by all members of the House. My private member's bill, Bill C-428, is in the other place and is going through the same consideration, the same thoughtful process that I know this private member's bill has gone through. I would like to commend the senators who worked diligently not only on this bill but also on my bill and many of my colleagues' bills as well.

The bill that we are here to discuss is Bill S-201, which seeks to amend the Financial Administration Act and the Bank of Canada Act. The requirements that would change are as follows. This would require that all departments, agencies and parent crown corporations would table financial statements on a quarterly basis. The bill would create a more transparent financial management system in government and would allow parliamentarians and all Canadians to see the way the government is spending money and ensuring that it is delivering programs effectively.

I wholeheartedly agree with the objectives of this bill. It would ensure greater accountability and transparency of government. The good, hard-working Canadians who pay their taxes on a regular basis and the people from my constituency really deserve no less.

The objectives are really in keeping with our government's commitment to Canadians to increase accountability of government. Accountability is the foundation of Canada's system of responsible government. It is key to assuring Canadians and Parliament that public resources are effectively and efficiently used.

I am especially proud of the Federal Accountability Act that this government brought forward as its first piece of legislation because it provides Canadians with the assurance that the powers entrusted to government are being exercised in the public interest.

However, accountability does not stop there. It has to be throughout government. An accountable government ensures that Canadians' hard-earned tax dollars are not wasted and ensures they are invested in responsible and effective programs that meet Canadians' needs. In fact, the sound stewardship of Canadian tax dollars ensures they receive value for money, and that is a top priority for myself and our government.

There have been some important improvements brought forward by our government in working to ensure that Parliament has the information it needs to hold any government of any day to account. For example, we have made several improvements to the estimates documents to provide more meaningful information to parliamentarians and make these documents more user friendly.

The Treasury Board Secretariat has worked with departments and agencies to improve the quality of information presented for their individual requirements. This has resulted in better information describing the nature of transactions, including the offset of new spending requirements through the use of existing spending authorities.

In the past year we have made other changes, including provisions of clearer summary tables, a presentation of gross financial requirements for each organization and an explanation of the funds available to offset new spending requirements. These improvements allow hon. members in the House to get a better understanding of the government's spending plans and to ensure that they can hold the government to account.

We are also strengthening the oversight role in the use of public funds. The creation of a parliamentary budget officer is a long realized dream of my predecessor, the member from Peace River, whom I replaced, Charlie Penson.

After a decade of advocating for this officer of Parliament who would provide objective analysis to the nation's finances, Mr. Kevin Page was appointed by the Conservative government as our first Parliamentary Budget Officer, and that happened in March of this year. This is another move to realize a decade long dream of advancing transparency and accountability within government that my predecessor had and for which I know many members of the House have been advocating for nearly a decade.

This new officer of Parliament position was announced in the Federal Accountability Act and is now included within the Parliament of Canada Act. The person has three main responsibilities: first, to provide objective analysis to the House of Commons and to the Senate concerning the state of the nation's finances and trend within the general economy; second, he has the responsibility to undertake economic and fiscal research for House of Commons standing committees; and third, he estimates the financial cost of proposals currently or prospectively under consideration in either the House when requested to do so by a member or a committee of the Senate or the House of Commons, or a committee of both Houses.

In talking with the new Parliamentary Budget Officer, I had an opportunity to discuss the bill that is currently before us today, Bill S-201. I can say that our new officer of Parliament is very supportive of this new bill. It would actually improve his capability of helping out members of Parliament and senators.

In addition to the Parliamentary Budget Officer, the government has recently implemented a new expenditure management system as well. This system will rigorously and systematically assess all direct program spending and operating costs of major programs. Further, all government organizations are required to conduct their program strategic reviews to assess how and whether they are first, efficient and effective; second, able to meet the priorities of Canadians; and third, are aligned with federal responsibilities.

The first round of strategic reviews was completed in the fiscal 2007-08 year with departments identifying expenditures totalling some $386 million a year of program that are low performing or programs that are no longer needed.

In the fiscal year 2008-09, 16 departments and agencies are reviewing their program spending. This covers a total spending of $20 billion. These reviews will help us reduce spending in inefficient or ineffective programs and stop those that just do not work. These will help to ensure that every tax dollar that we collect, as government, is spent to deliver the necessary programs to Canadians. They will help us to control the overall growth of government spending.

This is simply good management. It is the same thing Canadian families to ensure they are spending efficiently. When they shift their priorities, they need to ensure they are living within their means. Governments should act no differently. That is good management, good government and it is good leadership for Canadians.

The first fruits borne by this more disciplined approach were announced recently in the savings of $386 million, money that will be redirected to new initiatives within departments or within the government at large.

Taken together with the key elements of this new expenditure management system, it will ensure that taxpayer dollars are well managed, that they are spent in responsible ways and that the management of doing this will ensure that the business of government is responding to the needs of Canadians.

I will now turn directly to the bill we are talking about this afternoon. The bill also supports accountability and the sound stewardship of all tax dollars. I will explain how.

By increasing the quality and frequency of financial reporting to Parliament and Canadians, the bill will ensure that they are informed of recent developments in government operations. As such, it will facilitate oversight by parliamentarians of government spending on a timely basis.

It is imperative that we have the correct information in a timely manner in order to combat waste of money. Every dollar the taxpayers pay must be treated with respect and must be closely monitored.

Let me step back for a second and outline how the current reporting system works. The government prepares a federal budget and summary financial statements on an annual basis. The Department of Finance also publishes a monthly fiscal monitor that reports on the government's overall fiscal results. While this report does contain some departmental information, it does so in such an aggregated way that it really only reflects government's performance overall.

This bill will require that all federal departments, government agencies and crown corporations would have to, in addition, submit quarterly financial reports to Parliament. This would be a substantial increase in the timeliness and quality of information reported to Parliament.

It is important to note that the Senate has already made some important improvements to the bill. For example, it was amended to require that financial statements are made public 60 days after the quarter end. This will provide for a more regular reporting timetable while lessening the burden on organizations. It will also avoid the need to defer the release of quarterly financial statements during recess or prorogation.

These are amendments that I thank the hon. senators for making, because they provide additional transparency for parliamentarians and Canadians.

I would also like to take this opportunity to explain that the government has been working diligently to strengthen financial management across the federal government. A sound system of financial controls improves this organization's ability to manage risk.

In this area, we have taken a number of steps to strengthen both our policy and our practice. For example, by March 2009, we should have in place a renewed financial management framework and policies that clarify the responsibilities and accountabilities of deputy ministers and senior officials within government.

In addition, our audit policy is strengthening public sector accountability, risk management, resource stewardship and good governance by reorganizing and bolstering internal audit functions on a government-wide basis.

This involvement ensures the independence of internal audit from line management by introducing two points. The first is departmental audit committees, which will include a majority of competent and experienced members drawn from outside the federal public service. The second is the organizational independence of chief audit executives, who will lead audit functions and must now report directly to the deputy head.

In conclusion, I want to ensure that there will be no doubt that the government is committed to improving accountability and increasing transparency. We have proven that not only in word but also in action. I will stand with hard-working taxpaying Canadians and support legislation like this bill, which will ensure greater transparency for government expenditures.

We support quarterly financial reporting requirements by all federal departments, agencies and parent crown corporations. The measures that I have talked about today will provide Canadians with the open and honest government they deserve, one that acts transparently, ensures value for money and demonstrates accountability.

Controlled Drugs and Substances ActGovernment Orders

April 15th, 2008 / 12:15 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Chris Warkentin Conservative Peace River, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is with considerable pleasure that I rise today to speak to Bill C-26. From my constituency, I hear great concern with regard to the impact of the drug trade and the drug fueled crime that results from that trade.

With crystal meth, the date rape drug, the marijuana grow ops and clandestine labs proliferating in our communities from coast to coast, Canadians are demanding that the Government of Canada take some action.

In the last election we promised to crack down on drug crime. We promised that we would “introduce mandatory minimum sentences for designated drug trafficking offences to ensure that serious crime results in serious punishment”, and that we would, “end conditional sentences or house arrest for serious crimes, including major drug offences”. We also promised that we would support results oriented community based initiatives for addiction treatments, training and rehabilitation of those who were in trouble with the law.

With Bill C-26 and our national anti-drug strategy, the government is fulfilling these promises.

With the proposed legislation, I am particularly pleased that we will take strong action to combat marijuana grow ops. Why do we need these mandatory minimum penalties for grow ops? We need them because sentences for these offenders amount to little more than a simple slap on the wrist.

Professor Darryl Plecas did a study of all the drug files opened by the police of British Columbia from 1998 to 2003. His findings underscore the need and the urgency for these criminal law reforms.

Professor Plecas found that between 1997 and 2003 indoor grow operations increased in average size from 149 plants to 236 plants. It should be noted that hydro bypasses, which allow for theft of hydro, were seen in approximately one in five grow operations. Also the number of fires associated with grow operations increased from 32 in 1997 to 80 in 2003.

These numbers are important because it draws a picture. Among the suspects, 57% had at least one other drug conviction, 41% had a prior conviction of some form of violence, 22% had a previous conviction for production and 27% had a previous conviction for possession for the purpose of trafficking. On average, suspects had seven convictions occurring over a thirteen year period.

What kind of sentences are the courts imposing? Members may find it hard to believe that Professor Plecas found that only 27% of offenders with nine or more non-drug convictions were imprisoned. For offenders with nine or more drug convictions, only 54% were sentenced to jail time. Moreover, cases in which prison sentencing was the most serious disposition dropped from 19% in 1997 to 10% in 2003, while conditional sentences, as the most serious penalty, increased from 13% to 46%. When a prison sentence was imposed, the average length was only 4.9 months.

Clearly, existing sentences are not deterring individuals with multiple convictions from participating in grow ops over and over again.

I believe all members will agree that these sentences are insufficient to deter persons from being involved in marijuana grow ops. Certainly, I do not think they are appropriate. These sentences do not adequately reflect the serious nature of these crimes.

The issue of grow ops, and specifically crystal meth superlabs, is something in which I have taken a personal interest. My private member's bill, Bill C-428, which is currently being dealt with in the other place, deals with raising the penalties for those who produce and traffic in this dangerous drug.

