Cannabis Act

An Act respecting cannabis and to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, the Criminal Code and other Acts

Sponsor

Status

Second reading (Senate), as of Nov. 30, 2017

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Summary

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

This enactment enacts the Cannabis Act to provide legal access to cannabis and to control and regulate its production, distribution and sale.

The objectives of the Act are to prevent young persons from accessing cannabis, to protect public health and public safety by establishing strict product safety and product quality requirements and to deter criminal activity by imposing serious criminal penalties for those operating outside the legal framework. The Act is also intended to reduce the burden on the criminal justice system in relation to cannabis.

The Act

(a) establishes criminal prohibitions such as the unlawful sale or distribution of cannabis, including its sale or distribution to young persons, and the unlawful possession, production, importation and exportation of cannabis;

(b) enables the Minister to authorize the possession, production, distribution, sale, importation and exportation of cannabis, as well as to suspend, amend or revoke those authorizations when warranted;

(c) authorizes persons to possess, sell or distribute cannabis if they are authorized to sell cannabis under a provincial Act that contains certain legislative measures;

(d) prohibits any promotion, packaging and labelling of cannabis that could be appealing to young persons or encourage its consumption, while allowing consumers to have access to information with which they can make informed decisions about the consumption of cannabis;

(e) provides for inspection powers, the authority to impose administrative monetary penalties and the ability to commence proceedings for certain offences by means of a ticket;

(f) includes mechanisms to deal with seized cannabis and other property;

(g) authorizes the Minister to make orders in relation to matters such as product recalls, the provision of information, the conduct of tests or studies, and the taking of measures to prevent non-compliance with the Act;

(h) permits the establishment of a cannabis tracking system for the purposes of the enforcement and administration of the Act;

(i) authorizes the Minister to fix, by order, fees related to the administration of the Act; and

(j) authorizes the Governor in Council to make regulations respecting such matters as quality, testing, composition, packaging and labelling of cannabis, security clearances and the collection and disclosure of information in respect of cannabis as well as to make regulations exempting certain persons or classes of cannabis from the application of the Act.

This enactment also amends the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act to, among other things, increase the maximum penalties for certain offences and to authorize the Minister to engage persons having technical or specialized knowledge to provide advice. It repeals item 1 of Schedule II and makes consequential amendments to that Act as the result of that repeal.

In addition, it repeals Part XII.‍1 of the Criminal Code, which deals with instruments and literature for illicit drug use, and makes consequential amendments to that Act.

It amends the Non-smokers’ Health Act to prohibit the smoking and vaping of cannabis in federally regulated places and conveyances.

Finally, it makes consequential amendments to other Acts.

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

Nov. 27, 2017 Passed 3rd reading and adoption of Bill C-45, An Act respecting cannabis and to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, the Criminal Code and other Acts
Nov. 27, 2017 Failed Bill C-45, An Act respecting cannabis and to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, the Criminal Code and other Acts (recommittal to a committee)
Nov. 21, 2017 Passed Concurrence at report stage of Bill C-45, An Act respecting cannabis and to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, the Criminal Code and other Acts
Nov. 21, 2017 Failed Bill C-45, An Act respecting cannabis and to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, the Criminal Code and other Acts (report stage amendment)
Nov. 21, 2017 Failed Bill C-45, An Act respecting cannabis and to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, the Criminal Code and other Acts (report stage amendment)
Nov. 21, 2017 Passed Time allocation for Bill C-45, An Act respecting cannabis and to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, the Criminal Code and other Acts
June 8, 2017 Passed 2nd reading of Bill C-45, An Act respecting cannabis and to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, the Criminal Code and other Acts
June 8, 2017 Failed 2nd reading of Bill C-45, An Act respecting cannabis and to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, the Criminal Code and other Acts (reasoned amendment)
June 6, 2017 Passed Time allocation for Bill C-45, An Act respecting cannabis and to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, the Criminal Code and other Acts

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 24th, 2017 / 10 a.m.
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Conservative

David Sweet Conservative Flamborough—Glanbrook, ON

Madam Speaker, I would like to advise you from the outset that I will be splitting my time with the member for Mégantic—L'Érable.

I rise to take the opportunity to speak today against Bill C-45, a rushed and ill-conceived piece of legislation, which many of my colleagues have already pointed out has many flaws. Please allow me to amplify their concerns and add mine.

First and foremost, what is the rush? What is the rush with one-step, full-scale legalization, without interim steps? What is so important about the arbitrary deadline of July 1, 2018?

Really, if we are looking to do something substantive in a rush, maybe the Liberals could listen to my NDP colleagues who have been calling, for a long time, to make sure that the records of people who have been found guilty and have a criminal record for simple possession would be eliminated, so they could get a good job. If the Liberals want to rush something, why do they not rush at that?

Why ignore police and medical professionals' advice and push ahead with Bill C-45? Why not allow police, provincial and municipal governments, as well as health officials to better prepare for the onslaught of issues this legalization will unleash?

Believe me, there will be an onslaught of issues. All members need to do is look at other jurisdictions that have legalized marijuana to find that there will be a slew of issues that the government will need to deal with.

To date, why has there been no public education of the risks of smoking marijuana? What we have heard most often about many of the risks of marijuana is that they are so much more detrimental to our youth. No one should assume that some of us who are speaking against this, because we are parents and public figures, are trying to be condescending. None of us are trying to be patronizing. No one should assume that any of my colleagues or myself are trying to stereotype anyone either. We do not have some outdated notion of society.

What we are saying is that there is a massive number of risks that we are concerned about, and the government has not taken them into consideration. Data shows 30% to 40% of young people who use cannabis under the age of 25 will develop psychotic disorders, depression, and anxiety disorders. Let me repeat that, upward of one-third of people under 25 who use marijuana will develop psychotic disorders, depression, or anxiety disorders. That is far too many.

Where are the human rights champions over there who know already of the growing mental health epidemic with our youth, and who are not speaking up about the way drugs exacerbate those mental health issues? Where are they?

As a father of a daughter who suffered mental health issues to the point of taking her own life this past summer, I have seen first-hand the risks of drugs at an early age. My family and I have seen this path and what it leads to, the hurt and the pain, the suffering. We have felt the consequences most directly as many, too many, other families have.

Our heart aches thinking about what could have been, what should have been, had Lara not been exposed to drugs, on top of all the other demons she had to fight on a daily basis. It is tragic, and it is all to common.

That is why I am particularly concerned about the provisions in Bill C-45 when it comes to possession by children ages 12 to 17. As currently written, the bill allows children aged 12 to 17 to be in possession of five grams of pot. This is approximately five to 10 joints. What is positive about that, in any way, shape, or form? How is that good government? How is that having a concern about the safety and security of Canadians?

I am profoundly concerned. At 12, children cannot buy cigarettes, they cannot drink, they cannot drive, they cannot vote, they cannot enlist to fight for our country, but they can possess five to 10 joints. Really?

Medical professionals have told us that the number should be zero. In fact, they oppose Bill C-45 based on the harm it would do to our youth, and they are concerned about the young age at which it allows youth to possess pot, thereby condoning and encouraging it.

I do not accept the argument that, just because we pass legislation, we do not endorse something. Come on, that is always the case. Whenever we legislate, we are saying that we are doing it for the public good and are endorsing the behaviour.

How can I stand by as a parent who has lost a child to the struggle she had with many anxieties and depression, or as a member of Parliament whose primary concern is the safety of Canadians, and allow legislation that would exacerbate those depressions and anxiety in Canadian children as young as 12? How could I not speak out? It would be unconscionable.

I am not blind to the obvious. I know, and all members of the House know, that whether by peer pressure or otherwise, there are many teenagers who use marijuana; too many, and I wish it were far fewer. I wish they could see the damage they are doing to themselves. I wish they could have had a conversation with Lara in her later years. She would have counselled them otherwise. She would have warned them of the harm of smoking marijuana and the consequences on their cognitive abilities, how it amplifies any mental health issues, and how it is a slippery slope from one joint to a few joints to harder drugs, and on and on.

There are other reasons why Bill C-45 is flawed, not the least of which is that legalizing marijuana would not remedy the underground economy. We need only to look to tobacco. By some estimates, 40% of tobacco sold in Ontario is contraband. In fact, a study that came out last month by the National Coalition Against Contraband Tobacco found that one in three cigarettes sold in Ontario is contraband. Do members opposite honestly believe that it will be any different with pot, that it would be above board, and every single joint is taxed?

There was a similar experience with gambling, so we are not talking about something that does not have a track record in the past. After gambling was legalized, the stranglehold of organized crime continued in that business. It did not stop the gambling. In fact, by all measures, it increased it. In legalizing it, we inadvertently made matters worse for our young people. Studies indicate that up to 60% of children and adolescents engage in some form of gambling each week. This is because they are a generation that was exposed to legal gambling from a young age and it was not frowned upon, which is why the predominant concern about problem gambling is not primarily for adults but young people.

I heard some heckles about that, but we are not talking about somebody who is buying a lottery ticket. Are those members out to lunch? I am talking about someone who begins in gambling and then is trapped in gambling, and then that is a lifestyle. They can never ever enjoy their job or buy a house or anything, because they fritter away all their money on gambling. If that is what some members feel is okay for youth, then fine with that.

We must question the signals that we are sending to our teenagers. What precedent are we setting? Are we fully ready for all the social impacts that this will have on the years ahead?

My colleagues have raised a number of other points about Bill C-45, such as drug-impaired driving, the super-sized amount of pot one could grow at home, the lack of a public education program, and scientific evidence. However, the point I want to stress today and the question I want all members of the chamber to think through clearly is the exposure of marijuana to young children and adolescents. It is not too late to change it. It is not too late to stop it. It is not too late vote no on Bill C-45.

In closing, I will ask again, as I did at the outset. Why ignore police and medical professionals in regard to Bill C-45? Do we really think that 12 to 18 year-olds having five or 10 joints in their bedroom is a wise thing to advocate? Why do we not have more public education right now? Why not allow police, provincial and municipal governments, and health officials to better prepare for the massive upfront cost? I say again, what is the rush? Officials are not ready. I implore members to listen to the experts, doctors, scientists, and law enforcement. I ask all members to vote against Bill C-45.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 24th, 2017 / 10:10 a.m.
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Liberal

Anita Vandenbeld Liberal Ottawa West—Nepean, ON

Madam Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for what was clearly a very sincere speech. I think we all agree that we do not want marijuana in the hands of teenagers. However, right now it is not working. Right now, we know that it is easier for teenagers to get marijuana than it is for them to get alcohol or cigarettes. By doing this, we would actually make it harder to get and we would be keeping it out of the hands of young people, which is the reason for the bill. Also, we do not want our teenagers to be exposed to the criminal elements that would get them into harder drugs, with the profits going into some of these criminal organizations.

What we have right now is not working. What would my colleague propose to make sure that we really do keep drugs out of the hands of young people?

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 24th, 2017 / 10:10 a.m.
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Conservative

David Sweet Conservative Flamborough—Glanbrook, ON

Madam Speaker, with all due respect and dignity toward my colleague, full legalization is not the way to keep drugs out of the hands of our youth nor do I think it is easier to find marijuana than it is alcohol or cigarettes. I already told the House that one-third of cigarettes that are sold in Ontario are contraband.

The very notion that Hells Angels and Satan's Choice are going to find something else because the government has their market is absolutely absurd. They are not going to leave this business. In fact, they will have a larger appetite now that the government has endorsed marijuana knowing that people who have never tried will now try it and they will be there with their supply ready to meet their needs.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 24th, 2017 / 10:10 a.m.
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NDP

Anne Minh-Thu Quach NDP Salaberry—Suroît, QC

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his speech. It was nice to hear him talk about the importance of decriminalization. That is one thing we agree on. However the Liberals continue to stubbornly oppose it, despite the fact that the task force on marijuana recommended decriminalization since the government intends to legalize cannabis nine months from now anyway.

The fact that young people are still being handed criminal records for the possession of marijuana is having a serious impact on their lives. It prevents them from buying homes and finding jobs, and it also makes it very difficult for them to travel. That record stays with them for the rest of their lives.

Why is the government refusing to decriminalize marijuana and thus give young people the opportunity to do these things? What is more, in the wake of the Jordan decision, we need to free up the court system.

For all these reasons, does my colleague not think that the government is on the wrong track in its refusal to decriminalize cannabis?

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 24th, 2017 / 10:15 a.m.
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Conservative

David Sweet Conservative Flamborough—Glanbrook, ON

Madam Speaker, I am honoured to be in full agreement with my colleague. That is exactly what I was saying. Why not expedite the removal of a criminal record for those young people who were guilty of simple possession so that they no longer have to say they have a criminal record when filling out a job application? That would be a positive step. That would be peace, order, and good government, and that is what we are all about. Decriminalization should be used as a first step and the government should take some time then to monitor how that affects young people.

The government should also start an education program to tell young people that just because it removes a criminal record does not mean it is the right thing to do. We already know the risks for young people who already have mental health concerns. We know that marijuana exacerbates it, so why put it in their hands without any kind of education program whatsoever? Why give it to 12-year-olds, for goodness' sake? This is absolutely absurd.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 24th, 2017 / 10:15 a.m.
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Conservative

Marilyn Gladu Conservative Sarnia—Lambton, ON

Madam Speaker, the Colorado Gazette has just published an article. It has been five years since the state legalized the drug and it is hearing about odour complaints in residential neighbourhoods and an increased homeless rate. The number of drivers involved in fatal crashes who tested positive for marijuana has doubled, and in high school the drug violations have increased 71%.

With all of these results from Colorado five years out, why does the member think that the government is rushing ahead to legalize against the advice of provinces, police, and indigenous people?

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 24th, 2017 / 10:15 a.m.
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Conservative

David Sweet Conservative Flamborough—Glanbrook, ON

Madam Speaker, I will capitalize on one point. One of the experiences I had as a small business owner over two decades ago, and I hate to admit that here, I had a fleet of tow trucks in the Region of Peel and we did the police towing. At that time, with just alcohol, on Friday at 4 p.m. we knew there was going to be an onslaught of drunk drivers on the road. Now we are going to exacerbate that with drug impairment. It is not the right way to go.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 24th, 2017 / 10:15 a.m.
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Conservative

Luc Berthold Conservative Mégantic—L'Érable, QC

Madam Speaker, I want to commend my colleague on his earnest and heartfelt speech. Our Liberal colleagues would do well to read and reread his words, because his speech was full of common sense and, above all, gave us many real reasons to truly protect Canadians from the coming scourge of marijuana legalization.

I must rise again today to speak against the Liberal government's marijuana legalization bill. Quebeckers can count on the 11 Conservative members from Quebec to represent them. We know that most Quebeckers are against the legalization of marijuana, as proposed by this government. The 11 members from Quebec unanimously agree that, on Monday, they will vote against legalization.

I am going to tell the House what my Quebec colleagues think of the bill that has been sloppily cobbled together by the Liberal government. On Monday, the Liberal bill to legalize marijuana as of July 1, 2018, will go through third reading. Because the government has made this issue its top priority since it was elected, the Liberals will ram this bill through despite all opposition.

The Prime Minister will thumb his nose at everyone who spoke out against this initiative. He will continue to ignore vigorous public opposition. He will turn a blind eye to the facts, the studies, the science, and what Canadian society wants. We have seen over and over again that the majority oppose this bill.

So far, numerous organizations, associations, federations, and institutions have expressed their disapproval of the Liberal government's initiative and its rush to get this done. People across Canada are obviously worried, and with good reason.

The Prime Minister could not care less about what experts, scientists, social workers, police forces, and society in general think, and he never has.

The provinces and municipalities will have to shoulder much of the responsibility for the consequences of marijuana legalization, but they were not adequately consulted. Recently, unable to keep up with the Prime Minister's frenzied, reckless pace, the Government of Quebec once again called on the government to postpone enacting the bill.

Earlier this week, first nations members also asked for a delay. The Prime Minister categorically refused. True to his arrogant form, he is even forcing a ridiculously unfair revenue-sharing scheme on the provinces and municipalities, even though marijuana legalization will end up costing them a bundle.

The Prime Minister wants to offload the hefty health care and security costs onto the provinces and municipalities, while pocketing most of the revenue from marijuana sales, no doubt to pay down the Liberal's huge budget deficit.

Let us talk about the facts. Numerous studies have shown the negative impacts of marijuana on the brain, especially for people under 25 and those most vulnerable. Research has also shown that legalizing the drug will not help eradicate organized crime, as the Liberal government claims.

Furthermore, we already have a problem with impaired driving on our roads, and this piece of legislation will only increase the risk of accidents, injuries, and deaths. Also, Canadian police officers do not have the necessary training or tools to detect impaired drivers, not to mention the lack of oversight of drug use in public places and workplaces, and the added pressure on our health care systems.

The Liberals' bill obviously does not pass the smell test, nor does it come close to passing the common sense test. Not only are the Liberals going against what Canadians want with this bill, but they are also putting Canada in a difficult position on the international stage.

In fact, three international treaties will be violated if the government goes ahead with the legalization of marijuana. Also, Canada will be the only country in the G20 and G7 to make this substance legal. No other government in the world has legalized marijuana so quickly.

No other government has imposed so few restrictions on the possession of plants in the home and no specific requirements regarding public safety. For those reasons, we, the members of the Quebec caucus of the Conservative Party of Canada, will stand up in the House of Commons on Monday and vote against this bill.

If those words sound familiar, it is only because I was just reading from the joint letter that we, the Quebec caucus members of the Conservative Party, signed and published today to express our position on this bill, which will unfortunately pass on Monday considering the power of the Liberal majority, despite everything that experts, the general public, and police forces are saying, and despite what common sense dictates.

The letter is signed by the member for Richmond—Arthabaska, our political lieutenant, the member for Beauce, the member for Bellechasse—Les Etchemins—Lévis, the member for Beauport—Côte-de-Beaupré—Île d'Orléans—Charlevoix, the member for Beauport—Limoilou, the member for Louis-Saint-Laurent, the member for Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup, the member for Lévis—Lotbinière, the member for Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier, and the member for Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles.

We on this side of the House have taken a clear stance. The government wants to move quickly on this without weighing all the facts. We believe that as of July 1, 2018, this bill will drastically change our society. This week we had the opportunity to meet with U.S. officials who are also very concerned about the impact that this bill will have at the border.

Our border with the United States is something we must take care of, something we must absolutely be concerned about. It is not complicated: we should ensure people are able to cross the border as easily as possible. The United States is our most important client. It is where Canadians go most often to relax. It is the place where we have the most ties, and it is our primary economic partner.

The United States is very worried about what is happening because their federal government considers using marijuana as a crime. Anyone who commits a crime outside the United States and admits it may be denied entry into the United States. That is what the Liberals are failing to tell Canadians.

Let us imagine that a person smokes marijuana, whether in their apartment or in a park, just before crossing the border. We know that the smell of marijuana really lingers and that it permeates just about everything near the person smoking it. When the canine units at the border sniff the scent of marijuana on this person, the U.S. customs officers may not find any drugs, but they will pull him or her aside to the dreaded car search area, where no one wants to go. They will search the entire car to locate the source of the scent, even if the individual does not have marijuana on their person.

Once the vehicle has been searched, they will question the driver. They will ask whether he or she has ever consumed marijuana, and I hope the driver will say no. Otherwise the Americans will have the right to turn that person back and ban him or her from the United States for a set period of time because they admitted to consuming marijuana, with is a federal offence in the United States. This is not something that the Liberal government is quick to point out to Canadians who are travelling to Florida, Arizona, or California, and it is also not something that they have settled with the Americans.

For that and other reasons, and especially because of the harm that this government is going to do to Canadian youth, I and my other 10 Quebec colleagues, will vote against Bill C-45 on Monday.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 24th, 2017 / 10:25 a.m.
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Liberal

Michel Picard Liberal Montarville, QC

Madam Speaker, I commend my colleague for taking the initiative, speaking on behalf of his Quebec colleagues, and sharing their position with the House.

I would like to ask him to elaborate on that position and explain why they decided to vote against taking control of this substance and thus vote in favour of organized crime, money laundering, and jeopardizing people's lives .

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 24th, 2017 / 10:25 a.m.
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Conservative

Luc Berthold Conservative Mégantic—L'Érable, QC

Madam Speaker, we see how twisted the arguments are when it comes to marijuana. Everyone is saying that it is naive to think that organized crime will cease to exist when marijuana is legalized. Alcohol was in the hands of organized crime in the early 1930s. Does organized crime still exist? The member knows the answer to that.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 24th, 2017 / 10:25 a.m.
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NDP

Anne Minh-Thu Quach NDP Salaberry—Suroît, QC

Madam Speaker, I am going to redirect the debate a little bit. If this bill is a major piece of legislation and represents the Liberals' number one priority, does my colleague not think that Canada should at least invest much more money than is currently on the table, given that legalization is just nine months away? The amount right now is about $7 million a year. By way of comparison, Colorado alone invests $40 million a year in marijuana legalization, as I have said many times.

If the goal is to protect youth and reduce cannabis consumption, does this not show a lack of vision? Does it not show a lack of the ambition needed to step up treatment and prevention efforts, give more resources to organizations on the ground, and make legalization safer from a public health standpoint?

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 24th, 2017 / 10:30 a.m.
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Conservative

Luc Berthold Conservative Mégantic—L'Érable, QC

Madam Speaker, the Liberals are certainly ambitious, but what they are lacking is judgment. The fact is that, for a prevention program to be effective, it has to be in place long before a substance is legalized. Unfortunately, at this stage, the government is still accepting proposals for the implementation of prevention programs in January. By the time the programs are ready, school will be over and marijuana will be legal. That is the reality. The Colorado Spring Gazette reported the results of an investigation that found a 71% increase in drug offences in secondary schools since legalization. School suspensions went up by 45% because of drug-related offences among minors. That is the reality in Colorado five years after legalization. We do not even have a fraction of their prevention programs. Things will be worse here.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 24th, 2017 / 10:30 a.m.
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Conservative

Luc Berthold Conservative Mégantic—L'Érable, QC

Madam Speaker, what a preposterous argument! When I asked high school students in my riding to raise their hands if they drink, every hand in the room went up. Yes, we need to fight, and we also need to work on preventing underage drinking. This government needs to take action, instead of giving kids another way to kill off brain cells. Why does it not put more money towards drug and alcohol prevention, to keep our youth out of temptation's way? That is the reality.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 24th, 2017 / 10:30 a.m.
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Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe New Brunswick

Liberal

Ginette Petitpas Taylor LiberalMinister of Health

Madam Speaker, I rise to continue third reading debate of Bill C-45, an act respecting cannabis and to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, the Criminal Code and other acts.

The Standing Committee on Health has now completed its review of the bill and has heard from over 100 witnesses. I want to sincerely thank the committee members for their valuable insight and thoughtful contributions to the development of the legislation, and a special thanks for their hard work.

A number of amendments were adopted by the committee and will now be considered by Parliament. Our government supports these amendments. They include eliminating the proposed 100-centimetre height limit for the cannabis cultivated at home and committing to the regulations of edibles within 12 months of the bill's coming into force.

Given the transformative nature of the proposed legislation, we also support the amendments made by the committee that will require a review of the law three years after it is brought into force.

Bill C-45 is grounded in the interest of public health and safety. It is worthy of adoption by the House.

Bill C-45 would legalize, strictly regulate, and restrict access to cannabis for Canadians over the age of 18. By legalizing, strictly regulating, and restricting access to cannabis, this law would take profits from the sales of cannabis out of the hands of criminals and organized crime and protect the public health through strict product requirements for safety and quality.

Bill C-45 is grounded in protecting public health and would replace the current system, which clearly is not working.

Our bill focuses on protecting those whose cannabis consumption poses a greater risk to society: our young people.

Our bill includes tough new criminal sanctions for those who provide cannabis to young people or recruit them to commit a cannabis-related offence.

Our government intends to educate the public about the risks of using cannabis, so we are planning a major information and awareness campaign that will target teenagers and young adults first and foremost. That campaign will address a number of issues, including the risks of driving while under the influence of cannabis.

Bill C-45 is informed by the recommendations of the task force on cannabis legalization and regulation, which was led by the Hon. Anne McLellan. As well, on October 20, I met in Edmonton with health ministers from provinces and territories and we discussed the state of cannabis readiness.

I want to assure all of my colleagues that provincial and territorial governments will continue to play a crucial role in ensuring the health and safety of Canadians, especially young Canadians, when it comes to cannabis.

I would like to outline the bill's many strengths in greater detail.

Cannabis is the most commonly used illegal substance in Canada. Some 21% of our youth and 30% of young adults have reported using cannabis within the last year. Scientific evidence shows that the risks from cannabis use are higher for youth than adults. It also shows that the younger people are when they start using cannabis and the more often they use it, the greater the risk to their health.

The facts are clear: a lot of young people have access to cannabis, even more than in other developed countries. That is why our government is proposing to view the issue through the lens of public health. This bears repeating. Our government is not coming out in favour of cannabis and neither is it trying to make it more accessible to youth. It is completely the opposite. Above all, our government is seeking to protect our youth through strict cannabis regulation. As I mentioned before, too many young people can already get cannabis more easily than cigarettes.

Speaking of cigarettes, let us look at the anti-smoking measures that have been taken over the last 30 years. The government has different means of controlling access to tobacco and discouraging its use, such as a regulatory framework, controlled advertising and promotion, taxation, as well as warning labels on the risks of smoking.

Over time, this approach helped curb tobacco use significantly. The percentage of young smokers dropped from 27% in 1985 to 10% in 2015.

That is one of the reasons we are looking closely at lessons learned from the fight against smoking as we prepare our approach to cannabis.

First of all, our bill prohibits anyone under the age of 18 from possessing cannabis. This was one of the task force's recommendations. This age limit will protect our teenagers, and we believe that setting it any higher would contribute to sustaining the black market. The bill does stipulate, however, that the provinces and territories are free to raise that age limit.

Secondly, the bill protects our young people by placing tough restrictions on advertising related to cannabis use. It prohibits any advertising that could make cannabis appealing to a young person. It also prohibits the use of any packaging or labelling that could be appealing to our youth.

Cannabis promotion will be limited to communicating information to consumers. Once again, this information must not be presented in any way that could draw the attention of young people. Obviously, these measures will help limit access to cannabis for young people and reduce the product's appeal for young people.

Nevertheless, we know that it is less likely that young people today believe that cannabis is a significant health risk. That is why we will also be providing Canadians with information about cannabis, so they can talk to their children about the associated risks.

We must also educate and support adults in making informed and responsible choices that minimize the risks of using cannabis, including the dangers related to drug-impaired driving. That is why our government announced that we would invest $46 million in public education and awareness, and surveillance, and that work has already begun.

Our government will continue to provide leadership, invest resources, and work collaboratively on public education with other levels of government and key partners across the country.

Bill C-45 would also establish a legal and quality-controlled supply of cannabis for sale to adults.

The legalization establishes a number of clear rules to protect consumers and set national standards and controls for cannabis products. Under the proposed legislation and its regulations, the federal government will establish industry-wide rules on the types of products that will be allowed for sale in Canada, including rules governing how they are to be produced, tested, labelled, packaged, and shipped.

We will build on Canada's existing regulations and system of licensed production of cannabis for medical purposes, which has been recognized as one of the best systems in the world.

