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

This bill was last introduced in the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session, which ended in March 2011.

This bill was previously introduced in the 40th Parliament, 2nd Session.

Sponsor

John Weston  Conservative

Introduced as a private member’s bill.

Status

This bill has received Royal Assent and is now 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 a person from possessing, producing, selling or importing anything knowing it will be used to produce or traffic in methamphetamine or ecstasy.

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.

Votes

June 9, 2010 Passed That the Bill be now read a third time and do pass.
April 14, 2010 Passed That the Bill be now read a second time and referred to the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights.

Controlled Drugs and Substances ActStatements By Members

June 9th, 2010 / 2:10 p.m.
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Conservative

John Weston Conservative West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country, BC

Mr. Speaker, tonight this House will vote for a final time on Bill C-475, my private member's bill that seeks to put a stop to the horror of drug addiction in Canada.

This bill, which criminalizes the procurement of precursors for the manufacture of crystal meth and ecstasy, received unanimous consent in this House at second reading. I ask my colleagues in this House, what could send a stronger message to Canadians than again to pass this bill unanimously?

Canadians are proud that our government is acting to protect its citizens from illegal drugs. Bill C-475, which has been endorsed by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities and the B.C. Association of Police Chiefs along with many municipalities in the riding I represent, would make it harder for Canadians to produce or gain access to dangerous drugs.

For the sake of all Canadians, I implore my colleagues in this House to stand in favour of health, fitness and freedom from drug addiction.

Controlled Drugs and Substances ActPrivate Members' Business

June 7th, 2010 / 11:05 a.m.
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NDP

Jim Maloway NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to finish my address to Bill C-475.

Once again, I want to congratulate the member for having gone through a long and torturous experience with this bill. As I indicated before, while this bill probably should have been a government initiative, I am happy that he, as a private member, has been able to take it this far and hopefully finish the process. We should be doing more of this. The role of private members' in this House should be enhanced more so than it is even at this point, but there has been an improvement from what it was 20 or 30 years ago.

Dealing with the whole drug issue in this country, it is really a question of following the money. For too long we have concentrated our efforts on tracking down small time dealers at the street level who sell little bits of drugs here and there. The reality is that the money gets funnelled right back to organized crime in this country.

It was not until the late 1950s that the Mafia was even recognized as such in the United States, and after that the RICO laws came into place. It took many years for the Americans to recognize that the Mafia even existed and had to be controlled. The U.S. brought in the RICO laws and have had some success in dismantling organized crime groups.

We have to concentrate on dealing with issues like the proceeds from criminal activities. We have to seize the proceeds from crime so we can take away the incentive for criminal organizations to be involved in crime. I pointed out in the past that today's type of organized criminal is not the biker guy out for a Sunday drive. Normally these people are living in million dollar houses and do not even drive a bike in many cases. We have to concentrate on making tough laws against white collar criminals and concentrate on these organized criminals.

One other point I want to mention once again is in regard to the pill making machines. The United States has told us that it is concerned that a lot of the methamphetamine traffic is now headquartered in Canada because we do not regulate pill making machines. We should be following the American example and require these pill making machines to be registered and tracked when any repairs are made. This is just one more way that we could control this issue.

The member for Halifax mentioned the other day that the Americans are controlling the supply of things to make methamphetamine. An individual can only buy a certain amount of supplies and he or she must have a reason for buying any large quantity of supplies. That is what we need to look at.

Controlled Drugs and Substances ActPrivate Members' Business

June 7th, 2010 / 11:05 a.m.
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Conservative

John Weston Conservative West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country, BC

Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to rise on third reading of a bill that represents an idea whose time has come.

Bill C-475, which deals the growing problem of crystal meth and ecstasy, is reaching the last lap of its marathon race, thanks to the unanimous support of all members of this House and of many Canadians from coast to coast.

It is often said that it is the journey and not the destination that is important. The destination remains critical, protecting Canadians from the aggressive assault on our society of highly addictive and increasingly accessible methamphetamine drugs, but the journey has also been important, a journey which began with the work of my colleague, the MP from Peace River, continued with the expert advice of senior law enforcement officials, gained momentum with contributions from each of the justice critics of the other three parties, and continued with wind under our wings with the support of all parties. When our Parliament manages to achieve this kind of consensus, Canadians smile, and the institution to which we members belong rises in their respect. The destination is important but the journey has been important too.

The change proposed in this bill addresses a lack of restrictions in the law against the gathering of precursors for two dangerous drugs: crystal meth and ecstasy. The bill strikes a major blow against their production. Throughout the journey of this bill, I have met many who have been working to help those who suffer from the plight of crystal meth and ecstasy. Each one of these persons gives cause for this bill to target directly the producers of these drugs and not just the users, and while the bill is certainly a step in the right direction, clearly more measures are necessary than any government could ever provide.

In the journey that I have taken with this bill, former and recovering addicts in treatment facilities with whom I have met have advocated the approach that we are adopting in this House. Last month, I visited the Orchard Recovery Centre on Bowen Island in the riding I represent, a marvellous place that gives hope and practical help to recovering addicts. I ran into a person, whom we will call Mary, who had a few comments to make about her education in the field of drugs. “Not even once” was the slogan that she recommends to anyone who even considers trying these drugs. Mary noted that it is hard to understand the real grip of addiction until one is actually there. The best way to avoid the addiction, she emphasized, is never to try the drug.

I have also dealt with a treatment centre in Prince George, B.C., one of the places that is on the front line in the battle against drug addiction.

Members will be asked later to vote on the third reading of this bill. I ask members to continue the unanimous support they have given the bill thus far. I hope they will join me once again in supporting Bill C-475, an idea whose time has come. We must send a strong message to our friends in the Senate to ensure its quick passage there.

I would like to offer my special thanks to all the people who made it possible for us to come this far in enacting a law that will save untold numbers of Canadians from the plague of crystal meth and ecstasy. I thank the member for Peace River, my Conservative colleagues, especially the justice minister, who helped me design the bill, and also the justice critics. I thank members of all parties who looked beyond their party loyalties to support a bill for the good of all Canadians.

I thank the endorsers who span our great country in their reach, endorsers such as the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, the Association of B.C. Police Chiefs, and various towns and cities in the riding I represent.

I thank the recovery centres, such as the Baldy Hughes Addiction Treatment Centre in Prince George and the Orchard Recovery Centre on Bowen Island, which I mentioned.

Finally, I thank the victims of crystal meth, ecstasy and of other drugs. Not one of them wants to be addicted. This is not a choice anyone freely makes. I thank them for the fight many of them are waging to free themselves of their addictions.

For now, I ask all members of this House to rise and join me in a special tribute to any Canadians struggling with any addiction. We want them to know that we stand with them in their battle and can only hope that our efforts as legislators will translate into practical help for them, their families and their friends.

Controlled Drugs and Substances ActPrivate Members' Business

May 7th, 2010 / 1:30 p.m.
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Conservative

John Weston Conservative West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country, BC

moved that the bill be read the third time and passed.

Madam Speaker, I take great pleasure to rise on the last sitting day before Mother's Day to speak to Bill C-475.

The bill would amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act by creating a new offence for possessing, producing, selling or importing anything knowing it will be used to produce or traffic in crystal meth or ecstasy.

Targeted ingredients include the drug's precursor chemicals, such as pseudoephedrine, ephedrine and Sudafed, which are commonly found in over-the-counter cold medications. Other targeted ingredients are legal but certainly not intended for human consumption, such as acetone, rubbing alcohol and iodine.

The bill would give our law enforcement community a powerful new tool with which to confront the growing menace of two drugs which are attacking the health and welfare of Canadians.

The passage of this bill would mark a new era in our fight to protect Canadians, especially our children, from the devastating effects of these drugs. In the battle to protect our communities, we would be providing new tools to combat the methamphetamine epidemic that has swept our country.

I believe this House stands united today in one noble purpose as we rise together and speak on behalf of Canadians who seek to escape the grip of these harmful substances.

We know an idea is one whose time has come when three things come together: first, a consensus surrounds and supports the idea; second, the idea meets an obvious need; and third, in one sense or another, the stars seem to align and the idea's progress seems preordained and unstoppable. In this case, all these conditions have come to pass, and I look forward to elaborating now.

First, we have a large nationwide consensus of people who support passage of the bill. The consensus is most evident in this House where all parties support it. On April 14, for the first time in this session of Parliament, all members voted in favour of a private member's bill. The stage was second reading and the bill was Bill C-475, the one to which I speak today.

The member for Peace River also received unanimous support for a previous version of this bill when he introduced it in a prior session of Parliament, but it died on the order paper when an election intervened.

Broad and growing support for this bill extends throughout the Canadian public as well, starting with the Federation of Canadian Municipalities. Other endorsers include the B.C. Association of Chiefs of Police, the Crystal Meth Prevention Society of BC, the Baldy Hughes Addiction Treatment Centre, the North Shore Substance Abuse Working Group, the Town of Gibsons, the City of Powell River, the District of Squamish, the Resort Municipality of Whistler, Bowen Island Municipality, the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District, the Solicitor General of British Columbia, as well as Chief Gibby Jacob of the Squamish First Nation.