I have heard from people from coast to coast who are concerned about the illegal drug use. They are concerned especially about the deterrents that are in place for those who produce and distribute these dangerous drugs, which have such a horrific impact in each one of our communities. It is time that Parliament send the needed message as to what we think is the appropriate range of penalties within which a judge can craft a sentence, taking into account the particular circumstances of the offender.

Bill C-26 would set that new range. At present, there is no floor and the ceiling is only seven years. Under Bill C-26 there would be a new maximum of 14 years, indicating clearly to the courts how seriously parliamentarians take this type of crime. More important, there would be mandatory periods of imprisonment that would reflect the number of plants. Those mandatory minimums would be increased where: the production constituted a potential security, health or safety hazard to children who were in the location where the offence was committed or in the immediate area; the production constituted a potential public safety hazard in a residential area; a trap was placed or set; or the offender used real property that belonged to a third party to commit the offence.

Under Bill C-26, the penalties would be: six months for the production of up to 200 marijuana plants where the production was for the purpose of trafficking and nine months where the offence involved safety and health aggravating factors; one year for the production of 201 to 500 plants and 18 months where the offence involved health and safety aggravating factors; and two years for more than 500 plants and three years where the offence involved health and safety aggravating factors.

Clearly these proposed mandatory minimum terms of imprisonment are a measured response and fulfill the promise “ensure that serious crime results in serious punishment”. Moreover, the proposals fulfill the promise to support addiction treatment, training and rehabilitation of those in trouble with the law.

I remind members that where the accused has a previous conviction for a serious drug offence but there are no other aggravating circumstances with respect to the offence before the court, the legislation will allow the court to suspend the imposition of sentence if the offender participates in a drug treatment court program. If the person successfully completes the drug treatment program, the court can impose a lesser sentence.

Drug treatment courts are fairly new to Canada, but they are very promising. I understand that at a press conference on Bill C-26, Joe, the first graduate of Ottawa's drug treatment court, spoke eloquently and emotionally about how the court had helped him to be clean for 16 months. Joe has turned his life around and now he can contribute to society, whereas before he used to commit crimes to get money to feed his drug addiction.

I urge all members of the House to support Bill C-26.

Controlled Drugs and Substances ActPrivate Members' Business

February 8th, 2008 / 1:50 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Mario Silva Liberal Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, today we are debating Bill C-428, An Act to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (methamphetamine). Simply put, the bill is designed, if passed, “to prohibit the production, possession and sale of any substance or any equipment or other material that is intended for the use in the production of or trafficking in methamphetamine”.

It sounds simple and straightforward. Perhaps at one level it is. However, there is much more to the story.

The bill aims to assist in efforts to stem a new and insidious tide of human misery fuelled by a drug that is being seen in ever increasing quantities across the world. A brief history of media coverage across the planet tells the story of crystal meth.

In New Zealand, $1 million of crystal meth was seized by customs authorities. In the United Kingdom, a 32 year old man was convicted and imprisoned for crashing his car into a crowd of shoppers in London, causing a mother and her daughter to have their legs amputated. He was driving at a high rate of speed under the influence of crystal meth.

Here in Canada, Ontario Provincial Police officials have warned Children's Aid workers of the danger to their health and safety when in search of children if they have to enter homes where crystal meth is manufactured or used.

The manufacture and distribution of crystal meth is a machine that produces human misery, destroys lives and knows no bounds in its quest to rob so many promising young people of their future.

The very nature of addiction is tragic and tremendously sad to witness. The lives of those addicted are of course impacted, with tragic consequences. However, so are the lives of those who love them, live with them and share a community with them.

In my city of Toronto, which is not unlike other major cities and communities across the world, the price of drug addiction is a scourge across our collective human landscape, a scourge that leaves footprints across our lives. Indeed, there are few of us in the House who do not know someone or some family that has wrestled through their tears with the terrible and relentless impact of addiction.

The depths to which those who would profit from such misery can sink know no limits. Recently it was reported that in the case of crystal meth there is a new and even more despicable twist to the manufacture of this illegal drug.

We now hear of the production of so-called strawberry meth, which has flavouring added to it to make it more attractive to potential young addicts. It is beyond the comprehension of most of us here how any person could stoop to such depths as to pull our young people into a world of crystal meth addiction with such reprehensible methods, yet this is in fact what is occurring.

Those who peddle such human misery are unfamiliar with even the most basic concepts of human decency. Theirs is a world fuelled by greed and shrouded in the darkness of the human suffering they create but care little, if anything, about.

Therefore, it is incumbent upon all of us as citizens of our country to challenge and to hold to account those who would ravage a generation of young people for no other reason than their desire to feed their greed. It is especially the responsibility of us as legislators to provide our police, our social workers and our justice system with the tools they need to fight the war against this tide. It is a battle we must win if we are to protect our young people, and indeed Canadians, against this terrible reality.

The bill aims to address a very significant aspect of the battle. Stemming the supply of the drug is a major part of dealing with the overall problem of crystal meth.

The reality is that crystal meth is easy to produce in relatively small labs, which take root in regular houses and even hotel rooms. The materials required to manufacture the drug are not overly difficult to obtain.

The profits for those involved in this process can be significant. I understand that an investment of merely $150 can result in up to $10,000 worth of crystal meth.

Those who produce this drug create danger not only for those who become crystal meth users and addicts but also for the community at large. The risks in the manufacturing of this drug include explosions in these labs, the dumping of toxic byproducts in our municipal sewer system, and the contamination of houses, which can prevent occupation for months following the closing of a lab.

The production of crystal meth is a crime that affects the users of the drug and society as a whole.

We should note that the previous Liberal government did take decisive action with respect to crystal meth. In the summer of 2005, penalties for the possession, trafficking, production and importation of crystal meth were increased and it was added to schedule I of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, which regulates the most dangerous of drugs. These were significant and important actions.

We must continue to take whatever steps we can to confront and address this threat.

Crystal meth robs the user of his or her future. It takes from our society the potential contributions of our young people, who deserve so much more, and it brings to society all the accompanying misery of the criminal activity associated with its manufacture and sale.

If we are to win this battle for our children, we must meet the challenge at every opportunity. The legislation we are debating today helps in the fight against crystal meth.

We must also ensure that there is adequate treatment for those who are addicts. We must work to assist families confronting this challenge. We must provide those on the front lines of this battle with the tools they need to deal effectively with this scourge on society.

It is for these reasons that I intend to vote in favour of this bill. I encourage my colleagues to do the same. We owe it to our children and to future generations.

Controlled Drugs and Substances ActPrivate Members' Business

February 8th, 2008 / 1:30 p.m.
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Conservative

Chris Warkentin Conservative Peace River, AB

moved that Bill C-428, An Act to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (methamphetamine), as amended, be read the third time and passed.

Mr. Speaker, I do appreciate being recognized this afternoon and allowed to speak on my private member's bill.

My private member's bill seeks to help take care of the growing problem of methamphetamine or crystal meth in our communities.

The devastation that this drug inflicts on our families and communities across this nation is horrific. The war is on and, quite frankly, we are losing the battle. Too many of our young, healthy citizens are losing years of their life to the devastation of this drug and some are even dying in the grips of its horror.

From coast to coast, Canadians are horrified by the devastation that drugs inflict on our communities, our schools and our families. Meth is one of the greatest threats to many of our communities. Unfortunately, its popularity is increasing.

Meth has a hold on too many of our young citizens and we as parliamentarians have a responsibility to do something about it.

My private member's bill seeks to limit the opportunities for criminal organizations and criminally minded people to wilfully and knowingly assist in the accumulation of precursors and the equipment for the purpose of manufacturing or to sell to someone who will manufacture this life devastating drug.

This is a vital change to the current legislation and it is my prayer and my hope that this will turn the tide on this horrific drug.

Let us not forget what is at the core of this issue. What is truly at the core of this issue is that this issue is about the lives of people.

As I have advanced this bill through the House and as it worked through committee, I have heard heart-wrenching stories from people across this country who have come forward to tell me stories about how their friends, their students, their siblings, and even in one case how their parents have had their lives devastated and destroyed by this drug.

It only takes one use of this drug and many people are addicted for life. The addictive qualities of methamphetamine make it a dangerous drug for any person to experiment with. To quote a person that I met with just last week in my office, she actually is a recovering addict and she said, “I was at the lowest point in my life and the pain was so great. Someone convinced me that the pain would just go away if I'd take the drug”.

She said that was the beginning of a five year horror as she fought the addiction from that day forward. She said if the drug had not been available to her that day, she never would have been hooked.

Meth is a highly addictive drug. With a long-lasting high, and a sense of overwhelming euphoria, it produces effects that many people feel are unmanageable without the drug.

The use and abuse of crystal meth is on the rise throughout Canada. Its prevalence is growing as dealers find new ways to target potential users and sell the drug. It is in our communities, our schools, our families, and it is in our workplaces.

This drug can affect anyone, the rich, the poor, the old and the young. It does not matter if the person is a man or a woman. It seems to affect all these people equally.

It is, however, growing among some of the most vulnerable people in our society. Usage among young people and people that are already at high risk seem to be the people that are falling into the trap of this drug most frequently.

The menace of crystal meth on each of our communities from coast to coast is real and acute. As a nation we must fight back.

Unlike other drugs, methamphetamine does not need to be imported or grown. It can be produced relatively easily right here in our communities in undercover labs that are hard to detect.

Methamphetamine is not legal anywhere in Canada. I think all of us know that. However, the drug can be produced virtually anywhere, in small sheds, basements and even in mobile labs such as the back of cars or in trailers. These makeshift laboratories are extremely dangerous due to the presence of highly flammable liquids and corrosive chemicals, usually mixed together by people who have no expertise or experience in dealing with these types of products.

However, the majority of meth that is sold on our streets today is produced in undercover super labs which can produce up to 10 pounds at a time, or it is also being produced in what is called mid-level labs which produce just under nine pounds at a time. These labs are often referred to by police as clandestine labs.

While there are larger numbers of small scale labs, they produce only 5% of the meth available on the streets today. The small scale or home based labs often are operated by meth users themselves and produce only one ounce at a time, just enough for the user and sometimes to cover the cost of that person's addiction.