Let me reassure my colleagues that we are also looking to others who have already done this, and we are working closely with them. We are having ongoing conversations with other jurisdictions, such as Colorado and Washington states, to learn from their experiences and build upon the lessons they have learned. We want to get this right.

Putting in place a sound, effective system of regulated access to cannabis will require co-operation and collaboration from jurisdictions.

Under the bill, the federal government would be responsible for establishing and maintaining a comprehensive and consistent national framework to regulate the production of cannabis. For their part, the provinces and territories could license and oversee the distribution and sale of cannabis. Together with municipalities, they could also tailor certain rules in their own jurisdictions and enforce them through a range of tools, such as tickets for example.

We have worked closely with our provincial and territorial counterparts to ensure their input has been heard and taken into account. Earlier this week, we published a detailed consultation paper on our proposed approach to regulating cannabis. Over 60 days, we will undertake in-depth discussions with the provinces and territories, indigenous representatives and stakeholders. We are also inviting Canadians to submit their feedback online until January 20, 2018, on everything from licensing of producers, to product standards, to packaging and labelling.

In conclusion, the bill before the House today is designed to address the issues we are already dealing with. Our youth have access to cannabis. Our youth consume cannabis. Organized crime continues to profit from its unregulated sale.

Although we are proposing to legalize cannabis, we understand that its consumption, like that of alcohol or tobacco, should not be encouraged. That is why we are doing everything we can to protect our young people as we move forward with the legalization of cannabis.

Today, I am asking my colleagues to support Bill C-45 at third reading stage.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 24th, 2017 / 10:40 a.m.
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Conservative

Erin O'Toole Conservative Durham, ON

Madam Speaker, as a new health minister, does it concern her that Canada's physicians, through the Canadian Medical Association, disagree with the Liberals' plan for marijuana legalization, in particular, using the age of 18 as their benchmark. This conflicts with the science on brain development and the impact of cannabis on the brain up until age 25.

Has the minister spoken to the CMA about its concerns? Does she see the adverse health impacts for young people up to age 25 as being a critical risk with cannabis? How does the bill address that risk?

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 24th, 2017 / 10:40 a.m.
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Liberal

Ginette Petitpas Taylor Liberal Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe, NB

Madam Speaker, we have to recognize that the present approach on cannabis is not working and we are presenting a solution to an existing problem. We recognize that many of our Canadian youth already consume cannabis. They are obtaining the product illegally and the product is not regulated or controlled. Therefore, our approach is a public health approach. We truly want to ensure we legalize, strictly regulate, and restrict access to cannabis by our youth.

When it comes to the age of 18, we consulted broadly with the task force, and it made that recommendation. With respect to provinces and territories, we are all aware that if they choose to make the age higher than 18, it is absolutely their choice.

Again, I have to make it very clear. We are taking a public health approach with respect to Bill C-45. We want to protect the health and safety of our children. During this process, we certainly are not encouraging the use of cannabis. It is quite the contrary. We want to ensure we can limit access to it by youth.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 24th, 2017 / 10:45 a.m.
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Conservative

Cathay Wagantall Conservative Yorkton—Melville, SK

Madam Speaker, I have not heard a positive word in my riding about the legislation.

The police force, the schools, the health providers, and young people in my riding see this as anything but positive for our culture and our young people. Young people knew this was coming from the moment the Liberals won the opportunity to govern. Whenever I was in a school, which was often, the first question they would ask me was what I thought about legalizing marijuana. Of course, I reversed the question back to them. Their response was “We don't want this.”

Science says that this will cause damage to the brains of young people up to the age of 25. Does the health minister not understand that she is encouraging a behaviour that is not positive for the very people for whom she is responsible? Is she prepared for what will come forward in the next three years and how in the world will the Liberals turn this around? I believe the only reason we are—

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 24th, 2017 / 10:45 a.m.
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Liberal

Ginette Petitpas Taylor Liberal Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe, NB

Madam Speaker, to the contrary, we are presenting a solution to an already existing problem in our country. We recognize that the rate of Canadians who consume cannabis is extremely high and we are absolutely taking a public health approach when it comes to this. We want to ensure we legalize, strictly regulate, and control access to cannabis, specifically to our youth.

We have brought forward Bill C-45 to address exactly that. We are not encouraging the use of cannabis by any means, but we are recognizing that the rate of consumption among Canadian youth is already very high and we are absolutely addressing that specific issue.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 24th, 2017 / 10:45 a.m.
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Liberal

Ginette Petitpas Taylor Liberal Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe, NB

Madam Speaker, as indicated, we are absolutely providing a solution to an existing problem, because we recognize that many youth are consuming cannabis that is illegal, unregulated, and the list goes on.

Through Bill C-45, we have made significant investments with respect to education and awareness. We want to make sure we start that process before the bill receives royal assent, as well as afterward.

We are going to be starting a public education campaign, and have already done so, with examples like Drug Free Kids. We have been able to partner with them, and over 120,000 tools from Drug Free Kids have already been given to Canadians. That tool provides Canadians with information regarding the risks associated to cannabis. It will also provide parents, service providers, and mentors to children with the information they need to have that difficult conversation that will sometimes be needed with youth.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 24th, 2017 / 10:45 a.m.
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NDP

Gord Johns NDP Courtenay—Alberni, BC

Madam Speaker, New Democrats support the legalization of cannabis, and we are supportive of Bill C-45. However, we expected the Liberal government to be respectful of the concerns of the provinces.

I would like to ask the Minister of Health a simple question. Why, on the very day that the provinces were asking for more time, would the Liberal government impose time allocation on Bill C-45? Why would the Liberal government be so disrespectful?

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 24th, 2017 / 10:45 a.m.
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Liberal

Ginette Petitpas Taylor Liberal Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe, NB

Madam Speaker, since our party has formed government, we have been working with the provinces and territories in preparation of Bill C-45. We continue to have high level meetings with provinces, territories, and indigenous leaders every three weeks in order to properly prepare for the royal assent of this bill. This comes as no surprise to Canadians and to provinces and territories. We work in close collaboration with our provinces and territories and we will continue to do so, all the way through the process of this legalization.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 24th, 2017 / 10:50 a.m.
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Conservative

Todd Doherty Conservative Cariboo—Prince George, BC

Madam Speaker, I am not sure who the hon. colleague is talking about, who they are working very closely with, because provincial organizations, provinces, municipal governments, as well as police authorities across our nation, are all asking for more time for this legislation to go through so they can prepare.

I also met with indigenous leaders from my area in northern British Columbia this past week, and they are all saying the same thing. We face an incredible amount of trouble with the timing of this bill. They are combatting drug use and trying to educate their youth against drug use. All of a sudden this bill is going to come in, which is being rushed through, and those services and tools are not being provided to help combat it.

Which indigenous communities is my colleague working with, and what is the plan for the government to go into these communities to try to combat the excessive drug use that this legislation will promote?

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 24th, 2017 / 10:50 a.m.
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Liberal

Ginette Petitpas Taylor Liberal Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe, NB

Madam Speaker, once again, we have been committed to working closely with the provinces, territories, and indigenous leaders. As indicated, we have a committee that meets every three weeks with the provinces, territories, and indigenous leaders to make sure we are properly prepared for when this bill receives royal assent and we can move forward.

We are absolutely committed to working with our indigenous communities and, once again, we are working closely with them. We continue to have dedicated discussions to share information and understand the unique indigenous perspectives when it comes to this bill. Again, we have been working closely with them for the past two years, and we will continue to do so to ensure we can have timely passage of this bill.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 24th, 2017 / 10:50 a.m.
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NDP

Sheila Malcolmson NDP Nanaimo—Ladysmith, BC

Madam Speaker, I want to follow up on the question posed by my colleague from Courtenay—Alberni. The minister says she is talking with indigenous leaders and ministers of health and justice from across the country repeatedly. However, they are still very unhappy, as are police chiefs, about the lack of time to implement this extremely complicated move to legalize marijuana. This is a huge download on the provinces and territories.

How can the Minister of Health say she is consulting when she is still refusing to give provinces and territories more time and has shut down debate in this House? It is undemocratic and unfair.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 24th, 2017 / 10:50 a.m.
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Liberal

Ginette Petitpas Taylor Liberal Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe, NB

Madam Speaker, I can absolutely confirm that we are consulting with provinces and territories and indigenous leaders. Just last month, I had my first provincial and territorial meetings that were held in Alberta, and also our indigenous leaders were there. We had a wholesome discussion with respect to the issue of this bill. With respect to the consultation approach, we are absolutely full out and doing that.

We have to recognize that the current approach to cannabis is not working, and that is why there is urgency in moving forward. We recognize that Canadian youth right now have access to cannabis, and we want to legalize, strictly regulate, and control access to ensure that our children will not have access to cannabis. That is exactly why we are moving forward with respect to this process.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 24th, 2017 / 10:50 a.m.
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Conservative

Bob Saroya Conservative Markham—Unionville, ON

Madam Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Louis-Saint-Laurent.

I am pleased to rise today to once again speak to an issue that I, and many Canadians, care deeply about. I am thankful to be given the privilege to speak to Bill C-45 at third reading. This is a piece of legislation that addresses an issue very close to me. Today I am going to speak to why I oppose Bill C-45.

First and foremost, marijuana is a dangerous drug. The Liberal government should not push through this legislation. This is not what is right for Canadians. In theory, the purpose of this bill is to protect public health and public safety. In practice, Bill C-45 will not achieve this goal. One of the main concerns regarding this legislation is accessibility to drugs. Bill C-45 does not keep marijuana out of the hands of children. It allows it to be grown in households. If marijuana is in people's homes, what message is that sending to our kids? This legislation does not keep our children healthy and/or safe. I hear from concerned constituents almost every day who are confused about this legislation and are worried about what it means for their families. The Liberal government cannot recklessly continue to push through this legislation.

We know that marijuana is a dangerous drug. We know that it is damaging to the human body and addictive. We know it causes harmful effects on youth brain development and greater incidents of psychosis and schizophrenia. However, despite all of these side effects, the Liberal government is set to ensure that marijuana will be legal by July 1, 2018.

I oppose this legislation entirely. I choose to listen to the concerns raised by the scientists, doctors, and law enforcement officials. I want to advocate for the voices that are not being heard with respect to this legislation, those who say it is being rushed through without proper planning or consideration for the negative consequences of such complicated legislation.

The passing of Bill C-45 would lead to negative repercussions at the global level. I have spoken before to this concern, but it is an important one. If this legislation passes, Canada will be in violation of three international treaties. Therefore, how can Canada hold other countries to account on their treaty obligations when Canada does not honour its own?

There are various issues regarding this legislation, which has led me to conclude that it is thoughtless, irresponsible, and rushed. The only goal it has is to reach the arbitrary deadline of July 1, 2018. The Liberal government is not listening to the medical professionals. It is not listening to our police forces. It is not even listening to the concerned Canadians, who believe that this bill is fundamentally flawed and is being rushed through Parliament in order to meet this arbitrary and irresponsible deadline. For these reasons, and many more, I am entirely opposed to this legislation. The science is clear that marijuana is dangerous.

I want to touch further on the issues with respect to our children and families. The last thing we want is youth consumption to increase. We do not want our children to have increased risks of mental health disorders. We should be setting up our children to succeed. When it comes to youth, I know we all want to ensure they are safe, able to have a better life, and have more opportunities than we did. Bill C-45 will not help us achieve this goal for our children. Allowing easier access to drugs will not leave our children better off.

Currently, the bill recommends the age of 18 as the federal minimum. However, the provinces are being given the power to set a higher age. This is problematic. If we talk to our southern neighbours, the United States, the states of Washington and Colorado have legalized marijuana and set 21 as the minimum age. Ontario presently says it will set the minimum age at 19 and Alberta at 21. We know this is not safe. Countless medical professionals have testified that the brain continues to develop until the age of 25.

According to the Canadian Medical Association, increased use of marijuana before the age of 25 increases one's risk of developing mental disorders such as schizophrenia, depression, and anxiety by up to 30% compared to those who have not used marijuana—

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 24th, 2017 / 12:15 p.m.
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Conservative

Bob Saroya Conservative Markham—Unionville, ON

Madam Speaker, countless medical professionals have testified that the brain continues to develop until the age of 25. According to the Canadian Medical Association, increased use of marijuana before the age of 25 increases one's risk of developing mental disorders such as schizophrenia, depression, and anxiety by up to 30% compared to those who have not used marijuana under the age of 25.

The government cannot go through with this. Is this what we want for our children? I have said it before and will say it again. This is most certainly not what I want for my children. This is not what I want for my constituents and this is not what I want for Canadians.

For these reasons, the Canadian Medical Association and various other medical professionals recommended increasing the age a person can consume marijuana to 21 at the very least. As it stands, the government will fail our children if it goes through with this legislation. The government claims that this legislation will control the drug, but in reality it will allow its use to become out of control.

The vast majority of witnesses at the health committee spoke strongly against home grown marijuana in their testimony, including most medical groups and the police forces that appeared. Allowing home grown marijuana will most certainly not help us to regulate the industry. Further, police have said at the health committee that because they cannot see inside homes, they will be unable to enforce a plant per household quota. Even more concerning is that a large network of legal home grows could easily become an organized crime network, and this could happen next door to anyone.

Canadian families expect safe and healthy communities in which to raise their children. We are parliamentarians. We are representatives of our constituents and we need to ensure that all voices are heard. People are concerned about this drug. We as elected officials can and should provide guidance on this drug to reflect the views of all Canadians. When it comes to health and safety, Canadians deserve the best. This legislation is not what is best for Canadians.

There are only 218 days to go until the arbitrary date of July 1, 2018. Let me be clear: let us not rush through this legislation. We need to do what is right for Canadians. The provinces, the municipalities, and police forces are not ready to implement this legislation. I cannot support Bill C-45.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 24th, 2017 / 12:20 p.m.
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Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Madam Speaker, when the Conservatives stand up, they consistently talk about there being a problem if the bill passes, but they fail to recognize that the problem is there today. We have a serious problem with cannabis consumption by our youth. Their usage is recognized as among the highest in the world.

In my constituency and all constituencies there are criminal elements that go into our schools to sell marijuana to our children, to 12-, 14-, and 15-year olds. We finally have a government that has taken a proactive approach to deal with the issue. We have a government that made a commitment in the last election to do exactly what it is doing today. It is a part of the election platform. We are stepping forward and trying to resolve some very complicated issues.

Would the member across the way not recognize that the status quo just does not work? The numbers and what is happening to our young people in our schools today—

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 24th, 2017 / 12:20 p.m.
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Conservative

Bob Saroya Conservative Markham—Unionville, ON

Madam Speaker, there is a huge problem, but we are going to make it worse. This is the main concern of police officers and the Canadian Medical Association. Everyone spoke against it. For example, if marijuana plants are allowed to grow in homes and on every street corner, marijuana will be available. People could go to Shopper's Drug Mart and it would be available. This is making the overall situation worse. Yes, there is a problem, but the Liberals are making it worse down the road.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 24th, 2017 / 12:20 p.m.
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NDP

Rachel Blaney NDP North Island—Powell River, BC

Madam Speaker, earlier this week, I had representatives of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities sit down and have a chat with me. One of their major concerns is the pace of the legalization of marijuana and how communities themselves have a lot of work to do to prepare. I wonder if the member could share with the House whether he shares those concerns and how the government needs to support communities in this process.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 24th, 2017 / 12:20 p.m.
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Conservative

Bob Saroya Conservative Markham—Unionville, ON

Madam Speaker, indeed, there is a problem. There are many problems. I was speaking to our local police chief. He was wondering when we are going to train our police officers. It costs $10,000 to train one police officer. Where is the money going to come from? What happens when kids go to school stoned, having eaten the wrong brownies from the kitchen? All those questions and concerns are not being addressed. The whole process has not been well thought through by the Liberals.

There is no rush. I would ask them to please take their time. The arbitrary date of July 1, 2018, is simply unacceptable to us, and it is unacceptable to Canadians.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 24th, 2017 / 12:25 p.m.
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Conservative

Kerry Diotte Conservative Edmonton Griesbach, AB

Madam Speaker, we have heard a lot of reasons why not to legalize marijuana. What is the rush? When I was door knocking back in 2015, we hit about 25,000 doors. I can count on two hands the number of times I talked to people who said they were going to vote Liberal because they would legalize marijuana.

We have heard that doctors are against it. Police are against it. Firefighters are against it. Insurance people, etc., are against it. Does he have any idea why the Liberals would do this, when no one wanted it? What is the rush?

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 24th, 2017 / 12:25 p.m.
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Conservative

Bob Saroya Conservative Markham—Unionville, ON

Madam Speaker, we did a round table in my riding, and 98% disagreed with the government. Ninety-eight per cent said that we are going to make the situation worse.

The one thing that crossed my mind is that the Liberal government is so broke that it is looking for a couple of bucks, another half-billion or billion dollars.

The Liberals are forgetting that there is a cost attached to this issue. More money will be needed for health care, policing, schooling, and everywhere else. There is a cost involved. Most of the provinces and municipalities are doing all the work. Meanwhile, the Liberal government is looking for more cash, because it is broke.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 24th, 2017 / 12:25 p.m.
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Conservative

Gérard Deltell Conservative Louis-Saint-Laurent, QC

Madam Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for splitting his time with me.

The third reading stage is our last chance to thoroughly review the imminent tragedy that will forever stand as the legacy of the Liberal Party of Canada under the current Prime Minister. I am speaking, of course, of the legalization, or should I say normalization, of drug use in Canada.

This is all so sad. Not only will marijuana be normalized, but families will be rent apart, bonds will be broken, children will be cast into an abyss of darkness and misery, and parents, faced with this sad, new reality, will be left with nowhere to turn. That is what is going to happen in Canada, and it will forever be this Prime Minister's legacy.

At the end of my speech, I will cite facts to demonstrate that the picture I have just painted is not the product of an overactive imagination, but an actual fact that is being observed in other parts of the world at this very moment, and not far from here.

We are almost at the final step. Regrettably, marijuana could be become legal in roughly six months. Municipalities and provinces are grappling with the implementation of this policy and the raft of problems that come with it.

How much progress has my home province of Quebec made so far? Police officers are not ready. According to a recent article, the Fédération des policiers et policières municipaux du Québec is concerned about the shortage of evaluation officers in Quebec's municipal police forces. The president of the federation, Robin Côté, put it this way:

Obviously, what we need is more properly trained evaluation officers. At this moment in time, it does not look like the ratio of evaluation officers will be high enough on July 1.

What does that mean? It means major problems for police officers and major problems for drivers.

From the outset, the Government of Quebec has consistently maintained that it makes no sense to rush this. That is why the provincial government and the National Assembly are taking no chances and recently introduced a bill.

Is this a provincial matter? Having worked in provincial politics for seven years, I am often tempted to comment on provincial matters. Although I generally refrain from doing so, I do want to highlight one aspect of the bill that the provincial government introduced in the National Assembly of Quebec: thankfully, growing marijuana at home will be forbidden.

I am trying to remain polite, but if some people are irresponsible enough as to allow marijuana production in homes across Canada, thank goodness, at least there are some in Quebec who stood up and said that that is ridiculous and will be prohibiting it in Quebec.

I hope the Liberal government will not oppose that initiative taken by the National Assembly.

Quebec's minister responsible for rehabilitation, youth protection, public health, and healthy living, Lucie Charlebois, spoke last week about the motion that was passed unanimously in the National Assembly calling on the Liberal government to postpone the legalization of marijuana by at least one year. She said:

We will be voting in favour of the motion because we have said from the beginning that we thought the deadline was too short....As for the whole issue of enforcing the act, if we had one more year, we would definitely be able to do a better job.

Who else is saying the same thing? The new mayor of Montreal, Valérie Plante. I actually had the pleasure of meeting her yesterday, along with the leader of the official opposition, the leader of the Conservative Party, and future prime minister of Canada.

What did Mrs. Plante say? The mayor-elect of Montreal, Valérie Plante, feels that Montreal is not ready for cannabis legalization and would welcome more time.

Ultimately the municipalities will experience the positive effects, but also the negative effects. We have to think of zoning, school zones and parks.

While the Liberal government is in the process of normalizing marijuana use, the provinces and municipalities have to deal with the real problems stemming from this very bad policy.

This bill also illustrates how utterly hypocritical this government can be in some cases, especially this one. The government keeps saying that there is nothing more important than the first nations, that we must work together with them, that they have been mistreated for centuries and it is time to work together. We do not disagree with those statements. I will read from the mandate letter that the Prime Minister gave to every minister:

No relationship is more important to me and to Canada than the one with Indigenous Peoples. It is time for a renewed, nation-to-nation relationship with Indigenous Peoples, based on recognition of rights, respect, co-operation, and partnership.

“Respect”, “co-operation” and “partnership” are the words that the Prime Minister uses when he talks about first nations, but do the government's actions reflect those things? Is the government acting in a spirit of respect, co-operation, and partnership? Not at all, and I know what I am talking about because, for the past two years, I have had the great privilege of representing the riding of Louis-Saint-Laurent, which is home to the Huron-Wendat community of Wendake. I am very proud to represent those people here in the House of Commons, as I did for seven years in the Quebec National Assembly. Wendake wants nothing to do with the legalization of marijuana. As Grand Chief Konrad Sioui said:

We have a zero-tolerance policy and we want our own economic development to reflect that....

We are extremely concerned because this is a real problem for first nations. It is important to acknowledge that.

This is a real problem for first nations. It is not a Conservative or a Liberal saying this, it is the grand chief of a community. He is saying that drugs are a real problem for first nations. The government, however, is seeking to normalize drug use, a move that is strongly opposed by the first nations, particularly the Wendake community, which I represent.

I would like to take a moment to pay tribute to Grand Chief Konrad Sioui. He is a great man who is not afraid of taking responsibility and who stood firm against the financial lure of the Liberal plan. On September 18, the newspaper Le Soleil reported, and I quote:

The Grand Chief of Wendake says he turned down an offer to partner with an Ontario medical marijuana company called DelShen, whose shareholders include Capital Media Group CEO Martin Cauchon [a former liberal justice minister], even though, as he says, “the money was tempting.”

Grand Chief Sioui stood to make millions of dollars for his community with the legalization of marijuana, but he said no because he felt it was not a good thing. That is the hallmark of a real leader: someone who is able to resist the deplorable commercialism that the government is trying to impose on Canadians.

Wendake is not the only holdout. A QMI article from November 24 quotes David Kistabish, chief of the Abitibiwinni nation, as saying, “We do not even allow alcohol to be sold in convenience stores, so we definitely will not be allowing this.”

Lac-Simon Chief Adrienne Jérôme also wants to keep marijuana out of her community, which is grappling with serious addiction issues. She said, “Even when pot is legal in Quebec, it will not be allowed in our community. We already have enough problems with substance abuse.”

What happened to all of the nice things the Prime Minister said about working in partnership with first nations, respecting them, collaborating with them? First nations do not want this, and we can all understand why.

The last thing I want to mention is that a recent article published in the United States commemorates, so to speak, the fifth anniversary of marijuana legalization in Colorado. What is the situation there now? Colorado has the highest level of homelessness, twice as many accidents involving drivers under the influence of marijuana, and a 71% increase in illegal consumption in schools. It now has the highest rates of marijuana consumption in the United States. That is what the Liberals want to do to Canada, and that is why we refuse to vote in favour of this bad bill.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 24th, 2017 / 12:35 p.m.
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Conservative

Gérard Deltell Conservative Louis-Saint-Laurent, QC

Madam Speaker, I remind my colleague, all members in the House, and all of Canada that our party decided a year and a half ago to decriminalize marijuana, but not to legalize marijuana. This is where we stand. We will see how bad things will be in Canada in two years from now.

I can assure all Canadians that we will offer a real true solution to the problems created, hand by hand, by the Liberal government.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 24th, 2017 / 12:35 p.m.
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Conservative

Joël Godin Conservative Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier, QC

Madam Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague from Louis-Saint-Laurent, who gave an excellent speech. I agree with him completely.

Now I would like to hear what he thinks of this rush to implement Bill C-45, which is supposed to protect our young people and eliminate organized crime. If you read every single clause of the bill, there is nothing to guarantee that those objectives can be achieved.

Is there another goal here? His colleague asked him a question about the 2019 election. What are the Liberals' personal interests in this and are they willing to sacrifice our young people to win the election in 2019?

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 24th, 2017 / 12:35 p.m.
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Conservative

Gérard Deltell Conservative Louis-Saint-Laurent, QC

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague from Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier who is doing an excellent job here in the House of Commons and in his riding, which includes 50 municipalities and 100,000 people, who are very well represented.

It is sad, but yes, this raises some serious questions about the government's ambitions and its true objectives. This is not to mention the fact that a former justice minister and former leadership candidate is a shareholder in a company that will make money off the legalization of marijuana. The problem is that legalizing marijuana is going to normalize its use.

I would remind the House that kids as young as 12 will be allowed to walk around with joints in their pockets and that will be legal. Unfortunately, this normalizing process will mean that the dirty business of using the drug for the first time will be fully and completely sanctioned by the Liberal government and the current Prime Minister. Those poor kids will then get hooked on the drug and soon move on to much harder drugs, which is what has happened in Colorado in the past five years.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 24th, 2017 / 12:40 p.m.
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Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Madam Speaker, the Conservatives and the Hells Angels will have the same drug policy when it comes to cannabis. Let us think about it. They want to decriminalize it, but not legalize it. That means we cannot regulate it. If we do not regulate it, I am sure the Hells Angels would love that.

Does the Conservative Party recognize that decriminalizing marijuana will ultimately be to the benefit of criminals in Canada?

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 24th, 2017 / 12:40 p.m.
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Conservative

Gérard Deltell Conservative Louis-Saint-Laurent, QC

Madam Speaker, no, and I will explain why. This is a very serious issue. We as a party decided to decriminalize it because we did not want to hurt people their whole life for a bad mistake made when they were young. This was supported by 4,000 members from coast to coast in Vancouver a year and a half ago, We also want to give judges the chance to judge other serious issues, instead of putting hundreds and hundreds of people inside the courtroom, when there are other criminal issues to address.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 24th, 2017 / 12:40 p.m.
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Liberal

Bob Nault Liberal Kenora, ON

Madam Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Montarville.

Listening to my colleagues across the way reminds me of the importance of starting off by reminding all of us in this place of the importance of this debate to Canadians. I think the question every Canadian has on his or her mind, when we talk to people as members of Parliament, is, “Why would the Government of Canada legalize cannabis?”

Let us start by answering that question, because the Conservatives are having a difficult time relating to the reason why society, its values, and its norms change. Most of us know that 21% of youth and 30% of young adults reported using cannabis this year. Let us put it another way. I have been reading a study over the last few days. It has said that even if we go as low as 12.5% of Canadians aged 15 or older, 3.4 million Canadians have reported smoking cannabis on a regular basis or have been using it in one form or another.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 24th, 2017 / 12:45 p.m.
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Liberal

Bob Nault Liberal Kenora, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to start again by informing the House that this is an extremely important debate as it relates to Canadian values and the direction that governments move to reflect those values.

I will give early statistics of why the present system has failed us miserably. The use of cannabis in Canada has been illegal for decades, even though many Canadians are not respecting or following that law. I want to also remind the House and Canadians that Statistics Canada has indicated that over 699,000 Canadians have a criminal record as a result of convictions on charges of cannabis possession. When we look at the statistics, the convictions, and the continued use, it shows very clearly that Canada has failed in its relationship with its constituents when it comes to the use of cannabis.