The broad array of rehabilitation centres, law enforcement officials, former addicts and ordinary citizens who support this bill speak to the need for it, highlighting the fact that we in this chamber are not the only people who say that this is an idea whose time has come.

The chief of the West Vancouver Police Department, speaking on behalf of the B.C. Association of Chiefs of Police, Chief Constable Peter Lepine, wrote me earlier this week. I would like to quote from his message. He said:

As the voice of British Columbia's 5,000+ sworn police officers, the British Columbia Association of Chiefs of Police, BCACP, is proud to support the legislation and would like to thank [the member for West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country] and his staff for their efforts to reduce the impact of illicit drugs on families and communities across Canada.

Every day police officers and our colleagues in the justice system and fields like health care and social work experience firsthand the terrible toll that the production, trade and use of methamphetamine takes: From lives lost and families torn apart by addiction, to the fear and cost of drug-related crime, to the risk of fires and explosions related to meth labs. The public safety risks of methamphetamine are real, substantial, and growing all the time.

This legislation, which prohibits the possession of methamphetamine precursor materials, will provide police across Canada with a way to help reduce the supply of methamphetamine rather than being forced to simply deal with its consequences.The BCACP is confident that the benefits of early interdiction will include not only a marked reduction in the addiction-related human tragedies that we are all so aware of, but also a mitigation of the growing cost of methamphetamines for our health care and other social services.

Bill C-475 complements other criminal justice reforms initiated by our government, such as toughening the laws against drug trafficking and illegal firearms. I am pleased, therefore, that the Minister of Justice and the Conservative government also support the bill.

While a large consensus in support of Bill C-475 suggests it is an idea whose time has come, the increasing need for it is an even stronger indication. The need is simply to stop the destruction of the lives of young Canadians.

The more clearly I examine the problems associated with crystal meth and ecstasy, the more people I meet who have been affected themselves, directly or indirectly, by crystal meth addicts who suffer psychosis, physical addiction, unemployment and an inescapable draw toward criminal conduct. We need to eliminate the use of crystal meth and ecstasy from Canadian society.

These drugs are affecting an increasing number of Canadians. Serious health implications resulting from chronic use of these drugs include dependence, characterized by compulsive drug seeking and drug use, and a phenomenon known as amphetamine or methamphetamine psychosis, which includes strong hallucinations and delusions. Crystal meth and ecstasy use can translate over the longer term into schizophrenia, a side effect with lasting consequences. Trauma experienced by users includes great physical, psychological and emotional harm.

According to Canada's Alcohol and Other Drugs Survey, approximately 50,000 people aged 15 and over report having used methamphetamine at least once in the previous year.

In 2003, British Columbia's Ministry of Health estimated that 4% of school-aged children had used methamphetamine stimulants. Around the same time, the Alberta Alcohol and Drug Abuse Commission found that 5.3% of school-aged children had tried methamphetamine stimulants. That is a lot.

On a personal note, I know that many of us know someone battling drug addiction. Let us not forget that meth is an insidious drug that can affect anyone in any segment of society.

Meth use is not confined to homeless people. Other users include professionals, doctors, lawyers and first responders. These people are mothers and fathers and tragically, in too many cases, they pay with their lives.

The crystal meth and ecstasy industry is linked to various forms of criminal activity. The most obvious form of such activity is the pattern of offences committed by people whose lives are ruined by these drugs.

As I have previously discussed in this House, the methamphetamine industry is increasingly controlled by gangs. For example, Marshall Smith at the Baldy Hughes Treatment Centre in Prince George has informed me that crystal meth addiction is increasingly linked to the multi-billion dollar per year fraud and identity theft problem which is devastating to Canadian families and our economy.

Some who can see the need for this bill have expressed concern about the possibility of wrongful conviction should the bill become law. As in all offences included among Canada's criminal laws, the prosecution must prove an element of mental intention to achieve a conviction under the proposed bill. The bill states explicitly what would have been assumed by the courts, that the accused must be shown to know that the product possessed, produced, sold or imported was to have been used to produce or traffic in crystal meth or ecstasy. The emphasis is on the word “know”. The necessity to prove intent, as stated in the bill, and the general presumption of innocence are two definite responses to anyone concerned about wrongful convictions under Bill C-475, once it is enacted.

This bill gives a new opportunity for law enforcement officials to tackle the production of these drugs before they reach our streets. In particular, this will give judges a new tool to use against chronic producers and allow police to arrest these people earlier, thus reducing the supply of crystal meth and ecstasy on the streets.

I have made the case that Bill C-475 is an idea whose time has come based on the broad support it enjoys and the need it satisfies, but many good ideas are well supported and many ideas could satisfy an important need, but are still not ideas whose time has come.

A third factor which crowns an idea whose time has come is an aligning of the stars, a coming together of people and forces in a way that suggests the idea in question is truly meant to be. People and forces have assembled almost magically to bless the passage of Bill C-475.

The parade began with the member for Peace River whose efforts in introducing a previous version of the bill must never be forgotten. We who appear to personify success in fact stand on the shoulders of giants.

The bill was introduced only six months ago. It could never have reached third reading this quickly without the close co-operation of people such as the Minister of Justice, the government whip, the member for Abbotsford, who chairs the justice committee, the members for Edmonton East and Elgin—Middlesex—London for their willingness to exchange positions with me to expedite the bill through the order of precedence, and the three opposition justice critics, each of whom graciously consulted with me before I introduced the bill.

A moment ago I recited a list of endorsers of the bill. Let me single out one, the Baldy Hughes Addiction Treatment Centre in Prince George, B.C., for purposes of illustrating how the stars have aligned to ensure the passage of the bill. I was on a flight from Ottawa to Vancouver when I chanced to sit next to a board member for the treatment centre, Kevin England, who proceeded to add to and encourage the efforts of the great team of people who support the bill.

When we meet strangers on flights who provide informed support for a legislative initiative, we know the stars are aligned and the idea is one whose time has come.

Controlled Drugs and Substances ActPrivate Members' Business

May 7th, 2010 / 1:45 p.m.
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Liberal

Kirsty Duncan Liberal Etobicoke North, ON

Madam Speaker, she was bright, active in her community and supportive of her family. She had known past tragedies involving ecstasy and had asked her family to trust her not to take the drug, but a few Saturdays ago, instead of going to a party, she headed to a rave, where the group she was with took ecstasy. Afterwards, she slept 15 hours and by the time the ambulance was called, her heart was beating very slowly. She died in hospital.

Our country strives to reduce these drug deaths and, indeed, the harm associated with alcohol and other drugs to individuals, families and communities. Bill C-475 is therefore an important step in reducing harm by making it illegal to possess, produce, sell or import chemicals with the knowledge they will be used to create crystal meth or ecstasy. Under the proposed legislation, violators could face a prison term of up to 10 years.

Unlike some street drugs, methamphetamines can be manufactured from chemicals that are available to the public, such as acetone, drain cleaner, iodine, rubbing alcohol and even cold medication. Previously individuals found in possession of these precursors, without the final product, were not breaking the law. The new legislation changes this and therefore makes it easier to prosecute illegal drug makers.

Amphetamine, a synthetic drug that constricts blood vessels, stimulates the heart and respiration and induces sleeplessness was originally marketed as Benzedrine in North America in the 1920s. It quickly became a favourite street drug, known as “bennies” or “pep pills”, and was severely restricted in most countries beginning in the 1950s because of negative effects, including delusions of power, disturbed sleep patterns, hyperactivity, increased aggressiveness and nausea. Long-term negative effects include heart, kidney, liver and lung damage.

Methamphetamine is a chemical variation with a much stronger effect on the central nervous system than the original drug. It is known as chalk, crank, dirt, glass, grit, ice, koolaid, kryptonite, et cetera, and in higher doses is more addictive than the original drug and has a greater rush, followed by increased agitation and possibly violence in some individuals.

Meth became a common street drug and was known as speed in the 1960s. Its use decreased, however, after a number of incidents, with the message “speed kills”. In the late 1980s, however, a smokable crystal form was created, and has increased in popularity ever since.

Meth stimulates brain cells, enhances mood, physical activity and wakefulness. For some, even low doses can be addictive. With higher doses, specially if injected or smoked, the user immediately experiences a rush or flash, which is intense pleasure that lasts a few minutes. Users can become addicted and dependent quickly, meaning more and higher doses as the addiction progresses.

In street and high doses, methamphetamine causes anxiety, confusion, hallucinations, insomnia, irritability and paranoia. At even higher doses, meth can cause death, which results from rupture of the blood vessels in the brain, extreme fever, heart failure and seizures and coma. There is no specific antidote that can reverse the effects of the drug.

Meth production and use also have social impacts. Communities become vulnerable to increases in drug trafficking, health risks, petty crime, social disorder and violence.

The UN's World Drug Report 2009 shows that in recent years Canada's traffickers have come to play an alarmingly prominent role. Canada and Mexico have picked up the slack in the production of methamphetamine.

The report says:

There is evidence that Canada-based...outlaw motorcycle gangs have significantly increased the amount of methamphetamine they manufacture and export, [since 2003] for the US market, but also for Oceania and East and South-East Asia.