The issue here is really about the super labs. These are dangerous labs that require a huge amount of precursor material to produce the quantity of meth that they do. By giving the authorities the tools that are included in the bill, I believe there will be additional opportunities to stop the production in Canada.

Like I have said before, unlike other drugs, meth need not be imported or grown in Canada. That is a very important point for us to recognize. It can be synthesized using components that are readily available. This drug can be ready for distribution in a shockingly short period of time as all the legal precursors are available quite easily in Canada. The ability to purchase these commonly available ingredients, coupled with the ability to produce crystal meth virtually anywhere, makes this a very dangerous combination.

With my bill, the possession of these precursors and equipment, along with the proven criminal intent to produce crystal meth or methamphetamines, would allow the police to seize and lay charges relating to the methamphetamine production. The ability to get this material off our street will enhance public safety.

The RCMP testified before the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights and said that this year marked a dramatic shift in Canada as far as methamphetamine was concerned. We have now gone from a methamphetamine importing nation to a methamphetamine exporting nation. Under the current legislation, it requires that police investigate and maintain an investigation until methamphetamines are at their final stages of chemical synthesis.

The RCMP also stated at the standing committee that this legislation would move the yardstick forward and give it another tool to fight for our communities against this destructive drug.

I will share with the House some other testimony that was provided to the committee. On December 13, 2007, the experts said that if there were a truckload of ephedrine going to a proven crystal meth lab, police officers did not currently have the tools at their disposal to arrest the perpetrators under the current legislation.

Sergeant Doug Culver from the RCMP said explicitly:

So in your scenario of the truckload of chemical A going somewhere, there would be no offence in the current legislation. With the legislation we've seen in front of us today, if we could prove in a court of law beyond a reasonable doubt that the driver of that vehicle knew he was taking that chemical to a lab [run by criminals] or to someone else with the intent of using it to make methamphetamine, then we would have grounds to stop that vehicle, arrest that person, and seize that quantity of chemicals.

The current legislation measures in the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act do not go far enough and are not robust enough to tackle this problem. The full weight of legislation must be enabled so people who willingly produce and traffic its precursors will face the consequences that the legislation would bring.

By making the possession of precursors and equipment with the intent to produce or traffic a criminal offence, it will strengthen our laws and provide for a more forceful consequence for people who willingly and wilfully possess materials that are used in the production of methamphetamine.

The bill would also increase the maximum penalty to 10 years from the current 3 years for possession of precursors with the intent to produce crystal meth or methamphetamine.

If I can quote Ms. Bouchard, director of the Office of Controlled substances from the Department of Health from her testimony, on December 13, 2007, before the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, when she said:

If we were to find a person in possession of those substances, and that person were not authorized to possess them, meaning they did not have a licence allowing their possession of those substances, it would not be an offence at the level of the act or statute but a violation of a regulation requiring that the person be in possession of a licence. However, the penalties associated with those offences are not very high. They're related to section 46 of the CDSA act and are for a maximum of up to two years. So they are very low penalties...

This bill would change that.

The impact on our communities is great. Relative to other drugs, crystal meth is cheap to buy, making it more accessible to children and youth. Meth is not always the drug of choice for youth addicted to drugs, but if it is available, it is proven that they will often choose it. Meth is referred to as the “poor man's cocaine”.

Individuals who become meth users are addicted more quickly and experience worse effects from prolonged use than other drugs. The negative impacts kick in quickly and the results are devastating.

Another account of a user reads:

Meth addiction is cunning and baffling. It starts out as a harmless and fun thing to do, and then, before you know it, your whole life becomes centred on it and it gets to the point where you can't imagine your life without it. But you're unable to live with it.

We must ask, who really is using crystal meth? This drug is particularly alarming because it is highly addictive, easily accessible, cheap to buy, and for these factors it is, unfortunately, very popular among young people.

Most meth users tend to use other drugs. In addition to meth, they also may use ecstasy, marijuana or other drugs at the same time. In these cases, the burden of mental and physical illness associated with drugs that are used in combination rises and the possibility for devastating effects increase.

Unfortunately, meth users tend to be between the ages of 10 and 25. If we do not do something, we will increasingly see crystal meth or methamphetamine climb its way into our schools and playgrounds.

One frightening fact is that some children, youth and young adults who are exposed to meth may not even know that they have been exposed. More and more drug producers are adding meth to other drugs because it is inexpensive and it gives other drugs increased addictive qualities. Some police reports estimate that 70% to 75% of the ecstasy sold on streets contains methamphetamine.

The expansion of more clandestine large scale production labs has the potential to increase availability and lower prices, which could ultimately result in a larger number of users. Meth affects not only individual lives, relationships and families, but it also has a direct impact on the communities in which it is produced and used.

Meth has followed a somewhat fractured path in invading communities. Some communities in my province have yet to witness the impact on their streets and in their schools, while other communities have been hit hard by meth, forcing them to join together to fight back.

It is my hope that the bill will be an important part of the overall strategy to combat methamphetamine. I am proud to support our government's national anti-drug strategy that focuses on prevention, treatment and enforcement. Two-thirds of the funding of that program are dedicated to the strategy that is focused on the prevention and treatment portions. I believe wholeheartedly that is very much a necessity, but I also believe the best form of harm reduction is to ensure it does not fall in children's hands.

We must work hard and target people who produce crystal meth. We must do what is in the best interest of young people from coast to coast to coast. Not only do I have the support of members of Parliament in the House, but I have had special talks with the Assembly of First Nations and found it to be supportive. I have also had the opportunity to get the endorsement of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities for this private member's bill.

In fact, the federal-provincial-territorial ministers responsible for justice reported in their report of July 2007, that the contents of the bill would be very helpful in fighting this type of drug production.

Controlled Drugs and Substances ActPrivate Members' Business

February 8th, 2008 / 1:30 p.m.
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Conservative

Chris Warkentin Conservative Peace River, AB

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. There have been consultations between the parties of the House and I believe that if you were to seek it, you would find unanimous consent to adopt the following motion. I move:

That, notwithstanding any Standing Order or usual practice of the House, the report stage motion on the Notice Paper for Bill C-428, An Act to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (methamphetamine) be deemed adopted and the report stage of Bill C-428 be deemed concurred in with a further amendment.

The House proceeded to the consideration of Bill C-428, An Act to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (methamphetamine), as reported (with amendment) from the committee.

Controlled Drugs and Substances ActGovernment Orders

February 4th, 2008 / 6:20 p.m.
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Bloc

Carole Freeman Bloc Châteauguay—Saint-Constant, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to speak today at second reading of Bill C-26. In this bill, the government is targeting those who produce and distribute illicit drugs by imposing more severe penalties on them. This is part of a major anti-drug strategy with a budget of more than $64 million unveiled a few months ago by the Prime Minister.

Even though the purpose of Bill C-26 seems clear, I think that its ultimate goal, to reduce consumption of illegal drugs, would be better achieved with more subtle measures that would produce truly positive results. That is why it is important to understand this bill, to hold onto the parts of it that have merit and to reveal the problems hidden within it.

First, I would like to point out that the current legislation already includes good tools to fight drugs. Since 1997, the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act has prohibited the import, export, production, sale, acquisition and possession of drugs and controlled substances, except when regulations permit it for medical purposes. At the time, the legislation created a new offence, production of a controlled substance. It also amended certain penalties in accordance with rulings of the Supreme Court, which had ruled that a minimum seven-year sentence for the import and export of drugs was far too severe.

Under the legislation, trafficking is defined as the selling, giving, administering, transporting, sending or delivering of one of the drugs listed in Schedules I through IV. The legislation also includes precursors of substances listed in Schedules I through V. Precursors are the ingredients used in the production of a controlled substance listed in the schedules.

Now that we know the context of this bill, I would like to focus on a worrisome aspect that I have criticized many times in previous bills and that is minimum sentences. With respect to heavier minimum sentences, it is clear that the Bloc Québécois has never doubted the importance of taking measures to reduce the consumption and production of drugs.

At first glance anyone would say that this bill provides more safety and more means to control drugs. However, before drawing hasty conclusions, the first thing to do before addressing a problem is to understand it in its entirety, grasp its scope and assess its consequences. We have to put things in perspective.

It is important to remind people that Statistics Canada indicated in 2006, before Bill C-26 was put on the table, that Canada's overall national crime rate, based on incidents reported to police, hit its lowest point in over 25 years, driven by a decline in non-violent crime. The crime rate dropped by 3% over the previous year and by 30% since 1991. When we look at the problem as a whole, we see that crime is going down in Canada. This is a major trend that has been observed for many years.

Obviously the Bloc Québécois does not want to minimize the situation. Any tragedy is one tragedy too many and statistics hide the human tragedies that affect families. We have to realize that the current system is producing positive results. We have to avoid giving up these gains by adopting measures whose impact has not been fully examined.

Bill C-26 relies heavily on minimum sentences, and specifically on the supposed deterrent effect of harsher sentences. That has never been clearly proven. Harsher sentences are imposed by our neighbours to the south, who obtain results that are not particularly convincing. I would say that minimum jail sentences are not a greater deterrent than adequate supervision in the community.

However, as a member of a responsible party that does not ignore reality, I have to recognize that drug-related offences have increased slightly.

For example, again according to Statistics Canada, the total number of drug offences rose by 2% in 2006. In fact, the picture of drug use is changing slightly. Cannabis-related offences, such as possession, make up 60% of all drug offences, but were down 4%.

We understand the situation, and we are aware of the issues. Moreover, quite recently, my colleague from Hochelaga and I examined Bill C-428 to consider the best way to combat the emerging problem of methamphetamine use.

We are contributing to the war on drugs, which brings me to a positive aspect of Bill C-26. The bill allows judges, with the consent of the prosecutor, to require offenders to take part in a drug treatment program. If the offender successfully completes the program, he avoids the minimum sentence. I believe that this is a good way to rehabilitate offenders.

I therefore believe that we are going to refer Bill C-26 to committee for a more detailed examination.

Justice and Human RightsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

January 30th, 2008 / 3:15 p.m.
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Conservative

Art Hanger Conservative Calgary Northeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the third report of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights. In accordance with the order of reference of Tuesday, October 16, 2007, your committee has considered Bill C-428, An Act to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (methamphetamine), and has agreed as of Tuesday, January 29, 2008, to report it with amendment.