Why are we legalizing cannabis? Very clearly the approach we have been using has not worked for Canadians, is not going to work for Canadians, and it is a drug that is easily accessible to young people across this nation.

I have had the great privilege of living in northern Ontario, in British Columbia in the Okanagan Valley, and in Calgary, Alberta. Over the last 10 years, my children were in elementary, high school, and are now in university. Because of that, I have had the opportunity to speak to them and some of their friends about what is going on as it relates to this subject matter. It is clear and true when people say that it is easier to get cannabis on the streets than it is to buy a bottle of beer. It is true in B.C., in northern Ontario, and in Calgary where I live. People can walk down the streets in Ottawa and they would find the same situation.

We can do as the Conservatives are doing in the House and pretend nothing is wrong, or we can work very hard to change our approach. The work of the House is to put in place a very robust regulatory structure that controls the use of cannabis.

The public expectations are that we will put in legislation that protects our children and youth. This does not seem like an area which we have spent a lot of time positioning ourselves as a society. If what I hear from youth is true, that they can go into the playground of high schools and someone will sell them cannabis, then we have not done a very good job at protecting the interests of young people.

By restricting access, banning products, and packaging that may be appealing to children, we can keep cannabis out of the hands of our youth. Of course, it will be a difficult job, as it is with alcohol and tobacco, but society has a responsibility to do everything in its power to ensure we do this.

What are the government's expectations? A number of members have been focusing their attention on that today. It is not just one government at play here. There are a number of governments and their expectations obviously are different. The expectation of the federal government is to put in good legislation to meet the needs of our young people and to establish a regulatory structure to allow us to commit resources that will make a difference.

Then there is the expectation that the provincial government will put in place the kind of regulatory structure to make it safe and explainable to Canadians, and in this case to Ontarians in the province where I live. This would include how to purchase, what the packaging would look like, what the cost would be, and where to go to purchase legal cannabis.

Then there is the need for the legislation to reflect the role of those governments, and I include first nation governments. I have the honour and distinction of representing most first nations in Ontario. Those 42 first nations have an interest in having regulations and structures which might be somewhat different than what might be the case in non-native communities and municipalities around the country.

We expect tough laws on the sale, purchase, and criminal activities around cannabis. That will further protect youth. Penalties for promoting cannabis use and products to youth will be very strict, and that is the right way to approach this whole process.

I was asked by a reporter in my riding the other day why the penalties were so severe, penalties of up to 14 years in jail for selling to youth or for using a youth to commit a cannabis-related offence. The answer is simple. We want to signal to Canadians that we are serious about controlling and managing the sale of cannabis.

It is not a simple matter of suggesting that society has evolved to the point where we expect our youth to be using cannabis. Our role and our expectations as government is to do a much better job than we have done in the past, because the numbers show the failure of society to protect our youth with respect to the use of cannabis.

I commend the government for its tough approach on dealing with the sale of cannabis. I also commend the government for taking on a project that we all know has a lot of people for and against it.

If we look at the number of states, countries, and other jurisdictions that are now moving in the direction Canada is taking today, it shows they all agree that the cannabis issue is not going to go away and we are not reflecting the needs of our society.

I have a study of some 18 states that have decriminalized the use of marijuana. Dozens of states have legalized medical marijuana. Now many states have fully legalized marijuana. This suggests that the path we are taking is the path many others are taking. I commend the government for doing that work in the House today.

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November 24th, 2017 / 12:50 p.m.
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NDP

Gord Johns NDP Courtenay—Alberni, BC

Madam Speaker, I know my friend and colleague from Kenora as a very reasonable and fair person.

Earlier I brought up my concern about the government moving toward putting time allocation on the bill. The same day it announced that was the day the provinces asked for more time. We need to have a greater discussion on the issues they have outlined.

We are seeing a record number of vacancies in the courts and charges for violent crimes are being stayed. Why does the government continue to use judicial resources to go after people for simple possession of a substance that it has tabled legislation to legalize? Where is the fairness?

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November 24th, 2017 / 12:50 p.m.
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Liberal

Bob Nault Liberal Kenora, ON

Madam Speaker, those of us who spend a lot of time in Parliament know that the question the member has asked refers to how people feel about the structure for making laws in this place. We cannot assume a law is a law until it is passed. If we were to do that, the justice system and our colleagues in the police forces could prejudge the decisions of Parliament before they were made.

My only advice for my colleague is to be patient. We will see how this evolves as we go forward and see what approach the government believes is best to deal with people who already have a criminal record, to deal with people who are frustrated with police officers because they believe them to be a little too active on cannabis.

Our government should take the time to ensure we get this right. I expect that is exactly what we will do. It may not sound or seem like we are doing that in the House today, but all of the work that has been done over the last couple of years will come to fruition if we are patient enough to ensure we get this right for Canadians and for our young people.

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November 24th, 2017 / 12:55 p.m.
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Conservative

Kelly McCauley Conservative Edmonton West, AB

Madam Speaker, we know that there is an issue with youth smoking marijuana in our country. We hear again and again from the government that the solution to this is to allow children from 12 to 17 to legally have up to seven joints. We hear that the solution to youth using marijuana is to allow families to grow seven pot plants of unlimited height in every single household and apartment in the country. I am curious. How in the world is making it more available to youth going to reduce youth marijuana use?

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November 24th, 2017 / 12:55 p.m.
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Liberal

Bob Nault Liberal Kenora, ON

Madam Speaker, I have to say to the member, it is not very useful to put facts on the floor of the House of Commons that are not true, because we are not putting marijuana in the hands of 12-year-olds or 17-year-olds.

The fact remains, we have to start with the real issue at hand. I strongly urge the member to come with me to any high school. I will show him who is selling drugs to the kids. Even the police know that this is what is going on, simply because it is so widespread it is almost impossible to control the way the member is suggesting.

I would say to the member and his party to get with the program with young people, and we will make a difference in what we are trying to accomplish on their behalf.

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November 24th, 2017 / 12:55 p.m.
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NDP

Sheila Malcolmson NDP Nanaimo—Ladysmith, BC

Madam Speaker, earlier this week, I voted to remove from Bill C-45 the provision in clause 9 that would penalize someone who, for example, passes a joint, at a party, to someone who turns out to be under the age of 19. Right now, in the legislation, it is a 14-year penalty for what is called non-commercial cannabis trafficking.

Does the member share my concern that people in the public may not be aware that this is a severe penalty for something that could well be an accident and that, given that the government has closed down debate, this cannot be fully aired?

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November 24th, 2017 / 12:55 p.m.
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Liberal

Bob Nault Liberal Kenora, ON

Madam Speaker, I do not believe anyone in the House agrees with the member that it is the intention of that clause or the legislation to put an individual at a house party in jail for 14 years for unfortunately passing a joint off to someone who is younger than anticipated. That is not the way any legislation works.

I ask the member to reconsider making those kinds of comments in public, when in fact, that is not the way the law will read.

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November 24th, 2017 / 12:55 p.m.
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Liberal

Michel Picard Liberal Montarville, QC

Madam Speaker, the expressions “hit a wall“ and “hit bottom” best describe the current situation with cannabis and its status as an illegal substance. Nothing, including the status quo, will improve the situation.

Firstly, we are not condoning the use of this product. Personally, I am against using cannabis. However, I have the privilege of leading consultations in Quebec on legalizing a product that does not concern me in the least, since I do not use it, but that causes problems for me. This may be an extremely difficult decision, but it is necessary. We have to show the public that we take this issue seriously and ensure through our colleagues' efforts that the way in which marijuana is legalized is reassuring to the public, better contains the problem, and better manages the future with regard to cannabis use.

The consultations generally focused on these same problems, and people's concerns were heard loud and clear. In addition to listening to them, we asked people to continue to bring forward their concerns on the issue, because together we can monitor and follow the trend for consumption of the product in order to achieve the intended result. What was illegal for those under 18 before legalization will continue to be illegal afterwards. What was harmful to health will not suddenly become a healthy habit after the product is legalized. Fortunately, the file is in the hands of the Minister of Health, who will ensure that this product is controlled to avoid problems we currently experience when people use products purchased on the black market. They have no idea of what they are consuming.

In view of the current problems with public health and organized crime stemming from the sale of cannabis, a government's failure to act would be tantamount to an offence, a reflection of its lack of responsibility. Maintaining the status quo will only ensure the worst results, the worst consequences, and a loss of control, which we must mitigate as much as possible.

Let us be realistic. In my previous life, I had the opportunity to work on cases involving organized crime. We are not deluding ourselves. We know that organized crime also deals in legal substances, substances that can legally be sold, and that it will not completely disappear when this bill is passed. Getting around the law is what organized crime does, and it is the job of our police forces, intelligence agencies, and government bodies to ensure that the activities of these criminal organizations are thwarted as much as possible.

Fortunately, the legalization of such a substance will ensure that law enforcement can focus its efforts on what matters most, for example, the unacceptable presence of organized crime in schoolyards. All a person has to do is ask a child under the age of 18 for some cannabis to understand that this is real problem. During the consultations, young people told us that it would only take them about 15 minutes to get some. That is scary. This drug is so accessible that we need to focus our efforts where they will count the most.

Naturally, legalizing cannabis does not just mean making the product accessible and legal. Although it is true that this will improve the situation, relieving some of the pressure on the justice system remains a secondary objective. It is very clear that the primary objective has to do with health. People are putting their lives at risk by taking a product whose ingredients they know nothing about. This is a situation that needs to be fixed.

The approach to organized crime is also clear. Organized crime is making significant profits that fuel money laundering and are also used to fund other types of criminal activity.

We need tools to curb this type of activity as much as possible and clean up the culture associated with this product. It is true that we have heard that taking illegal drugs is cool and gives the user a certain status and cachet among peers. We must discourage this kind of misinformed thought process. Changing the culture will require clear and unequivocal government involvement in education, training, and prevention.

It is too bad that some members of the party opposite say that we are doing nothing about prevention until after marijuana is legalized. The consultations that I attended and had the pleasure of leading tell a different story. Community intervention groups have already been clearly identified and are doing tremendous work.

Unfortunately, Canada has the highest percentage of cannabis users in the world, simply because the product is illegal. Furthermore, it is estimated that 30% of Canadians aged 18 to 25 use cannabis. In some regions, including the northern suburbs of Montreal, Quebec's health department puts that figure at over 40%. We are the champions of using an illegal product. There are many competitions that I want to win, but this is not one of them.

The supposed deterrent messages about prison sentences have failed, and maintaining the status quo would be inconceivable. The government is therefore seeking both to legalize the product and to allocate the necessary funds and resources for training and prevention.

Prevention is already happening, and we will step up our efforts because that is what we, as a reasonable government making an admittedly extremely difficult decision, committed to doing. This is a monumental challenge related to an extremely sensitive issue, but this decision had to be made. There will never be a perfect time when we can say that all of the elements are in place and we can go ahead with legalization. In fact, we are way behind.

The government's decision will have serious consequences, but it will truly be good for our communities. The government will oversee the process and will be able to anticipate outcomes. Unlike the members opposite, I will make no predictions based on speculation or clairvoyance, but I will say that based on our objectives, we can expect results similar to the experiences and best practices of other countries that have gone down this path and succeeded in reducing marijuana consumption.

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November 24th, 2017 / 1:05 p.m.
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Conservative

Joël Godin Conservative Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier, QC

Madam Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for his presentation.

How can he say that the use of marijuana is a problem that affects our young people because they can access it in 15 minutes, and then turn around and say that the distribution points will increase, so young people will be able to get it at the local pharmacy? There is an inconsistency here.

Why does this government not pass laws and make investments that will eliminate organized crime and encourage young people to play sports, participate in arts and culture activities, or at the very least get involved in the many organizations in our ridings?

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November 24th, 2017 / 1:05 p.m.
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Liberal

Michel Picard Liberal Montarville, QC

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for raising this important question. Unfortunately, his reasoning is faulty. The fact that legal distribution centres will be open does not necessarily mean that people will consume more marijuana. They already consume more than anywhere else in the world.

The bill clearly makes it illegal to sell cannabis to young people, to use young people to purchase cannabis, and to sell cannabis through young people. What was illegal will remain illegal. It is false to state that young people have greater access to a product once it becomes legal. They cannot purchase alcohol or cigarettes, even though there is no shortage of distribution points. Reality shows that we are on the right track.

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November 24th, 2017 / 1:10 p.m.
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NDP

Gord Johns NDP Courtenay—Alberni, BC

Madam Speaker, I raised this earlier to both the health minister and the member for Kenora, that the government brought in time allocation on the same day that the provinces raised concerns about them not being prepared to take this on.

This member's own province has raised concerns about the timeline that is being imposed on them. The member for Kenora is saying, “Trust us. Trust us. We are going to get it right.” Trust is not built by ending debate, by taking away the opportunity to have a conversation and get it right. That is not how trust is built.

Could the member speak to us about why the government is putting through time allocation and limiting debate on an issue when his own province has raised concerns that they are being rushed to prepare to take this on?

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November 24th, 2017 / 1:10 p.m.
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Liberal

Michel Picard Liberal Montarville, QC

Madam Speaker, I think that the time allocation motion is being misconstrued.

Everyone was well aware of our intentions even before we took office. As soon as we were elected, we put all of our cards on the table and everyone knew that we were going to legalize marijuana.

We held consultations, and since we are talking about my province, I will mention that I even had the pleasure of discussing the timeframe with the provincial minister, who confirmed that the Quebec health department was in touch with Health Canada on a weekly basis.

I know that other provinces are already ready and that licences have already been issued. When we took office, people made the necessary preparations, as we have; we will be ready.

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November 24th, 2017 / 1:10 p.m.
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Conservative

Ziad Aboultaif Conservative Edmonton Manning, AB

Madam Speaker, thank you for being so generous and giving me two minutes to speak to such an important bill today. I have heard a lot on it before, and my observation with respect to this is that the government has created a monster and a problem that, as a business case, takes with it all of the risks.

Funnily enough, the government is congratulating itself over the good results that this bill will generate while disregarding the opinions of the people, the parents, the municipalities, the police forces, all the stakeholders across the country, the public opinions from the consultations that had not been properly done, and not allowing the bill to go to committee to be studied properly. All of that has not been taken into consideration whatsoever by the government on such an important bill.

Therefore, the only sign that this is an important bill is that we see the government trying to thank itself for how good a job it has done. However, it should at least pay attention to the public and make sure that people understand it. It should make sure that people are asked questions and that it hears their concerns. There are a large number of problems and concerns out there that people are talking about, to which the government has unfortunately turned a deaf ear.

If we were to list the number of issues and concerns, instead of two minutes, we would need hours to express ourselves properly, to ensure that what Canadians will get out of this bill is not something as harmful, as unfair, and as much of a risk as it presently is for families and people. Therefore, if I have 20 seconds, I would like to list the following problems: impaired driving; easy and direct pot access for children and youth; health impacts on brain development to youth under 25 years of age; health impacts to heavy users, such as addiction; keeping drugs away from children and youth, especially home-grown plants and edibles; and, workplace health and safety.

These are major problems. I hope the government will come to the realization that it should give this time. Otherwise, we are looking at a disaster.

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November 22nd, 2017 / 3:35 p.m.
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Vancouver Granville B.C.

Liberal

Jody Wilson-Raybould LiberalMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

moved that Bill C-45, An Act respecting cannabis and to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, the Criminal Code and other Acts, be read the third time and passed.

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise to speak to Bill C-45.

On October 13, I introduced two pieces of important legislation in the House of Commons. First, Bill C-45 proposes a framework for legalizing, strictly regulating, and restricting access to cannabis in Canada. The second complementary piece of legislation, Bill C-46, proposes new and stronger laws to more seriously tackle alcohol and drug-impaired driving, including cannabis. I am proud to note that Bill C-46 has been passed by the House and is being studied in the other place.

I am pleased to speak again today about Bill C-45 and discuss some of the amendments that were carried during the Standing Committee on Health's extensive study of the bill. I would like to thank all committee members for their considerable amount of work on this file. The committee reviewed 115 briefs and heard from nearly 100 different witnesses, who provided their invaluable perspectives on a wide array of issues, ranging from law enforcement to public health.

Groups represented at committee included the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, the Criminal Lawyers' Association, the Métis National Council, the Canadian Medical Association, the Canadian Public Health Association, and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities. Officials from Colorado and Washington state also provided testimony on their states' experience in the legalization of cannabis.

After hearing from the witnesses, several amendments were proposed at clause-by-clause consideration of the bill. I will speak to some of these worthwhile amendments in a moment, but first I would like to remind members what Bill C-45 is all about.

Bill C-45 would create a legal framework whereby adults would be able to access legal cannabis through an appropriate retail framework sourced from a well-regulated industry or grown in limited amounts at home. Under the proposed legislation, the federal, provincial, and territorial governments will all share in responsibility for overseeing the new system. The federal government will oversee the production and manufacturing components of the cannabis framework and set industry-wide rules and standards.

To that end, our fall economic statement of 2017 has earmarked $526 million of funding to license, inspect, and enforce all aspects of the proposed cannabis act. Provincial and territorial governments will in turn be responsible for the distribution and sale components of the framework.

Beyond the legislative framework outlining the rules for production, retail sale, distribution, and possession, cannabis will remain a strictly prohibited substance.

Division 1 of part 1 of the proposed act clearly sets out that many of the offences that currently apply to cannabis under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act will continue to exist under the proposed cannabis act. This is very much in keeping with the recommendations contained in the final report of the task force on cannabis legalization and regulation.

In its report, the task force recommended that criminal offences should be maintained for illicit production, trafficking, possession for the purposes of trafficking, possession for the purposes of export, and import/export.

I will now speak to the amendments adopted by the committee. Let me begin by saying that our government supports all the amendments adopted by the Standing Committee on Health. At this time, I would like to speak about five specific amendments that were adopted during clause-by-clause consideration of Bill C-45.

First, the height restriction for cannabis plants permitted to be grown at home was eliminated. The 100-centimetre height restriction was intended to balance the interest to allow personal cultivation while safeguarding against the known risks associated with large plants, including the risk of diversion outside of the licit regime. The height restriction, indeed the proposal to allow even limited personal cultivation, attracted significant commentary both before the health committee and in the general public.

We understand the complexities leading to the task force's recommendation of a 100-centimetre height limit and accept the health committee's conclusion after it listened to several witnesses about the problems that such a limit might realistically create.

Our government agrees that this issue is best addressed outside of the criminal law. Should they wish, provinces and territories. relying on their own legislative powers. could address plant heights and if legislative authority exists or is extended to municipalities, they could do so as well.

Second, the addition of the good Samaritan provision will exempt individuals from criminal charges for simple possession if they call medical services or law enforcement following a life threatening medical emergency involving a psychoactive substance. Evidence demonstrates that individuals experiencing or witnessing an overdose or an acute medical condition are often afraid to call emergency assistance due to the fear of prosecution. A good Samaritan clause in the proposed cannabis act will help to ensure that individuals contact and co-operate with emergency services in the context of a medical emergency, knowing that they will not face prosecution for minor possession offences.

Third, the amendments to the Non-smokers' Health Act, provides flexibility to prohibit the smoking or vaping of tobacco or cannabis in specific outdoor areas or spaces by regulation in federal workplaces to protect people from exposure to tobacco or cannabis smoke. This aligns with the recommendation by the Canadian Cancer Society.

Fourth, courts will have the discretion of imposing a fine of up to $200 for an accused convicted of a ticketable offence rather than imposing a fixed fine in the amount of $200. This will ensure that the courts can consider a range of factors in setting the fine, including the ability of the accused to pay the fine.

Finally, an amendment was adopted to require a review of the proposed cannabis act three years after its coming into force and to table a report in Parliament on the results of this review.

Given the transformative nature of the proposed legislation, it is important that our government clearly communicates to Parliament and to the Canadian public the impact the legislation will have on achieving our objectives of protecting youth and reducing the role of organized crime. This will enable us as parliamentarians to determine whether future changes to the legislation are necessary to help ensure the protection of public health and safety.

I will now speak to the significant discussion that has occurred in relation to the treatment of young persons under the proposed cannabis act.

On the one hand, the Standing Committee on Health heard from witnesses, including criminal defence lawyers and the Canadian Nurses Association, who argued that youth possession of cannabis should not be subject to criminal penalties, because making it a criminal offence for a youth to possess five grams of cannabis would not deter them from possessing. It would only serve to perpetuate the disproportionate enforcement of laws on young, marginalized, and racialized members of our society.

On the other hand, others, including opposition members, have called for a zero tolerance in relation to the possession of cannabis by youth. Our government is mindful of the concerns raised in relation to the exemption of young persons from criminal prosecution for possession or sharing of up to five grams of cannabis and the suggestion that this decision is sending the wrong message to youth.

As I discussed at my appearance before the committee, our government has drafted Bill C-45 to specifically ensure that there are no legal means for a young person to purchase or acquire cannabis. Young persons should not have access to any amount of cannabis.

At the same time, criminalizing youth for possessing or sharing very small amounts of cannabis recognizes the negative impacts that exposure to the criminal justice system can have on our young people, particularly marginalized young persons.

Our focus aligns with what the majority of respondents conveyed to the task force; that criminal sanctions should be focused on adults who provide cannabis to youth, not on the youth themselves. This does not mean that our government sees youth possession or consumption of cannabis as acceptable. Our government has given much thought as to how we will keep cannabis out of the hands of youth and discourage them from using cannabis at all.

Our government has been encouraging the provinces and territories to create administrative offences that would prohibit youth from possessing any amounts of cannabis without exposing them to the criminal justice system. Police would be given authority to seize cannabis from youth with small amounts. Provinces and territories use this measured approach for alcohol and tobacco possession by young persons, and it has proven to be successful. We were pleased to hear that Ontario, Quebec, and Alberta have already announced their plans to create just such prohibitions, and we expect other jurisdictions to follow suit.

This approach is complemented by the other significant protections for youth in Bill C-45. The proposed act creates new offences for those adults who either sell or distribute cannabis to youth, or who use a young person to commit a cannabis-related offence. It protects young people from promotional enticements to use cannabis, prohibits cannabis product packaging or labelling that are appealing to youth, and prohibits the sale of cannabis through self-service displays or vending machines.

In addition to these legislative mechanisms, I would also like to remind members that our government will be undertaking a broad public education campaign to inform Canadians of all ages about the proposed legislation, including penalties for providing cannabis to youth and the risks involved with consuming cannabis. This public education campaign will focus on helping young Canadians make the best choices about their future and to understand the risks and consequences of using cannabis. This public education and awareness campaign has already begun, and it will continue to be an ongoing priority. To that end, last month our government announced $36.4 million over five years in funding for public education and awareness. This is in addition to the $9.6 million over five years toward a comprehensive public education and awareness campaign, and surveillance activities that we announced in budget 2017.

I will now turn to the implementation and timing of Bill C-45. Much has been conveyed about the timing of the implementation of the proposed cannabis act, with the suggestion being made that provinces and territories will not be ready, or that law enforcement will not be ready. Several witnesses at committee, however, rightfully pointed out that we need to act now. The Canadian Public Health Association responded to claims that we are not ready for legalization by advising the committee of the following:

Unfortunately, we don't have the luxury of time, as Canadians are already consuming cannabis at record levels. The individual and societal harms associated with cannabis use are already being felt every day. The proposed legislation and eventual regulation is our best attempt to minimize those harms and protect the well-being of all Canadians.

Witnesses at committee further pointed out that there is always a perception that more time is needed, but that any delays would contribute to confusion among the population.

Our government agrees that we need to act now, and we have been working closely with provinces and territories on many fronts, including through a federal-provincial-territorial senior officials working group. The working group has been kept apprised of developments on this file over the last year through meetings via teleconference every three weeks, as well as in-person meetings. Most recently, a meeting took place here in Ottawa on October 17 and 18.

Since the introduction of Bill C-45, several federal-provincial-territorial issue-specific working groups have also been established to collaborate more closely on a range of complex issues, including drug-impaired driving, ticketable offences, taxation, and public education.

Our government recognizes that providing support to provinces and territories for this work is critical. That is why we have committed, for instance, up to $81 million specifically to the provinces and territories to train front-line officers to recognize the signs and symptoms of impaired driving, build law enforcement capacity across the country, and provide access to drug screening devices.

Our government is encouraged by the tremendous amount of work that has already been carried out in the provinces and territories. Many jurisdictions committed to and have completed public consultations on how cannabis legalization should be implemented.

Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, and Alberta have released proposed legislation and frameworks describing how they will approach recreational cannabis, and Manitoba has enacted the Cannabis Harm Prevention Act. Clearly, many provinces are moving forward in anticipation of the July 2018 time frame.

Recognizing that some provinces and territories may not have systems in place by the summer of 2018, our government is proposing to facilitate interim access to a regulated quality controlled supply from a federally licensed producer via online ordering, with secure home delivery through mail or courier.

Our government's intention is to offset the broader costs associated with implementing this new system by collecting licensing and other fees, as well as through revenues generated through taxation, as is the case with the tobacco and alcohol industry. Discussions with provinces and territories around the proposed taxation plan have already begun and will continue. As part of our consultations on this matter, we welcome the feedback of all Canadians to ensure that we achieve the goal of keeping prices low enough to put criminals out of business while helping to offset the costs of education, administration, and enforcement.

In conclusion, I would like to reiterate that Canada's current approach to cannabis continues to contribute to the profits of organized crime, risks to public health and safety, and exposes thousands of Canadians to criminal records for minor cannabis offences each year. Most Canadians no longer believe that simple possession of small amounts of cannabis should be subjected to harsh criminal sanctions. I would like to conclude by encouraging all members of this House to support Bill C-45, as amended by the Standing Committee on Health.

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November 22nd, 2017 / 3:50 p.m.
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Conservative

Len Webber Conservative Calgary Confederation, AB

Mr. Speaker, I sit on the health committee along with a number of other wonderful people, and we do some good work. We listened to many presenters on this bill at committee, one in particular being Professor Steven Hoffman, an expert in international law who teaches at Osgoode Hall Law School. He is very concerned about Bill C-45 being passed and violating three United Nations treaties that Canada signed onto years ago. This particular bill would violate those three treaties.

How does the minister plan to deal with the United Nations and our international friends when this bill is passed?

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November 22nd, 2017 / 3:50 p.m.
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Liberal

Jody Wilson-Raybould Liberal Vancouver Granville, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank all members of the committee for their substantive work on Bill C-45. As I have said with respect to this bill, protecting the health and safety of Canadians is a top priority of our government. That is why we are taking a careful regulatory approach to cannabis legalization.

Our officials have been very open, honest, and reflective in embracing discussions from across the country and throughout the world. We have been working actively with international experts, including the United Nations, to determine the best course forward on our international commitments. I want to remind the members of this House that eight American states, including the District of Columbia, have already decided to legalize recreational marijuana. We are committed to ensuring that we continue to work with our global partners to best promote public health and combat illicit drug trafficking.