For example, Australia reported that methamphetamine from Canada accounted for 83% of total seized imports by weight. For Japan, the figure was 62%.

Crystal meth has become the most widespread and popular form of the drug, largely because it is so easy to make that anyone can set up a lab. Instructions are commonplace on the Internet.

Police report that a $150 investment can yield up to $10,000 worth of the drug. However, the drug is often impure and the manufacturing process can be dangerous and cause fires, posing serious public safety hazards to those in and around production operations. Operations can cause serious physical injury from chemical burns, explosions, fires and toxic fumes and environmental hazards. There are also significant health risks and costs associated with dismantling labs and removing processing agents from the premises.

A recent Statistics Canada survey of teenagers showed that among those who answered questions about drug use, 34% had tried marijuana, 4% had used ecstasy and 2% had used crystal meth. Police say that in some areas, crystal meth is replacing ecstasy as the drug used by teenagers and young adults in the rave scene. In many areas, crystal meth is cheaper, at $10 for about one-tenth of a gram. An ecstasy hit can cost twice as much, at about $20.

Experts say that crystal meth is one of the most addictive street drugs and one of the hardest to treat. Addictions counsellors report that the withdrawal symptoms, especially depression and physical agony, are worse than cocaine or heroin. As a result, addicts often drop out of recovery programs. The relapse rate of 92% is worse than cocaine.

The chemical structure of ecstasy is similar to that of an amphetamine, a stimulant and mescaline, a hallucinogen. It is a street drug that is usually sold as a capsule, powder or tablet and is only made in illegal labs. The tablets vary in the amount of ecstasy they contain, their colour, shape and size. Tablets may not contain ecstasy at all, but rather contain cornstarch, detergents and other drugs, including ephedrine, LSD and methamphetamine.

After taking ecstasy, the drug is absorbed into the bloodstream and travels to the brain. It usually takes about an hour to feel the effects, which last three to six hours. The effects of ecstasy are unpredictable and they are different for everyone. Some may experience closeness to others, empathy, euphoria and friendliness, while others may experience anxiety and panic attacks.

Ecstasy causes an increase in body temperature, which when combined with physical activity such as dancing in a warm environment, the situation can become worse, leading to heart or kidney failure, seizures and strokes. Some people drink too much water to avoid dehydration, which can result in dangerously low salt levels in the blood, leading to confusion, convulsions and delirium and can progress quickly to coma and death.

When the effects of ecstasy have worn off, a user may feel anxious, confused, depressed and may have trouble sleeping. Flashbacks, memory problems and paranoia may also occur.

People can quickly become tolerant to the effects of ecstasy with regular use and it is not uncommon for the drug to take on an exaggerated importance in a person's life.

Crystal meth and ecstasy are two highly addictive substances against which many agencies and people have rallied. Bill C-475 attempts to attack the problem at its source, dealing directly with the precursors of these drugs.

Finally, in closing one more loop, perhaps we can protect more individuals, families and communities, so more mothers are not driven to the hospital only to find their child has already died of ecstasy, as happened a few weeks ago.

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

May 7th, 2010 / 2:10 p.m.
See context

Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles Québec

Conservative

Daniel Petit ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice

Mr. Speaker, first, I would like to thank the member for West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country, who introduced Bill C-475, An Act to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (methamphetamine and ecstasy).

He is very concerned about the problems caused by the use of methamphetamine and other similar drugs in Canada. I would like to congratulate him for introducing this private member's bill targeting these drugs.

I would like to say a few words about these two drugs. The chemical name for ecstasy is methylenedioxymethamphetamine—that word is not easy to pronounce—or MDMA. The chemical structure and the effects of MDMA are similar to amphetamine—a stimulant—and to mescaline—a hallucinogen.

What is sold as ecstasy often contains drugs other than MDMA, which may or may not be similar in effect to MDMA. Some of the other drugs include caffeine, ephedrine, amphetamine, ketamine or LSD. Ecstasy sometimes contains highly toxic drugs, which can be lethal even in low doses. MDMA affects the chemistry of the brain, in particular by releasing a high level of serotonin. Serotonin is a chemical in the brain that plays an important role in the regulation of mood, energy level and appetite, among other things.

The possession, trafficking, importing and production of MDMA have been illegal in Canada since 1976.

Ecstasy is made in illicit labs with chemicals and processes that vary from lab to lab. What is sold as ecstasy often contains unknown drugs or other fillers. Ecstasy is usually sold as a tablet or capsule that is swallowed. It may also be sold in powder form, or the tablets may be crushed and then snorted. Although rare, there are also some reports that the drug is injected.

Ecstasy tablets come in different shapes, sizes and colours, and are often stamped with a logo, such as a butterfly or clover, giving them a candy-like look. This branding of ecstasy tablets should not be mistaken for an indication of quality, as manufacturers may use the same logo, and low-quality copycats are common. Tablets that are sold as ecstasy may not contain MDMA.

The increased use of ecstasy as a recreational drug began in the 1980s in the U.S. The group most commonly associated with ecstasy use is young people at "raves" or all-night dance parties. More recently, ecstasy has attracted a wider range of users, including urban professionals, and is used in a variety of settings, including mainstream nightclubs.

How ecstasy affects you depends on several things: your age and weight; how much you take and how often you take it; how long you have been taking it; the method you use to take the drug; the environment you are in; whether or not you have certain pre-existing medical or psychiatric conditions; and if you have taken any alcohol or other drugs—illicit, prescription, over-the-counter or herbal.

In low to moderate doses, ecstasy can produce feelings of pleasure and well-being, increased sociability and closeness with others. Like all stimulant drugs, ecstasy can make users feel full of energy and confidence.

Even at low doses, ecstasy can also have strong negative effects. Higher doses are unlikely to enhance the desirable effects, and may intensify the negative effects.

These effects include grinding of teeth and jaw pain, sweating, increased blood pressure and heart rate, anxiety or panic attacks, blurred vision, nausea, vomiting and convulsions.

After the initial effects of the drug have worn off, users may also experience after-effects such as confusion, irritability, anxiety, paranoia, depression, memory impairment or sleep problems.

The effects of ecstasy usually begin within an hour, and may last four to six hours. The duration of the after-effects cannot be predicted as precisely, though they may last for days or weeks.

Although some people regard ecstasy as a relatively safe drug, a growing number of deaths have been associated with it. As with many illicit drugs, these risks increase with the amount taken and frequency of use.

A major factor in many ecstasy-related deaths is the dehydration and overheating that can result when ecstasy is taken in conjunction with all-night dancing. Ecstasy increases body temperature, blood pressure and heart rate, which can lead to kidney or heart failure, strokes and seizures. Ecstasy may cause jaundice and liver damage.

People with high blood pressure, heart or liver problems, diabetes, epilepsy or any mental disorder are the most vulnerable to the potential dangers of ecstasy. Part of the danger is that people may not be aware that they have these conditions, and the effects of ecstasy can trigger symptoms.

As for the long-term effects of ecstasy, animal research has established that ecstasy use can damage the brain cells that release serotonin. Research on humans is limited, but there is some evidence to support that ecstasy can damage the cells and chemistry of the human brain, affecting some functions of the brain, including learning and memory. Research suggests that the risk of damage caused by ecstasy use is linked to the amount taken and the frequency of use.

Methamphetamine is a neurotoxin that alters and damages the brain. It is a drug that is highly addictive and has a high potential for abuse. The abuse of methamphetamine can cause serous behavioural problems, psychotic symptoms and dangerous medical complications, such as vascular problems, strokes and even death. Methamphetamine addiction is a chronic illness, one that is characterized by relapse and that is difficult to treat.

The illicit production and trafficking of this drug has caused terrible harm to thousands of Canadians. Methamphetamine and other synthetic drugs cost us millions of dollars in health care and tens of millions of dollars in law enforcement. Even worse, they have led to the loss of many lives and have been a cause of heartbreak for many families and friends.

There are plenty of recipes for methamphetamine on the Internet, and it is easy to buy books from popular online bookstores that explain how to make it. It is relatively easy to get the dozen or so ingredients and the equipment needed to produce it from neighbourhood pharmacies, grocery stores and hardware stores.

I believe we all agree that nobody wants a meth lab in their neighbourhood. Nobody wants people manufacturing methampthetamine near our schools and playgrounds or on the farm down the road.

And I am sure that nobody wants this relatively cheap and easy-to-produce but deadly drug to fall into their children's hands.

Another issue is the fact that producing methamphetamine is dangerous. The ingredients can cause chemical burns and can easily explode if handled inexpertly. First responders on the scene of an illegal lab are exposed to serious health hazards, as are the neighbours. The environmental risks associated with methamphetamine production are very real.

We also have to take into account the social costs—in dollars—of illegal drug use. I am sure that the direct and indirect costs to the Canadian economy resulting from harm associated with illegal drugs, such as methamphetamine and ecstasy, add up to hundreds of millions of dollars per year. That includes costs associated with health care, law enforcement and loss of productivity due to illness and premature death.

I want to emphasize that, for all of these reasons—the insidious nature of production, the use of toxic chemicals in the manufacture of methamphetamine and its cost to the economy—our government is taking these problems very seriously.