January 29th, 2008 / 3:30 p.m.
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Conservative

The Chair Conservative Art Hanger

I would like to call the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights to order. Our agenda should be before all members here.

Pursuant to the order of reference of Tuesday, October 16, 2007, Bill C-428, an act to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act on methamphetamine, is still under review, under debate. It's a private member's bill, of course.

Mr. Chris Warkentin, I believe you will be making an opening statement.

I know, committee members, there was a desire for more information, specifically from the police. Representing the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, we have Michel Aubin, acting director general, drugs and organized crime, and Mr. Culver. Welcome to the committee. And from the Department of Justice we have Greg Yost, counsel, criminal law policy section. Welcome.

Mr. Warkentin, the floor is yours.

December 13th, 2007 / 11:55 a.m.
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Assistant Professor, École de psychoéducation, Université de Montréal

Jean-Sébastien Fallu

No, sorry.

Whereas the banning and repression resulting from it cause more harm to individuals and to society than the use of psychoactive substances themselves;

Whereas widespread behaviour can only be eradicated through legislation with difficulty, without causing other problems such as corruption;

Whereas scientific studies show that at best, there is no difference in current user profiles as far as countries with different drug policies are concerned, and that at worst, prohibition strategies engender more serious consequences than do harm reduction strategies;

Whereas there is an important distinction to be made between use and abuse, and that the majority of users are functional and have adapted, in a way that is all together comparable with those who abstain;

Whereas abuse and addiction are often the consequence of problems of psychosocial functioning and not their cause;

Whereas people grappling with abuse and addiction problems are primarily in need of assistance and not punishment, and punishment often aggravates the situation;

Whereas abstinence is not always possible for everyone, at least not in the short term;

Whereas in Canada, the principle of fair justice is not respected from one region to another as far as the possession of narcotics is concerned;

Whereas the devastating effects of metamphetamine primarily result from the inhalation or injection methods of use and the lifestyle of the user;

And finally, whereas the effects of substances and drug addiction are not punely the result of the pharmacological effects of substances, but of the interaction between them, the individual and the context, it is recommended to the committee and to the government to not criminalize the possession of metamphetamine, nor any other drug.

It is also recommended to the government to implement measures other than reducing supply by also taking action with respect to people and their social context with a view to reducing demand and harm. That is the first proposal.

The second, which more specifically concerns the two subsections under 7.1 put forward in the bill, read as follows:

Whereas a number of people, particularly young people, who for the most part are well adapted, contributing members of our future society, possess and use speed in pill form that could contain metamphetamines or their precursors, for example amphetamines;

Whereas a number of people possess and use medications or natural products made up in whole or in part of potential metamphetamine precursors;

Whereas certain substances used in the synthesis of metamphetamines can also be used to produce other consumer goods, for example perfume, in the case of lithium hydride;

And finally, whereas well-intentioned people wishing to manufacture natural products, for example, buy used equipment to enable them to produce pills, but that such equipment is sometimes contaminated by a previous owner, it is recommended to the committee and to the government to amend Bill C-428, An Act to amend the Controlled Drugs and Other Substances Act (methamphetamine), in order to specify which substances are targeted by section 7.1—speed pills sold as amphetamine, amphetamine, pseudo-ephedrine, ephedrine, ephedra, natural products containing ephedra, decongestant medications containing pseudo-ephedrine or ephedrine, mahwong, lithium hydride, aluminum hydride, etc.—and in what form.

Finally, it is recommended to the committee and to the government to clarify the word “intended” so as to avoid anyone being unfairly incriminated by having material in his or her possession that could potentially be used for production or trafficking, but in fact is not.

To conclude, I believe that it is both possible and preferable to control the precursors to metamphetamine production, and that all the other aspects of this bill could do more harm than good.

Thank you.

December 13th, 2007 / 11:05 a.m.
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Rebecca Jesseman Policy Analyst, Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse

Mr. Chairman and committee members, the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse appreciates the opportunity to meet with you today to share information on methamphetamine as you consider Bill C-428.

As you may know, CCSA is Canada's national non-governmental organization formed in 1988 by an act of Parliament to provide national leadership and evidence-informed analysis and advice on substance abuse and use in Canada. CCSA recognizes the harms associated with the use and production of methamphetamine and therefore supports efforts to reduce levels of use, production, and availability in Canada.

I thank my colleagues from the RCMP for speaking to the practical enforcement concerns related to the ease with which methamphetamine can be produced using legally available materials in Canada. In light of CCSA's mandate and expertise, my presentation will focus on providing the committee with a summary of evidence on the use of methamphetamine in Canada in order to inform your discussion and provide a context for these very real and practical enforcement-related concerns.

I would like to begin by emphasizing the need to ensure that any response to substance use is evidence-informed. In order to respond effectively to methamphetamine use in a community, we need an accurate picture of the problem, including the extent of use, characteristics of users, social context, and sources of distribution. As an example, the Alberta Alcohol and Drug Abuse Commission, supported by CCSA, is currently piloting a rapid assessment methodology that brings together a range of community resources to assess and act on developing substance use issues.

Maintaining current information on substance use at both national and community levels also facilitates the identification of problems in the early stages. This early identification allows communities to gather the health, enforcement, and other social resources needed for a proactive, comprehensive approach to the problem.

Overall, available prevalence data indicates that only a small proportion of Canadians currently use or have ever used methamphetamine. There is also evidence that rates of use in many locations have stabilized or are declining. I would, however, like to emphasize that I do not present these statistics to minimize the potential impact of meth on users, on their families, and on communities, but to provide you with what we know about the scope of the problem in order to inform your discussion.

At the national level, we currently have limited data specific to methamphetamine use. The 2004 Canadian addiction survey categorized methamphetamine under the general category of “speed and other amphetamines”, therefore breaking out what proportion of the 0.8% who reported past-year use of speed and amphetamines—

December 11th, 2007 / 12:55 p.m.
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Mayor, Town of Drayton Valley

Diana McQueen

Thank you for the question.

When we did the prevention and the enforcement, we worked with the RCMP and asked what tools they would find useful as well, so that they would have more success with regard to the enforcement side. That's how we came up with this resolution. I believe this bill really supports that resolution's intent.

We've done a lot of things, but what's happening here is that it's very easy for people to get access to the drugs used to produce methamphetamine. The more we can make that difficult for people, the less this drug will be there. When we're looking at large quantities of sales, we have to do a better job. We put monitoring the possession of those drugs, those chemicals, in the resolution, because in fact you'll see some of those chemicals used quite often, and there's not a problem. You'll see them on the farm or those kinds of things, but the purpose is to have a tool to monitor those. We are keeping track of who is buying these kinds of chemicals and where they are. It also gives some information to the RCMP to be able to monitor that, to question why large quantities of something may be going to specific buyers on a regular basis. It's a tool, if you will.

I think the bill is trying to even go further, and we certainly support the intent of Bill C-428. We support the amendment.

December 11th, 2007 / 12:05 p.m.
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Conservative

Daniel Petit Conservative Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, QC

Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. Thank you, Mr. Parliamentary Secretary.

First of all, I want to congratulate you, Mr. Warkentin, for having managed to get your private member's bill this far. God knows how hard that is. As Mr. Ménard has often said, it is an honour to have you before us here today.

I read the bill, that is the amendment that you are proposing to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. In order to really grasp what you have tabled, I am going to make a comparison with what I know of criminal law, being a lawyer who has worked in that area.

You used the term “precursors”. We know that is in the legislation. According to various categories, these are products that you might have at home, that can be mixed, and at some point in time could become what we call crystal meth, that is to say the product that we do indeed wish to criminalize.

I have the following question: Do you make a connection with section 351 of the Criminal Code, which deals with the possession of break-in instruments? For example, if I own a jimmy, a hammer, a crowbar or other kinds of tools, taken separately there is no problem, all woodworkers would have those in their garage, but if I have all those tools together in my car, that could indicate the intention to steal or to commit an offence under the Criminal Code.

Is the meaning that you have given to the word “precursors”—and this is in the same vein as Mrs. Freeman's question—indeed intended to criminalize the fact that one might have several household products or things that could be combined, as is the case in the Criminal Code? That would mean that if these items are separate, you could not be charged, but if they are together, you could be. Is that what you are trying to do? All of these products, in certain cases, are allowed to be on the marketplace.

I would like to know if that is what you are trying to do with Bill C-428, that is to say the equivalent of what you find in the Criminal Code on the subject of the possession of break-in instruments. Those are tools that, taken separately, are not banned, but put together they become so. Is that the case?

December 11th, 2007 / 11:40 a.m.
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Conservative

Chris Warkentin Conservative Peace River, AB

Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.

I thank you for the opportunity to come to this committee to speak about my private member's bill, Bill C-428, An Act to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (methamphetamine), as you said.

I believe that by working together we can make a difference in combatting the production and the trafficking of methamphetamine and the pain it inflicts on families and communities across our nation.

Unlike other drugs, meth does not need to be imported or grown, but it can be synthesized using components that are readily available. These two points I think are the most important. The drug can be synthesized from legal products that are readily available, and the drug can be synthesized and available for distribution in a shockingly short period of time.

Colleagues, although it is manufactured from legal substances, crystal meth is one of the most addictive and damaging of all the street drugs, and the tragic consequences and the lives it affects are unacceptable. Mr. Chair, too many of our healthy citizens are losing years of their lives to its devastation, and some are dying in the grip of the horror of this drug.

In order to frame the discussion today, I will spend a little bit of time explaining what methamphetamine is, how it impacts people in our society in a practical way, and the scope of the problem we're facing.

Methamphetamine is a stimulant. It is a derivative of a synthetic stimulant first produced in 1919. It is sold on the street under the street names of jib, crack, meth, speed, glass, fire, ice, and other names. Meth is available as a powder and it can be taken orally, snorted, or injected.

Typically, the drug is heated or vaporized and the fumes are inhaled, allowing the drug to enter the bloodstream very rapidly. It takes only about eight seconds for the drug to get to a person's brain.

