Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I assure you, I will be very conservative with the use of my time.
Good afternoon, everyone.
My name is Steven Blaney. I'm here today as an MP.
I would also like to greet you, Mr. Chair, as well as the hon. members of the committee.
I am very proud to be with you today. I would first like to congratulate you on the work you're doing on Bill C-226, which deals with impaired driving. Right off the bat, I would say that the approach is non-partisan.
Today, we have the opportunity to advance legislation that will save lives. I think it's really politics at its best, and I'm very proud to be part of it.
I would also like to mention that Senator Pierre-Hugues Boisvenu is here. He will sponsor the bill in the Senate.
If it is the pleasure of the committee, the bill will be referred to the Senate for further study until it is passed and becomes law.
The sooner we pass this bill, the sooner we can say, as parliamentarians of this legislature, that we have helped to save people's lives.
This bill is all about saving Canadian lives in a non-partisan way. You may find part of it was inspired by a former Conservative bill, with additions from the people of MADD, who are with us today. I salute their president.
The thing is that, when working on these files, you always meet with people who've unfortunately experienced the loss of a loved one because of impaired driving. It's the same thing for Families For Justice. I thank Markita and Sheri for being here today. We will have the chance to hear the witnesses in the second part.
You are all familiar with the bill. It's fairly simple. It has three legs. The first one deals with streamlining the judicial process, mainly in two areas: the bogus defence and the last drink. Over time, some loopholes have been used to prevent the law and the sentences from being imposed. It's time to fix those loopholes. That's the first part of the bill.
The second part of the bill is with regard to impaired driving. It suggests implementing mandatory minimum sentences. I know there are discussions on this, but I'll come back to it later on.
The third part is with regard to mandatory screening. This is an addition from the former Conservative bill, which came from a long discussion I had with Mothers Against Drunk Driving, and after reviewing legal advice, namely from Dr. Hogg, with whom you are probably very familiar. He stated, clearly, that a public road is a place where the law should fully apply and that it is a privilege to drive a car. When I drive a car, I must have a driver's licence and respect the rules of the road, but I also need to be sober. Not meeting one of those requirements is not complying with the law, and at any time I am in a public place, especially on the road, a police officer should have the power to make sure I comply with the law. I'm not in my living room. I am on the road.
Dr. Hogg clearly demonstrated that this is fully compliant with the Charter of Rights, and that it is also very reasonable in a society like ours. Actually, it is done in many countries around the world. As you know, it has proven to be effective in saving lives.
We are losing three to four lives every day. I come from Quebec City. Last week we lost six members of our community as a result of a heinous crime. There are no words to say how horrible that was. However, this is almost happening on a daily basis in our country, and we can stop this. We can stop this by implementing rules that have been proven to save lives. That's what is in front of you.
Mr. Chair, I will continue in French and come back to one particular issue, minimum sentences.
First, I have a recommendation for an amendment to the bill. I would like to include in Bill C-226 the provision for vehicular homicide, which was set out in Bill C-652. We want to prevent reoffenders from hitting people on the road. I am making this suggestion because we have to do everything in our power through the legislation and the Criminal Code to really reduce the leading cause of death on the roads.
My colleague Randy Hoback, who introduced Bill C-590, told me that if a person is caught with double the allowable limit of blood alcohol, a more severe penalty should be imposed.
My remarks are for my Liberal colleagues, and I know they aren't always comfortable with minimum sentences. In April 2015, the hon. member for Papineau supported the private member's bill of my colleague Randy Hoback. I am truly taking a non-partisan approach. You will have realized, of course, that I am talking about Prime Minister Trudeau. At the time, he said:
As a result of this change [vehicular homicide], a conviction would carry additional weight, and hopefully provide a greater deterrent to would-be impaired drivers.
Dear colleagues, my question to you is, can we afford all these rhetorical discussions if we can save one life by making sure that someone spends at least one more year in jail instead of being on the road and risking the lives of others? That's what I pose to you.
I believe as parliamentarians we should send a strong signal to people causing death while impaired, while being under the influence of alcohol. We've seen in the past that the sentence for causing death has increased, but we have to encourage judges and tribunals to impose a fairly reasonable minimum sentence. I feel that four years is really low, but this is sending the signal that this is the bar. We need to push even further for maximum sentences.
Mr. Trudeau further wrote to Families For Justice regarding Bill C-590, a second private member's bill that was tabled by Randy Hoback. He said:
The bill will increase penalties against anyone who drives while severely intoxicated, and will also increase the penalties for impaired driving causing death.
Yes, we can support the bill in a non-partisan way. This is a bill that is crafted to meet one target, saving Canadian lives.
I'd like to give you an example.
A man wiped out an entire family in Saguenay in August 2015. Some people here have had similar experiences and have transformed their grief into motivation.
Mr. Di Iorio, I admire you. I also admire your daughter's courage and her taxi project. These are very good initiatives. So it is possible to transform this grief into action to prevent other lives from being wiped out. That's precisely the purpose of the bill before us today.
As you can see, I sent a lot of documentation.
How much time do I have left, Mr. Chair?