The government is committed to fighting drug production and addiction. Over the past few years, Canada's primary objective in the war on drug abuse has remained unchanged: to make Canadians safer by protecting them from the damage caused by drugs.

We must not underestimate the complexity of fighting this deeply entrenched problem. We have to tackle illegal drug use on a number of fronts. We have to examine it as a social phenomenon.

Controlled Drugs and Substances ActPrivate Members' Business

May 7th, 2010 / 2:20 p.m.
See context

NDP

Jim Maloway NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Madam Speaker, once again I have to congratulate the member for his Bill C-475. I know how much work he has put into this bill and how he has followed it through the process. It is certainly a lot of effort on his part.

While we recognize that this is probably a bill that the government itself should have introduced to this House, in some respects it is probably better that it arrived the way it did because it gives this member an enhanced role in the House. At the end of the day, if we can fulfill public policy by going that route, I see nothing wrong with it. As a matter of fact, we should probably be making more laws that initiate as a result of private members' efforts.

I did ask the member a question the other day about the pill-making machines and I want to deal with that in a few minutes. The member for Halifax talked about having a good drug policy. Some of the elements that she talked about actually make a lot of sense. I do not blame the government or the previous government or any government for the problem, but it is an observation that I have that generally governments everywhere are sort of the last to know about the problem.

We wait as a society until people are dying before we recognize there is a problem and try to deal with it. Most members in this House are my age or older, and they would not know crystal meth if they were looking right at. I would not recognize it. The fact of the matter is that it takes a while. The kids seem to be right on top of issues. These things come about and the next thing we know we have a big problem, and then we have to deal with it.

In the United States, as the member for Halifax has pointed out, the Americans have actually done some things that are preventative, and that is what we should be doing, too. They have a policy that limits the amount of ingredients someone can buy at a store. They have to give a reason for the purchase. In fact, that is where this pill-making machine idea comes in.

It is no secret that in the past the United States required the pill-making machines to be registered when they were purchased and reported when they were repaired. It has been said that the traffic of production of methamphetamines moved north. It moved to Toronto. It moved to Canada because we do not have any regulation or registration of the pill-making machines.

It seems obvious to me that a proactive government that is interested in solving the problem with this particular type of drug should do what the Americans are doing in this case; that is, institute a procedure to limit and track the amount of ingredients that can be purchased, and require identification and reasons for why these ingredients are being purchased, including the pill-making machines.

One could argue that, yes, it will probably drive the manufacturing from Toronto to somewhere else, to a jurisdiction or a country that does not regulate the pill-making machines. However, that certainly makes a lot more sense than dealing with the problem after the problem has attacked us.

Fundamentally, the real problem here is the fact that criminal organizations and criminal gangs are the ones that are making the money out of the whole drug scene. Until we can come to grips with that, until we can cut off their money supply, they will never go away. Over the years since the RICO laws in the United States started to apply pressure and crack down on the mob, we have seen a dismantling of many of the mob's infrastructure because of that.

Once again, as usual, Canada seems to be following, almost a generation behind, the United States. We now have similar types of legislation that have worked.

All we have to do is look at the situation in Quebec and Montreal. The police in Montreal have been very effective in dismantling the biker gangs and thereby getting to the root of the problem. Members of these biker gangs do not even own bikes any more. They do not know how to ride bikes any more. They are upstanding business people, dressed in suits, living in million dollar houses. They stay out of the action and they hire drug dealers to carry the drugs. They hire low level traffickers to sell the drugs. They have lawyers.

Whenever a low level drug trafficker is caught, they are always in the background. They are always in the shadows. They have their lawyers. They are so organized that there are instances where people go to jail for the gangs. A low level drug person takes the fall, takes the sentence, and goes to jail. The gangs making the money fund the families. They pay for the families to live while the person is in jail. We have to take these gangs apart and take away the money to solve the problem.

CONTROLLED DRUGS AND SUBSTANCES ACTPrivate Members' Business

April 13th, 2010 / 5:30 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Brian Murphy Liberal Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe, NB

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to speak to Bill C-475. It is a bill that has been introduced by a Conservative colleague in the House, and I believe it is well intentioned.

The bill simply, but in a complicated way, attempts to zero in surgically on the proliferation of club and party drugs known as methamphetamines and ecstasy. The bill, in its two clauses, attempts to pinpoint persons who possess, produce, sell or import anything knowing that it will be used to produce or traffic in a substance referred to as the two drugs I mentioned.

I think there should first be context. We live in an age when the proliferation of new drugs, drugs that market themselves and drugs that are more easily manufactured than in times before, is upon us. We also know that it is no longer the growing of drugs, but the manufacture of drugs, that is a fairly easy proposition for those in the know and produces drugs of potency that can be calibrated. I do not like to use the word calibration very much on this side, but it is apt here. The calibration of the potency of a drug is much more precise in the chemical production lab than in the marijuana and poppy fields where drugs are traditionally known to come from.

We have a real epidemic of producers who, with very short learning curves in the production of drugs, can fill our streets, schoolyards and playgrounds with perhaps permanently mind-altering drugs at an affordable price in small quantities to be concealed. It is therefore the intention, I think, of my hon. friend to zero in on these club drugs.

I must say that in the four years I have been here, the Conservative approach to law and order has been to put more coats of peanut butter on top of the jam. We all know that peanut butter does not go on jam. It is not enough just to increase sentences. It does not make the criminal justice system work. This bill attempts to widen the net. It is not just another addition of a mandatory minimum. It is not just another hard penalty for a crime that already exists under the Code. We have had four years of that from the government.

It is important to recognize that this bill comes from a private member. It does not come from the government. So bravo; at least somebody on the backbench gets the idea that we can be surgical and at the same time improve the situation with respect to controlling drugs and substances, as the act says. He expands it by saying that no person shall possess, produce, sell or import “anything”. Obviously, that thing is any element that makes up the drugs ecstasy or methamphetamine.

As this is to be sent to committee, we are saying we have to very carefully examine what that word “knowing” means. Of course, someone could have a chemical that results in the production of ecstasy. That chemical may in itself have a harmless use. It may be something that someone buys for agricultural, medicinal or cleaning purposes, but it is an element that in the end makes up the drug ecstasy. I will say ecstasy because I have an easier time saying ecstasy than methamphetamine. If it is part of that process, knowingly, this bill will attempt to insert itself into the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.

If ecstasy is produced, the penalties are very precise. There is a maximum penalty, finally we are dealing with maximum penalties, which inherently has within it the long, four years or so, ignored principle, an importance of judicial discretion when giving out sentences. The government has ignored that for so long and, treating judges like schoolchildren, has said no, that it wants mandatory minimums. This bill treats specific offences with maximum sentences therefore protecting the idea that a judge in a certain circumstance could say that this was not a case that warrants the 10 year maximum in the case of having the elements that make up ecstasy and methamphetamines, and the sentence has been increased to a 7 year maximum for other drugs.

We need to look at the government's record with respect to controlled drugs and substances. For a couple of years it might have been good enough for the Conservatives to rail and complain that they did not have the keys to the castle and therefore could not do much with respect to drug awareness and the control of harmful substances but they have been in power for four years now. This is a pretty good bill but we need to look at it at committee to see if the intent aspects are covered, because no one in this House wants to make a law that looks good on the surface but will not be efficacious.

The law has to work, which is why it will be sent to committee, I suspect, and we will see if it passes the test of being upheld by the courts. What we have seen in the last few years is a real rush into a rash of laws that had not been necessarily tested. We certainly never had one charter opinion from a Department of Justice official tabled in any of the debates we have had with respect to law and order legislation.

I welcome the British Columbia member's bill. It will have a very hearty and thorough debate at committee. Overall, however, the government's attack on the harm that drugs can do to our youth has been woeful: increasing sentences and attacking the Youth Criminal Justice Act. Many experts say that increasing sentences for youth, particularly gang members, enticed into criminal activity, will have very little deterrent effect.

We need to examine the whole road map with respect to drug prevention and education. How do we get the people who are addicted to drugs off those drugs? What is the point of putting forward legislation that speaks to diversion to drug treatment courts, which are a very good thing and supported certainly on this side, when drug treatment courts in my riding, for instance, do not even exist? It is a diversion to nowhere. We are just finishing a budget debate. Where are the resources for the prevention of addictions and the treatment for addictions. That is the item that requires five or six days of debate in this country.

Everybody has had a family member who has had a dependency of some sort. Everybody in the House who has would know that it comes through treatment, education, awareness and resources in the community to attach oneself or one's family to those services that really help the fight on addictions in this community.

Many people who are involved in addictions and find themselves in the courts are victims rather than criminals. The more we can do to help the root cause of addictions, to get more people treated and to divert them to measures that are actually funded, the less we will need well-intentioned but surgical bills such as this one which only treat the disease, not the symptoms and only make society more overladen with laws and not justice.

CONTROLLED DRUGS AND SUBSTANCES ACTPrivate Members' Business

April 13th, 2010 / 5:40 p.m.
See context

NDP

Megan Leslie NDP Halifax, NS

Madam Speaker, I will be supporting private member's Bill C-475 but I do have my doubts about whether or not it would actually do anything. I am left wondering if the bill would be effective or if it is more empty rhetoric with a tough on crime agenda from the Conservative government.