Crystal meth is smokable, and this makes the most potent form of the drug, and for this reason many young people tend to gravitate toward it.

Meth is relatively easy and inexpensive to make, using commonly available ingredients called precursor chemicals. The recipe for meth includes products such as over-the-counter cold medications, paint thinner, household products like drain cleaner, and agricultural chemicals such as anhydrous ammonia.

The ability to purchase these commonly available products at any Wal-Mart or Superstore, coupled with the ability to produce crystal meth virtually anywhere, makes it a dangerous combination.

These two facts speak to the limited opportunity for enforcement authorities to intervene. And while I know this bill in itself will not totally stop the production of meth, I hope that offering the authorities these additional tools can assist them in putting a stop to the production and subsequent distribution of meth.

Although meth can be produced almost anywhere, undercover super labs produce the majority of crystal meth that is sold on the streets today. These makeshift laboratories present a grave danger as extremely flammable liquids and corrosive chemicals are being used and mixed by people with no experience or expertise in handling such dangerous products. The hazards of these undercover labs are numerous. There are the problems of exposure to harsh chemicals and the potential of exposure to toxic fumes and poisonous gases during production. There have been cases of fires and explosions caused by poor equipment. There have been situations of severe burns or death from fires or explosions.

There is also danger to the first responders, such as the police, the firefighters, and the social workers who show up at the scene. And of course there is the harm to the environment from leftover precursors and used lab equipment that leave behind toxic byproducts that pollute the land, the air, and the water in places where they are spilled or where they are dumped.

These super labs require huge amounts of precursor material to produce the quantity of meth they do. By giving the authorities the tools that are outlined in my bill, there will be an additional opportunity to stop the production here in Canada.

The dangers of crystal meth go far beyond the production at the core. Let's not forget the core of this issue is people. This bill proposes a vital change to the current legislation, and it is my prayer that we will turn the tide in combatting this drug. The addictive qualities of methamphetamine make it a dangerous drug for any person to experiment with.

To quote a participant from my home province, who was involved in the consultation on this drug, “No human being should be putting fertilizer, iodine, Drano, and battery acid all mixed together with a little ephedrine into their system.” But that is what people are doing.

We need to defend our youth and our families from this harmful, life-destroying drug.

In order to put this into perspective, I think it's important that committee members understand that users of meth tend to be between the ages of 10 and 25 years old. Many users start living at home, attending school or holding down a job, but they end up living on the streets as the addiction progresses.

One frightening fact is that some children, youth, or young adults who are exposed to meth don't even know that they've been exposed to crystal meth or meth. More and more drug traffickers are mixing meth with other drugs because it is so inexpensive and it gives other drugs greater addictive qualities. In fact, I recently saw a statistic that predicted that between 70% and 75% of the drug ecstasy sold on the streets of my home province contains meth because it increases the user's demand for more.

Crystal meth is a highly addictive drug with a long-lasting high that produces an overwhelming euphoria. Those who use it are quickly addicted and experience more intense effects from prolonged use compared with other drugs. The use and abuse of meth is on the rise throughout Canada. Its prevalence is growing as dealers find new ways to target potential users and find new ways to sell their drug.

As part of my goal of reducing the harm that meth can inflict on my community, I've done a number of things, including visiting local area schools in my riding to talk about the horrors of meth. While visiting a grade 6 class I was shocked to hear students tell me of their personal awareness of this drug, as someone in their community had been trafficking meth in the form of candy “pop rocks”.

Mr. Chair, the madness has to stop.

Access to the precursors and equipment used to make this deadly drug is a significant problem. The police need legislation in order to combat the spread and the abuse of this deadly drug. The accessibility to precursors and the low cost of producing this drug impact all economic and social groups. Any person who knowingly exploits young people for financial gain needs to be pursued and dealt with aggressively. I have no tolerance for people who willingly contribute to the destructive pattern of drug abuse.

Meth users tend to be between the ages of 10 and 25. We are speaking of some of the most vulnerable in our society. These kids, these young people, are the ones who have the most to lose, the ones who are most impacted by crystal meth. It is incumbent, I believe, upon us as legislators to enact legislation that holds to account those who willingly produce, or support those who produce, this harmful substance.

I thank you, Mr. Chair, and I'd be happy to answer any questions to the best of my ability at this time.

December 11th, 2007 / 11:40 a.m.
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Conservative

The Chair Conservative Art Hanger

I'd like to call the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights to order.

Would members take their seats, please.

This is Tuesday, December 11, 2007. Our orders of this day are an examination and debate on Bill C-428, An Act to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (methamphetamine).

Our private member's bill presenter will be Chris Warkentin.

Mr. Warkentin, you have the floor.

Business of the HouseOpening of the Second Session of the 39th Parliament

October 16th, 2007 / 6:45 p.m.
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Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

Order. It appears we have a few moments and to save time later I will inform members of something they are just aching to hear about now.

As hon. members know, our Standing Orders provide for the continuance of private members' business from session to session within a Parliament.

The list for the consideration of private members' business established on April 7, 2006, continues from the last session to this session notwithstanding prorogation.

As such, all items of private members' business originating in the House of Commons that were listed on the order paper during the previous session are reinstated to the order paper and shall be deemed to have been considered and approved at all stages completed at the time of prorogation of the first session.

Generally speaking, in practical terms, this also means that those items on the Order of Precedence remain on the Order of Precedence or, as the case may be, are referred to committee or sent to the Senate.

However, there is one item that cannot be left on the Order of Precedence. Pursuant to Standing Order 87(1), Parliamentary secretaries who are ineligible by virtue of their office to be put on the Order of Precedence will be dropped to the bottom of the list for the consideration of private members' business, where they will remain as long as they hold those offices.

Consequently, the item in the name of the member for Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, Motion M-302, is withdrawn from the Order of Precedence.

With regard to the remaining items on the order of precedence let me remind the House of the specifics since the House is scheduled to resume its daily private members' business hour starting tomorrow.

At prorogation, there were seven private members' bills originating in the House of Commons adopted at second reading and referred to committee. Therefore, pursuant to Standing Order 86.1:

Bill C-207, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (tax credit for new graduates working in designated regions), is deemed referred to the Standing Committee on Finance;

Bill C-265, An Act to amend the Employment Insurance Act (qualification for and entitlement to benefits), is deemed referred to the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities;

Bill C-305, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (exemption from taxation of 50% of United States social security payments to Canadian residents), is deemed referred to the Standing Committee on Finance;

Bill C-327, An Act to amend the Broadcasting Act (reduction of violence in television broadcasts), is deemed referred to the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage;

Bill C-343, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (motor vehicle theft), is deemed referred to the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights;

Bill C-377, An Act to ensure Canada assumes its responsibilities in preventing dangerous climate change, is deemed referred to the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development; and

Bill C-428, An Act to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (methamphetamine), is deemed referred to the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights.

(Bills deemed introduced, read the first time, read the second time and referred to a committee)

Furthermore, four Private Members' bills originating in the House of Commons had been read the third time and passed. Therefore, pursuant to Standing Order 86.1, the following bills are deemed adopted at all stages and passed by the House:

Bill C-280, An Act to Amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (coming into force of sections 110, 111 and 171);

Bill C-292, An Act to implement the Kelowna Accord;

Bill C-293, An Act respecting the provision of official development assistance abroad; and

Bill C-299, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (identification information obtained by fraud or false pretence).

Accordingly, a message will be sent to inform the Senate that this House has adopted these four bills.

Hon. members will find at their desks an explanatory note recapitulating these remarks. The Table officers are available to answer any further questions that hon. members may have.

I trust that these measures will assist the House in understanding how private members' business will be conducted in this second session of the 39th Parliament.

(Bills deemed adopted at all stages and passed by the House)

Controlled Drugs and Substances ActPrivate Members' Business

June 14th, 2007 / 6 p.m.
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Conservative

Bev Shipley Conservative Lambton—Kent—Middlesex, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to support my colleague, the member for Peace River, on his great bill, Bill C-428.

Crystal meth use and production is a serious and growing problem in Canada. Unfortunately, regardless of where we are living in this great country of Canada, we are starting to see the effects of it in all of our communities.

My riding of Lambton—Kent—Middlesex is in southwestern Ontario. It is a rural riding, made up of small towns and mostly agriculture. Yet, as much as we have been able to control the use of it, we know that it infiltrates and it impacts our youth within our communities across the country.

As encountered in some of the United States, a rise of crystal meth use in Canada has been accompanied by an increase in related health problems and death among its users. The resulting emotional, financial and social costs are enormous.

I will look at four different areas: first, health effects; second, law enforcement; third, production; and, finally, the effect that it has on our communities.

First, the health effects of crystal, even taken in small amounts, can result in increased wakefulness and physical activity, decreased appetite, increased respiration and heart rate, irregular heartbeat, increased blood pressure and hypothermia. Other effects of crystal meth abuse may include anxiety, insomnia, confusion, tremors, convulsions, cardiovascular collapse and in some cases even death.

The long term effects, because this is not only about what happens the day people take this product into their system, include paranoia, aggressiveness, extreme anorexia, memory loss, visual and auditory hallucinations, delusions and serious dental problems.

A few months ago my local newspaper printed a picture of a very attractive young lady. A picture of the same lady a few years later showed the visual effects of what intense drug use had done to that beautiful woman, not only to her facial features but her teeth and all the things that go with it. It was unbelievable that it had such detrimental effects.

Also, the transmission of HIV and hepatitis B and C can be a consequence of crystal meth abuse. Among abusers who inject the drug, infection with HIV and other infectious diseases is spread mainly through the use of contaminated syringes, needles and other injection equipment by more than one person.

Crystal meth abuse may worsen the progression of HIV and its consequences. Studies with meth abusers who have HIV indicate that the HIV causes greater neuronal injury and cognitive impairment compared to HIV-positive people who do not use this drug.

The intoxicating effects of crystal meth, however, whether it is injected or take in other ways, can alter judgment and inhibition and lead people to engage in unsafe and unpredictable behaviours.

The quality of life among users and dealers of crystal meth is greatly diminished. Addicts and dealers may experience dissolution of relationships, social isolation, altered personality, difficulty with academics, loss of employment, involvement in crime, drug-related psychosis and brain damage and health risk behaviours, including risky sexual encounters and declining physical fitness. Furthermore, individuals may not be motivated to seek help as meth users seemingly can create unbelievably high levels of energy and productivity.