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November 22nd, 2017 / 3:50 p.m.
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NDP

Don Davies NDP Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Mr. Speaker, the Liberal government has acknowledged from the beginning the devastating impacts that criminalization of simple cannabis possession and usage has had on Canadians. In fact, the government knows that those impacts have been particularly damaging for marginalized Canadians, such as the young, racialized, indigenous, and poor. Yet one of the ironies is that this legislation maintains that criminalized prohibitionist approach. Any Canadian caught with 31 grams of cannabis in public, who grows five plants, or is an 18-year-old in Alberta selling to a 17-year-old faces criminal prosecution, conviction, and penalties of up to 14 years in jail.

She is the Minister of Justice and knows there are hundreds of thousands of Canadians who carry criminal convictions today that have devastated their lives in many respects. What plans does she have, as the Minister of Justice, for granting those Canadians pardons for engaging in activities that, come next July, will be entirely legal in this country?

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 22nd, 2017 / 3:55 p.m.
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Liberal

Jody Wilson-Raybould Liberal Vancouver Granville, BC

Mr. Speaker, the purpose of Bill C-45, as all members of the House have heard me state before, and what we are committed to, is legalization, strict regulation, and restriction of access to cannabis to keep it out of the hands of young people, and the proceeds of its sale out of the hands of criminals. As I have stated many times, simply decriminalizing it at this point would not assist us in achieving those objectives.

What I have been doing, and what I am committed to continue to do, is to work with my colleague, the Minister of Public Safety. We have recognized that over-criminalization of the possession of small amounts of cannabis is something that needs to be addressed. We have sought to address this in Bill C-45. Again, in conversations with the Minister of Public Safety, we are considering how we can approach record suspensions.

However, our focus right now is to change the status quo to ensure that we put in place a comprehensive framework for the legalization, strict regulation, and restriction of access to cannabis by young people.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 22nd, 2017 / 3:55 p.m.
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Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, first, I must commend not only the lead minister but also the other departments that engaged in making this proposed legislation possible. In particular, there was a fairly lengthy process that ensured that Canadians were thoroughly consulted.

For me, representing Winnipeg North, one of the biggest benefits I see from this proposed legislation will be its impact on the criminal activities of gang members, and so forth, who go into our schools and sell cannabis to 12, 14, or 15 year olds. This proposed legislation is a step in the right direction, as it would minimize the damage caused to young people and, at the same time, literally take hundreds of millions of dollars away from criminal gangs, and so forth.

Could the minister comment either on what it took to get the legislation before us today, or on the criminal aspect?

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 22nd, 2017 / 3:55 p.m.
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Liberal

Jody Wilson-Raybould Liberal Vancouver Granville, BC

Mr. Speaker, as I said in my comments, the status quo simply is not working. Our government has been committed to the legalization, strict regulation, and restriction of access to cannabis from day one.

To the first part of the question, we have engaged in extensive consultations to ensure that we heard from Canadians right across the country. The first step we took, a vitally important step, was to engage a task force on cannabis. The task force consisted of experts in justice, public health and safety, and law enforcement. This task force was led by the hon. Anne McLellan, and it provided us with substantive recommendations. Most of those recommendations are contained in Bill C-45. The task force received 30,000 submissions from Canadians across the country.

We introduced Bill C-45 and have continued throughout to engage with provinces and territories, municipalities, and indigenous communities and indigenous governments. We will continue to do that as we move towards July 2018 to ensure that we have a substantive, comprehensive framework for the legalization of cannabis in this country.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 22nd, 2017 / 4 p.m.
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Conservative

Garnett Genuis Conservative Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, AB

Mr. Speaker, I have been following this debate closely, and there are many things the minister has said that are simply not so. For example, she talked about record levels of marijuana use. However, from the Statistics Canada website, I have in front of me a comprehensive Canadian addiction survey that looked at drug and alcohol use. In in 2004, 14.1% of Canadians reported they had used cannabis in the last year; in 2008, it was 11.4%; in 2010 it was 10.6%; and in 2011 it was 9.1%.

The Conservative approach in government was to emphasize the importance of public health information and working with all aspects of society, including law enforcement, in a way that reflects the real risk associated with marijuana, and, yes, in a way that keeps it out of the hands of children. However, letting parents with children at home grow marijuana and making it legal for one child to give marijuana to another child, rather than selling it to them, is perfectly legal under the proposed legislation. This will not keep it out of the hands of children.

The minister might disagree on certain points philosophically, but I just want to know if she acknowledges the reality of the data, namely that marijuana use has gone down significantly during the last 10 years. Does she think that is a failure?

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 22nd, 2017 / 4 p.m.
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Liberal

Jody Wilson-Raybould Liberal Vancouver Granville, BC

Mr. Speaker, we are a government that bases its actions on science, evidence, and certainly, on data. The latest data available in 2015 shows the prevalence of cannabis use in the past year was one in five Canadians aged 15 to 19, and nearly one in three aged 20 to 24. The rate of cannabis use in this country, particularly among young people, is among the highest in the world.

The status quo simply is not working. We need to ensure that we put a comprehensive framework in place around the legalization, the strict regulation, and the restriction of access to young people. This is the purpose and intent of Bill C-45. This comprehensive framework would be similar to tobacco.

We will ensure we do as much as we can to keep cannabis out of the hands of kids while at the same time ensuring we invest $40 million in the promotion of an educational campaign, a public awareness campaign, particularly among young people, about the risks of using cannabis. That is what we are committed to doing while working with other jurisdictions.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 22nd, 2017 / 4 p.m.
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Conservative

Dave Van Kesteren Conservative Chatham-Kent—Leamington, ON

Mr. Speaker, throughout the debate at second reading, through committee hearings, and now finally, in the final debate, mounds and mounds of evidence have been introduced and cited, painting a grim picture of the consequences of the government's determination to legalize marijuana for recreational purposes.

Still, the Liberal government is bound and determined to ram this legislation through, so that by July 1, 2018, Canada's 151st birthday, youth as young as 18 will be able to legally purchase marijuana from government outlets, and use this drug with virtually no restrictions.

I have been allotted 20 minutes to present my objections to this harmful legislation, but would need hours to present all the evidence presented by doctors, psychiatrists, researchers, police, parents, and a host of specialists warning the government not to go down this road, and of the serious consequences if it does.

I will instead focus on a few articles and studies, and ask the members across the floor, how can they can justify their actions, having had prior knowledge to these?

I hold in my hand mandate letters from the Prime Minister to ministers on expectations and deliveries. I will be using them in my presentation to point out just how this action by the Prime Minister has been broken by his ministers.

The Prime Minister presented all ministers with these mandate letters after the last election.

The mandate letter to the Minister of Health reads:

I expect you to work closely with your Deputy Minister and his or her senior officials to ensure that the ongoing work of your department is undertaken in a professional manner and that decisions are made in the public interest.

I wonder if the minister, at that point, informed the Prime Minister about this document from her own department, modified on August 19, 2016. I am sure she was aware of it. This document, among other things, states:

Using cannabis or any cannabis product can impair your concentration, your ability to think and make decisions, and your reaction time and coordination. This can affect your motor skills, including your ability to drive. It can also increase anxiety and cause panic attacks, and in some cases cause paranoia and hallucinations.

It further states:

Cannabis should not be used if you:

are under the age of 25;

are allergic to any cannabinoid or to smoke;

have serious liver, kidney, heart or lung disease;

have a personal or family history of serious mental disorders such as schizophrenia, psychosis, depression, or bipolar disorder;

are pregnant, are planning to get pregnant, or are breast-feeding;

are a man who wishes to start a family;

have a history of alcohol or drug abuse or substance dependence.

A list of health outcomes regulated to the short and long-term use include the following:

increase the risk of triggering or aggravating psychiatric and/or mood disorders (schizophrenia, psychosis, anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder);

decrease sperm count, concentration and motility, and increase abnormal sperm morphology;

negatively impact the behavioural and cognitive development of children born to mothers who used cannabis during pregnancy.

This document was available to the minister. It clearly shows that in reaction to that, she is breaking what the Prime Minister instructed her to do. I am going to read another that the Prime Minister has written:

No relationship is more important to Canada than the relationship with Indigenous Peoples.

That was to the Minister of Indigenous Services in the opening statement. Why did the minister not sound the alarm and give the Prime Minister the message that she received from President Aluki Kotierk of the Nunavut Tunngavik? She said:

The federal government needs to consult with Inuit on whether cannabis should be legalized and, if so, when, as well as plan to deal with the possible negative impacts of legalizing cannabis...

It goes on. Chief Gina Deer of the Mohawk Council of Kanawakee stated:

Our community has been zero tolerance for many years on drugs. Now when you tell them that we have to accept marijuana as a legal product and not as a drug, it’s hard to accept, especially for elders.

The Prime Minister further stated to the Minister of Crown-Indigineous Relations:

I expect you to re-engage in a renewed nation-to-nation process with Indigenous Peoples to make real progress on the issues most important to First Nations, the Métis Nation, and Inuit communities--issues like housing, employment, health and mental health care...

This is what Chief Isadore Day stated in testimony at committee:

It's accurate to say that first nations are also not prepared to deal with the ramifications of Bill C-45. Does Canada even know the full impacts of cannabis yet? When the states of Colorado and Washington legalized cannabis sales in 2013, American Indian tribes were negatively impacted.

Further, Chief Day also stated at committee that despite hearing this, the Liberals continue to reaffirm that it's important that we focus on getting this job done as quickly as we are able.

The chief reiterated that one of the biggest concerns that first nations have with Bill C-45 is the health and safety of our people. He cited statistics that cannabis is the second most abused substance among indigenous people. He added that in Ontario alone, $33 million is needed to treat first nations with drug and alcohol addictions. He concluded by stating that there appears to be more questions than answers. This leaves the first nations in a compromising state, leading to an accelerated timeline.

The Prime Minister also said to the minister:

Work with the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness and the Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs to address gaps in services to Aboriginal people and those with mental illness throughout the criminal justice system.

She should have told him about the health report that I mentioned previously, and the concerns that his own government had with the legalization and usage of marijuana.

Health Canada stated warnings, and I have mentioned some, but it serves to mention these as well:

Cannabis contains hundreds of substances, some of which can affect the proper functioning of the brain and central nervous system. The use of this product involves risks to health, some of which may not be known or fully understood. Cannabis should not be used if you have a personal or family history of serious mental disorders such as schizophrenia...

The Prime Minister loves to point out to the Minister of Justice, who just spoke, his great love and respect for the charter. In his mandate to the minister he stated:

You are expected to ensure that the rights of Canadians are protected, that our work demonstrates the greatest possible commitment to respecting the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

A child advocate group in New Brunswick has done an assessment of violations to the rights of the child treaty, and has a very serious concern that this legislation is going to see legal challenges. I wonder if the minister should have told the Prime Minister that a court challenge, which is what it has stated, is a good idea under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Section 7 states:

Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of the person and the right not to be deprived thereof except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice.

The minister should have warned him that by legalizing marijuana, a drug with psychoactive properties, the Government of Canada will encourage the sale and consumption of marijuana, thereby putting all Canadians at greater risk of encountering harm and death through impaired driving accidents and workplace accidents, smoking-related sicknesses, and other marijuana-induced injuries. For example, police chiefs across the country have expressed their concern that they will not be able to keep the public safe from drugged drivers. Thus, the proposal to legalize marijuana runs contrary to the charter provision, the right to the security of the person.

To the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, he wrote:

As Minister...your overarching goal will be to lead our government’s work in ensuring that we are keeping Canadians safe.

Here again, I would raise the report from the health department, but I would also make mention of a report that has just come out, “The Legalization of Marijuana in Colorado: The Impact”. The executive summary states, “Marijuana-related traffic deaths when a driver was positive for marijuana more than doubled from 55 deaths in 2013 to 123 deaths in 2016.” This same executive summary states, “In 2009, Colorado marijuana-related traffic deaths involving drivers testing positive for marijuana represented 9 percent of the traffic deaths. By 2016, that number has more than doubled to 20 percent.” It goes on, and there are statistics that talk about what happens to the youth and how youth use has risen dramatically as well.

This might be my favourite. The Prime Minister wrote to the Minister of Science, the same minister who has repeatedly, in this House, stood up and said that the current government will listen to science, because the Prime Minister told her this:

We are a government that believes in science – and a government that believes that good scientific knowledge should inform decision-making.

I wonder if that minister told the Prime Minister about the report on the legalization of marijuana in Colorado, or possibly this report from the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Here is a great one she should have read, from Frontiers in Psychiatry: “Persistency of Cannabis Use Predicts Violence following Acute Psychiatric Discharge”. There is this lengthy report from the World Health Organization: “The Health and Social Effects of Nonmedical Cannabis Use”.

It goes on and on. I am sure the minister read the “Market Analysis of Plant-based Drugs C. The Cannabis Market”, from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.

Every one of these reports points to the same conclusion: the use of cannabis is restricted for a reason. There is a reason governments have, on a continual basis, made that their practice.

I have often stated in this House that I am genuinely impressed by the Liberal caucus. It is full of doctors and lawyers and Ph.D.s and Rhodes scholars. This is not a group of people who could be excused for not having the information.

I found a great article by James Di Fiore, written in the Huffington Post. He wrote:

I've written about my modest contribution to the elimination of pot prohibition before. To recap, in 2011 I was hired by the Liberal Party of Canada's upper brass to pressure their delegates to vote yes on a policy initiative that would push for legalization. For three months, my team approached marijuana advocacy groups and rallied their members to bombard [all] delegates via email, tweets and Facebook messages. The plan was to put enough pressure on delegates until they voted for a Canada who would shed its draconian views on weed. When we started, just 30 per cent of delegates [30 per cent of that caucus] were in [the] camp. After the votes were tallied at the Liberals' 2012 convention, more than 75 per cent of delegates voted yes.

This group can make the right choice. I know that there are many in the Liberal caucus who are opposed to what the government is doing and what the Prime Minister is forcing them to do as well. Now is the time for them to stand up, make the right choice, and vote against this dangerous bill.

I might add that the Prime Minister is not leading a bold charge that will make this an example of progressive nations. Let us listen to what Prime Minister Mark Rutte, of the Netherlands, said, in a 2014 article about the use of marijuana. “People should do with their own bodies whatever they please, as long as they are well informed about what that junk does to them”. The Dutch have a different approach to the whole idea of marijuana.

The article went on, “Rutte added in the same interview that cannabis legalization of the Colorado model”, and I should emphasize that the Colorado model is for those 21 years old and over, “where the state taxes and regulates all levels of the supply chain, and adults 21 and over are allowed to purchase weed from state-licensed stores—was out of the question. 'If we were to do that, ' he said, 'we'd be the laughing stock of Europe.'”

This not going to be a progressive move by the Prime Minister and the Liberal caucus. As a matter of fact, while the Dutch system has some major drawbacks, current UN treaties forbid countries to legalize and regulate drugs for recreational use. Specifically, the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs,1961, states that member states have a general obligation “to limit exclusively to medical and scientific purposes the production, manufacture, export, import, distribution of, trade in, use and possession of drugs.”

Piet Hein van Kempen, a professor of criminal law and criminal procedure in the Netherlands, was recently asked by the justice ministry to study whether international drug treaties offer any wiggle room to legalize, decriminalize, tolerate, or regulate cannabis in any other way for recreational use. His answer was an emphatic no. Maybe when the Prime Minister gets to meet his new best friend, Xi Jinping, he can tell him about his plans to legalize marijuana and ask for his thoughts. I am sure he would give the Prime Minister a history lesson on what took place in Chinese society.

The Liberals are on track to legalize marijuana for recreational purposes by July 1, 2018. They say they have had extensive consultations, conducted the largest online survey, and completed a report called “A Framework for the Legalization and Regulation of Cannabis in Canada”. The Liberals say they have consulted with Canadians; provincial, territorial, and municipal governments; indigenous governments; representatives of organizations; youth; parents; and experts in relevant fields. Ignoring the warnings of doctors, police chiefs, and first nations parents, they have pushed this bill rapidly through the House.

This bill would drastically change Canadian society, the full ramifications felt for years to come. They say it will protect us and take marijuana out of the hands of criminals. I suggest it would enslave our youth and make the government the new pusher on the block.

I move:

That the motion be amended by deleting all the words after the word “That” and substituting the following: “Bill C-45, An Act respecting cannabis and to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, the Criminal Code and other Acts, be not now read a third time, but be referred back to the Standing Committee on Health for the purpose of reconsidering clause 226 with the view to establish a coming into force date that complies with the wishes of those provinces, territories, municipalities, law enforcement officials and first nation groups who require more time to prepare for the legalization of cannabis.”

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 22nd, 2017 / 4:20 p.m.
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Scarborough Southwest Ontario

Liberal

Bill Blair LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada and to the Minister of Health

Mr. Speaker, I would like to acknowledge the remarks made by my colleague from Chatham-Kent—Leamington, and I want to bring some clarification to one of the remarks he made. I listened very carefully, and he said that police chiefs, in the plural, but unnamed, did not support the effort or believe that we were going to bring forward adequate measures to deal with impaired driving.

I want to quote the testimony of Chief Mario Harel, the elected president of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, who appeared before the justice committee on Bill C-46. He said:

We certainly commend the government for its commitment to consultation of stakeholders and the public. We commend the efforts of ministers, all parliamentarians, and public servants at Public Safety, Justice, and Health Canada who are dedicated to bringing forward the best legislation possible. All share with us the desire to do this right, knowing that the world is watching.

The government has put forward strong legislation not only focused on impairment by drugs but also addressing ongoing issues related to alcohol impairment.

He went on to say:

Steps that have been introduced to reform the entire impaired driving scheme are seen as much needed and very positive. The CACP has called for such changes in the past, specifically in support of modernizing the driving provision of the Criminal Code, supporting mandatory alcohol screening, and eliminating common loophole defences. Tough new impairment driving penalties introduced in this legislation are strongly supported by the CACP.

This, of course, includes all the chiefs in Canada. Finally, he said:

We also acknowledge funding announced recently to support law enforcement for cannabis and drug-impaired driving. The government has been listening.

In light of this testimony from the head of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, would the member like to comment on his earlier remark with respect to an unnamed chief offering some other opinion?

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 22nd, 2017 / 4:25 p.m.
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Conservative

Dave Van Kesteren Conservative Chatham-Kent—Leamington, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to say that I respect the member's office, and I thank him for his service for years as a police chief. He knows that I have three sons who serve in the police department, and as such, I have had much contact with the police force.

My colleague has passed me some information. I am not going to read that. The truth of the matter is that my eyesight is not good enough.

I do know that there is not a consensus among police chiefs. When we talk about Bill C-46 being the act to strengthen the Criminal Code in respect of driving, those steps are necessary and police chiefs would certainly agree with that, but I also know that police chiefs, police officers, and those involved in law enforcement have repeatedly said that at the very least, they are not prepared for this, and they do not have the tools or what is required to enforce this new legislation.

Municipalities would need a host of new equipment and much more money. These things have not been provided. That is a small point, but the member must also acknowledge that this is not a complete picture of what the police chiefs have been saying.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 22nd, 2017 / 4:25 p.m.
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NDP

Cheryl Hardcastle NDP Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

Mr. Speaker, I just want to clarify this idea of what some police chiefs may or may not believe.

I have many family members, including children, who are in law enforcement. Many people reflect a lot of the emotion that sometimes goes along with this issue. The idea of mandatory minimums and a war on drugs approach is not as effective as had been envisioned at one time. As a matter of fact, a criminal record for this non-violent offence is a social determinant of health.

I wonder if the member has had a chance to consider what the public health approach might be, because we need effective solutions moving forward.

Would the member agree that we need to have a regulated environment? Would he also agree that a public campaign should include how to keep children away from this product? What does he think would be the most effective way for us to do that as we move forward with this?

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 22nd, 2017 / 4:30 p.m.
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Conservative

Dave Van Kesteren Conservative Chatham-Kent—Leamington, ON

Mr. Speaker, we must not confuse Bill C-45 with the decriminalization of marijuana, although that is part of this legislation. Conservatives also agree that for minor possession that portion should be struck from the Criminal Code.

Educating children and youth from the ages of 11 to 17 is important. Those under the age of 18 will not be allowed to smoke marijuana, but allowing them to have possession of up to five joints certainly is not the type of education that we on this side of the House envision.

Sweden has spent a lot of money and has done a lot of training and as a result has seen its rate of usage drop, and that country has not legalized marijuana.

The member is correct. We should and we must educate. We should be telling people. The report that I referred to from Health Canada should be in every home and in every school. We should be warning children about the dangers. We should warn young people about what marijuana can do to them if they use it before the age of 25 and who knows what could happen after that. That should be a part of our education system.

If we put the time and energy that the Liberal government is prepared to spend on this legislation into education, we would have a whole different scenario in this country.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 22nd, 2017 / 4:30 p.m.
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Conservative

Steven Blaney Conservative Bellechasse—Les Etchemins—Lévis, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate my colleague from Ontario for handling this issue with the seriousness it deserves, given the disastrous consequences of the legislation proposed by the Liberals.

The minister is telling us that there is a serious drug problem and that it will only get worse, as my colleague said, with more crime and organized crime involvement, more young people taking drugs, more fatal accidents due to impaired driving, and more health problems.

My colleague has just mentioned that the police are not ready. The police said so in committee. They do not have either the training or the equipment they need. The money offered by the government is not going to speed up the process. The provinces and health services are not ready.

My question for the member is simple: apart from the people who grow marijuana, and who, strangely enough, all have links to Liberal friends or to the government, will anyone actually benefit from the bill, and how do the Liberals plan to avoid this fiasco?

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 22nd, 2017 / 4:30 p.m.
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Conservative

Dave Van Kesteren Conservative Chatham-Kent—Leamington, ON

Mr. Speaker, I concur with everything my colleague said. He is absolutely right when he points out the dangers, inability, and unpreparedness of the Liberal government for this legislation. What could be done? We need to stop this. We need to stop this train because this is a wreck. This is not just bad legislation, this is horrible legislation. This would affect generations to come for years and years.

I wish I had a little more time, but we know that marijuana usage lowers the IQ of the user. Now, we talked about the Liberals on that side, and they are a bright bunch, and maybe they can lose two or three points and still get through life. However, the majority of those users of marijuana, the young men who become disenchanted, lose their jobs, drop out of school, and are now smoking dope. Now they are going to have a whole new challenge to face in life. It is these groups we should be thinking about, and it is these groups of people who will get hooked on marijuana. They are the ones who are going to suffer from this poor legislation, the ones who will die in car wrecks, and whose parents will line themselves up here and look across to the Liberals. Maybe then they can answer to them as to why they were so persistent in passing this foolish, crazy legislation.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 22nd, 2017 / 4:35 p.m.
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NDP

Don Davies NDP Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Mr. Speaker, when the Liberals promised Canadians cannabis legalization last election, I think that reasonable Canadians understood legalization to mean the end of criminalization, the end of stigmatization, and the end of the prohibitionist approach to cannabis. It is why I, along with millions of other Canadians, was somewhat surprised to read the fine print of Bill C-45 only to discover that it is not legalization at all, but would just make cannabis less illegal. The proposed legislation would create a litany of new cannabis-related criminal offences, most of which carry a maximum sentence of up to 14 years in prison. As renowned criminal defence attorney Michael Spratt put it:

[Bill C-45] is an unnecessarily complex piece of legislation that leaves intact the criminalization of marijuana in many circumstances.

An adult who possesses more than 30 grams of marijuana in public is a criminal. A youth who possesses more than five grams of marijuana is a criminal. An 18-year-old who passes a joint to his 17-year-old friend is a criminal. An adult who grows five marijuana plants...is a criminal...This continued criminalization is inconsistent with a rational and evidence-based criminal justice policy and will only serve to reduce...the positive effects of [the bill].

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health has claimed that these harsh penalties are reserved for some “gangster in a stairwell” selling cannabis to children, but this is exactly the sort of reefer madness rhetoric that has fuelled prohibition for nearly a century. The evidence before the health committee was directly contrary to this view. In fact, 95% of cannabis producers and consumers in this country are non-violent, law-abiding citizens who have nothing to do with organized crime whatsoever.

If criminalization and the threat of imprisonment prevented people from using cannabis, then Canadians would not be consuming an estimated 655 metric tons of it every year when we have full criminalization and life sentences for trafficking. Indeed, the prohibitionist approach has been repeatedly discredited by its failures throughout history. Cannabis consumption has increased steadily throughout the so-called “war on drugs”, and Canadian youth consume cannabis at some of the highest rates in the world today. Of the 4.6 million people the parliamentary budget officer projects will use cannabis at least once in 2018, nearly 1.7 million, or more than one-third, would be in the 15 to 24 age group.

For far too long, we have wasted billions of dollars in resources in the criminal justice system by criminalizing otherwise law-abiding citizens at an alarming rate for simply processing and consuming cannabis. In fact, we still are. According to Statistics Canada, in 2016, under the Liberal government after it promised Canadians legalization, the most recent year of available data, there were 55,000 offences related to cannabis reported to police, and police charged 17,733 people with pot possession. Given that cannabis possession will soon be made legal in Canada, the NDP has been clear from the outset that we should immediately decriminalize the possession of recreational cannabis for personal use pending full legalization.

Now, petty possession is a crime that the Prime Minister himself has admitted to committing while serving as an elected official. This admission of past cannabis use belies his repeated assertion that “Until we've changed the law, the current laws exist and apply.” I guess he meant that they apply to other people and not to him.

It is a shame and hypocrisy of the highest order that the current government continues to prosecute and convict Canadians for simple cannabis possession, which is something the government admits should be legal. The government knows full well that current cannabis laws are not applied consistently across this country. Indeed, their discriminatory impact has been well documented by Canadian researchers, like Simon Fraser University's Dr. Neil Boyd.

Furthermore, given the extensive body of research on the negative impacts of carrying a criminal record, it is clear that pursuing thousands of convictions for actions that we no longer view as criminal will needlessly harm vulnerable Canadians, particularly young people, racialized communities, indigenous people, and other marginalized groups, mainly the poor.

I want to be clear that because I support genuine cannabis legalization, I acknowledge that Bill C-45 is an improvement on the status quo. That is why Canada's New Democrats will support this legislation. This bill allows for the legal possession of up to 30 grams of cannabis, permits the legal cultivation of up to four cannabis plants per dwelling or house, and creates a framework for the development of a legal recreational cannabis industry in Canada.

I must note, however, that Bill C-45, inexplicably, allows the provinces and territories to derogate from these basic freedoms. This should be a major concern to anyone who wants genuine cannabis legalization in Canada, and those who are urging this House to rush this legislation through.

I also want the record to show that after we revealed gaping holes in the Liberal government's cannabis legislation, the NDP worked in the best spirit of Jack Layton to reach across the aisle to give Canadians what they actually voted for, genuine cannabis legalization.

For anyone who doubts the positive role an effective opposition can play, I will point out that we were able to convince the Liberals to do the following: drop the ridiculous 100 centimetre plant height limit belied by all evidence and the experts; bring in edibles and concentrates, albeit not immediately, but within a year; and recognize the necessity of craft cannabis growers being brought into the legalized production framework.

Mark my words, these improvements would not have happened had the New Democrats not worked diligently at committee to bring forth the witnesses and evidence, and push the government to do the right thing. I will give the government credit because, unlike the previous Conservative government, which hardly ever took any suggestions from this side of the House, the Liberal government has proven able to listen to the evidence and make adjustments, albeit not as far as we would like.