I wonder that because I do not understand quite yet why the existing Controlled Drugs and Substances Act is not adequate to deal with the issue that the member has brought forward since it already is illegal to produce, traffic or import methamphetamines and ecstasy. I am looking forward to hearing from witnesses to see what exactly could be done.

In looking at this bill for the purpose of debate, I would like to first consider other legislative and non-criminal options that are available to us.

Several states in the United States have moved to regulate these kinds of chemicals at the source, and they did not actually use criminal law. They used commercial and consumer regulations. A chain of information is created, tracking the sale of these chemicals and reporting to whom they were sold and in what volume. Anyone along that chain of purchasing has to do the same thing, so the chemical is resold in smaller quantities. The purchaser must list to whom the chemical has been sold and provide an explanation as to what it will be used for. It has been quite effective in restricting labs in the United States, so I wonder why we are not doing the same here in Canada.

Next I would like to talk about Canada's move toward the criminalization of drug use and the movement away from the treatment of drug use.

This bill and all the other drug bills that we have seen come through this House as of late all reek of playing into the fears of a public that the government is happy to keep uninformed about the realities of addiction and drugs in Canada, which continues a pattern of inefficient, ineffective and misguided policies.

Last year, the head of the Canadian Foundation for Drug Policy, Eugene Oscapella, said:

We've had 101 years of drug prohibition in Canada. All of the problems we have seen with drugs have occurred under this system. The solution is not to do more of the same.

I do agree with that.

The government has continuously rejected the idea that there are other options to addressing drug policy. For example, despite having the lifesaving success of harm reduction measures, such as needle exchanges and Vancouver's safe injection site Insite in reducing the spread of HIV and hepatitis C among drug users and increasing access to treatment, in 2007 the government introduced a new anti-drug strategy for Canada that removed all references to harm reduction, every one of them.

Instead, the government has put greater emphasis on law enforcement, back to tough on crime, moving Canada closer toward an expensive and failed U.S.-style war on drugs. In fact, just 3% of Canada's current drug policy budget goes to prevention, if members can believe it, with over 73% going toward enforcement and, no surprise, drug use continues to rise. We are taking a page out of George Bush's failed U.S. drug strategy.

The government unilaterally changed Canada's drug policy to get rid of harm reduction measures. We know that “just say no” campaigns do not work. There are realities that we are not facing as a society that are really the root of drug use. I am speaking of realities like poverty, access to education, access to justice, non-judgmental health services, a lack of addiction services, education budgets that have been slashed and extracurricular programs that are quickly and continuously vanishing. We tell our youth to just say no but we give them very few options and very little information to actually make choices for themselves.

There are solutions that the NDP can get behind. I will start off with what we know about drug use in Canada. In 1994, 28% of Canadians reported to have used illicit drugs but by 2004 that number had gone up to 45%. These numbers tell us that a broad, holistic approach to the problem is necessary. We cannot just rely on putting people in jail. That is not a solution. The problem is much more complicated than that, so we need to look at what else is going on. A national treatment strategy is really an idea that we can get behind.

The National Framework for Action to Reduce the Harms Associated with Alcohol and Other Drugs and Substances in Canada is a 2008 working group. Its members include not only federal and provincial health agencies, like Health Canada and Nova Scotia Health Promotion and Protection, but also related agency representatives from the Correctional Service of Canada, College of Family Physicians in Canada and the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse.

This working group pointed out that research findings suggest that providing appropriate services and supports across a range of systems, so back to the holistic idea, not only reduces substance use problems but it 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. That is actually from the report of the working group. This group is calling for a national treatment strategy. It is a strategy that would include building capacity across a continuum of services and supports, supporting the continuum of services and supports, developing a research program and reducing stigma and discrimination.

Young people need to have access to realistic and useful information about resources. We know that children are encountering drug culture from an early age, so prevention and education should be just as aggressive as the sellers.

We want kids to make the right decisions but to do that we need to give them the tools. Similar to safer sex campaigns, education needs to include information about being safe if one is taking drugs, how to seek support if one has an addiction and not just a lot of commercials about the horrors of drugs.

I could certainly support any bill that looked at a four pillar approach to this issue. The four pillar approach has been successful in cities across the U.S., the U.K. and Europe. It is based on the four pillars of prevention that we have talked about many times here: prevention, treatment, harm reduction and enforcement. All pillars are equally important and have to be integrated and jointly implemented to be effective.

In 2002, the House special committee on the non-medical use of drugs, the Office of the Auditor General and the Senate committee all called for: strengthened leadership; coordination and accountability with dedicated resources; enhanced data collection to set measurable objectives, evaluate programs and report on progress; balance of supply and demand activities across government; and increased emphasis on prevention, treatment and rehabilitation. We have seen that the four pillar approach has been approved and recommended by members of this place.

Our drug policies need to be based on research, not on public opinion. We should avoid legislation that increases the already imbalanced and overfunded enforcement approach to drug use in Canada without reducing crimes or drug rate use. Legislation really needs to address the problems of violent or organized crime and not in this patchwork way that we are seeing by the government.

The Conservatives are taking Canada in the wrong direction. This is a direction that is expensive, has no effect on drug use and will only increase the prison population creating a whole new set of issues, like overpopulation, health, safety and crime issues within the prison system.

Would the bill do anything? I am unsure but would it not be great if the bill would take a reality based approach to drug policy that is rooted in this four pillar approach? Would it not be great if this bill considered better and more prevention programs to divert youth at risk? Would it not be great if this bill looked at more resources for prosecution and enforcement of existing laws? Would this bill not be better if more officers were on the street as promised by the Conservatives but not yet delivered? Would this bill not be better if it introduced an overall coordinated strategy focused on gangs and organized crime? Would it not be better if it actually looked at toughened proceeds of crime legislation?

CONTROLLED DRUGS AND SUBSTANCES ACTPrivate Members' Business

April 13th, 2010 / 5:55 p.m.
See context

NDP

Bill Siksay NDP Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to have this opportunity to participate in the debate on Bill C-475, An Act to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (methamphetamine and ecstasy), which stands in the name of the member for West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country. I also want to express my appreciation for his putting this bill forward and giving us the opportunity to debate drug policy once again here in the House of Commons.

Let me say at the outset that New Democrats will be supporting this bill to get it to committee where it can be carefully examined once again. I say that even though I do have concerns about this legislation and the kind of direction it espouses and supports.

I do have very serious concerns about the criminal justice model of dealing with drugs in our society. I believe it has been a colossal failure, frankly. We need to be moving to a health issue model of dealing with drug use in our society. There are a lot of examples of how the criminal justice model has failed us. It has failed to deal with the problems of drug use in our society. It has failed to find any major improvement in that situation over many years of dealing with it.

The parallels to alcohol prohibition are absolutely clear when we consider drug prohibition in our society. I have spoken at length about that in the House on previous occasions. When we take a careful look at alcohol prohibition and compare that to drug prohibition, we are going to see an exact parallel in terms of the kinds of social problems that were evident, especially in the United States during the period of alcohol prohibition.

Those problems have an exact parallel to the experience we have today under drug prohibition. Very basic things like grow ops in homes and the problems they cause to housing, the problems they cause to neighbourhoods were very evident in the 1920s during alcohol prohibition in the United States. People had illegal stills all over the place and caused serious problems, including fires when the stills exploded. The family dislocation for a crime that was considered illegal and, therefore, underground was very similar in the 1920s as it is today around drug prohibition and the stigma that goes along with drug use. They are things like the activities of organized crime. They are infamous. There are many stories about the organized crime activities related to alcohol in the period of alcohol prohibition in the United States, which have an exact parallel to the illegal drug activities that we see in our society today.

We have to carefully examine that. We have to look to the example that we have established with the policies on alcohol restriction, that we allow its use in our society and apply that to what we know about drugs. Indeed, other jurisdictions have done that already. Portugal is an excellent example of significant change and improvement in this area.

It is interesting that we are having this debate today because this afternoon I was able to meet with students who are visiting members of Parliament here on the Hill about the whole issue of drug policy. I met with two representatives of Canadian Students for Sensible Drug Policy. That is a national grassroots organization composed of student groups at secondary and post-secondary schools across Canada. The various chapters of Canadian Students for Sensible Drug Policy are encouraged to mobilize around drug-related issues that are important to their members and their communities. Their projects range from open peer drug and alcohol education, to public awareness campaigns, to lobbying MPs, as they were doing today. They were lobbying MPs for smart, sustainable, viable drug policies.

There is a chapter of Canadian Students for Sensible Drug Policy at Simon Fraser University in my constituency of Burnaby—Douglas.

One of the things the folks from Canadian Students for Sensible Drug Policy were asking today is whether I, as an MP, was ready for Canada to move toward honest and non-judgmental youth drug education. I was able to answer that with a resounding “yes”. They are doing an anonymous survey. They are keeping tally of what MPs told them. I am proud to go public and say that I do support the goals of their campaign around this and that I believe that honest and non-judgmental drug education is something that is absolutely crucial for youth in Canada.