I want to switch now for a minute about the legal part and the law enforcement of it. We continually hear police report increased levels of crime in communities where crystal meth is prevalent. We read in the paper about deaths. High speed pursuits, property crimes and identity thefts are associated with meth use. Many of these crimes are committed in pursuit of funds to sustain their consumption.

However, some crimes appear to be as a result of the state of the meth user after consuming the drug. Then once they have consumed the drug, they get involved in dangerous driving, vandalism, assault and threatening behaviour, usually against the most innocent people.

Police frequently report that the illicit drug use, trafficking and production are associated with violence and offences using firearms. Meth use is linked to an increased tendency to commit violent crimes, both because of the need to support the habit and as a result the cognitive changes that result in an individual from consuming these drugs.

Disorderly and disruptive behaviour by meth users have been a concern to communities, which report that the quality of life has decreased as the number of users increase. As noted earlier, meth users are likely to be erratic, paranoid, aggressive, brazen, energetic and then worst of all violent.

How does this stuff come about? How do we make it? What happens? Is it only these large labs? Does it happen at home? My understanding is meth recipes are, unfortunately, easy to obtain from cooks and other resources, including the Internet. There are many non-essential chemicals that can be used interchangeably to produce meth. These include acids, bases and solvents. These are all dangerous chemicals unless handled in a proper fashion.

It amazes me when I look at the bottles and containers this stuff comes in, which these cooks put together to make crystal meth, why anyone would ever want to go down that road of injecting these poisons into their bodies.

There are two different types of clandestine drug labs. One is the economic based labs or the super labs which are large, highly organized and can produce a few hundred grams to 50 kilograms in one production cycle. The other type is the small labs often referred to, as we do with many things, as the mom and pop type or the addiction based labs. These labs generally manufacture small amounts, one to four ounces of meth per production cycle. These operators typically produce enough drugs for themselves and some of their close associates and then have enough money left over to sustain their habit.

One of the problems associated with meth labs is the difficulty in detecting where these labs are located. Therefore, the number of labs already detected in Canada may not accurately reflect the existing problem that is out there.

I will talk about our communities for a minute. Meth labs use and production also have a major social impact on our communities. They can become vulnerable to petty crime, social disorder, risk of health, increase in violence, large scale labs and drug trafficking. Meth labs also pose serious public safety and health hazards to those in and around production operations. They produce environmental hazards, toxic fumes and from to time the potential for explosions.

In wrapping up, staff and students in schools may face users with behavioural problems, classroom disruptions, absenteeism, negative peer influence and, once again, possible contamination and the stress of having insufficient resources known to handle these issues because of the drug.

I cannot say enough about my concern as a parent, and now a grandparent, of what happens when our young people and professional people get involved in this. Therefore, I thank my colleague, the member for Peace River for bringing this forward. I know each and every one of us in the House will support it.

I thank my colleague from Peace River for bringing this bill forward. I know that each and every one of us across this House will support it.

Controlled Drugs and Substances ActPrivate Members' Business

June 14th, 2007 / 5:50 p.m.
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Conservative

Joy Smith Conservative Kildonan—St. Paul, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to this very timely topic and I commend the hon. member for Peace River for introducing Bill C-428. I am fully aware of the member's interest in this area and of his concern for the problems that illegal drugs inflict on Canadians.

I know the member and I have spoken about his concern about his constituency and the fact that crystal meth is something that is growing in our country and something that has to be addressed. I want to congratulate him especially for drawing the attention of the House to the complex difficulties created by methamphetamine.

We know that methamphetamine is chemically similar to amphetamine but its effects last longer and are more toxic. Methamphetamine has a similar chemical structure to that of amphetamine but it is has a stronger effect on the central nervous system. The appearance and euphoric effects vary with the method of administration but they are nearly immediate and can last for 12 hours or even more.

Novice users can obtain a high by ingesting only an eighth of a gram of methamphetamine, while a regular user ingests more to get this effect, up to 250 milligrams. On a runner binge lasting several days, the user may take multiple grams of methamphetamine.

Unlike many other drugs of abuse, methamphetamine not only affects the release of certain brain chemicals, such as dopamine, but also damages the neural tissue within the brain itself.

Methamphetamine exposure can damage the areas of the brain related to both cognition and memory. In some cases, even years after discontinuation of use, some brain functioning may not be fully restored to pre-methamphetamine levels. For this reason, methamphetamine addiction places an individual at heightened risk of long term cognitive and psychological problems, including episodes of violent behaviour, paranoia, anxiety, confusion and insomnia.

The acute effects of methamphetamine include increased heart rate, body temperature, blood pressure and alertness. Methamphetamine consumption induces a strong feeling of euphoria and is highly psychologically addictive. This potent central nervous system stimulant affects the brain by acting on the mechanisms responsible for regulating heart rate, body temperature, blood pressure, appetite, attention and responses associated with alertness or alarm conditions.

The effects of meth, such as increased attention, decreased fatigue, increased activity and decreased appetite, together with its low cost and variety of administration routes, make methamphetamine a drug of choice for street youth and partygoers.

This is very unfortunate because often young people have a misconception of the addictive nature of this very dangerous drug. Often they can get hooked on it very easily and very quickly.

It is a common belief that methamphetamine gives people super human strength. Methamphetamine users often become heavily immersed in what they are doing and are prone to violent outbreaks. Chronic methamphetamine use attacks the immune system and users are often prone to various types of infections. There are also short and long term health effects, which the parliamentary secretary talked about earlier in his speech. They include paranoia, liver damage, brain damage and depression.

The rate at which methamphetamine takes effect depends on the method of administration. Taken orally in pill form or as tea, methamphetamine takes effect in 20 to 30 minutes. When snorted, its effects can be felt in three to five minutes. Injection and inhalation by smoking produce effects more quickly, in seven to fifteen seconds. They only last for a few minutes, but are extremely pleasant to the user. The half life of methamphetamine, the time it takes for 50% of the drug to be removed from the body, is 12 hours.

Methamphetamine use has a number of impacts on users, our communities and on society generally. The quality of life among users of methamphetamine is typically greatly diminished. Furthermore, individuals may be unmotivated to seek help as methamphetamine use can create seemingly high levels of energy and productivity. Communities can become vulnerable to petty crime, social disorder, associated risks to health and increases in violence, large scale labs and drug trafficking. When a user is addicted to this drug, it not only affects the user but the families and communities around the user.

Methamphetamine production operations also pose serious public safety and health hazards to those in and around production operations. These operations can result in serious physical injury, from explosions, fires, chemical burns and toxic fumes. They produce environmental hazards, pose cleanup problems and endanger the lives and health of community residents. In addition, first responders are also placed in extraordinarily dangerous situations when responding to calls where clandestine labs exist.

The collateral damage of methamphetamine includes effects on families, school staff and students, law enforcers, fire departments, paramedics, health care practitioners, businesses and property owners. These individuals experience second-hand symptoms of methamphetamine use.

First responders may experience exposure to production byproducts, fire or explosion hazards and may be subject to the violence and aggression from addicts or frustration and stress from inadequate resources or judicial restraints preventing them from taking action.

Parents may also experience emotional and financial stress as a child goes through treatment, strain from missing work, fear, embarrassment, shame and guilt. The family may also encounter gang related crime, contamination, violence and disciplinary problems as the child continues to abuse the drug.

Staff and students in the schools may face users with behavioural problems, classroom disruption, absenteeism and negative peer influence.

There are also significant health risks and costs associated with dismantling labs and removing processing agents from these locations. Currently certain expenses are borne by the responding police services, property owners and insurers.

The bill put forward by member for Peace River proposes to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act so as to prohibit the production, possession and sale of any substance, equipment or other material that is intended for use in production of or in trafficking in methamphetamine.

I support the bill. However, I note that it does not contain a specific penalty attached to the new prohibitions. We have spoken about this and I know the intent is to deal with this. The bill would be improved if it contained such a penalty. As well, the bill could impact on numerous retailers selling common articles for legitimate purposes.

I believe the bill could be improved if the criminal intent was clarified, as the member for Peace River has discussed with members on this side of the House, such that innocent or legitimate activities would not get caught.

The bill could very well provide us with further tools to counter and combat the methamphetamine problem. I urge all hon. members to support this bill.

I again thank the member for Peace River for his insightful dialogue and hard work on this bill toward ensuring that crystal meth is no longer on the streets of Canada.

Controlled Drugs and Substances ActPrivate Members' Business

June 14th, 2007 / 5:30 p.m.
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Liberal

Marlene Jennings Liberal Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am quite pleased to speak to private member's Bill C-428 presented by the member of Parliament for Peace River.

Bill C-428 amends the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act in order to “prohibit the production, possession and sale of any substance or any equipment or other material that is intended for use in production of or trafficking in methamphetamine”.

I am supporting this bill at second reading. I am recommending to all members of the Liberal caucus to support it and vote for it at second reading in order that it may be referred to committee for further study.

It is a very short bill. The bill would make it a specific crime to produce, possess or sell substances or equipment intended for use in the production or trafficking of methamphetamine. It does so, as I mentioned, by amendment to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, which is Canada's federal drug control statute.

The street name for methamphetamine, because that is essentially what we are talking about, is crystal meth. It is also called ice, crystal, glass, jib and tina, for instance. It is a chemical stimulant that creates a very strong effect on the central nervous system. I would like to give members an example.

There is a study called “Coping with Meth Lab Hazards” by Geoff Betsinger, dated November 2006. It will be presented at a national conference. A DEA study states:

Methamphetamine, like cocaine, is a potent central nervous system stimulant. It can be smoked, snorted, injected or taken orally. It increases the heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature, and rate of breathing; it dilates the pupils; and [it] produces euphoria, increased alertness, a sense of increased energy, and tremors. High doses or chronic use have been associated with increased nervousness, irritability, and paranoia. Withdrawal from high doses produces severe depression. Methamphetamine can be a lethal, dangerous and unpredictable drug.