In addition, at the health committee, we put forward 38 practical amendments to fully align Bill C-45 with its purposes section and the evidence we heard from expert testimony. The purposes include bringing the illicit industry into the light; making sure that Canadians have access to safe, well-regulated cannabis products; and taking the production and distribution of cannabis out of the hands of organized crime and bringing it into the regulated legal industry.

That is what the New Democrats paid attention to when we moved our amendments to make sure that this legislation aligned with those purposes. Unfortunately, the Liberal government has refused to do that in all cases, edibles being the most notable example. The government is content to leave edibles and concentrates in the hands of the black market, in the hands of organized crime, totally unregulated for up to another year and a half to two years from now. It cannot explain why.

Our proposed changes, besides legalizing the sale of edibles and concentrates, included providing pardons to Canadians saddled with a criminal record for offences that will no longer be offences under Bill C-45. This amendment was ruled outside the scope of Bill C-45. However, given the Prime Minister's previous statements, it is rather shocking that the Liberal government would structure a cannabis legalization bill in such a way that pardons cannot be included via an amendment, with these ruled outside the scope of the bill. When the Liberals say they have taken their time and consulted widely, maybe they could explain to Canadians how, after two years, they somehow forgot to deal with the issue of pardons for the criminal convictions that Canadians carry for cannabis possession when they Liberals know how devastating the effects are of those criminal convictions on people's economic and social lives.

We also proposed amendments to empower provincial governments to create parallel production licensing regimes to give them the flexibility to implement legalization in the manner best suited to their jurisdiction. For example, this amendment would have allowed provinces to let craft growers, small-scale producers, outdoors growers, and artisanal growers compete against large federally licensed corporate entities. That was voted down by the Liberals.

We proposed decriminalizing the penalties section in line with the Tobacco Act, proposing instead that the legalization take a regulatory approach, with significant fines for offences, rather than criminal ones. One of the purposes of Bill C-45, as laid out in section 7, is to “reduce the burden on the criminal justice system in relation to cannabis”. Penalties in the bill, in the NDP's view, should be consistent with that stated intent.

With the Liberal government's rejection of these amendments, I am very concerned that Bill C-45 will continue to harm many Canadians after it becomes law in this country. Unconscionable prison sentences, arbitrary possession limits, and barriers to small craft and artisanal producers are just a few of the damaging provisions that need to be corrected.

However, I am heartened that this bill would at least require a mandatory review of the act's operation in the next Parliament. I view this as a tacit admission by the government that it knows that this bill contains problematic sections that will need to be fixed. In fact, it was a Liberal amendment to move the review from five years to three years. I think the Liberals know that this bill has flaws that will need to be fixed.

Truthfully, I would prefer to get it right the first time around. As it currently stands, the federal government has left the heavy lifting of legalization to the provincial, territorial, municipal, and indigenous governments. The task force on cannabis legalization was very clear in the lead up to legalization that the federal government should “Take a leadership role to ensure that capacity is developed among all levels of government prior to the start of the regulatory regime”. Yet, when asked if the federal government had even been talking with first nations and indigenous governments on a nation-to-nation basis to ensure that capacity were developed, Ontario Regional Chief Isadore Day told the health committee, “No, they haven't, and again, it's going to be really critical.”

By freezing out stakeholders and insisting on meeting an arbitrary politically motivated deadline, the Liberal government is clearly sacrificing quality legislation for speed. This has led to the emergence of a complex patchwork of different approaches to cannabis across Canada, and will put many Canadians in the position of perhaps breaking the law unintentionally. For example, some provinces may not allow any home growing. In fact, Quebec just announced this very measure. Some provinces may choose to lower the public possession limit from 30 grams. Some provinces may forbid public consumption. Some municipalities may ban cannabis sales and consumption completely.

I want to be clear to any Canadians watching this. The Liberals put forth legislation that will allow the provinces to deviate from people being allowed to grow four plants at home and from being legally able to carry 30 grams of cannabis in public. For those who are searching for and have waited for decades and decades for cannabis legalization, they should be aware that federal leadership in a national legalized structure for cannabis is not going to be delivered by this bill. We see that already, as I have mentioned, with the Quebec example. In that province, one will not be able to grow plants at home. I do not think that is what cannabis advocates have been working for all these years.

The Liberals' recent attempt to unilaterally impose an excise tax without consulting other jurisdictions directly contradicted the recommendations of the McClellan report. The Liberals' attempt to keep half the excise tax revenues at the federal level ignores the fact that the bulk of expenses related to legalization will fall to the provincial, territorial, and municipal levels.

For our part, Canada's New Democrats will continue to reach across the aisle to help ensure that legalization is done right and on time. Ever since the Liberal government of the day ignored the recommendations of the 1971 Le Dain commission, our party has been calling on successive governments to stop saddling Canadians with criminal records for using cannabis. We strongly believe and continue to maintain that these unjustifiable arrests must end as soon as possible.

I would be remiss not to use this occasion to outline some simple truths about cannabis that I fear are far too often drowned out of the public discussion by prohibitionist fearmongering. Number one, in almost all contexts, alcohol and tobacco are far more personally and socially harmful than cannabis. Cannabis does not make people aggressive, a person cannot fatally overdose on cannabis, and cannabis is not a carcinogen. We heard this point repeated over and over again by experts at the health committee.

Number two, cannabis has a broad range of therapeutic benefits. It is used as an effective medicine by Canadian patients suffering from conditions ranging from epilepsy to PTSD, from cancer to arthritis. I believe if this point were properly understood by the Liberals, they would not recently have announced a plan without consulting patients to impose a new excise tax of $1 per gram on medicinal cannabis, or 10% of the final retail price, whichever is higher.

At the end of 2016, there were 129,876 Canadian patients with authorizations from physicians to use medicinal cannabis, and since the first Canadian veteran was reimbursed on compassionate grounds in 2007, Veterans Affairs Canada now covers the cost of medicinal cannabis for over 3,000 Canadian veterans, yet the government wants to tax them.

Shockingly, however, the federal government does not cover medicinal cannabis for indigenous people, a discriminatory policy that puts a lie to the Prime Minister's claim that his most important relationship is with indigenous communities.

The Liberals' medicinal cannabis tax is misconceived, unfair to patients, and damaging to public health. It is simply poor public policy. The cost of medicinal cannabis is already high, given that unlike prescription drugs and medically necessary devices, it is not tax exempt under federal law. Medicinal cannabis is neither exempt from the GST nor eligible for reimbursement under nearly all public or private insurance plans, so patients are currently forced to spend hundreds, or thousands, of dollars each month to acquire a sufficient supply of medicinal cannabis, or choose a riskier option, like a prescription opioid because it is tax exempt and covered for reimbursement. That is perverse.

Medicinal cannabis should be treated like other medically prescribed therapeutic medicines. Looking forward, New Democrats will use every tool at our disposal to scrap that flawed policy decision.

Third, just yesterday, in the House, the Conservative member for Thornhill told Canadians that legal cannabis is just as dangerous as fentanyl, and home-grown cannabis is “virtually the same as putting fentanyl on a shelf within reach of kids”. This is an outrageous and dangerous falsehood, and grossly insensitive to those who have lost loved ones to fentanyl overdoses. Trying to capitalize on their personal tragedy for political purposes is shameful, callous, and unsupportable. I call on the Conservative Party to correct the record and for the member to offer a sincere apology to every Canadian who has been affected by the fentanyl crisis.

That brings me to truth number four. Cannabis and cannabis concentrates have been consumed by humans for thousands of years without bringing about the alarmist predictions peddled by prohibitionists. Cannabis is not a carcinogen, there are no lethal overdoses from cannabis and cannabinoids, and cannabis can be used to reduce anxiety and enhance enjoyment of many activities. Much like unwinding with a glass of wine, millions of adult Canadians find occasional cannabis consumption a relaxing and pleasurable way to spend their free time.

Ultimately, I have come to understand that a genuinely legalized and properly regulated cannabis industry in Canada has enormous potential in many respects. Done right, an appropriate legal approach can achieve impressive benefits economically, technologically, and medicinally. It can advance Canada's cannabis producers, retailers, and innovators on a global scale. It can generate world-leading intellectual property, innovation, and sustainable development benefits, and it can help establish an evidence-based understanding of cannabis that has been so marred by decades of misinformation and mythology.

At the very time that many other jurisdictions are also grappling with the failures of prohibition, why on earth would we pre-emptively cut ourselves off at the knees by legally prohibiting cannabis exports to markets where it would be legal to import it, and yet Bill C-45 explicitly prohibits all importation and exportation of recreational cannabis. The world is rapidly waking up to the potential of safe, regulated, and legal cannabis products. Countries like France, the Czech Republic, Belgium, Italy, Latvia, Luxembourg, Malta, Croatia, and Slovenia look to reexamine their approaches to cannabis, and Canada should be establishing itself as a first-to-market world leader. While the U.S. cannabis industry continues to be hindered by the Trump administration's reefer madness thinking about cannabis, Canada should be taking advantage by empowering our entrepreneurs and developing export markets all around the world.

Millions of Canadians use cannabis. They have used it in the past, they will use it today, and they will continue to use it in the years to come. They are not criminals. They are our parents, teachers, friends, colleagues, loved ones, and citizens of this great country who voted for genuine cannabis legalization in the last election. The NDP will continue to work positively and constructively to develop the smartest, safest, and most effective cannabis legislation and regulations in the world, because it is time we delivered.

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November 22nd, 2017 / 4:55 p.m.
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Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate that the NDP members are going to support the legislation. The legislation was not easily achieved. There was a great deal of consultation, working with first responders, many different stakeholders, provinces, and interested groups. They had so much to say about this.

We have the best legislation that is possible at this point in advancing and doing what Canadians expect. This was a commitment by the Prime Minister in the last election. It fulfills, in a very tangible way, the election platform.

I listened to my colleague, as I said, I appreciate the fact that the New Democrats will be supporting the legislation. However, he seemed to emphasize the fact that we could have done so much more. He spent a lot of time talking about decriminalization and how important that was. He was somewhat critical of the government for not decriminalizing.

I know the NDP has a new leader in Jagmeet Singh, who has said that we should decriminalize all illegal drugs. Is the NDP advocating for that today?

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November 22nd, 2017 / 4:55 p.m.
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NDP

Don Davies NDP Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Mr. Speaker, the member said a lot, and I would like to start with some of his early points. I thought the purpose of members of Parliament was to make legislation better. We were sent here by constituents to do that. In fact, we have done that. When the Liberals first tabled the legislation in the House, it banned edibles. It had a 100-centimetre limit on plant growth. It does not deal at all with pardons. It was very unclear whether small craft artisanal producers would be able to participate in a legalized industry.

The NDP rolled up it sleeves and we called evidence so we could work on the government to show it that the legislation was wrong and deficient in those respects. In fact, we got the government to change its mind on those issues. There are still other flaws in the bill, however. That is why the NDP will continue to advocate positive steps.

It is a good bill. It could be better. After 100 years of criminalization of cannabis, we can spend a few months to ensure the legislation works. Again, one of the NDP's primary purposes was to make the legislation align with the purposes of the act. There are several examples where the legislation does not do that.

My hon. colleague talks about consultation. Just because they say it, does not make it true. The NDP put forth a motion at committee to hear from stakeholders that had not been heard, such as licensed producers, dispensary owners, young Canadians, yet the Liberals voted that down. They did not want us to hear from those groups.

When the member says that the Liberals consulted widely, maybe he can explain to the House and Canadians why they did not want to hear from those groups. They did not have a chance to have their perspective on the legislation heard at committee in the Liberals' rush to get the committee process done in five days.

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November 22nd, 2017 / 4:55 p.m.
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Conservative

Garnett Genuis Conservative Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, AB

Mr. Speaker, the member just said “just because they say it, does not make it true”. He is right about that.

The member told us that apparently there was no association between the use of marijuana and a more violent state. I want to read from an article entitled “Chronic toxicology of cannabis”. It is not a newspaper article. It actually appeared in Clinical Toxicology and was written by someone in the medical school at the University of Queensland. He wrote:

Several studies from diverse cultures have confirmed the elevated risk of psychosis and schizophreniform spectrum disorders following high levels of cannabis use, particularly when cannabis consumption has commenced at a young age.

He said later:

Although the psychoneurological effects of cannabis are usually stereotypically characterized as a depressant, both its use and the withdrawal state are accompanied frequently by psychomotor agitation, which has been implicated causally with interpersonal violence. Interestingly, in a series of forensic examinations of suicide, cannabis use was associated with the most violent means of death, particularly severe motor vehicle accidents.

I would like to know if the member thinks the authors of this study at the medical school at the University of Queensland are falling prey to reefer madness?

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November 22nd, 2017 / 5 p.m.
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NDP

Don Davies NDP Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Mr. Speaker, I had the benefit of hearing over 90 witnesses at the health committee who were drawn from a wide variety of disciplines, including people from Colorado and Washington state who have experience with legalization, as well as many academics and professors. It is quite clear that the health effects of cannabis are, without any doubt whatsoever, far superior to those of tobacco and alcohol.

I have not heard any of my friends on the Conservative side of the House talk about restricting the amount of alcohol someone can purchase from the liquor store. Perhaps it is because they are afraid to take on the alcohol lobby in the country. The health committee heard some very graphic testimony. A person can walk into a liquor store and come out with a 26-ounce bottle of liquor, which has enough alcohol in that bottle to kill an adult. However, there are no limits on how many bottles of alcohol someone can purchase.

Tobacco, of course, is a carcinogen, and the Conservatives are opposed to plain packaging for tobacco, a policy I laud the Liberal government for pursuing in the House. It is long overdue. Why did the Conservatives not, throughout their 10 years, pursue plain packaging on tobacco when it is a carcinogen that is addictive and kills our children? I am not so sure why they did not do that.

In answer to the member's question, the research is overwhelming that cannabis is a relatively benign substance. It does have some health impacts that need to be studied for sure, However, in terms of what he is talking about, there is a question about causation versus correlation. If people use cannabis at a young age and develop psychosis, we do not know whether they developed psychosis as a result of cannabis use or they seek to use cannabis as a way of dealing with their psychosis. Therefore, the correlation-causation aspect does have to be researched. I look forward to the government putting a lot of money into researching the effects of cannabis in the years ahead.

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November 22nd, 2017 / 5 p.m.
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NDP

Wayne Stetski NDP Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Mr. Speaker, my colleague really does work hard every day for the middle class and those seeking to become part of it.

My riding of Kootenay—Columbia has a very interested clientele in the use of cannabis. This includes a long history of being involved in the industry in a number of different ways. These people were interested enough that when I held a telephone town hall, 3,300 people stayed on the phone for an hour to listen to the experts we had in place. That was followed up by a whole series of questions, which I sent to the Minister of Health and the Minister of Justice. They did provide answers, and we now have a very good report available to my constituents if they contact my office. However, some things were not answered.

One of the concerns of my constituents was crossing the border into the United States. I live in a riding that borders the United States and we go back and forth on a regular basis. During the testimony, did my colleague hear what the government planned to do to try to alleviate their concerns about either having to lie at the border or be refused entry into the United States and are any of the other 38 recommendations rejected by the government that he would like to highlight?

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November 22nd, 2017 / 5 p.m.
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NDP

Don Davies NDP Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Mr. Speaker, the NDP pointed this out early on, after hearing testimony about the difficulties some people had entering the United States when asked by border guards if they had ever used cannabis and they answered affirmatively. Even though they had used the cannabis legally in Washington state and Colorado, they were denied entry into the U.S. This led to a concern by the NDP that the government should be negotiating, or at least attempting to negotiate, with the Trump administration some form of agreement to recognize the reality that cannabis would be legal in Canada. We do not want to subject Canadians to being turned away at the border or being compelled to lie. The answer we got, unfortunately, was unsatisfactory. It appears that the government has not been entering into those negotiations. There is a real concern that after July 1, 2018, Canadians will be vulnerable in that respect.

I want to end on a positive note. Economically, Canada has a chance to be a global leader in producing safe, quality cannabis products. We are not the only country in the world that will legalize it. Other countries will do it, too. This is a classic industry that is sustainable, high tech, innovative, green. A $5 seed can be turned into $1,000 worth of product. Canadians are global leaders, and that is why we are so adamant that the ban on importation and exportation in Bill C-45 should be changed to give Canadian businesses a chance to tap into that market. This could provide billions and billions of dollars of economic activity once other countries do as Canada does and we abandon the old prohibitionist view of conservative parties around the world.

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November 22nd, 2017 / 5:05 p.m.
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Vaudreuil—Soulanges Québec

Liberal

Peter Schiefke LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister (Youth)

Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today to discuss this government's plan to legalize and strictly regulate cannabis in Canada.

Bill C-45, the cannabis act, was put forward by this government to confront and address the realities of cannabis use in our country. It happens that Canadians are some of the most avid users of cannabis in the entire world.

In 2015, 21% of those aged 15 to 19 used cannabis regularly. The number was 30% for those aged 20 to 24. It is accessible to our children, it is available in schools, and it funds major organized crime to the tune of billions of dollars per year. Clearly the current approach is outdated, archaic, and just does not work.

Over the years, the Government of Canada's approach to cannabis use devolved into harsh mandatory minimums and unfair criminal justice practices. The reality we have found ourselves in does not match the policies that previous governments have enacted.

I am proud to rise to share with my hon. colleagues in the House and my constituents of Vaudreuil—Soulanges why the cannabis act is the plan we need now to build a safer and better Canada.

We need a new approach, one that takes care of our children and punishes organized criminals rather than everyday Canadians. The cannabis act would revamp the Government of Canada's policies in three key ways, to legalize and strictly regulate cannabis use in Canada.

First, we will prioritize working with the territories and provinces as equal partners to reforming the current cannabis regime in Canada. This work is well under way and it has been for quite some time now.

Second, we will address the simple fact that cannabis is accessible to Canadian teenagers, whether we like it or not.

Third, we will take billions of dollars out of the pockets of organized criminals and gangs.

Each of these pillars is critical for my community of Vaudreuil—Soulanges where thousands of new families settle each year, making it one of the fastest-growing ridings in the country. However, they also apply from coast to coast to coast, and work to address challenges we face with our provincial and territorial partners.

Our aim is to set a framework that the provinces and the territories can expand on in ways that best suit them. Our plan will succeed because the cannabis act works with our partners while safeguarding the underlying principles protecting our youth and keeping money out of the hands of criminals.

Working with our provincial partners and, in particular, my community of Vaudreuil—Soulanges, and the Government of Quebec is the cornerstone of this new approach. Last week, the Quebec government's cannabis legislation was tabled in the national assembly. Its legislation is complementary to the partnership we have established to ensure safety and security for our young people and for our communities.

In Quebec, the government will be creating the société québécoise du cannabis, a parallel body to the Société des alcools du Québec. This model has worked in Quebec to support alcohol regulation and I am confident our partners will get the needs of Quebecers right in cannabis legalization as well.

The strict regulation of cannabis under the cannabis act is designed, first and foremost, to protect Canada's young people. This is particularly important to me as parliamentary secretary to the Prime Minister for youth, and also as a father of two young children. It is also a priority for the young families that choose to call my community of Vaudreuil—Soulanges home. I am sure all members in the House will agree that we owe it to them to get this right, and the cannabis act does not compromise on keeping Canadians safe, particularly young Canadians.

We are setting a national benchmark for a legal age to purchase and consume cannabis at 18 years of age. The Government of Quebec set the same age with its legislation last week.

We will not be punishing our teenagers for possessing up to five grams of cannabis. Instead, we are setting harsher penalties of up to 14 years in jail for selling or giving cannabis to youth or using young people to commit cannabis-related crimes.

This government believes that the abuse of youth by illegal drug trafficking networks is a real crime. I think that my colleagues on both sides of the House and in the provinces and territories share this belief.

We must ensure that young Canadians understand the dangers and potential consequences of using cannabis. In October, we announced an investment of $46 million over five years to raise awareness among Canadian youth of the realities of cannabis use.

By supporting large-scale campaigns to inform and educate Canadians, we are creating widespread awareness of the risks of cannabis consumption. As part of our plan, 114,000 brochures entitled “Cannabis Talk” have already been distributed in partnership with Drug Free Kids Canada.

On November 10, Health Canada hosted a partnership symposium on cannabis public education and awareness. Stakeholders from all sectors gathered in Ottawa to better identify possible actions.

These concrete measures are proof of our commitment to prioritizing health and safety risks based on facts, not on fear or disinformation. This includes prohibiting the use of attractive packaging and labelling in advertising and any other attempt to encourage young Canadians to consume cannabis.

The bill currently before the House would impose fines of up to $5 million, imprisonment for up to three years, or both for distributors who do not comply with the regulations. By setting national standards to meet the challenges associated with the widespread use of cannabis in Canada, we are taking fair action to protect young Canadians without punishing the one-third of adults who use cannabis recreationally.

Our government wants to protect our youth by instead focusing our efforts on organized crime and people who give cannabis to children despite the health risks associated with cannabis use at a young age.

By setting very strict penalties for selling cannabis to young people, our government is sending a clear message about our unwavering commitment to protecting the health and safety of young people first and foremost, in my riding of Vaudreuil—Soulanges, across Quebec, and across the country. This is something that all Canadians can get behind.

Canadians also know that we need to do whatever it takes to keep money out of the hands of criminals and organized crime. The cannabis act will make our streets safer by creating a legal, regulated, and safe supply of cannabis that will be available to all Canadians who have reached the age of majority.

Bill C-45 establishes a framework for purchasing product online or in person and allows Canadians to have access to cannabis outside the black market. The bill also enables the government to set reasonable prices that would be directly competitive with current prices on the black market.

We are also ensuring that those who wish to continue selling cannabis outside of regulated markets will be subject to penalties. Depending on the seriousness of the offence, they will face fines and up to 14 years in prison. This approach will allow the government to remain flexible while also going after the worst offenders.

The cannabis act will keep our young people safe and keep money out of the hands of criminals, thanks to a strictly regulated sales system for this country.

Our government is establishing a framework for our provincial and territorial partners so that the work reflects the will and concerns of the people.

I am proud to contribute to a plan that is built on fact-based decisions and reflects the reality we are currently facing in Vaudreuil—Soulanges, in Quebec, and of course in Canada.

I am proud to be part of a government that is taking action to address a problem that has existed for far too long. It is a problem that has existed for decades, and yet previous governments just made the decision to continue with the status quo. We knew full well the rates were high. In some cases, depending on the age group, rates were going up, but previous governments did nothing. We knew that those who were smoking marijuana, almost one-third in some cases or even more than one-third in certain age groups, were getting a product from organized criminals and drug dealers.

People had no idea what the product had been laced with. It was a product that people knew could have been laced with something that was more detrimental to their health, and yet they had no other option because governments turned a blind eye to the realities of a failing system. We knew the system that existed for the last 10 years and even for decades was putting billions of dollars into the pockets of organized crime.

I can say with a good amount of authority, and I speak on behalf of my caucus members from Quebec, that this had a serious impact on violence and violent crime in my home province of Quebec. Those people who are from Quebec, and who have been following incidents of violent crime related to organized criminal activities in Quebec know there have been significant rises and falls in crime relating to biker gangs, and that the primary source of revenue for these gangs was the illicit sale of drugs. Yet, federal governments did absolutely nothing.

Governments still tried to convince Canadians they were spending hundreds of millions of dollars on a system that was working when we knew full well it was not working. We could have done better, and we should have done better, but it required courage to do so. It requires looking back as to why we are all here as members of Parliament.

We are here to put in place systems that work, and to use taxpayers' money effectively. Yet, for decades, we have not been doing that. We have been trying to convince Canadians we had the best possible plan in place, and their hundreds of millions of dollars were being spent properly. We knew full well that was not the case.

Therefore, this is what we did. We first started off by being honest and open with Canadians that this is what we would do if we were elected. Once we were elected, we followed through on that promise and started with national consultations, including committees that met and brought in experts on all sides to talk about how we can best do this. We studied other jurisdictions in the United States and around the world who have seen better success rates in the systems that they had in place. I and other members of Parliament from all sides of this House went across the country, hosting town halls and asking for feedback from our fellow constituents. We worked hard over the last two years to reach out to Canadians and to experts in various fields to make sure we were getting the information to get this right.

Second, we looked at all the data that was in place. There have been many studies that have been put forward talking about health benefits and about other systems that worked better. Because of the data, and because other jurisdictions had the courage to try something new, we were able to look at those jurisdictions, and see that they have reduced rates of cannabis use among their youth. They had reduced violent crime related to organized criminals and street gangs, and they had ensured that money was longer going into the pockets of organized criminals. They managed to do those things because they were brave enough to try something new. Because they tried something new, we are able to look at those jurisdictions and say, “What could possibly work in a Canadian context?”

Third, we have been working with our provincial and territorial counterparts to make sure there is a robust dialogue with them. Now, more than ever, we are also having a dialogue and working with our municipal counterparts to make sure that this is, at all levels of government, something we will succeed in doing, because we are working at it together.

The hope is that we would reduce the rate of consumption and use of cannabis by our youth. For those who do use cannabis regularly, they would get a regulated product that is safer for them to consume, and we would be ensuring we take money out of the hands of organized crime.

Fourth, we would ensure we provide funding where it is necessary, with over $40 million for an educational campaign at the federal level to ensure we are educating young Canadians on the negative effects of cannabis use. This would not be a law that looks to encourage young people to start smoking cannabis. This proposed law, that we are putting forward, is in the hope of reducing use among youth.

Part of that is a $40 million-plus educational campaign to make sure we are doing everything we can to educate young Canadians about the fact that cannabis is not something they should be using, and that there are health effects which could be particularly negative for youth as their brains are still developing. Therefore, we are putting our money where our mouth is, because we know it is a necessary step in putting this proposed law forward.

We would also put forward over $80 million to provide support to law enforcement agencies across the country to give them the tools to better understand how to detect those driving under the influence of cannabis, which is incredibly important. Whether or not we want to admit it in this House, there are already people who are driving under the influence of cannabis, and yet very little has been done, particularly by the previous government, which did very little but turn a blind eye and leave it up to law enforcement to try and figure it out on its own.

The previous government knew full well that the problem already existed, and that those law enforcement agencies could have used additional funding to better train law enforcement officials, and to put in place better systems to find out who was driving under the influence and take appropriate action. Therefore, this money would also go toward providing the tools necessary to test individuals for driving under the influence.

I did not come to this House to do easy work, and I know I speak for many of us who were elected in the election of October 2015. I came here to solve problems, particularly ones that have been plaguing Canada and Canadians for far too long. I say with all sincerity, and I know I share this with young fathers and mothers in this House, and those who have older children, that we need to make decisions now that are going to positively affect our youth later on. We should not leave it up to the next government, regardless of how difficult those decisions are. Instead, we need to make those tough decisions now.

My hope is that when my three-year-old son, Anderson, and my one-year-old daughter, Ellie, are at the age when they are going to high school, that they have a harder time accessing cannabis, that they have an educational system and a campaign in place at all levels of government that does not turn a blind eye to the fact that it is easier to get marijuana on a high school campus than it is to get cigarettes, and that we are actually taking action.

This is the kind of legacy I want to leave for my kids, and that is the kind of legacy that I want to leave for future generations of young Canadians. With that, I encourage all members of this House, regardless of which aisle they sit on, to vote in favour of Bill C-45. Let us take the next necessary steps in protecting our young people.