When they talk about drug education and the kind of education and information that youth and young people need in Canada, they break it down into a number of categories. I want to go through some of the documentation they have provided to show what another vision of moving toward a better situation with regard to drug use in our society might look like. They break down three categories in drug education. They talk about the need for honesty, the need for prevention and the need for a non-judgemental approach.

With regard to honesty, there are a number of side issues that they think should be covered. They believe it is important to talk about drugs as a serious issue, but they also believe we should do it in a way that does not exaggerate the negative effects that drugs and alcohol can have on an individual family or community. They believe young people, especially those with any experience of drug use, are aware of this because of their experience and intimate knowledge of that. However, they believe it is very important to create an honest, respectful dialogue so young people are given the opportunity to discuss these issues with their peers.

In terms of honesty, they also believe we need to make it clear that drugs are a part of life. It is undeniable. We use drugs in all kinds of different situations. It is not just illicit drugs in this case, but many other kinds of drugs are used freely and appropriately in our society. There is an important aspect of recognizing that. This is not about promoting drug use; it is a recognition of their place in our lives and in our society.

They believe it is important to point out that illegal drugs are not always dangerous and that legal drugs are not always safe. We know there is much abuse of prescription drugs and there is often much misunderstanding about the effects of these drugs. They believe this needs to be part of the conversation about drug use. It cannot always be on the one side around so-called illicit drugs. We need a broader appreciation of legal drugs that are available and used in our society.

They also say we should talk about use and abuse not being the same thing. Young people know, in any conversation about drug use, from their experience of how we use drugs and alcohol in our society, that there are ways to use them appropriately and ways to use them inappropriately. They know there is a difference between having a glass of wine at dinner and having a glass of wine at breakfast. They see adults and others making those kinds of decisions all the time and that approach needs to be part of the kind of conversation we have drug education.

With regard to prevention, they have a number of points in that general area as well. They point out that not using drugs is the only way to completely avoid the risk of drugs. Abstaining from drug use is the best way to avoid the individual risks of each substance and this has to be a key part of any discussion. We do not want to avoid talking about that.

We also need to talk honestly about preventing problematic drug use. We have to recognize that often young people will do risky things whether we want them to or not, but we have to find a way to engage those young people who already take those kinds of risks. As part of that, harm reduction needs to be part of the conversation. We have to ensure that young people who make those choices know how to reduce the harm that they do, having made that decision. This does not necessarily mean encouraging the use of drugs. It means ensuring young people who make those choices have appropriate information. A lot of good work has been done in the whole area of harm reduction to make it very clear why this is a very effective strategy.

They also want to talk about delaying first use. For youth who think of using drugs, they believe it is important that drug education stress the importance of delaying first use in a non-judgmental fashion. If people make those decisions, they need to make them at a point in their life when they have the information at their fingertips and the background they need to make those kinds of decisions.

Finally, in their category of non-judgmental approach, they point out some things that should be fairly obvious to us. They point out that drug use is not a moral failing. They point out the need for inclusive and respective dialogue. They point out the need for creating stronger peer groups. They say we keep safer sex, why not safer drug use.

There is a great approach here and I would hope we might pay more attention to this alternative approach to dealing with substance use in our society.

CONTROLLED DRUGS AND SUBSTANCES ACTPrivate Members' Business

April 13th, 2010 / 6:05 p.m.
See context

Conservative

John Weston Conservative West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country, BC

Madam Speaker, Bill C-475 is about stopping the growing problem of crystal meth and ecstasy, two types of methamphetamines found all too frequently in Canada. The approach of this bill is to make a new criminal offence for those who procure the precursors of crystal meth or ecstasy with the intent to manufacture these drugs.

As the member for Kildonan—St. Paul has just so eloquently stated, these two drugs are highly toxic and addictive substances against which many informed people and agencies have railed, including several members of the House.

I thank my colleague, the member for Peace River, for introducing the original version of this bill in a previous session of Parliament. The bill attempts to attack the problem at its source, dealing directly with the precursors of these drugs.

I also thank the member for Marc-Aurèle-Fortin for his comments in the first hour of debate regarding the various substances that these drugs contain. As he stated, these include the primary ingredients of ephedrine and pseudoephedrine, which are commonly found in the over-the-counter cold medications. They also include products not certified for human consumption, including acetone, rubbing alcohol, iodine and other common items. The member's comments highlighted the ease with which criminals could find the ingredients needed to create these products.

I am proud to be a member of a government that has passed laws to reduce crime in Canada. We are not working for criminals but for the majority of Canadians who are law-abiding citizens.

In the previous debate of this bill, the member for Elmwood—Transcona expressed some concerns about pill compression machines. I have since discovered that the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration regularly informs Canadian authorities of U.S. exports of pill compression machines to Canada. This American regulation, which does not have a Canadian equivalent, somewhat limits the illegal sale of the drugs we are discussing today.

The United States-Canada Border Drug Threat Assessment 2007, an analysis published jointly by the Canadian and U.S. governments, also notes that effective U.S. legislation restricting the purchase of precursor chemicals has been successful in cutting back cross-border smuggling of methamphetamines.

We need the provisions of this bill not only to allay the fears of our biggest trading partner, but more important to protect our families and our children.

Our research has uncovered many anecdotes about Canadians whose lives have been ruined by methamphetamines. One women from the riding I represent, whom we will call Helen, a 34-year-old recovering ecstasy addict, tells us that she has been fighting her addiction for 15 years. This disease has taken many things from her, she says, such as her self-respect, her motivation and the ability to live a normal and fulfilling life. She confides that ecstasy has damaged her body and her mind forever. She has experienced severe psychoses, spent time on the street, been in abusive relationships and has done whatever was necessary to get the drugs she craved.

Helen tells us that one of the major problems is the ready availability of crystal meth and ecstasy. As we have heard in the House today and in previous testimony, the products needed to make these drugs are found at any big-box store or family hardware shop. Helen tells us there needs to be some kind of law regarding the distribution of the ingredients. She concludes, “We need help from our government to stop the selling of chemicals to the common person”.

I stand in the House proudly to say that members of all parties are ready to answer Helen's call.

Outside the House, the list of supporters of this bill is growing too. Supporters include the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, the B.C. Association of Police Chiefs, the Crystal Meth Society of BC, the town of Gibsons, the city of Powell River, the district of Squamish, the municipality of Bowen Island, the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District and several other groups.

I thank my colleagues in the House, members of all parties, for their support of the bill. By their support, they join me in denouncing the scourge of crystal meth and ecstasy drugs.

Controlled Drugs and Substances ActPrivate Members' Business

March 9th, 2010 / 5:55 p.m.
See context

Conservative

John Weston Conservative West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country, BC

moved that Bill C-475, An Act to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (methamphetamine and ecstasy), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak again to a bill designed to recover our youth, to deliver a greater sense of peace and order to our communities, and to tackle a major activity of organized crime.

The passion I bring to these issues reflects my role as a father of three young children and as a member of Parliament for the riding that hosted many of the Olympic Games in the past month and will next week host most of the Paralympics.

Many of my constituents are also concerned about health matters. These matters are very important to everyone, people of the east, the west, anglophones, francophones—all Canadians. The health of Canadians is also linked to the progress we are making in our fight against drugs like crystal meth and ecstasy.

My private member's bill is aimed at tackling head-on the production of the drugs known as methamphetamines, more commonly called crystal meth and ecstasy, the two most common forms of methamphetamine-type stimulants. The bill would make a new offence for possessing, producing, selling or importing anything if the person involved knows that the thing will be used to produce or traffic crystal meth or ecstasy.

The United States, New Zealand, Australia and the U.K. have introduced aggressive strategies to target one or both of these drugs. This bill follows the approach taken in these countries, introducing several changes to our Canadian Controlled Drugs and Substances Act and creating a new criminal offence for the procurement of the precursor chemicals for these drugs if the procurement is accompanied by the intention to produce the outlawed substances.

When passed, the bill will greatly hamper the clandestine production that has made these drugs so easily accessible to Canadian youth.

There are at least three reasons why this issue is of such great concern to my constituents, to the members who sit in the House and to all Canadians. First, crystal meth and ecstasy harm individuals who use them as well as their families and communities. Second, production of these drugs involves direct environmental dangers. Third, the production of these drugs also affects Canada's reputation internationally.

Experts agree that one way to stem the production of these drugs is to focus on the precursors. Today, law enforcement officials cannot investigate or charge someone merely for gathering the ingredients of these drugs. The bill would give the law enforcement community the new tools it needs to do the job.

The 2004 United Nations report entitled, “Preventing amphetamine-type stimulant use among young people”, made clear what a scourge these drugs are to youth in our country. Serious health implications resulting from chronic use of these drugs include dependence characterized by compulsive drug seeking and drug use, and a phenomenon known as amphetamine or methamphetamine psychosis which includes strong hallucinations and delusions.

Crystal meth and ecstasy use can translate over the longer term into schizophrenia, a side effect with lasting consequences. Trauma experienced by users includes great physical, psychological and emotional harm. Too many families and communities are being affected by these awful drugs.