The study notes that in large doses there can be aggressive behaviour, auditory hallucinations and paranoia, with delusions and psychosis. These are frequent effects. The study states:

Abusers tend to engage in violent behaviour; mood changes are common and the abuser can change from friendly to hostile rapidly. The paranoia produced by methamphetamine use results in suspiciousness, hyperactive behavior, and dramatic mood swings.

Crystal meth is easy to produce in small, clandestine labs set up in any place from homes to hotel rooms by mixing a cocktail of about 15 chemicals that are usually easily available. The main ingredient for producing crystal meth is pseudoephedrine, a cold remedy, and it is cooked with chemicals commonly found at a hardware store, such as red phosphorus, iodine, ammonia, paint thinner, ether, Drano, and the lithium from batteries. The recipe for crystal meth is widely available on the Internet, but I will not mention the sites.

It can also be very profitable. Police say an investment of about $150 can yield up to $10,000 worth of the drug. While the manufacturing process is relatively simple, it is also toxic and dangerous. Each kilogram of crystal meth produces five to seven kilograms of chemical waste, which is often dumped down the drain or in the backyard. Another byproduct is toxic gases that often can lead to fire or explosions in the lab.

When a crystal meth lab is discovered, a special clandestine drug lab team is brought in to investigate it, as is a chemist from Health Canada who advises on the dismantling of the lab. A house that has contained a crystal meth lab needs to be decontaminated and can remain uninhabitable for months.

In fact, this study that I have mentioned talks about how “the greatest risk of long-term exposure” to crystal meth and the toxic waste byproduct is assumed by “unsuspecting inhabitants of buildings formerly used by clandestine drug laboratory operators where residual contamination may exist inside and outside the structure”.

For instance, we know that in many cases insurance companies will refuse to insure a home rented legally to individuals who established within the home a clandestine lab that resulted in damages. The decontamination will not be covered by the insurance policy even though the owners of the property had no involvement and no knowledge that these illegal activities were taking place on their property.

In Canada the problem of crystal meth production and use seems to be growing. For instance, in 1998 four clandestine crystal meth labs were seized in Canada. By 2003 that figure was up to 37. The World Health Organization says that methamphetamine, after marijuana, is the most widely used illicit drug in the world.

I would like to talk about the previous government, our Liberal government, because it did recognize the growing problem of crystal meth. In August 2005 our government increased the maximum penalties for possession, trafficking, importation, exportation and production of methamphetamine. Our Liberal government moved methamphetamine to schedule I of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, which is reserved for the most dangerous drugs. We also added four substances used in the production of methamphetamine to the list of controlled chemicals under the precursor control regulations.

We learned at the end of May that the current minority Conservative government will be unveiling a new national drug strategy. We would hope that it will also deal with the issue of crystal meth. We do not know what its national drug strategy will be, but we hope that the Conservative government will take the issue as seriously as did the previous government.

There are a few issues surrounding the way in which Bill C-428 is drafted. While I have not had an opportunity to have extensive discussions with the member for Peace River, who presented the bill to the House, assistants in his office have assured us that he worked with the Library of Parliament and with the office of the Minister of Justice to ensure that the bill would be effective while not leading to undue criminalization.

However, there is no concrete evidence reflecting the statement. That is one of the reasons why we Liberals would support referring the bill at second reading to committee so that we can have further information and further assurances based on fact and science from the member for Peace River.

I will end by stating that the Liberals, the official opposition, do recognize the seriousness and gravity of the difficulties that crystal meth presents to our society. We also recognize the difficulties that it presents to our law enforcement and to the safety of our communities and Canadians.

That is why, as I explained several minutes previously, the Liberal government took serious action to deal with crystal meth, with its production, manufacture, trafficking, possession, et cetera, and it was also part of our national drug strategy. We would hope that it will be part of the Conservatives' national drug strategy, which they say they will be announcing shortly. We hope that after 16 months “shortly” will not be another 16 months.

We look forward to seeing all members of the House support sending the bill presented by the member for Peace River, Bill C-428, to committee at second reading.

The House resumed from May 30 consideration of the motion that Bill C-428, An Act to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (methamphetamine), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Controlled Drugs and Substances ActPrivate Members' Business

May 30th, 2007 / 6 p.m.
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Bloc

Christiane Gagnon Bloc Québec, QC

Mr. Speaker, I hope that the members will listen to what I have to say and stop shouting while a member is talking in this House. It is the ethical and polite thing to do. It is improper to shout while someone else is talking. I would ask my colleagues to settle down.

I would first like to say that the Bloc Québécois recognizes that methamphetamine use is a serious problem. We are well aware that traffic in methamphetamine poses a danger to adolescents, particularly those between 14 and 16. We are well aware of the problem. Young people are taking drugs that can have very serious consequences for their health. That is why the Bloc Québécois supports Bill C-428 in principle. However, the Bloc has some concerns about how this bill fits in with the existing legislation.

The Bloc Québécois believes it would be a good idea to invite submissions from stakeholders such as police officers, front-line workers, pharmacists from Alberta and anyone else who is affected by this scourge. It is very dangerous for people to take these drugs. Certain methamphetamine derivatives are labelled as being extremely hazardous to human health. We would also like to examine further the applicability of certain measures the bill would impose, in order to answer some questions. The question we have is this: can we ask retailers to restrict access to ingredients other than over-the-counter cough, cold and allergy medications containing pseudoephedrine and ephedrine?

It is very easy to produce crystal meth, tina or ice. They are derivatives of methamphetamine. These substances have very serious repercussions on the health of young adolescents. Furthermore, in the United States, 12 million Americans have taken some form of this substance. Users very commonly become addicted to the drug, which has even replaced cocaine. One dose is relatively inexpensive, only $5 or $10, compared to cocaine, which is very expensive. This is why adolescents are so drawn to this euphoria-inducing substance. Some adolescents are less sensitive to the irreversible effects of the drug on their health. Young adolescents seem to think that it is like energy drinks or wake-up pills, which allow the user to stay awake for long periods. These substances are very harmful to one's health.

Thus, the Bloc Québécois will support this bill. We would like to see it studied in committee in order to be able to assess the overall problem in Canada. In the United States, in New York and Illinois, there are clandestine laboratories that produce the substance safely, but it is dangerous to the health of our children. It can also be made at home. One only has to go to the hardware store and purchase some solvent, some Drano, some lithium. All these products are available over the counter.

However, the bill goes perhaps a little too far. Can we prohibit the over-the-counter sale of certain products, such as ephedrine, which is found in cough medicine? We will see how far we want to go with this bill. Controls are used to prevent access to illicit drugs. We are talking about an explosive cocktail that can lead to illnesses such as Parkinson's disease. Tests have also been conducted on certain animals that experienced after-effects after consuming this type of substance.

If it can kill animals, imagine what it can do to human beings. People can become schizophrenic. They might even commit suicide. Some newspapers have reported several cases of suicide among 12- and 13-year-olds. Apparently, crystal meth keeps them high not for 20 minutes, but for hours and hours. Peach is also a much more concentrated derivative of these products.

The Bloc Québécois is aware of this problem. I mentioned the United States, but this is also a problem in Canada, especially in Vancouver. Our colleague who raised the subject in this House today says he is especially concerned about this issue because teenagers in his own province are using these drugs, which are freely available.

We know this problem is affecting Quebec too, in places like Rivière-du-Loup. Young people are not the only ones using, although some start as young as 12 or 13. People who use this stuff for the first time might not think that they can become addicted, and that is the problem. They do not use it just once. They use it several times and develop a strong addiction. Users want to forget reality, which is sometimes tough to cope with, or they want to get through difficult situations. For example, for people who are shy or have trouble expressing themselves, these drugs make them feel big and strong, like Superman, and they lose their inhibitions when they are high. But using has serious consequences.

This bill will probably be referred to committee if my colleagues vote for it. However, as I said, we have concerns about the practicality of this bill. We cannot restrict the sale of the products that are used to make crystal meth.

I therefore invite my colleagues to at least think about this scourge. It is a very serious problem when young people of 12 and 13 have easy access to substances that are hazardous to their health. Users are not just delinquents; often they are adolescents from good families who have been influenced by their friends, kids who use drugs because everyone in their circle is doing it.

Referring the bill to a committee would provide an opportunity to gauge the extent of the problem in different provinces where methamphetamine is freely available and where there are clandestine laboratories. That might lead to further discussion of denunciation. When we know that the problem is all around us and we have adolescents, we all have a role to play in denouncing clandestine labs.

Moreover, this drug appears to be very easy to obtain. You just have to know where to go. I will not say where, but adolescents apparently know where to go. For example, methamphetamine is very easy to come by among skateboarders.

The Bloc Québécois will initially vote in favour of this bill. As for the applicability of the whole bill, we will consider amending it and making more appropriate proposals in connection with what is already in the legislation.

Controlled Drugs and Substances ActPrivate Members' Business

May 30th, 2007 / 5:30 p.m.
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Conservative

Chris Warkentin Conservative Peace River, AB

moved that Bill C-428, An Act to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (methamphetamine), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, I rise today, as you have mentioned, on my private member's bill, which moves to address the terrible problem of methamphetamines, or crystal meth, in many of our communities.

The devastation this drug inflicts on communities, families and others across this nation is horrific. The war is on. Quite frankly, we are losing the battle. Too many of our young, healthy citizens are losing years of their life to its devastation and some are dying in the grips of its horror.

Crystal meth is one of the biggest threats to some of our communities. Unfortunately, its popularity is increasing dramatically. Crystal meth has a hold on too many of our young citizens and we have a responsibility to do something about it.

This bill addresses the precursors of the production and trafficking of methamphetamines by amending the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. This will give the police the tools they need to combat the spread and the production of this drug. This is a vital change to the current legislation. It is my prayer that this will turn the tide on the war against this drug.

However, before we go any further, let us not forget what is at the core of this issue. This issue is about people. This bill is about people. I am going to begin by talking about a heartbreaking account from my riding of the devastating consequences of this drug.

I would like to start by relating the story of a victim of this drug in my riding of Peace River. She lives near my community. For now, I am going to call her Sally. There is nothing sadder than meeting a person I once knew as a strong and upstanding member of the community who was a successful businesswoman, a mother, and a wife for 15 years, but who is now a prostitute addicted to crystal meth.