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November 22nd, 2017 / 5:25 p.m.
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Conservative

Jim Eglinski Conservative Yellowhead, AB

Mr. Speaker, the member spoke about giving law enforcement the tools with which to work. He also spoke about impaired driving. I would like to give the member a little statistical data.

The Minister of Justice spoke earlier about using scientific data. I wonder if anyone from the Liberal Party decided to phone the state police in Colorado or Washington, because Washington has 33,000 cases of drug driving evidence that it is trying to analyze. They cannot analyze it. It costs $175 per analysis, which is $6 million U.S. The U.S. sheriffs are telling their deputies not to lay charges, because they cannot afford it.

Did the Liberals talk to any law enforcement agencies in some of the states that have legalized marijuana?

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November 22nd, 2017 / 5:25 p.m.
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Liberal

Peter Schiefke Liberal Vaudreuil—Soulanges, QC

Mr. Speaker, did my hon. colleague speak to any law enforcement officials here in Canada?

Had he done that, he would have seen that this is not a new problem that would be created by Bill C-45. Right now, there are Canadians who are driving under the influence of cannabis, and nothing was done by the previous government to address that issue.

Here we are. Bill C-45 is on the table. Now it has suddenly become an issue for Conservatives. They suddenly see it as a problem for Canadians. The former Conservative government could have looked at it and said that driving under the influence of cannabis is an issue in this country, and that it was going to work with our law enforcement officials, listen to them, and give them the funding necessary to empower them to do their jobs.

Conservatives have finally woken up and realized that this is an issue. Now, after we have announced over $80 million to provide law enforcement officials with the support they have been asking for for a long time, the previous government has decided to wake up.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 22nd, 2017 / 5:25 p.m.
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NDP

Linda Duncan NDP Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, as my colleague previously said, we will be supporting this bill.

However, we are concerned about a number of matters that are not being addressed. One of the matters that really troubles me, that I have become aware of, is that the government is refusing to call the opioid tragedy a national emergency. It is now saying that it wants to take measures to try to address opioids, and perhaps limit doctors' prescribing.

The government has decided that Canadians cannot get drug coverage for marijuana, a less harmful medicine than opioids. Can the member please explain why on Earth there has been all of this work, to legalize the use of marijuana, including medicinal, to encourage the marijuana industry to establish, and yet the government is not allowing people, for example, those who are suffering from nausea due to cancer, to choose to have marijuana prescribed as they would for an opioid, and have it covered through a drug program?

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 22nd, 2017 / 5:25 p.m.
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Liberal

Peter Schiefke Liberal Vaudreuil—Soulanges, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am very thankful that my hon. colleague and her party will be supporting Bill C-45 as a measure that will help protect our young people and ensure that they have less access to cannabis.

We are taking action on all fronts. We are looking at the opioid crisis, taking concrete action and have been doing so since we took office. I will say that that is actually something that has been supported by all sides of this House, because I think we all realize it is an urgent crisis that needs to be addressed. We are addressing it on multiple levels.

Specifically in relation in the question about cannabis, this is something we promised Canadians we would do, something that we realized needed to be addressed for a very long time. We had a failed system in place. We are no longer going to turn a blind eye to it. We are no longer going to look Canadians straight in the face and say that we are spending hundreds of millions of dollars on a system that is working, because it is not working.

The statistics I mentioned, and that the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada mentioned in her speech, show one in five youth, and one in three aged 20 to 24, are smoking are marijuana. That has been ongoing for a while. We are taking action. It is something we promised Canadians we would do. That is exactly what we are doing.

Bill C-45—Time Allocation MotionCannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 21st, 2017 / 10 a.m.
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Waterloo Ontario

Liberal

Bardish Chagger LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister of Small Business and Tourism

moved:

That in relation to Bill C-45, An Act respecting cannabis and to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, the Criminal Code and other Acts, not more than one further sitting day shall be allotted to the consideration of the report stage and two sitting days shall be allotted to the consideration at third reading stage of the said bill; and

That 15 minutes before the expiry of the time provided for Government Orders on the day allotted to the consideration of the report stage and on the second day allotted to the consideration at third reading stage of the said bill, any proceedings before the House shall be interrupted, if required for the purpose of this Order, and in turn every question necessary for the disposal of the stage of the bill then under consideration shall be put forthwith and successively without further debate or amendment.

Bill C-45—Time Allocation MotionCannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 21st, 2017 / 10:05 a.m.
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Conservative

Candice Bergen Conservative Portage—Lisgar, MB

Mr. Speaker, we have before us a bill that would make Canada probably one of the countries in the world with the most relaxed laws around marijuana. Marijuana is a substance that evidence shows affects young people right up to the age of 25. It is a substance that impairs people's ability to drive and their ability to work. It is a substance that our U.S. neighbour to the south has big problems with when it comes to people crossing the border. Marijuana will be legal in Canada yet it has so many problems attached to it. The provinces are concerned about it. Police are concerned about it. Parents are concerned about it.

What is the government doing? It is shutting down debate and ramming this legislation through because it has an arbitrary timeline. We are not sure what the government's motivation is but it is clear that its motivation is not the safety and security, the health and well-being of our children, our communities, people on the road, people driving vehicles or operating machinery. The Liberals do not seem to care about that. They only seem to care about ramming this legislation through. This is worse than appalling. This is the worst example of the Liberals' disrespect of Parliament and disrespect for Canadians, municipalities, and provinces.

I cannot believe we are seeing this happen again on this legislation.

Bill C-45—Time Allocation MotionCannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 21st, 2017 / 10:05 a.m.
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Vancouver Granville B.C.

Liberal

Jody Wilson-Raybould LiberalMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, the purpose of Bill C-45 is in terms of respecting the health and safety of Canadians. We have had substantive discussions around this particular legislation from pre-election, through two years that we have been in government, through a substantive task force focused on health and safety that engaged with Canadians right across the country. This legislation received 30,000 submissions in terms of what we have committed to doing, which is legalizing cannabis and strictly regulating access to cannabis in order to keep it out of the hands of children and the proceeds of its sale out of the hands of criminals.

The current status quo is simply not working. It is easier for a young person to get cannabis than it is, for example, for that young person to get a cigarette.

We are doing something substantive. We are addressing this matter in terms of health and safety. We are putting in place a comprehensive framework while working in partnership with the provinces, territories, and municipalities. This framework will protect children and will do as much as possible to keep marijuana out of the hands of organized crime.

Bill C-45—Time Allocation MotionCannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 21st, 2017 / 10:05 a.m.
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NDP

Don Davies NDP Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Madam Speaker, it is the position of the New Democratic Party and has for decades been our position that we need dramatic reform to Canada's criminalized approach to cannabis. We are in favour of legalizing cannabis. We are in favour of this legislation but we also want to do it right. We cannot change 100 years of criminal, social, and cultural attitude toward a substance like cannabis without taking great care.

The McLellan report was very clear that the federal government had to work with all levels of government, provincial, municipal, and indigenous in order to have a successful rollout.

This legislation, while better than the status quo, has significant gaps. We heard this at committee. It has serious holes. It does not deal with pardons.

Indigenous representatives testified at committee. Chief Isadore Day told us there has not been any negotiation or discussion with indigenous people whatsoever prior to this and they are going to have to apply the bill on indigenous reserves and bands.

The hon. justice minister just said that the government is concerned about getting marijuana out of the hands of organized crime and protecting children, yet the bill would not legalize edibles. The bill would have kept it illegal, period, but for pushing by New Democrats. It will be legal within one year of the bill becoming law. The government is content to leave edibles and concentrates in the hands of organized crime marketing to children. This is their big gap.

Finally, the bill perpetuates the criminalized prohibitionist approach to cannabis.

In 2015, when the government promised Canadians it would legalize cannabis, why did it not tell them that after the bill became law there would be more cannabis offences in the Criminal Code after legalization than before?

Why will the government not work with provinces and municipalities that are asking for it to slow this process down instead of putting its own political interests ahead of providing good sound legislation in this country that really would protect children?

Bill C-45—Time Allocation MotionCannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 21st, 2017 / 10:10 a.m.
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Liberal

Jody Wilson-Raybould Liberal Vancouver Granville, BC

Madam Speaker, we are committed to the passage of Bill C-45 in order to legalize cannabis in the country, to strictly regulate and restrict access to cannabis in order to, as my friend articulated, keep it out of the hands of children and keep the proceeds out of the hands of criminal organizations. We are committed to doing it right, and we are working and will continue to work with all levels of government. We started that engagement and discussion and received substantive feedback through the efforts of the task force that was constituted by our government. We received 30,000 submissions, including from provinces and territories, municipalities, and law enforcement agencies. We are continuing to engage with them through my parliamentary secretary and the Minister of Health.

This is something we are committed to doing. We are injecting substantive monies into the provinces and territories, and into a substantive public education and communications campaign. We have engaged, and will continue to engage, in a substantive way with indigenous communities to recognize their specific interests and desires with respect to their communities. My colleagues and I are committed to engaging in that conversation on an ongoing basis in the lead-up to the legalization of cannabis and strict regulation.

Bill C-45—Time Allocation MotionCannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 21st, 2017 / 10:10 a.m.
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Conservative

Cathy McLeod Conservative Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

Madam Speaker, I would like to point out that the opposition has been remarkably co-operative with a whole number of bills, where we put up one or two speakers and we get our viewpoints on the record. Every now and then, a piece of legislation comes along that anyone who wants to speak to it deserves to have an opportunity to speak to it. I would suggest that such a profound change to our laws around the use of marijuana, which is getting rushed through, deserves that kind of scrutiny and debate. Therefore, I would like to ask the minister to stand up and tell Canadians why she is going to deny the opportunity to many members of Parliament who wish the opportunity to represent their constituents and to speak to this issue. I do not want to talk about the legislation. I want to talk about her denying the ability of parliamentarians to speak on such an important issue.

Bill C-45—Time Allocation MotionCannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 21st, 2017 / 10:10 a.m.
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Liberal

Jody Wilson-Raybould Liberal Vancouver Granville, BC

Madam Speaker, I consider it vitally important to hear from all members of the House in terms of discussions and debate with respect to proposed legislation. We have had substantive debate on various pieces of legislation throughout the course of the last two years. Particularly with respect to Bill C-45, we have had eight committee meetings. We have heard from nearly 100 witnesses at committee. We have received 115 briefs. In this honourable place, we have heard from 86 speakers. We have had 31 hours of debate. This is an incredibly important piece of legislation that we are wanting to move forward in order to legalize cannabis, to strictly regulate and restrict access to cannabis in order to keep it out of the hands of kids and the proceeds out of the hands of criminals.

The status quo simply is not working. We have had two years of substantive discussion right across the country. I was very pleased to hear from the 86 members of Parliament in this place who have submitted their concerns, as well as the views from committee that made some amendments to the bill. Discussion will be ongoing in the other place.

Bill C-45—Time Allocation MotionCannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 21st, 2017 / 10:15 a.m.
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NDP

Pierre Nantel NDP Longueuil—Saint-Hubert, QC

Madam Speaker, it is astounding to see how the Liberal Party's political talking points have tainted a person of good faith like this minister, who used to be the chief of the BC Assembly of First Nations. Those folks are saying that this is not working and that we are going too fast. All the provinces are saying that.

In Quebec, legislators are being forced to make hasty decisions on extremely important matters that require a legal framework. Police forces are not ready. It is shameful. I do not understand how the minister can stand up here and tell us that the Liberals are not playing politics simply to fulfill that promise and pat themselves on the back.

How can she defend such a disavowal of her own vision for first nations and all the provinces?

Bill C-45—Time Allocation MotionCannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 21st, 2017 / 10:15 a.m.
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Liberal

Jody Wilson-Raybould Liberal Vancouver Granville, BC

Madam Speaker, I appreciate the comments from my colleague across the way. I am not disavowing any vision with respect to indigenous peoples. Bill C-45 would, and is committed to, legalize, strictly regulate, and restrict access to cannabis to keep it out of the hands of children and the proceeds out of the hands of criminals. That has been the agenda of this government for two years. We have engaged in substantive discussions right across the country, including within this place. We value the feedback we have received from members of Parliament. We look forward to the discussion that will happen in the other place.

With respect to indigenous communities, we will continue, on an ongoing basis, to engage with indigenous communities. We have and will continue to engage with provinces and territories, as well as law enforcement, to ensure they have the tools necessary to meet legalization in July of 2018. We have invested a significant number of dollars to assist the provinces and territories and to assist in an education and public awareness campaign about the harms of cannabis. We will continue to proceed in this manner to ensure that in legalization, we have and bear the utmost priority of the health and safety of Canadians. That is our commitment to Canadians.

Bill C-45—Time Allocation MotionCannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 21st, 2017 / 10:15 a.m.
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Conservative

Marilyn Gladu Conservative Sarnia—Lambton, ON

Madam Speaker, it is absolutely outrageous that this debate is being shut down. From the beginning, the government has been rushing ahead to this arbitrary date, which is 223 days away. The Liberals always talk about how they are consulting, but unfortunately they are never listening.

Quebec has recognized that home grow does not keep cannabis out of the hands of children. New Brunswick thinks the same, so it has introduced measures to lock it up. Everyone at committee told us that we needed public awareness and education in place before legalization. The government has had two years and has done nothing. It has not even started to roll out the public education and awareness program. Speakers are lined up to speak to the bill, and the government is shutting down Parliament's ability to take a look at the legislation and point out the things that are wrong.

It is not just the indigenous peoples who have not been consulted. Municipalities are saying that they have not been consulted. The Real Estate Association still has concerns. There is no plan to address the three treaties we will break as a result of this.

Also, on a point of order, we have props in the House. While I love the United Church, and I am all about the poor, we cannot have props in the House today.

Bill C-45—Time Allocation MotionCannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 21st, 2017 / 10:15 a.m.
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Liberal

Jody Wilson-Raybould Liberal Vancouver Granville, BC

Madam Speaker, I want to confirm that we are listening. We have been listening for two years, and we will continue to listen. We will continue to engage with the provinces and territories, six of which have introduced their own measures with respect to responding to Bill C-45. We will continue to support them in that regard, as well as the other jurisdictions that will likely move forward in some manner.

On public education and communications, we have implemented substantive measures in this regard, including investments. Very recently we announced $36.4 million for public education and awareness, and that campaign has begun. For example, we have engaged in many initiatives via social media. We have issued 110,000 leaflets for a drug-free Canada. There are ongoing efforts by my colleagues, the Minister of Health and the Minister of Public Safety, to ensure we continue to communicate the risks related to cannabis, particularly with respect to young people.

We will continue to have this campaign. We will continue to work in collaboration on this campaign to ensure the provinces, territories, municipalities, and law enforcement are prepared for the legalization, strict regulation, and restriction of access to cannabis.

Bill C-45—Time Allocation MotionCannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 21st, 2017 / 10:20 a.m.
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NDP

Alexandre Boulerice NDP Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Madam Speaker, what contempt for indigenous peoples, civil society, and the individual communities across Canada. What contempt for the provinces.

The government says it is listening, but it is as deaf as a post. It is incapable of listening. Maybe that is why I am raising my voice, so that it might reach their ears at some point.

While the Government of Quebec is asking for more time, the Liberals have the nerve to impose time allocation to speed up the passage of Bill C-45. It makes no sense. The government wanted to usher in a new era of collaboration with the provinces and establish new federal-provincial relationships. Well, that ended just as quickly as it began, thank you very much. The government could not care less about raising awareness or training police officers. It could not care less about health and social services or the cost to the provinces. There is just a need for speed.

What is the rush? My Conservative colleague was right. July 1, 2018 is an absolutely arbitrary date and it makes no sense. The only logical reason for rushing through this is to cater to cannabis producers who have received authorizations and permits, many of whom are former Liberal ministers and organizers.

Are they not the reason why we are voting on this time allocation motion today?

Bill C-45—Time Allocation MotionCannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 21st, 2017 / 10:20 a.m.
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Liberal

Jody Wilson-Raybould Liberal Vancouver Granville, BC

Madam Speaker, I completely reject that characterization. I appreciate the passion and the emotion in the way the member is expressing his views. Therefore, I will reiterate what I have stated in response to his comments to assure him we are listening.

We have been listening for two years. We engaged a task force that put together a report and recommendations and benefited from discussions across the country. We have been and will continue to listen to indigenous communities.

We are taking great care around awareness, while ensuring law enforcement officials have the tools they need to conduct their jobs. We are also ensuring that we are taking into account the costs. We are having these discussions and consulting with the provinces, territories, and the Canadian public to determine the cost and taxation. We will continue to work with the provinces, territories, and municipalities. We have had conversations with the province of Quebec, and we will continue to do that.

Once again, we are listening. This is important legislation. It seeks to address an issue of the status quo, which simply is not working. It is so incredibly easy for young people to get cannabis, easier than it is to get a cigarette.

We will legalize and have a comprehensive framework in place. Our government is committed to doing that.

Bill C-45—Time Allocation MotionCannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 21st, 2017 / 10:20 a.m.
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Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Madam Speaker, I have listened to the minister. One thing that is being lost on the other side is that we, in opposition, made a commitment to Canadians that if we were to form the government, this is exactly what we would do.

It should be no surprise to members opposite that we have legislation dealing with this very serious social issue. The Harper government chose to do nothing. The legislation would take literally hundreds of millions of dollars out of the hands of criminals. It would work much better toward assisting our young people today. We have more young people engaged in smoking and consuming cannabis than any other country in the western world.

For the very first time, the legislation will take direct action. Could my colleague, the minister, comment on the importance of maintaining this election platform commitment?

Bill C-45—Time Allocation MotionCannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 21st, 2017 / 10:20 a.m.
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Liberal

Jody Wilson-Raybould Liberal Vancouver Granville, BC

Madam Speaker, my thanks to my colleague for his reiteration of our commitment in the campaign in the lead-up to the election, a campaign commitment we are moving forward with in a substantive and comprehensive way, while taking a health and safety approach, to ensure we address the dysfunction of the status quo and the ability for young people access to cannabis. Canada has the highest rate of usage of cannabis by young people as compared to other places in the world.

We made a commitment to the legalization, strict regulation of cannabis, and the restriction of access to cannabis to keep it out of the hands of children and the proceeds out of the hands of criminals.

We have undertaken to achieve this commitment with vigour. We have introduced Bill C-45. It has benefited from the substantive expertise of the task force on cannabis. Most of their recommendations were incorporated into the legislation. We have also benefited from recommendations and amendments that were made at committee.

I look forward to the continued debate and discussion over the course of today and to the passage of the legislation. I also look forward to the discussion that will happen in the other place.

Bill C-45—Time Allocation MotionCannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 21st, 2017 / 10:25 a.m.
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Conservative

Kerry Diotte Conservative Edmonton Griesbach, AB

Madam Speaker, we keep hearing the justice minister say that this is all about keeping pot out of the hands of children. What kind of Orwellian doublespeak is that? Clearly, when they are 12 years old, they will be able to possess five grams of pot. How do mothers or fathers go to their children and tell them that pot is not good for them, when the government says that it is okay for 12 year olds to have five grams of pot? How is that keeping pot out of the hands of children?

Bill C-45—Time Allocation MotionCannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 21st, 2017 / 10:25 a.m.
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Liberal

Jody Wilson-Raybould Liberal Vancouver Granville, BC

Madam Speaker, I know the member opposite has asked this question in previous forums.

Nothing in Bill C-45 makes it legal for a young person to possess cannabis. In having the five grams in Bill C-45, we have sought to ensure that we find a balance between the over-criminalization of young people and to ensure we do everything we can to protect the health and safety of, and restriction of access for, young people.

In the legislation, the provinces and territories have the ability, much like they do with respect to tobacco and alcohol, to put in place measures to ensure that cannabis can be seized from a young person by law enforcement officers, much the same way they do with respect to alcohol and cigarettes.

Bill C-45—Time Allocation MotionCannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 21st, 2017 / 10:25 a.m.
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NDP

Anne Minh-Thu Quach NDP Salaberry—Suroît, QC

Madam Speaker, this is the 25th time that time allocation has been invoked to limit debate on a bill, even though the Liberals have only passed 19 bills so far. This is senseless and demoralizing.

The Liberals talk a good game about transparency and listening. They claim they are still at the listening stage and are open to amendments. However, of the 38 amendments proposed by the NDP, how many were accepted? Zero. The Liberals rejected every single amendment in committee, even though the goal was to improve the bill so it would truly protect youth.

The minister says we are protecting youth. In reality, however, only a paltry $36 million over five years has been set aside for education. Colorado invests $40 million a year in education and prevention, but Canada is only prepared to put $7 million a year towards its so-called historic marijuana legalization bill. That is totally inadequate. This is supposed to be an investment in protecting our youth.

The deadline is less than nine months away, but no front-line youth outreach organization has been contacted. There is no outreach going on with youth at home or in school or with street workers. There is a problem with communication and prevention.

What can the minister offer us in the way of assurances? Nothing is giving me much comfort this morning.

Bill C-45—Time Allocation MotionCannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 21st, 2017 / 10:25 a.m.
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Liberal

Jody Wilson-Raybould Liberal Vancouver Granville, BC

Madam Speaker, my colleague across the way has always been an advocate for ensuring we have public education and awareness campaigns. I appreciate her raising this in the House, time and again. Our government is fundamentally committed to it, ensuring we do it in a substantive way.

I know my colleague, the Minister of Health, as well as my parliamentary secretary, are going to continue to engage, as am I, as is the Minister of Public Safety. We have made substantive investments with respect to public education and awareness. We have been engaging in social media to raise awareness about the harms and risks with respect to cannabis use. We have been talking about this and distributing leaflets on a drug-free Canada.

We will continue to do this. We will continue to engage with Canadians about how best we can move this forward to ensure that awareness is made in all areas and within all the places and populations that it is necessary to make substantive efforts.

Bill C-45—Time Allocation MotionCannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 21st, 2017 / 10:30 a.m.
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Conservative

Peter Kent Conservative Thornhill, ON

Madam Speaker, the minister speaks of exhaustive consultations, but she does not acknowledge the appeals for delay from all levels of society.

Here we have time allocation, the legislative guillotine, cutting off debate on perhaps the most important piece of legislation, where debate should be exhausted, not cut off. The Liberals have rejected appeals from the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, the provinces, the municipalities, and from all sorts of groups across society. We are now seeing checkerboard regulations being brought in, province to province, in some cases contradictory regulations, which will complicate both the application and enforcement of the law, as well as the public's right to know what happens on this side of the Gatineau River or on the other side.

It is particularly offensive, as this week we have the representatives from towns and cities, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, in Ottawa to talk to government, to talk to their parliamentary representatives. How can the Liberals and the minister look those representatives in the eye and tell them that they are not listening to their appeals for delay?

Bill C-45—Time Allocation MotionCannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 21st, 2017 / 10:30 a.m.
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Liberal

Jody Wilson-Raybould Liberal Vancouver Granville, BC

Madam Speaker, in fact I do recognize that these individuals are in Ottawa, and we have been listening. We have been talking to municipal officials. We have been looking them in the eye and having substantial conversations about Bill C-45 and the provisions contained therein. We are committed to ensuring that we change the status quo, a status quo that simply is not working. We want to move forward with the legalization of cannabis and strictly regulate and restrict access.

In order to have a comprehensive framework in place by July of 2018, we have to work with provinces, territories, law enforcement, and municipalities. We are committed to continuing to do that and look forward to the discussion that will happen today in ongoing debate, which has been substantive in this place.

Bill C-45—Time Allocation MotionCannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 21st, 2017 / 10:30 a.m.
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NDP

Peter Julian NDP New Westminster—Burnaby, BC

Madam Speaker, the fact is this has become a government that is engaged in serial closure. This is the 25th time in this Parliament that the government has sought to ram through legislation without having proper debate, and it is particularly egregious.

Yesterday, on Bill C-59, an immensely controversial piece of legislation, the government imposed a procedural trick to shut down debate after only a few hours. Today, we are dealing with deeply flawed legislation with holes in it that need to be fixed, and the government is saying that it is going to shut down debate in the House of Commons and ram things through. The number of witnesses the minister cites does not matter. The fact is that amendments have been rejected time and time again and now the Liberals are trying to shut down debate. Why do they not fix the bill? New Democrats are willing to work with them.

Bill C-45—Time Allocation MotionCannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 21st, 2017 / 10:30 a.m.
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Liberal

Jody Wilson-Raybould Liberal Vancouver Granville, BC

Madam Speaker, I have to reiterate the comprehensive nature of Bill C-45, the consultations, and the ongoing discussions we have had, and will continue to have, with provinces, territories, and municipalities to ensure that we can establish the comprehensive framework that will legalize cannabis, and strictly regulate and restrict access to cannabis. This is an ongoing effort.

As we have seen, six jurisdictions have instituted their own measures with respect to the regulation of cannabis. We are going to continue to work with them and the other jurisdictions to ensure, come July 2018, that we have a comprehensive framework in place that obliterates the status quo and ensures that we keep cannabis out of the hands of kids and the proceeds out of the hands of criminals.

Bill C-45—Time Allocation MotionCannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 21st, 2017 / 10:30 a.m.
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Liberal

Nathaniel Erskine-Smith Liberal Beaches—East York, ON

Madam Speaker, I have heard a lot of talk about delays from the other side, requests to delay this legislation further, and that we are rushing ahead so quickly. I would note that Colorado and Washington, in November 2012, passed resolutions at the ballot. The electorate called for legalization. In Colorado, 13 months later, businesses opened to sell cannabis. In Washington, 21 months later, businesses opened to sell cannabis. Given that it has already been more than 24 months since our election, does it seem like a rush here in Canada?

Bill C-45—Time Allocation MotionCannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 21st, 2017 / 10:35 a.m.
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Liberal

Jody Wilson-Raybould Liberal Vancouver Granville, BC

Madam Speaker, I appreciate my colleague's reiteration of the substantive investment of time that we have made. It has always been clear that this was a priority for our government. We engaged with a task force of experts, health experts and law enforcement, which provided us with substantive recommendations that we listened to. We listened to Canadians right across the country. We had the benefit of vigorous debate and discussion at the committee hearings, and amendments have been made.

We will continue to listen to Canadians, provinces, and territories, as well as municipalities, indigenous communities, and governments. This is a commitment we have made. We are committed to ensuring that we roll out robust public education and awareness campaigns around the risks of cannabis. Again, I appreciate all of the substantive efforts and engagement by many people right across the country.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 21st, 2017 / 3:10 p.m.
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Liberal

Randy Boissonnault Liberal Edmonton Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to continue my remarks on Bill C-45. As I shift into my discussion and the details of the legislation, I would like to take a moment to pay tribute to the former deputy prime minister of Canada and former member of Parliament for Edmonton Centre, the hon. Anne McLellan. Her work, and the work of her task force, has laid a foundation for a new legislative regime that will make Canada a leader in the safe regulation of recreational cannabis.

Let me share some of the details found in the legislation. Under the existing regime, which has been in place since 2014, Health Canada is responsible for licensing and overseeing cannabis producers. These producers are required to operate within the regulations to provide quality-controlled cannabis to registered patients. This rigorous licensing process ensures, for example, that entrants to this market have gone through a thorough security check and that producers have appropriate physical security infrastructure in place. Canada also has a world-class compliance and enforcement regime intended to ensure that licensed producers fully comply with the rules in place.