Some personal anecdotes help to give a human face to these struggles. I have been in touch personally with several drug treatment centres and some of the victims of these drugs have shared their stories with me. A young lady, who I will call Vanessa, said “the worst paranoia I've ever experienced was on crystal meth. It creates a feeling of invincibility. I believed I could commit crimes or do anything. The crash when coming down off the drug is so hideous you do whatever it takes to prevent the crash. That's where the crimes come in. You believe you can get away with anything”.

Another person in treatment noted that “ecstasy is what started me and all my friends using other harder drugs” he said. “The come down was so hard, the depression so bad that we needed to find something to numb us out”. He carried on and said, “So we started using cocaine and heroin after a weekend of partying with ecstasy”.

These drugs have affected a large number of Canadians. According to the Canadian alcohol and monitoring survey, about 50,000 people aged 15 or older reported having used methamphetamines at least once in the previous year.

In B.C. it was estimated by the ministry of health in 2003 that 4% of school-aged children have used methamphetamine-type drugs. At the same time, it was estimated by the Alberta Alcohol and Drug Abuse Commission that a shocking 5.3% of the school-aged population had tried methamphetamine-type stimulants.

Between 2000-04, 65 people died in British Columbia with methamphetamines present in their bodies. This number, which has been increasing every year for which statistics are available, charts a disturbing trend for all people in Canada.

One of the most insidious qualities of these drugs is the covert way in which they attack users. Ecstasy seems like a harmless party drug to some, one that is marketed through colourful pills and cheerful designs, such as happy faces, but police have found that a significant amount of ecstasy seized from the streets is laced with more dangerous drugs such as crystal meth. When combined, the two can become an addictive, toxic and dangerous combination. Overdoses are common due to the unregulated nature of the drugs.

Side effects of methamphetamines are similarly worrisome. A position paper produced in Australia noted, “methamphetamine use has often been associated with violent crime, and the drug has a strong reputation for inducing violent behaviour”.

To understand the harm of these drugs, it is crucial to highlight their addictiveness. In a 2004 report, the solicitor general of my home province, B.C., explained:

A powerful stimulant, meth alters the brain's production of dopamine. The drug produces an initial positive pleasurable physical reaction by increasing the levels of dopamine, leaving a person depressed as the effects of the drug wear off. The user then requires more of the drug to return to normal. This "binge and crash" pattern leads to loss of control over the drug and addiction.

To look at the addictive nature of these drugs from another angle, addiction counsellors say that the relapse rate of crystal meth users is about 92%, which is higher than the relapse rate for cocaine.

Having covered aspects of harm to the individual consumer and his or her community, let me speak to the second of these main reasons to attack the production of these drugs, the dangerous environmental aspects of the production.

In the absence of production standards, there is no way to control the quality of substances produced, the safety of production or the location. A report produced by Carleton University in 2004 stated, “Versatility is the term that best defines methamphetamine production. Clandestine laboratories have been found in sites as diverse as private residences, motel rooms, dorm rooms, campgrounds, storage facilities” and almost any other place that we could imagine. Though large-scale industrial production of these drugs is an increasing reality, the vast amount of crystal meth and ecstasy are produced in small, kitchen-like labs. These labs house toxic waste and other substances dangerous to humans and are located in our neighbourhoods and in our homes.

The United Nations notes “environmental harm and costs caused by illegal laboratories and their safe removal are considerable”. The production of these drugs is an extremely toxic endeavour, one about which we should all be concerned.

A letter I received today from B.C.'s solicitor general, Kash Heed, outlines some of the harmful effects of production. In the letter, he says:

In the last five years, police in British Columbia have responded to over 161 clandestine labs, chemical seizures and dumpsites related to illegal ecstasy and methamphetamine production....As you are no doubt aware, synthetic drug labs in British Columbia are large-scale economic labs that...produce...quantities greater than five kilograms per production cycle and, in some instances, 40 kilograms per cycle. At least six kilograms of waste is produced for every kilogram of finished product. These waste products are typically dumped causing serious environmental damage.

One person who was involved with the drug noted, “I lived with a person who cooked crystal meth. He had burns all over his arms. It was in an apartment building and I'm sure that it affected all the people in the building”.

The environmental degradation, the violent nature of the chemicals and the harmful effects are all reasons which independently dictate the need for action.

Many colleagues in the House have expressed to me their concerns about the effects of these drugs on people across Canada. However, the marketing of crystal meth and ecstasy transcends Canada's borders and tarnishes our reputation on an international scale.

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime reported in 2009 that Canada is the single largest supplier of ecstasy to the United States and is a significant supplier of the drug to Japan and Australia. The UN report also concluded:

There is evidence that Canada-based Asian organized crime groups and outlaw motorcycle gangs have significantly increased the amount of methamphetamines they produce and export, for the U.S. market, but also for Oceania and East and Southeast Asia.

The report also noted:

Canada has grown to be the most important producer [of ecstasy] for North America, and since 2006, all ecstasy laboratories reported have been large-capacity facilities operated principally by Asian organized crime groups.

We have many resources, skills and commodities to export. How sad that we Canadians must now include crystal meth and ecstasy among our recognized exports.

My friend and colleague, the member for Peace River, originally introduced the bill and invested enormous effort to obtain unanimous consent in the House. His bill made it to second reading in the upper house. However, an election intervened and the bill died. He and I have since consulted extensively with stakeholders such as law enforcement officials in Ontario, Alberta and B.C.

The bill would improve on the original bill put forward by the member for Peace River by adding the drug ecstasy as a substance which precursors would now also be restricted. The production of crystal meth and ecstasy are often linked. Law officials therefore encouraged us to link the two drugs in the bill.

We have received endorsements for the bill from the B.C. Association of Chiefs of Police, B.C. Solicitor General Kash Heed and several other associations in the riding I represent, including the Catholic Women's League. This past weekend, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities also passed a resolution in support of this bill, calling on our House to work with the provinces to enact more stringent regulation with regard to precursors in Canada's Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, just as proposed in this bill.

First nations leaders such as Chief Gibby Jacob of the Squamish Nation have voiced their support for the bill. I have also received support from B.C. communities regarding the bill, including places such as Gibsons, Bowen Island and Powell River. I am also proud to note that our government has taken action to reduce the level of addiction in our country already through education and treatment. Government-financed programs such as the youth justice fund and the national anti-drug strategy will continue to work in conjunction with the bill to increase liability for possession of the chemicals needed to create crystal meth.

I appreciate the supportive and constructive comments that I have received already from colleagues in the House from all parties. My colleagues have taken note of the three reasons to legislate against the procurement of precursors of crystal meth and ecstasy: the harm to consumers of these drugs; the environmental hazards involved in their production; and their prejudice to Canada's good name as an exporter.

I hope all members will join me in bringing to an end the possession, production and trafficking of crystal meth and ecstasy in Canada. By directly targeting the ingredients of these devastating drugs, we can work to create a safer and stronger Canada. I ask all members join me in support of Bill C-475.

Controlled Drugs and Substances ActPrivate Members' Business

March 9th, 2010 / 6:25 p.m.
See context

NDP

Libby Davies NDP Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to speak to Bill C-475. I would like to thank the hon. member for West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country for introducing the bill. It is very similar to a bill that was introduced awhile ago. I spoke to that bill and it went to committee. The fact that it is back before the House is evidence of the hon. member's serious intent to bring forward this issue. We certainly appreciate that.

I want to make a few general points about the bill as it relates to the larger issue of drug policy and what we have seen from the government. While on the one hand the bill deals very specifically with substances that are involved in the selling, production or import of amphetamines and ecstasy, as it relates to the larger issue, we have to be aware that reliance on an enforcement strategy and an approach that is focused on the Criminal Code is not going to solve the very major issues we are facing with drug addiction and substance use in our society.

Because the hon. member is from the metro Vancouver area, I am sure he is familiar with what the city of Vancouver is calling the four pillar approach. It is an approach that is more comprehensive. It focuses on prevention, treatment, harm reduction and enforcement.

One thing that really concerns us is that we have seen from the current government an overemphasis on enforcement. This bill would very much be a part of that. For example, we know that Canada spends about 73% of its drug policy budget on enforcement; only about 14% goes to treatment, 7% to research, 2.6% to prevention and 2.6% to harm reduction.

When we look at the real picture of what is going on in Canadian society, based on reports that have been produced, we know that in 1994, 28% of Canadians reported to have used illicit drugs, but by 2004 that number had gone up to 45%. That is pretty staggering. I would say that even the United Nations now recognizes that a broader approach including harm reduction is a very important component in a comprehensive drug policy.

While on the one hand there is this bill which has a very narrow spectrum, I would hope that the hon. member would also advocate for a broader approach and that we would not see the kind of penalization on things around harm reduction. I am sure the hon. member is familiar with Insite in Vancouver, the only safe injection facility in North America. To me the real issue is about prevention and about approaching this as a health issue.

We see that the Conservative government relies heavily on the enforcement mechanism. In fact, in 2007 the government dropped harm reduction from Canada's drug strategy. I really feel that the statistics are only going to get worse.