She did not become a prostitute by choice. She was forced into prostitution to pay the debts that she incurred as a meth user. Sally never set out to become a drug-addicted prostitute, but that is the way that things have lined up for her.

It only took one use, one hit, and as well, her husband was an addict. “Her husband?”, one might ask. We might have thought that Sally was the addict. She is, but this drug destroys entire families, and Sally's husband is the one who brought it home.

Who knows why she started? It seems that many partners, spouses, siblings, children, neighbours, classmates, colleagues and acquaintances cannot say no when someone close to them is a user. In a moment of weakness Sally got high and now her life is a mess. Even if she cleans up this mess, the sacrifices that she has made are already too high.

It only takes once. One use, and many people are hooked for life. The addictive qualities of methamphetamine make it a dangerous drug for any person to experiment with. To quote a participant from my home province in a consultation on this drug, “No human being should be putting fertilizer, iodine, Drano and battery acid, all mixed together with a little ephedrine, into their system”. But that is in fact what people are doing.

People who have used this drug says that it gives them an overwhelming sense of euphoria, lasting up to 24 hours. It allows them to stay awake for hours on end. Some people claim that it helps them concentrate and gives them confidence and supernatural power. Unfortunately, the reality is that this drug offers only short term satisfaction, but long term destruction.

Unlike other drugs, methamphetamines do not need to be imported or grown. They can be produced relatively easily, and unfortunately relatively cheaply, right here in our communities in undercover labs that are often hard to detect.

I would like to commend the work that was recently done in my home province of Alberta by the premier's task force on crystal meth. It was chaired by Dr. Colleen Klein and Dr. Bob Westbury. The task force oversaw the development of a province-wide holistic strategy to find solutions to stop the abuse and the negative impacts of crystal meth and methamphetamines on Alberta families, young people, communities and workplaces. I will be quoting from that report tonight, among other sources.

Unfortunately, no province in Canada is safe from crystal meth, be it Alberta or on the east coast as well. Crystal meth is a highly addictive drug with a long-lasting high and it produces a sense of overwhelming euphoria. Those who use it quickly become addicted and, compared to other drugs, experience more intense effects from prolonged use.

The use and abuse of crystal meth is on the rise throughout Canada. Its prevalence is growing as dealers find new ways to target potential users and new ways to sell this drug. It is in our communities and our schools, our families are being affected by it, and it is in our workplaces.

This drug can affect anybody. It can affect the rich, the poor, the young and the old. It affects men and women equally. However, its use unfortunately is growing most quickly among young people and groups that are already at high risk.

The menace of crystal meth in our communities from coast to coast to coast is real and acute. Our nation must fight back.

Before we understand how to fight back against crystal meth, it is important that we understand what it is. I know that one of my colleagues plans to outline this as well, so I will be brief.

I think it is important to know that methamphetamine is a stimulant. It is a derivative of a synthetic stimulant first produced in 1919. It is sold on the street as jib, crank, meth, speed, glass, fire, and ice and has other street names as well.

Meth is available as a powder. It can be taken orally, snorted or injected. Typically the drug is heated and vaporized and the fumes are inhaled, allowing the drug to enter the bloodstream very rapidly. It only takes about eight seconds for the drug to enter a person's brain. Crystal meth is smokable and this makes it the most potent form of the drug. For that reason, many young people are tending to gravitate towards it.

Methamphetamines are not legally available in Canada, but the drug can be produced virtually anywhere, including in small sheds, in basements and even in mobile labs in the back of a car or a trailer. These makeshift laboratories are extremely dangerous due to the presence of highly flammable liquids and corrosive chemicals, usually mixed by people with no experience or expertise in handling such dangerous goods.

The majority of meth sold on the streets is produced in undercover super-labs, which can produce 10 pounds or more, and the mid-level labs, which produce less than nine pounds at a time. These labs are often referred to by police as clandestine labs.

While there is a large number of small scale labs, they produce only 5% of the meth available on the streets. The small scale or home based labs, often operated by meth users themselves, produce one ounce at a time, often just enough for the user with just a small amount available that they can sell to cover the cost of their addiction.

Meth is relatively easy and inexpensive to make using commonly available ingredients called precursor chemicals. The recipe for meth includes products such as over the counter cold medications, paint thinners, household products like drain cleaner, and agricultural chemicals such as anhydrous ammonia.

Relative to other drugs, crystal meth is cheap to buy, making it more accessible to children and youth. Meth is not always the drug of choice for youth addicted to drugs, but if it is available they often will choose it. Meth is referred to as the poor man's cocaine.

The effects of crystal meth on the user include: rapid, unhealthy weight loss; brain damage; insomnia and restlessness; skin sores caused by repetitive scratching and picking; major dental problems; memory problems and an inability to focus; severe depression and suicidal thoughts; strong physiological withdrawal; a greatly increased risk of HIV, hepatitis C and other diseases if the drug is injected; long term damage to nerve endings; and a risk of severe injury or death in the case of an overdose.

The damage caused by meth is rampant and far-reaching. It is not isolated to the user. It extends to family members, friends and, quite frankly, the broader community. The impacts on the users are well known and include: significant family disruption; mistrust; difficulty for family members coping with other members' addictions; conflict with schoolmates, teachers, colleagues and bosses that may result in school expulsion and/or loss of employment; and harm to the community through violence, property crimes and environmental damage.

Producing crystal meth has potentially serious and deadly consequences for the community. The hazards of meth labs include: exposure to precursor chemicals, toxic fumes, poisonous gas, fires and explosives, and property damage caused by contamination.

Crystal meth production also poses a significant risk to the environment. Production of crystal meth is dangerous for the individuals who make it, for the people who try to shut down those labs, for the innocent neighbours of the labs, for the users, and for our natural environment as well.

Because of the various chemicals used to make crystal meth and the rudimentary processes that are used, the result is a tremendous amount of toxic waste. Half a kilogram of meth produces four kilograms of toxic chemical waste. In most cases, the waste and residue from meth labs end up in the surrounding environment, leading to major environmental damage and significant cleanup costs.

The chemical waste can also cause severe damage to the ecosystem and serious health problems if it is inhaled or ingested by people or animals. Since meth labs can produce drugs in relatively short periods of time, production labs can easily materialize in unexpected places such as hotel rooms, abandoned rural buildings or anyone's home.

As quickly as a lab is constructed, the drugs can be removed, leaving the lab and the waste to be discovered by somebody who comes by later. Unfortunately, the landowners, and often the municipal districts, are left shouldering the cleanup costs. In fact, one Alberta county was recently caught off guard with a significant cleanup bill from methamphetamine waste that was dumped on county lands.

Individuals who become meth users are addicted more quickly and experience much worse effects, compared to other drugs, after prolonged use. The negative impacts kick in quickly and are devastating.

I will read for members another account of a person who was addicted to methamphetamine. That user wrote: “Meth addiction is cunning and baffling. It starts out as a harmless and fun thing to do, and then, before you know it, your whole life becomes centred on it and it gets to the point where you can't imagine life without it. But you're unable to live with it”.

We must ask this question: who is using crystal meth? This drug is particularly alarming because it is highly addictive, easily accessible and cheap to buy. These factors make it very attractive to young people.

Most meth users tend to use other drugs as well. They may also use ecstasy, marijuana or other drugs at the same time. The burden of mental and physical illness associated with drug use rises when multiple drugs are taken.

Meth users tend to between the ages of 10 and 25. However, meth is also used by adults over the age of 25. That is quite common.

Not all meth users are street youth and homeless adults. Many users start out living at home, attending school or holding down a job, but end up living on the street and in all kinds of places as the addiction progresses. Some, like Sally, are far from the typical image of a drug addict that most of us have in our minds.

One frightening fact is that some children, youth and young adults are being exposed to meth and they do not even know it. More and more drug producers are adding meth to other drugs because it is inexpensive and it gives other drugs greater addictive qualities. Police in Alberta estimate that about 70% to 75% of the ecstasy sold on the street contains methamphetamine.

The expansion of more clandestine and large scale production labs has the potential to increase availability and lower prices, which could ultimately result in a larger number of users.

Not only does meth affect individual lives, relationships and families, but it also has a dramatic impact on the communities in which it is produced and used.

Meth has followed a somewhat fractured path in invading Alberta communities. I know it is the same across the country. Some communities in the province have yet to witness the impact of meth on their streets and in their schools, but other communities have been hit hard and are being forced to join together to fight back.

It is time to get tough on crystal meth. That is what this bill does. We need to take steps to keep this drug off the streets by making it more difficult to produce and more difficult to sell. We need to get tough on drug dealers and drug producers by supporting police, law enforcement, and first responders.

Law enforcement has two important roles in addressing drug crimes: enforcing current laws and reducing the demand for drugs. It needs to have the resources and the tools to deter manufacturers and dealers while mobilizing communities, allies and young people to stop the spread of drugs and the drug culture in our communities.

Unfortunately, crystal meth is already available on our streets.

Most precursors, the chemicals necessary to make crystal meth, are available to anybody in small quantities in local stores. We also know that meth culture is quite closed and it is difficult for police to trace a dealer on the streets back to the person making the meth, known as the cook.

The government must get tough on drug producers and dealers to put an end to the pain and injury they cause children, youth, young adults, families and communities.

The devastation--

Controlled Drugs and Substances ActRoutine Proceedings

April 19th, 2007 / 10:05 a.m.
See context

Conservative

Chris Warkentin Conservative Peace River, AB

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-428, An Act to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (methamphetamine).

Mr. Speaker, in communities across this country methamphetamine, or crystal meth, is becoming an urgent problem. Our children and our communities are at risk.

Unlike other drugs, crystal meth does not need to be imported or grown, but can be synthesized using components that are readily available. Crystal meth is one of the most addictive and damaging of all street drugs and the tragic consequences of the lives that it affects are unacceptable.

The province of Alberta is a desirable haven for meth labs, as are other provinces with high agricultural sectors, since hydrous ammonia is readily available because of its fertilizer component for agricultural communities. Crystal meth is finding its way into rural communities such as my own because of this situation.

This private member's bill would amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act to provide the police with more tools to deal with the growing problem of methamphetamines.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)