Over the course of the last year, a licensed producer in Canada was inspected an average of seven to eight times, for a total of approximately 274 inspections. In May, 2017, Health Canada announced it will require all licensed producers to conduct mandatory testing for the presence of unauthorized pesticides in all cannabis products destined for sale. This adds to the system of controls in place that oversee the quality of federally regulated cannabis products. This experience will have a direct impact on the health of Canadians who may choose to use this product.

Believe it or not, a large number of Canadians who get cannabis on the black market cannot rely on quality control regulations. This bill is about safety. It is working when it comes to medical cannabis, and it is going to work under this framework. The commercial industry now has more than four years of experience and serves over 200,000 active patient registrations. This licensed production under the medical regime provides a solid basis to support cannabis production under the bill.

With the world-renown regime for producing cannabis for medical purposes, the government is on solid ground to successfully move to a new approach to cannabis that would better protect Canadians.

Our government has been working and will continue to work very closely with provinces, territories, municipalities, and indigenous communities to support the implementation of this new framework. In fact, I had a meeting with councillors from my own city of Edmonton, who met with the parliamentary secretary for the minister of justice on this file. It was a very frank and open conversation about the work the Government of Canada will be doing with the province and with the City of Edmonton. This collaboration will be critical to ensuring that all the pieces are in place to support the success of the new approach. We are pleased to note the progress being achieved by our provincial and territorial partners in developing their respective approaches.

Canada is a federal system. Provinces and territories will and must have a key role to play in the success of the new system. They would be responsible for the oversight and regulation of the distribution and retail sale of cannabis, in close collaboration with municipalities.

In cases where provinces or territories do not have a fully functional retail sales system in place once the bill takes effect, adults will be able to buy cannabis directly from the authorized federal producer by ordering it online for secure home delivery by mail or courier.

Industry representatives have indicated they are getting ready to support the timely implementation of the new regime and to ensure that high standards are met in the production of regulated product. A representative for the Cannabis Canada Association, Colette Rivet, pointed out:

Licensed producers are eager to work in collaboration and compliance with the federal and provincial governments to quickly establish effective, low-risk distribution and retail models that are well regulated, highly secure, and tailored to the needs of each province.

Upon the coming into force of the bill, adult Canadians would have access to a range of quality controlled products, including dried cannabis, fresh cannabis, and cannabis oil, which could be consumed in a number of different ways. In jurisdictions that have legalized cannabis, these products constitute the largest part of cannabis products sold on the market.

Our government also recognizes the need to permit the legal sale of cannabis edible products and cannabis concentrates as part of the federal framework as soon as possible. While it would be irresponsible to further delay the implementation of the framework to legalize, strictly regulate, and restrict access to cannabis, it would be equally irresponsible to move in a rush when it comes to regulating edible cannabis products and concentrates. Experience in other jurisdictions, such as Colorado, as well as expert testimonies heard during the hearings of the committee, have underlined the unique health and safety challenges and risks associated with these products. Under this proposed timeline, the government would not have to rush to put these novel cannabis products on the market at the expense of public health and safety.

As I mentioned earlier, the existing system is a failure. It is a failure at keeping cannabis away from Canadian youth. It is a failure to Canadians who have faced criminal sanctions for something as simple as possessing a joint. It is a failure to health professionals who are prevented from having honest conversations with patients who hide their cannabis use because of its criminalization. It is a failure to Canadians who face the risk of purchasing cannabis on the black market.

The time has come for Canada to adopt a new approach. The time has come to bring cannabis use out of the black market and into a safe and regulated market that will protect Canadians and keep cannabis out of the hands of youth. I am proud of the work of the Standing Committee on Health in this matter, proud of the work of the department, and proud to stand as a member of this government in seeing that cannabis is safe and legally regulated in Canada.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 21st, 2017 / 3:15 p.m.
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Conservative

Jacques Gourde Conservative Lévis—Lotbinière, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague. I listened to what he said, and here is what I would like to know. How long has marijuana legalization been part of the Liberal Party of Canada's political agenda?

What group of people influenced the party to adopt the position we are debating in the House today?

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 21st, 2017 / 3:15 p.m.
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Liberal

Randy Boissonnault Liberal Edmonton Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for his question.

Obviously, we live in a democracy that has political parties. Our government takes the health and well-being of Canadians very seriously. This is something we in the Liberal Party have been talking about for years. Members of our party who are very well informed about this issue have made it clear that the current system has resulted in Canadian youth having one of the highest cannabis consumption levels in the world.

It is clear that our predecessors' approach is not working. It is time to introduce a new system. That is exactly what our government set out to do, and that is what we will do to protect Canadians.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 21st, 2017 / 3:15 p.m.
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NDP

Linda Duncan NDP Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, I note the member sits on the committee with my colleague, our health critic, and so he is well aware of the fact that our party has tried to get the Liberal government to address the issue of pardons and that a bill has been drafted that would not allow for expedited pardons for the tens of thousands of youth who are going to have a criminal record despite the fact this is going to be legalized.

The hon. member said that he had frank discussions with officials in Edmonton and Alberta. I am wondering if he is aware of the letter that went from the president of the treasury board in Alberta to the federal Minister of Finance remonstrating that the provinces are only going to be given 50% of the revenue of the tax on cannabis despite the fact that they have to cover enforcement, road safety, justice, health and education, as do the municipalities? Is he going to support Alberta's needs, or is he going to stand with his own government?

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 21st, 2017 / 3:15 p.m.
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Liberal

Randy Boissonnault Liberal Edmonton Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is clear we have work to do with the provinces and cities to make sure we get this right. It has been clear in our conversations with the provinces and cities that we want to do this in a timely manner to protect the lives of Canadians. Our job as a federal government is to protect the health and safety of Canadians. This is not a jurisdictional issue, this is an issue of safety. This is an issue of taking cannabis out of the hands of criminal gangs. This is taking money out of criminal gangs and making sure it is being used for providing health and safety for Canadians, getting Canadians who are addicted to substances off those substances, and making sure there is a shared revenue arrangement between provinces and territories so we can manage all that will come from helping Canadians to be safer.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 21st, 2017 / 3:15 p.m.
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Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, my colleague made a number of excellent points. One of the things I would like to emphasize and get my colleague to further comment on is the sense of commitment from this government to address a very important social issue that was brought in as an election platform issue, which I would suggest ultimately shows how important it is that we move forward on it.

What does my colleague have to say in terms of the benefits of moving forward? It has now been two years, it was an election platform, and this is something that is going to deal with things like crime on the streets and discouraging young people from getting and using cannabis, given that we already have the highest consumption in terms of the western world among our youth. Can the member add his thoughts on that?

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 21st, 2017 / 3:20 p.m.
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Liberal

Randy Boissonnault Liberal Edmonton Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, I have heard Edmontonians on the doorsteps ask me to get this done, because they see that the current legislative framework against cannabis makes it a gateway drug into the use of harder substances. They simply do not want to have a criminal record for having access to cannabis. We have done broad consultations within our own party, and the Standing Committee on Health and the Standing Committee on Justice have heard testimony on this fact.

In working with the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada on this, it is clear that we are looking at the same kind of transformation in our era that happened with anti-gambling units in every city in every province in this country in the seventies and eighties. When the government stepped into an area that was formerly governed by criminal gangs, the gangs disappeared, and that is exactly what we are looking to do when it comes to legal cannabis.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 21st, 2017 / 3:20 p.m.
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Conservative

Kevin Sorenson Conservative Battle River—Crowfoot, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to stand in this House today to speak in opposition to Bill C-45, the Liberal government's bill to legalize marijuana. I say I am pleased to speak to it because this is perhaps one of the most controversial bills that the current government has brought forward; very seldom have we seen new drugs being legalized in this country. I am pleased to speak to it because my constituents have spoken to me about it, but also because there are very few members in this House who will have an opportunity any longer to speak to this, because earlier today the government moved time allocation. The Liberals moved closure so they could rush this legislation through. Many different groups are telling them to slow down, and they went in the opposite direction and decided to rush it. That is what the government is trying to do. It is trying to bring forward full legalization of marijuana.

With full legalization, the Liberals know the fears. They know the concerns around rushing. They know the adverse effects it would have on children, and they know that others who are most susceptible to the dangers of marijuana would now have greater access to it. This bill is not about decriminalization. The Liberal government is not proceeding slowly on the legalization of marijuana. It is not proceeding carefully on this file. The government has been warned by many groups that it is moving too fast and it should not.

We are debating the release of a narcotic on the people of Canada. This past week, we have seen that the provincial government in Quebec unveiled legislation that would severely curtail what the Liberals in Ottawa have planned for the entire country of Canada. On the other hand, we have seen the NDP provincial government in Alberta unveil the most liberalized of all provincial pot legislation that provinces have brought on; the NDP in Alberta has gone even further. Again I will repeat that by far the majority of constituents who have emailed, phoned, and stopped into my office to talk to me from Battle River—Crowfoot are opposed to the full legalization of marijuana.

That being said, many of my constituents are not opposed to the decriminalization of marijuana. That is, many of them believe that some young individuals who have been caught with a joint or with one marijuana cigarette should perhaps not be given a criminal record for life. However, that does not mean that we have to put the entire population of our country at risk by giving the go-ahead to our Canadian society, and that is what the Liberal plan is.

Everyone knows that marijuana can be a powerful intoxicant. It impairs judgment. It impairs a person who drives a vehicle or operates a tractor or any other type of equipment. We know, according to Perrin Beatty and the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, that it would have an adverse effect on productivity in the workplace; it would be diminished, not enhanced. Innocent people would be hurt, and some would be killed. This is the record of the states and areas that have legalized marijuana.

The Canadian Medical Association says that our youngest Canadians are going to be placed at risk because their mental capacity and their brains are still developing until after the age of 25. After the legislation, moving forward, there would be marijuana available to the youngest children in homes across Canada. Parents, perhaps even grandparents, could buy marijuana and have it at home. Again, it would become more accessible for young children. Members can bet their boots that young Timmy and Jane are going to do everything they can to get hold of “one of those marijuanas” and try it. They will be determined, just as children are. We have seen it with alcohol and with tobacco. They will try it.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 21st, 2017 / 3:20 p.m.
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Conservative

Kevin Sorenson Conservative Battle River—Crowfoot, AB

One member across the aisle is chuckling and saying they are trying it right now. This legislation would even allow them the opportunity to have it legally in their home, and we know many more will try it. Maybe he will laugh at that as well.

They do it now, they will do it then, and they will do it even more; the member is right. They may get hurt if they manage to get greater access to it. I really believe that the Liberals have not thought out the long-term consequences of what they are doing. Many constituents have written me with concerns about these very types of scenarios.

The Liberals speaking in this debate continue to say our current marijuana laws are not working. Indeed, that is what the member just hollered across the hallway: “They are trying it now”. My constituents say that, if they are doing it now, Bill C-45 is not an answer to anything. How can police determine what marijuana has been purchased legally and what marijuana has been obtained from criminal organizations, the dealers? They cannot. The Liberals are not helping our police with that question and many more.

Our border guards will also face a major dilemma. We have already heard about the lineups at border crossings. We have also heard that patrol dogs at Canada's border crossings can detect marijuana. Many vehicles will be held up in long lines for many hours as our border agents try to find out what the particular vehicle has in it that the dog is reacting to. Sometimes the agents will be satisfied that the vehicle merely had an occupant who had smoked marijuana a day or two before. The agents will find out that the driver of the vehicle may not be intoxicated and there are no drugs or marijuana in the vehicle now, but they may find that out after an hour of searching. It has taken a long time for the border agents to do their job.

It will not be the Canadians' fault. They are trying to comply. It will not be the border agents' fault. It will not be the dogs' fault. It will be the Liberals' fault. It will be the Liberals who have to deal with the long lineups, and already we have lineups. The delays will be longer and longer. Trade between Canada and the United States, our largest customer, will be at risk and will slow down. The border will become thicker.

Knowing the health risks, are we not trying to discourage Canadians from smoking tobacco? The answer is yes. We see health agencies and government agencies continuously trying to do it, so why now would the Liberals try to allow Canadians to smoke marijuana? We know baked goods are not included in the bill. Goods baked with marijuana, such as cookies, brownies, and candies, all pose a major concern to Canadians, but they will not be allowed. There will be people who decide to bake with marijuana, if they have access to it, and people may consume it without even being aware.

The Canadian Medical Association has said that cannabis has a significant impact on mental development. The Canadian Paediatric Society considers that young people using marijuana up to age 25 are jeopardizing their mental health, yet the government rushes through.

Bill C-45 proposes to regulate and legalize the production, possession, and distribution of marijuana across Canada. The Liberals want to impose it by July 1, 2018. Canada Day will be the celebratory day for the Liberal Party, as then it would be legal. Stakeholders across this country are saying, “Please do not rush this legislation”. The Liberals will not allow another six months or any extra time. That is their deadline. They have moved closure today.

Clauses 8 and 9 of the legislation state that an individual can possess or distribute four cannabis plants that are not budding or flowering. Children in the household would have access to marijuana.

Bill C-45 states the quantity of marijuana that children may legally possess. Paragraph 8(1)(c) says that children under the age of 18 are prohibited from possessing the equivalent of five grams of marijuana or more. A child under the age of 18 can use or distribute marijuana as long as he or she has less than five grams.

I have already heard from families with children who have been using marijuana and now have developed schizophrenia. They are concerned about this. They believe it triggers something that causes the disease.

I see that my time is up. Again, I would caution the government. It is moving too fast and does not know the ramifications. It has not studied where it has taken effect in the States, and there are problems.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 21st, 2017 / 3:30 p.m.
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Liberal

Chris Bittle Liberal St. Catharines, ON

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member talked about cannabis as an intoxicant, and he is correct. He said it impairs, and he is right about that. He said it has potentially adverse impacts. He is right about that. He also said that innocent people will be killed, and that is his rationale for wanting to continue with prohibition. Under that criterion, the same would hold true for alcohol, which the World Health Organization says is responsible for 6% of all deaths worldwide.

The hon. member can go to his local liquor store and legally purchase enough alcohol to kill himself or a family member or a kid who can get into the liquor cabinet. Why is there one set of rules for alcohol and another set of rules for cannabis, when cannabis is not a more dangerous drug than alcohol?

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 21st, 2017 / 3:30 p.m.
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Conservative

Kevin Sorenson Conservative Battle River—Crowfoot, AB

Mr. Speaker, I respectfully disagree with the member that cannabis is no different than alcohol. That would assume that second-hand smoke is no problem at all. If someone is having a drink at home, an innocent child, a bystander who is just sitting around, is not inhaling or taking in any alcohol fumes.

Let me defer to the “Washington State Marijuana Impact Report”. This report lays out very clearly the dangers of marijuana use. They saw a spike in deaths on highways because of it.

Our police associations and chief of police associations in Canada are opposing this bill. The government is moving too quickly. The Liberals have heard the voices of those security administrators, police officers, and others, but it seems they have turned a deaf ear to them.

We know that deaths on highways will increase. We know that we do not have a proper way of telling the level of intoxication of a person smoking a joint of marijuana, unlike what we have with alcohol. At best, what the government is saying is that a police officer will have the ability to assess whether someone is high on marijuana. I wonder how that will hold up in court. How will that judgment call hold up in court?

The Liberals are chuckling away, as if it does not really matter.

These are the questions we need answered. Again, the Liberals are moving closure. They say they will push the bill through regardless. That is a shame. We talk about mental brain development in youth, safety on the highways, and safety in the workplace.

We are going into a free trade agreement now where the big problem Canada has is productivity and competitiveness with other countries, yet we are bringing in something that will lower our productivity and put us in an unfair place to attract business.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 21st, 2017 / 3:35 p.m.
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Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I hear Conservative after Conservative try to give the impression that the legislation is going to pass, and all these Canadians will be smoking cannabis. I have news for the Conservative Party: they are actually smoking cannabis today. We have the highest participation of youth smoking marijuana in the western world. This legislation is a step forward.

The Conservative members say that this government is moving too quickly. If it was 20 years from now, they would still be saying that we are moving too quickly. We have seen that demonstrated in speech after speech by members of the former government, which decided to take no action on this important social issue.

Why does the Conservative Party not recognize the reality of the situation we have and see the benefits of fighting criminals by taking away the hundreds of millions of dollars the criminals get every year from the illegal sale of cannabis? Why do the Conservatives not want to deal with the issue of our youth consuming cannabis today?

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 21st, 2017 / 3:35 p.m.
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Conservative

Kevin Sorenson Conservative Battle River—Crowfoot, AB

Mr. Speaker, we are very concerned about youth using cannabis today. Again, the Liberal answer is that there are people using this evil already. This is changing the definition of what is wrong or what is evil. They are saying to let them make it right, then all these problems will go away.

The member asked whether the Conservatives in 20 years will say we should legalize it. We will not if the proof is that it is not safe for our youth. We will not legalize it if we do not have a way on the highway of determining whether someone is intoxicated, because we believe quite firmly in the protection of society as our guiding principle. If someone on the highway is not protected, because someone else is inebriated, and the police cannot make that judgment call, then we should hold off.

The Liberal answer to all is, “Rush ahead, let us do it now, and worry about everything else later”. That will get us into a big mess.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 21st, 2017 / 3:35 p.m.
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Liberal

Chris Bittle Liberal St. Catharines, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak today in support of Bill C-45, the proposed cannabis act as amended by the Standing Committee on Health. I support this legislation, in particular because Canada's historic approach to dealing with cannabis is simply not working. My remarks today will focus on why the status quo is failing Canadians, especially our youth.

Cannabis has been prohibited in Canada since the 1920s and is currently listed as a controlled substance in schedule II of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. The prohibition of cannabis has not led to abstinence. As the Minister of Health stated at the Standing Committee on Health hearings on Bill C-45:

...cannabis has become the most commonly used illegal substance in Canada. Today 21% of our youth and 30% of our young adults use cannabis. Our youth have the highest prevalence of cannabis use when compared with peers in other developed countries.

This clearly shows that significant numbers of Canadians are using cannabis in the face of prohibition. One would conclude from these numbers that the prohibition approach is not impacting the consumption patterns for cannabis use.

In the face of such non-medical use of cannabis, what has been the impact of the prohibitionist approach? As heard by health committee members, the impacts of the existing approach have been, first of all, to sustain a cannabis industry run by organized crime; second, to jeopardize public health and public safety; and finally, to subject recreational users of small amounts of cannabis to unwarranted criminal liability.

The link between organized crime and the illicit cannabis market is well known. Cannabis is the most trafficked drug in the world. Organized crime groups are more than happy to supply the general public with cannabis.

The Standing Committee on Health heard from the public safety minister, who said:

Canada's non-medical cannabis industry is entirely criminal. The illegal cannabis trade in this country puts $7 billion annually, perhaps more, into the pockets of organized crime. Over half of Canadian organized crime groups are suspected or known to be involved in the cannabis market. Canadian law enforcement spends upwards of $2 billion every year trying to enforce what is currently an ineffective legal regime.

We know that organized crime groups pose a significant threat to public safety and negatively affect the daily lives of Canadians. These groups are tied to illegal activities, such as drug trafficking, prostitution, theft, and human trafficking, and have a violent and corrupting effect on the communities and cities where they operate.

The minister also noted:

With legalization and regulation, we can enable law enforcement resources to be used more effectively, and we can dramatically reduce the involvement of and the flow of money to organized crime.

The overall impact of organized crime groups in Canada extends beyond the obvious and immediate threat of these activities. Unseen impacts include greater costs for law enforcement and the justice and correctional systems, costs that are typically borne by all Canadians.

I would acknowledge that organized crime is not going to disappear from Canada by virtue of the passage of Bill C-45. Organized criminal activity in Canada is a multi-faceted problem that requires a broad-based, integrated response. That said, the current approach to cannabis has clearly been failing on many fronts for close to a century, and that continues to bolster the profits of such criminal organizations. Our government recognizes this and has acted.

Another impact of the failed prohibition approach to cannabis is on public health and public safety. During the Standing Committee on Health's study of Bill C-45, we heard from witnesses who emphasized the need to act now and end the current prohibition.

During its testimony, the Canadian Public Health Association stated:

The proposed legislation and eventual regulation is our best attempt to minimize those harms and protect the well-being of all Canadians.

I briefly noted earlier the threats to public safety posed by the existence of organized crime groups in our communities, but there are many more aspects of public health and public safety in the context of the illicit cannabis market. The existence of clandestine grow ops operating in communities across the country serves to damage properties and threaten the safety of our neighbourhoods. Such grow ops create risks due to mould, improper electrical installation and the associated fire hazards, unchecked use of pesticides and fertilizers, and break-ins and thefts, all of which result in dangers to neighbouring residences and first responders.

The current mechanism through which Canadians can access cannabis leaves much to be desired. The risk to cannabis consumers is heightened in the context of cannabis supply, which is unregulated and not subject to any quality control or packaging requirements clearly indicating the potency of the product. Currently, cannabis consumers do not know what they are getting, and there is no framework to promote the safety of the cannabis supply. Simply put, the cannabis being sold today is unregulated, untested, and often unsafe.

Dispensaries continue to operate illegally across Canada in defiance of our laws. The existence of clandestine grow ops highlights the need for a new approach, one that will ensure that adult Canadians who choose to consume cannabis will have access to a quality-controlled supply that is subject to national standards and contributes to minimizing the potential harms.

Finally, I would like to address the impact that the current prohibitionist approach has had on a significant number of our citizens, many of whom have been labelled as criminals because of their personal decision to consume cannabis. In 2016, there were nearly 55,000 cannabis-related offences reported to police. This is more than half of all police-reported drug offences. This resulted in approximately 23,000 cannabis-related charges being laid.

The criminal records that result from these charges are, in many cases, more than the individuals deserved for their actions. These individuals may often have difficulty finding employment and housing as a result, and may have been prevented from travelling outside Canada. Furthermore, the criminal justice system resources required to deal with many of these minor infractions inhibits the system from devoting resources to more serious matters.

To deal with criminal charges and records, the opposition would simply have us decriminalize cannabis. Let me be clear: decriminalization will not work. It will not achieve our objectives of taking cannabis out of the hands of our youth and the profits out of the hands of criminals.

Through Bill C-45, our government is proposing a better approach. With Bill C-45, our government has introduced legislation that would strictly regulate and restrict access to cannabis. Bill C-45 would deter illegal activities in relation to cannabis through appropriate sanctions and enforcement measures. Bill C-45 aims to protect the health of young persons by restricting their access to cannabis, all the while ensuring that Canadian adults are able to legally possess, grow, and purchase limited amounts of cannabis across Canada.

Based on that, I would encourage all members to support Bill C-45 as amended.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 21st, 2017 / 3:45 p.m.
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Conservative

Jacques Gourde Conservative Lévis—Lotbinière, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his speech. I made a point of listening.

Today we learned that it was certain members of the Liberal Party who added the legalization of marijuana to its election platform. I would like to know whether these members or these groups of individuals are the same people who currently have interests in cannabis production.

Is it a small group of individuals that has influenced all the party's policies in a way that is detrimental to the future of our country? Perhaps it was just a few individuals with a great deal of influence within the Liberal Party who added this policy to its platform.

Can my colleague tell me whether any members of the Liberal Party have direct ties to marijuana production?

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 21st, 2017 / 3:45 p.m.
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Liberal

Chris Bittle Liberal St. Catharines, ON

Mr. Speaker, the lead person behind this plan to regulate and control cannabis has been the hon. parliamentary secretary to the ministers of health and justice, a member of Parliament. Before he was here, he served 40 years in his community as a police officer and as the chief of police. His integrity should not be questioned in this place based on this bill. He has devoted himself to public service, and his rationale behind supporting this legislation is to improve the health and safety of our communities. He has seen far too much crime. We have all seen too much crime in our communities, based on organized crime both within our communities and beyond. However, the motivation behind this is to get cannabis out of the hands of our youth.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 21st, 2017 / 3:45 p.m.
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NDP

Richard Cannings NDP South Okanagan—West Kootenay, BC

Mr. Speaker, my colleague said in his speech that decriminalization would not work. We have a government that ran on a clear promise to legalize marijuana. It has introduced legislation to legalize marijuana, and yet in this interim period, we are still arresting and laying criminal charges against thousands of Canadians across this country who will now, as a result, have criminal records for the rest of their lives based on something the government now says is fine and should be legal.

Could the member comment on the Liberals' complete failure to do anything about this problem? We are taking up valuable court and police time. We have criminals who are going free because they are not going to trial soon enough. We should decriminalize it in the interim so that people will not be saddled with criminal records for the rest of their lives, but can get jobs and cross the border, because we now say that marijuana is fine and we should legalize it. Could the member comment on that situation?

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 21st, 2017 / 3:45 p.m.
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Liberal

Chris Bittle Liberal St. Catharines, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives say we are moving too fast on this legislation and the New Democrats say we are moving too slowly, so we must be doing it at the appropriate speed.

This was a campaign commitment we made to Canadians and, quite plainly, we are fulfilling that commitment. It is currently an illegal activity. We are working hard to fix that. As the parliamentary secretary mentioned earlier, the law is the law is the law, and Canadians are expected to follow it. We are looking to change that and are on pace to meet our campaign commitment by July 2018.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 21st, 2017 / 3:45 p.m.
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Conservative

Blaine Calkins Conservative Red Deer—Lacombe, AB

Mr. Speaker, I listened to my colleague's speech. The bill is at report stage, meaning that it was already before committee where there would have been a number of experts who testified and made recommendations. Can the member cite a single quote from any medical expert at committee who suggested it is a good idea for anybody under the age of 25 to use marijuana?

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 21st, 2017 / 3:50 p.m.
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Liberal

Chris Bittle Liberal St. Catharines, ON

I will do one better, Mr. Speaker. My wife is a paediatrician, so I do hear it at home, and the hon. member is correct that individuals under the age of 25 should not use cannabis. However, prohibition has not worked. The Conservative Party said that we have tried nothing, and that has not worked, and there is no other plan available for Canadians. Let us use an approach that has worked on something like tobacco, for example. It is legalized, it is regulated, it is taxed, and we can use that revenue to pursue public education. After decades, we have had significant success in Canada in reducing teen usage of tobacco to all-time lows. This is something that can be done.

The hon. member is right. This is not a harmless substance and we do want to keep it out of the hands of our kids, but the only way to approach this is through legalization, because prohibition has completely failed.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 21st, 2017 / 3:50 p.m.
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NDP

Richard Cannings NDP South Okanagan—West Kootenay, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am happy to speak today to Bill C-45, the legislation that would legalize marijuana in Canada. I will say off the top that I support the legalization of marijuana and will be supporting this bill in general, but I have some concerns about the process it maps out for regulating the marijuana industry across this country. I spoke to this bill at second reading, but I want to say more now that it has passed committee, and I have heard from more constituents about it, and we know more details of the government's intentions regarding marijuana legalization.

In the interest of full disclosure, I will say that I represent the beautiful riding of South Okanagan—West Kootenay, where it is public knowledge or at least widely recognized that the production of marijuana has been an important part of the local economy of my region for many years. I do not have any precise figures on its economic impact, since it is a black market. Certainly it is used widely, as I can attest after door knocking throughout my riding. It is because the government recognizes this widespread black market and recognizes that marijuana is used by many Canadians for both medical and recreational purposes that it has brought forward this bill to regulate marijuana, so that it will be used as safely as possible and that the economic activity it generates can be properly taxed.