One real problem we are facing is this illusion, this political stance being put forward of continually seeking tougher laws on enforcement. Of course, there was Bill C-15 in the last session of Parliament, which called for mandatory minimum sentences for drug crimes. The political stance that somehow this is going to solve very complex issues in our society is an illusion. It is just a political stance because the reality, research, and scientific work that is being done shows us that only when all of the components are present do we begin to actually make changes.

For example, I would point to the National Framework for Action to Reduce the Harms Associated with Alcohol and Other Drugs and Substances in Canada 2008 working group. The working group is made up of the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse, first nations, the Canadian Executive Council on Addictions, the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, and BC Mental Health and Addiction Services. It is a very professional body. It points out in its national framework for action that 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.

I use this information because it is further evidence that unless we have some kind of equilibrium and common sense approach to drug policy in this country, we are actually not going to change anything. If we continue along a path of criminalizing drug users, which is what Bill C-15 would do, an over-emphasis on an enforcement strategy, and somehow fooling people into believing that we are going to deal with this issue by having more cops or tougher enforcement, the evidence in this country shows us that is not the case. I wanted to paint that slightly bigger picture because it is very relevant in this debate.

As my hon. colleague from the Bloc has pointed out, the fact that the bill does not name the products and that the various substances that go into making these drugs are so readily available makes enforcement very challenging. That is all the more reason, particularly when talking about drug use by young people, it is very critical to emphasize the prevention and education, particularly realistic education about drug use.

I have had a lot of concerns and qualms about sending police officers into schools regarding drug education. I ask myself whether we would send police officers into schools to provide sex education. No, we would not, so why would we do it for drug use? It is because these substances are illegal and I do not think kids get a very realistic and honest education about what these substances are, that they need to be aware of their own health and what they need to take care of.

I hope the member and other members of the Conservative caucus would focus on some of those issues and bring them forward in bills as well. We in the NDP will certainly support the bill going to committee because it requires examination, but I want to emphasize that this is just a tiny piece of a much bigger issue that is not being dealt with in any kind of appropriate way by the Conservative government, and that is what we need to focus on.

We will certainly support it going to committee. We want witnesses to be heard. We would like to look at the details of the bill and examine some of the issues about what the products are and why it is that the existing Controlled Drugs and Substances Act is not adequate to deal with this issue that the member has brought forward.

Let us not lose sight of the bigger picture. Let us not get so caught up in the spin, political manoeuvring, and the stance that takes place that we have seen with the Conservatives, that they see this as somehow the be-all and end-all because it is not. It is quite shameful that in this country we would have a drug policy that is now so unbalanced, over-focused on enforcement, and under-supported in terms of treatment, research, prevention and harm reduction. Those are very critical elements.

If we are really genuine about supporting local communities and helping the kids who need to go into treatment, then federal dollars have to go there, too. I appreciate the member reading some of the comments by people who are involved in treatment, but let us listen to what they are really saying. One of the things they are really saying is that there is not enough treatment available. We do not have treatment on demand in this country and we need to have it.

We in the NDP will support the bill going to committee, but let us also focus on the much bigger picture.

Controlled Drugs and Substances ActPrivate Members' Business

March 9th, 2010 / 6:35 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Chris Warkentin Conservative Peace River, AB

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to stand in the House this evening and debate Bill C-475. It is a bill that is close to my heart. I had the opportunity to bring forward a bill that was very similar to it in the last Parliament. I appreciate the support I received from members of all parties. It demonstrates that we recognize this issue affects communities regardless of where they are located in the country. This is not just an issue that results in harm to young people. Every community is harmed when young people, or people of any age, become addicted to drugs.

I want to thank the member for West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country for bringing Bill C-475 forward.

Before I go on, I thought I would take a moment to thank both the member and his constituents. I am hopeful that some of them are listening to us tonight. Of course many of them are still involved in the efforts they have been involved in over the last number of years, preparing for the Olympics and Paralympics.

The people in my colleague's community made us proud in their willingness and their hospitality as they hosted the Olympics. They are now getting ready to host some of the venues for the Paralympic Games as well. We appreciate those people for putting their best foot forward, for demonstrating what it is to be Canadian in terms of hospitality and truly demonstrating to the participants, the people who were covering the games as well as those who watched the games, just truly what it is to be Canadian.

We thank the people of the member's constituency and the people in surrounding communities for their great efforts in hosting the world over the last couple of weeks and for hosting the world over the next couple of weeks.

It is truly a wonderful opportunity for me to support the bill. Again, I would reiterate the fact that I brought forward a similar bill. This is an issue about which I continue to be passionate. My bill went all the way to the Senate, but unfortunately it stalled there. An election happened and my bill was not brought into force. However, I believe this is an issue that members of Parliament of all stripes can get behind and support.

We had an opportunity to listen to members of the New Democratic Party, the Liberal Party and the Bloc Québécois as they talked about some of the issues surrounding drugs and how they affected communities from coast to coast.

The national drug strategy is of importance to our government. We have put a lot of resources into it. We have provided millions of dollars toward educating young people about the harm and effects of drug use.

Our government has put additional resources into treatment and toward helping those people who are addicted. We also put in place supports for people who combat drug proliferation in communities. We have given more resources to the RCMP as well as to police forces across the country. These are partnerships that are essential in combating the proliferation of drugs in our communities.

The thing about crystal meth, or methamphetamines, and ecstasy is they have a characteristic that is different than some other drugs in their addictive quality. All of us in the House need to recognize crystal meth and ecstasy are not drugs that can easily be considered to recreational drugs and that they do not have consequences or harm.

One of the reasons I became involved in the cause to try to rid our communities of methamphetamines was because of the addictive nature of these drugs and the impact they were having in my constituency, on people of all demographics, disproportionately harming first nations communities and also harming people in all walks of life. Young students in high school, college and university were being impacted by this. I saw how this impacted professional people, those who had experimented with the drugs and were struggling with addiction as a result of it.

As I looked into the issue more, what was alarming to me was Canada had kind of stalled in its efforts to get a hold on the issue of methamphetamines. We had moved from being an importing nation of methamphetamines to being an exporting nation of these drugs. It really was of concern to me, so I started to look into it more and more.

What I saw was that what made us different from other countries that had moved from being exporting nations to importing nations was the legislation surrounding the issues that we are talking about today and the issues that are actually combined in this bill in terms of giving police forces the opportunity and the mechanisms to go into especially organized crime that proliferate these clandestine labs and just put huge amounts of these harmful drugs out into our communities.

Most recently, the United Nations has commented on Canada's place in terms of the fight regarding the proliferation of methamphetamines. We are not doing a great job. It is something that I felt was important for us to address as parliamentarians. I see members of all parties supporting this, and I appreciate that. I commend them for that. I am hoping that they will give speedy passage to this bill in committee.

What we do not want to see happen again is this bill being stalled out in some other place and then not have it come into force. I think Canadians from coast to coast would come together in support of this measure. I think we as members of Parliament representing Canadians coast to coast need to represent that alarm and those concerns.

Every time I go into classrooms, of which I make a regular policy of doing, I talk about my job and I talk about the harm of methamphetamines, crystal meth, the addictive qualities and the destruction that these drugs can cause in the lives of young people, and I get an education. I often hear from students who are in grades 6, 7, 8, 9 and 12 telling me that they are fully aware of where to get methamphetamines, crystal meth and ecstasy in their communities. I am also learning about some of the marketing tactics of the organized criminals who are actually selling this stuff.

What I found interesting, and when I say interesting, I find it very alarming, was that they are now actually putting this highly addictive drug into a candy form to sell to young people. That is one of the most despicable, most startling things that I as a parent have come to learn, that we have one of the most addictive drugs being marketed by organized crime and directed at young kids.

What I am also learning from people who are involved in combating organized crime is that crystal meth and methamphetamines are actually being cut into other drugs because of the addictive qualities of methamphetamines, making other drugs more addictive by putting in the methamphetamines.

I sometimes hear the suggestion that there are certain strategies that should be employed in terms of addressing this. I just want to warn those people who would promote the idea of harm reduction that this is one of those drugs that we should have a zero tolerance for in our communities. Because of the addictive quality, because of the harm that it does to young people and in terms of the destruction that it does to the human body, especially the young human body, this is one of those drugs that we should have a zero tolerance for in our communities.

We should do everything that we can to remove the possibility of people, especially young people, getting their hands on this drug.

I would implore all members to consider becoming fully educated about this particular drug, the ramifications, the characteristics, the addictive qualities of this drug, and the impacts that it is having in our communities from coast to coast.

There are several things that are interesting about this bill. I know they have been highlighted. This bill is actually unique in its approach to combating a particular drug. There are a number of reasons that we need to do that. One of the things that we have to recognize is that methamphetamines are in fact a synthesized drug. It is something that is manufactured in the place and oftentimes in the communities where it will be sold. So it takes a different approach.

It is not something that has to be grown and it is not something that can be imported, so police forces do not have opportunities to intervene in the transfer or creation of this particular drug. From its production point to its sale point is often a matter of hours, especially in highly organized criminal organizations. That is something that is important for us to recognize and for us to realize as we approach the bill.

I commend the hon. member for his work on this. I thank him for taking up the cause and continuing to advocate to protect our young families and young children, as well as people of all ages. I support him in this and hope that all members will support him.