We in the NDP support the legalization of marijuana, with some caveats. First, we are concerned, as I think we all are here—

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 21st, 2017 / 3:50 p.m.
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NDP

Richard Cannings NDP South Okanagan—West Kootenay, BC

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. It was indeed a bit distracting.

First, we are concerned, as I think everyone here is, about the use of marijuana by children and young people, and recognize there must be no advertising of these products to them. We are happy to see that Bill C-45 recognizes these concerns as well.

Second, there must be a taxation strategy that produces a long-term revenue stream for programs that promote public health, education, and research. One of the big problems with the criminalization of marijuana is that it has made research into its effects, particularly its long-term effects, very difficult. Hopefully, legalization in this country will stimulate serious research on this critical issue and, hopefully, there will be sufficient funds provided by the government to ensure that this research can take place.

Third, there must be legislation in effect to deal with drivers impaired by marijuana. This is covered under Bill C-46, which has already passed the House. I stated my concerns about this issue during debate on that bill earlier. Suffice it to say that I was disappointed with the government's faith in roadside saliva testing, which will not relate to impairment at all and will undoubtedly result in charges being laid against people who are not impaired. I hear that there are already groups lining up to challenge that bill in court.

However, our main concern with the marijuana legalization route the government has taken is that it has not considered immediate interim decriminalization of simple possession of marijuana, or at least allowing discretion on the part of prosecutors and police not to enforce an unjust law. Here we have a government that was elected on a clear promise to legalize marijuana, and yet two years later courts across the country are still giving people criminal records for simple possession. On the one hand, the government is saying that using marijuana is okay, and on the other hand, it is ruining people's lives, often those of young people, visible minorities, and racialized Canadians, by giving them criminal records for using marijuana. It does not make sense. It is really a cruel injustice.

Also, it is clogging our courtrooms for no good reason. We are seeing more and more real criminals go free because they cannot get a trial in a reasonable time frame. We should be looking for ways to clear up the courtroom logjam, and stopping the prosecution of simple possession charges would be an obvious place to start. We should also be pardoning Canadians who have a criminal record based only on past convictions for simple possession of small amounts of marijuana. These people have a very hard time finding work because of their criminal records and cannot cross borders, yet we are now saying that what they did was not criminal at all and, in fact, will now be completely legal. Let us pardon them so they can get on with their lives.

I want to change gears a bit and talk about some of the lessons we might have learned from alcohol prohibition. Marijuana became illegal in Canada back in 1923 at about the same time alcohol was illegal. Alcohol prohibition was rather short-lived and alcohol consumption was made legal again in most provinces by 1930. However, early regulations made consumption of alcohol not much fun. When I was growing up in British Columbia, there were separate entrances for men and women in beer parlours, people had to be sitting when they drank, could not listen to music, and certainly could not dance. Things have changed, and I think most people would agree that the earlier restrictions seem rather silly now, and certainly were not effective in curbing public intoxication.

Beer was once produced only by large, monolithic brewing companies, but now we have hundreds of small craft breweries springing up across the country. They not only produce good beer, but provide good jobs and diversify the economy of many small towns. In my riding, we also make the best wine in Canada. There are hundreds of small wineries in B.C. and Ontario, and a growing number in other provinces. The wine industry is a huge part of the economy in my riding, not only through the sales of wine but also by boosting the tourism industry that is so important in the Okanagan Valley.

What most people like about small estate wineries and small craft breweries is that they are small. They produce diverse products. People can go to meet the people who make the wine and beer. A lot of it is made from organic products, and many advertise the small ecological footprint of their operations.

A lot of my constituents say they feel that Bill C-45 will be like prohibition 2.0. This is not what they voted for when they voted for marijuana legalization. They do not want to buy marijuana from huge companies that produce huge quantities of product in indoor facilities that use a lot of power and pesticides to keep production levels up.

I recently met with a group of farmers and business people in my riding who want to grow marijuana on a smaller scale. They would like to grow outside, using sunlight instead of indoor grow lamps and heaters. They want to grow outside so they go organic. They will not have to use the chemicals needed to keep indoor plants free from fungus. They would like to grow co-operatively, each farming maybe a hectare of highly secure land and processing the crop at a central location for distribution. It sounds great. It sounds like the 21st century. It is allowed just across the border in neighbouring Washington state, but all of this would be illegal under Bill C-45.

In committee, the NDP moved 38 amendments to improve the bill and one amendment would have given the provinces the option to create their own licensing frameworks, such as those to allow for craft growers and small producers. The government side voted every one of these amendments down.

I agree that we need to legalize marijuana. We need to get the industry out in the open, away from gangs and organized crime. We need to tax it so we can fund the education, research, and health programs necessary to deal with drug use and addiction that are already so prevalent in our country. However, restricting the production of marijuana so tightly by making producers grow indoors and banning co-operative ventures, we will be incentivizing an ongoing black market that will defeat the original purpose of the bill.

Therefore, let us learn from alcohol prohibition. Let us not go back to 1930 for legalizing marijuana. Let us regulate it in a modern and intelligent way so Canadians who wish to use cannabis can do so in a practical, safe, and healthy manner.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 21st, 2017 / 3:55 p.m.
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Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, the NDP has a new leader, Jagmeet Singh. He has been pushing the Prime Minister to decriminalize all drugs in the midst of the opioid crisis. In fact, the new leader has indicated that he wants it to be a formal part of the NDP election platform.

My colleague spent a lot of time talking about legalizing cannabis, saying that it should be the priority of the government. Does the member support what his party's newly elected leader is advocating, which seems to be decriminalizing all drugs?

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 21st, 2017 / 4 p.m.
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NDP

Richard Cannings NDP South Okanagan—West Kootenay, BC

Mr. Speaker, I do not want to make up NDP policy on the fly in the House. I think the member and all his colleagues would agree that the reason we are legalizing marijuana is so we can regulate it, tax it, educate people about it, and keep it out of the hands of kids, where it is now. That type of project may work for other drugs. It has certainly worked in other countries, such as Portugal, and it might be a very good thing to look into. The government is taking that approach with marijuana for those very reasons.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 21st, 2017 / 4 p.m.
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Conservative

Garnett Genuis Conservative Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, AB

Mr. Speaker, I will ask my colleague for his views about the concern I hear from many of my constituents of people driving while high. In particular, the concern is about the reliability of the testing that exists.

We know that for driving while impaired by alcohol, there are well-established ways of testing people's blood alcohol levels and precisely correlating levels of impairment with blood alcohol level. The technology is simply not there with regard to impairment by marijuana because the substance works differently. It is fat soluble as opposed to water soluble. There is not the same clear, reliable way of testing impairment on the basis of something like levels in blood.

Is the member concerned that with the government's rush to legalization, we do not have the capacity to effectively assess impairment and respond to it to ensure that people are safe on the roads?

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 21st, 2017 / 4 p.m.
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NDP

Richard Cannings NDP South Okanagan—West Kootenay, BC

Mr. Speaker, that is an excellent question. It is precisely my concern with roadside testing for marijuana, which we heard all about in Bill C-46. The justice committee heard testimony from expert witnesses who said, as the member said, that the level of THC in the blood being measured with roadside tests had absolutely nothing to do with impairment. The amount of THC goes up in the blood, but it is only when it is out of the blood and in the brain that it actually impairs people. Therefore, these tests have no relation with impairment, and that is a real difficulty.

We have to find a different way for measuring impairment with THC than with alcohol. As he said, with alcohol, it is very different. The amount of alcohol in someone's blood is highly correlated with the amount of impairment, but it does not work that way with marijuana. As I mentioned in my speech, groups will be fighting Bill C-46 in court over just this issue. People will be charged for being impaired when they are not impaired at all.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 21st, 2017 / 4 p.m.
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Conservative

Garnett Genuis Conservative Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, AB

Mr. Speaker, safety while driving is one concern. Another concern I hear from the industry in my riding is the impact on workplace safety. Without the reliable mechanism for testing impairment if we legalize marijuana, there are significant concerns about people working on industrial job sites while impaired and the impact that could have on others. I wonder if the member shares those concerns, safety while driving yes, but also in an industrial context and in the workplace in general.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 21st, 2017 / 4 p.m.
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NDP

Richard Cannings NDP South Okanagan—West Kootenay, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is a similar situation. There is a great concern now about people on work sites who might be impaired. However, if we use these methods for testing the blood levels of THC, it will show that the people who use marijuana regularly are impaired when they are not and are totally capable of doing the work. Therefore, we have to come up with new ways of testing impairment to look at this problem. The method we use for alcohol will not work at all.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 21st, 2017 / 4 p.m.
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Liberal

Colin Fraser Liberal West Nova, NS

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to speak in support of Bill C-45 at report stage debate. This historic legislation represents a positive first step in the complex process of legalizing, strictly regulating, and restricting access to cannabis.

Since the introduction of the bill, it has been emphasized that the approach proposed by the bill is grounded in the basis of public health and public safety, including the goal of keeping cannabis away from young people.

Consistent with the commitments to protect the well-being of Canadians, our government introduced companion legislation, Bill C-46, which targets those who drive while impaired by drugs. This distinct piece of proposed legislation would strengthen the criminal law response to drug-impaired driving and help to increase the safety of our public streets and roads.

In its consideration of Bill C-45, the Standing Committee on Health heard from the Ontario Public Health Association that “impaired driving is a leading criminal cause of death and injury on our roadways, and cannabinoids are among the most common psychoactive substances found in deceased and injured drivers in Canada.”

Despite having made progress in deterring and reducing the amount of alcohol-impaired driving over the past decades, statistics indicate that drug-impaired driving is actually increasing.

I am fortunate enough to be a member of the Standing Committee of Justice and Human Rights. We studied the companion legislation to Bill C-45, that being Bill C-46. It is obvious that there is a problem on our roads today with drug-impaired driving, and the problem under the current system keeps getting worse.

According to Statistics Canada, of the more than 72,000 police-reported impaired driving incidents in 2015, almost 3,000 of those were related to drugs. This may not seem like a large proportion, but when we consider that this is double the amount of drug-impaired driving incidents since just 2009, the upward trend becomes very worrisome.

According to a recent publication by the Canadian Drug Policy Coalition, 20% of cannabis users self-report as having driven at least once within two hours of using cannabis.

Another recent study based on the Victoria healthy youth survey in British Columbia indicates that 64% of males and 33% of females who were heavy users of cannabis reported that they drove while drug impaired.

The Ontario student drug use and health survey of 2015 reported that the percentage of drivers in grades 10 to 12 who reported driving after consuming cannabis was higher than those who reported driving after consuming alcohol. This survey further indicated that an estimated 29,500 adolescent drivers in Ontario alone drove within one hour after consuming cannabis within the previous year.

I think I can speak for all of us when I say that I find this to be very troubling. The fact that driving while impaired by drugs is currently a criminal offence punishable by a mandatory minimum fine of $1,000 on a first offence does not seem to be a sufficient deterrent for an increasing number of drivers.

However, the penalty is not the whole answer anyway. What is clear to me and what the preponderance of the evidence demonstrates is that it is the fear of getting caught that acts as the real deterrent to impaired driving.

Given the current statistics on cannabis consumption before driving, I am fully supportive of the government's approach to strengthen the criminal law framework addressing drug-impaired driving. The proposals on impaired driving would authorize a new tool for police officers to better detect drivers with drugs in their body. These devices would determine whether a driver had certain drugs in his or her oral fluid, including THC, which is the impairing compound in cannabis.

The presence of THC in oral fluid is a strong indicator that cannabis was recently consumed and therefore provides useful information to a police officer who is conducting a roadside investigation. Again, what is essential here is that people will know they will be much more likely to get caught if they drive while impaired by cannabis. This will act as a real deterrent and keep our roads safer.

While reviewing Bill C-45, health committee members heard from the public safety minister who recognized “Essential to this new regime is engagement with and support for police and border officers to ensure that they have the tools they need to enforce the law.”

To this end, the government recently announced an investment of $274 million to support law enforcement and border efforts to detect and deter drug-impaired driving and for enforcement of the proposed cannabis legalization and regulation scheme.

Provinces and territories will be able to access up to $81 million over the next five years for new law enforcement training and to build capacity and enforce new and stronger laws related to drug-impaired driving.

The impaired driving bill also proposes new legal limit offences for drugs and driving. Once these offences are enacted, the crown would no longer have to prove that a driver was impaired by a drug if an analysis of their blood showed that they had a prohibited level of drugs in their body. This legal efficiency would provide a much more timely way to prosecute and punish those who choose to mix impairing drugs with driving activity.

I am pleased to note that one of the proposed offences prohibits certain levels of alcohol and THC which, as I indicated earlier, is a particularly impairing combination of substances. This proposed offence would send a strong message against driving after mixing cannabis with alcohol.

In my view, the proposals to address drug-impaired driving are a positive reflection of the government's broader approach to cannabis legalization in that they represent a cautious, public safety-driven response with the ultimate goal of public protection.

To reiterate the remarks of the Minister of Public Safety to the health committee:

...cannabis impaired driving is happening on our streets right now. The faster we get the right tools, the funding, the training, and the legislative and regulatory authorities in place, the safer Canadians will be. Legislative delay does not make the problem go away or get better.

At committee, amendments were adopted to require a review of both Bill C-45 and Bill C-46 three years after coming into force and to table reports before Parliament on the results of these reviews. This would allow the government to clearly communicate the impacts of the new legislation and to determine whether future changes are necessary.

I am pleased to recognize the substantial efforts of the government to fulfill two of its key platform commitments to legalize cannabis and also, importantly, to create new and stronger laws to apprehend and actually deter those who would otherwise drive while under the influence.

In conclusion, it is critical to underscore the objectives of Bill C-45, which is designed to legalize, strictly regulate, and restrict access to cannabis. With the highest usage of young people using cannabis in the developed world, it is clear the current system is not working. We must make it harder for young people to access cannabis, take business away from criminals, and put public health and safety front and centre. That is what Bill C-45 does and that is why all members should support this important legislation.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 21st, 2017 / 4:10 p.m.
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Conservative

Michael Cooper Conservative St. Albert—Edmonton, AB

Mr. Speaker, I want to acknowledge the work that the member for West Nova does at the justice committee of which I am also a member. I am glad that the hon. member talked about the seriousness of drug-impaired driving.

In terms of the government's rushed and arbitrary timeline to move forward with marijuana legalization legislation, in terms of drug-impaired driving right now there is no approved screening device. There are serious questions about per se limits and how scientific they are given that there are a lot of questions about the correlation between impairment and THC levels.

According to the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, some 6,000 police officers need to be trained but will not be trained in time for July 1, 2018, and then there are currently only about 600 drug recognition experts, whereas evidence at the justice committee and the health committee indicated there is a need for somewhere in the neighbourhood of up to 2,000 drug recognition experts.

In light of all of those things, how can the hon. member say with any confidence that we can be ready for legalization on July 1?

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 21st, 2017 / 4:10 p.m.
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Liberal

Colin Fraser Liberal West Nova, NS

Mr. Speaker, we did hear lots of interesting testimony at our committee. I appreciate the question the member is asking.

However, it is important to keep in mind a couple of things. First of all, the current system is not working. It is not working as we have the highest cannabis usage rate by young people in the entire world. Second, we also have to recognize that the criminal elements that are involved are profiting greatly from the current system.

As part of Bill C-45, the government, rightly, put in place a framework through which we can ensure that we are able to combat the scourge of drug-impaired driving on our roads, which is happening now. We know that there is an effect that will take place if people are fearful that they will get caught, that if they are using cannabis and driving they will be caught, and that if they are impaired, they will be prosecuted.

With regard to some of the comments my friend made regarding the tools and the training that police officers need, the government has put substantial resources behind the legislative framework to ensure police officers have the tools and the training they need. It is almost $300 million for that alone to be rolled out in due course. It is very important and vital that we get this right. The government is committed to doing it. It will be reviewed in three years' time. The money is there to make sure that the police have the tools and the training they need.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 21st, 2017 / 4:15 p.m.
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Fredericton New Brunswick

Liberal

Matt DeCourcey LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I thank my friend from Nova Scotia who I know does diligent and exhaustive work with the justice and human rights committee. I certainly appreciate his counsel on this and many other matters.

He has spoken about how he has followed the government's plans from task force, through to the reading in the House, exhaustive committee work, and this report-stage debate, as well as consultation with constituents.

Could my friend perhaps talk about what he has heard from witnesses, and what conversations have reinforced his view that this is the proper approach for the government to take at this time?

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 21st, 2017 / 4:15 p.m.
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Liberal

Colin Fraser Liberal West Nova, NS

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague from New Brunswick for the excellent work that he does in Parliament.

It is an important discussion to have with communities across the country. I understand that there can be apprehension to the sorts of changes that are taking place. However, the most fundamental and basic principle is that the current system is not working. This is a matter of public health and public safety.

The way that we are going to make the system better is by ensuring that there is a regulatory framework in place that makes it harder for young people to access cannabis, and that gets the criminal element out of profiting from selling these drugs and taking advantage of vulnerable people.

Our government is committed to doing that. That is what I have heard from constituents I have talked to about this, that we have to get it right. We have to make sure that the proper regulatory framework is in place. The government is listening to those consultations and, importantly, putting those consultations into a framework that will work for all Canadians, keeping Canadians safe, keeping young Canadians safer, and ensuring that we have the right tools and training for our police forces to enforce the law.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 21st, 2017 / 4:15 p.m.
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Conservative

Rachael Harder Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Mr. Speaker, before I begin speaking to Bill C-45, I would like to highlight for those who are watching today that the Liberals took the opportunity to move time allocation on this important bill. In essence, that means they cut down the debate. They are actually refusing to hear from the members on the opposite side of the House today because they want to rush it through and get it to a vote. Why is it they want to rush it through and get it to a vote? Because they have party preparations to put in place for July 1, 2018. That is unfortunate. It is degrading to our parliamentary process to not have the opportunity to enter into a robust debate with respect to the topic at hand on behalf of the Canadians who have elected us to represent them here.

With that said, when I talk about Bill C-45 and the legalization of marijuana, I am not talking about its legalization for medical purposes, I am not talking about the legalization of marijuana in a way that is well-researched, thoughtful, or has taken into account the different factors that need to be considered, I am not talking about a bill that came out of a lengthy consultation process or a scientific endeavour, I am talking about a bill that was incredibly rushed in nature. It really did not take scientific evidence into consideration. It did not take the insight of law enforcement agents, health care practitioners, or experts into consideration. Really all it does is rush through this piece of legislation at a rate that is unnecessary and with a deadline that is arbitrary. That is of course, July 1, 2018.

I have heard from many people who are very worried about this legislation. Many have spoken out at a national level, including aboriginal leaders, law enforcement agents, health experts, municipalities, provinces, and of course concerned citizens from all across the country. Some of the things that they are saying are that they are concerned about children accessing marijuana easily and the age at which they are legally able to acquire it, the lack of education programs, the timeline and the fact that it is very rushed, the costs to the municipalities and provinces, and the fact that they really do not feel they have been given adequate time to respond. I am hearing from law enforcement agents much the same about the costs and the timeline. As well, they are bringing up drug-impaired driving. Then there is the issue around taxation. Therefore, in this time that I have, I would like to address some of these issues to a greater extent.

When it comes to children, I believe the government should take them and their future very seriously. That is part of what this place is about. There are 338 of us who have been elected to make decisions on behalf of Canadians from coast to coast. Yes, we make those decisions for today, but we also have to be aware of how those decisions will impact those who would come after us tomorrow.

Unfortunately, this legislation is ill-drafted in terms of its legal age of access, which is age 18. If we were to talk to the Canadian Medical Association, the Canadian Paediatric Society, or the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada, they would all say that the age of 18 is too young, that the human brain is developing until the age of 25, and that the use of marijuana impedes the full development of the human brain. Therefore, they have called for the legal age to be 25, and then said that perhaps age 21 would be a good negotiating point. That amendment was brought forward at committee. Of course, the Liberals shut that down. Therefore, it begs the question of whether the government is acting responsibly by setting the age at 18. The government also said that it would take the next generation seriously. It said that it would be the party that wants to keep marijuana out of the hands of young people. However, by setting the legal age at 18, and allowing four plants to be grown in our homes, which I will talk about momentarily, it is really not looking that seriously at keeping it out of the hands of young people.

Not only that, I heard from a group of young people who I meet with on a monthly basis to advise me on different topics at hand. We talked about the legalization of marijuana, and they said this, “If we legalize marijuana”, and of course we are going down that road, “and we do it according to the mechanisms that are at play here without education”, which there is none of right now, “it will normalize it and young people will think it is just okay, that there are no negative repercussions to the use of marijuana.” The young people I am listening to are telling me they are quite concerned. They are concerned for themselves, for their peers, and are very concerned for their younger siblings and what they might fall prey to. I think that is definitely worth considering.

A further point we need to consider related to child access is definitely education. In their budget, the Liberals did promise a considerable amount for education. They said $9.6 million over five years. In my estimation, that is not enough. I do not know if they are going to be able to afford an adequate education campaign with that amount of money over five years. Nevertheless, it is money put aside. It is money that was promised to this cause, and the Liberals did commit to a “robust”, which is the Prime Minister's word, campaign with regard to educating young people.

To date, we have seen nothing. There has been no action, nothing, just a broken promise. We see them talking out of one side of their face saying that education is very important and we want to keep it out of the hands of young people, but then out of the other side, they are actually not willing to move the dial and invest money in getting an education program up and running, which of course means that we are actually setting young people up for experimentation and for the normalization of drug use among our children.

I have yet another concern. This proposed legislation would allow for four plants to be in every household. Let me amuse the House for just one moment. I did a little research, and one plant equals 1.2 kilograms or 1,200 grams of marijuana, which is how much that would produce. If there is 0.66 grams in each joint on average, which is what my research told me, then one plant would actually produce 792 joints. However, we would be allowed not one but four plants, and four plants would actually produce 3,168 joints. Now at 3,168 joints—and on average people smoke about three joints a day, which is what my research told me—then four plants in a household would produce 1,056 days worth of joints. I ask the House if that sounds like a personal amount. I am just curious. This would leave plenty to sell and plenty to use, and those plants would be right in a person's home.

I am not speaking out on this on my own. Law enforcement agents are also very concerned about this, and they are begging the question of why we would allow four plants in a home when we are legalizing marijuana and people can go down the street and get it a store.

My next point is with regard to law enforcement agents. They came to the committee and told us their concerns, and there are many of them. One is that they are concerned about the deadline of July 1. They are telling us that they will not have their men and women in uniform trained to deal with this. They are saying that the wait list for training is super-long and the cost is extravagant. Not only that, but agents would have to be sent to the United States to access that training. In essence, they told the committee that they needed more time and more than double the number of police officers who are certified to conduct roadside drug-impaired driving testing.

This should concern us. I do not want to be on the road. I do not want my nieces, nephews, brother, sisters, parents, or anyone else on the road when there are individuals out there who are impaired, and that is normal. I am not okay with that. Again, we need that robust education program put in place so that people understand. Also, we need law enforcement agents in place so that they can actually enforce the law.

The officers who came to committee also said that we can expect about a six- to 12-month gap between the legislation coming into effect when people legally have access to marijuana and the point where the police are actually caught up and able to enforce. This is a six- to 12-month gap, and they said that this will allow organized crime to “flourish”. So much for keeping organized crime down.

I also want to draw to members' attention the costs and consequences that this proposed legislation would mean for municipalities and provinces. We are talking about a cost for our law enforcement agents. We are talking about a cost with regard to putting policy in place. We are talking about insurance costs for private employers and policy costs at that level as well. We are talking about costs with regard to just different legislative pieces that have to be put in place, and all of the consultations and legal work that have to be done around that.

All in all, the point I wish to make today is that the Liberals are rushing through with the bill. They are choosing to rush this proposed legislation through based on an arbitrary deadline that carries absolutely no weight or essence in the House. They could stop it. They could halt it. They could adequately consult. They could be responsible and listen to the experts who have spoken on this proposed legislation. Right now, the government is choosing to act irresponsibly, and I highlight the word “choosing”. They are choosing to put inadequate legislation in place over this country.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 21st, 2017 / 4:25 p.m.
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Liberal

Mark Gerretsen Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am concerned. One thing is very clear, and the facts support it. The hon. member talked a lot about children and young people. Currently, 20% of youth are using marijuana. Over 20% of young Canadians are saying they are using it. The strategy we currently have is not working.

She talked about investing in public education. We are investing $45 million over five years in public education. She said she has not seen any of this. In Ontario, in my riding in Kingston, all summer long I heard ads on the radio promoting safe use of cannabis, anticipating the introduction of this legislation.

Therefore, I would argue that she is wrong. Public education is already working, because we know that is how we are going to successfully get through to young people, so that we see a significant reduction in usage.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 21st, 2017 / 4:25 p.m.
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Conservative

Rachael Harder Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am not sure there was a question there, but he said there was over $45 million available to help with education. I would actually love to see those documents tabled, if he would not mind, because if those are federal dollars, I would like to know how he is accessing them outside of what is stated in the budget. I believe our responsibility is to hold the government to account with regard to the budget, and the budget does not give that number. If they are eliciting funds through some backdoor channel to get education to his riding—as he highlighted, it is obviously going to the kids in his riding, not to the rest of Canada—then we should be aware of those funds. It seems appropriate, does it not?

With regard to 20% of our young people using, basically we are saying 20% are using so let us just legalize it so we can facilitate 100% using. People misuse guns all the time. Perhaps the appropriate way to handle that is to just take away any prohibition.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 21st, 2017 / 4:30 p.m.
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Conservative

Kevin Waugh Conservative Saskatoon—Grasswood, SK

Mr. Speaker, last week I had the opportunity to visit three schools in my city of Saskatoon as part of Bring Your MP to School Day. I am a former trustee with the Saskatchewan School Boards Association in Saskatoon. The government has spent no money. I hear $45 million is going to be rolled out over five years, or maybe more.

I was the guest speaker last Sunday in Regina at the Saskatchewan School Boards Association, one of the members of the Canadian School Boards Association. As I sat here all day and listened to arguments on this, I noted that no one mentioned reaching out to any school boards in the country. There was not one cent going to the Canadian school boards for education on cannabis. Who deals with this? It is teachers in our classrooms. I heard the government say cannabis will be available for 12-year-olds. They are allowed five grams in their pocket, yet I have not heard about the education that should start in elementary schools, where I was last week, for grades 6 to 12.

Could the hon. member for Lethbridge tell us what the government should do to educate our young people who are not taking cannabis and do not want to take cannabis regardless of what comes in on July 1?

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 21st, 2017 / 4:30 p.m.
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Conservative

Rachael Harder Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Mr. Speaker, that is an excellent question. It is one I spent much of my speech on with regard to education and making sure that young people are actually receiving the facts about cannabis use, how it will impact them, and what safe use looks like if they choose to use it as a young adult.

In terms of education, we really have not seen anything. Again, I highlight the fact that the government talks about the importance of education. The Prime Minister talked about the importance of a robust campaign around education for cannabis use, but we have seen absolutely nothing. If the government's idea of robust is to do nothing, it is doing a very robust job in governing Canada.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 21st, 2017 / 4:30 p.m.
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Liberal

Julie Dabrusin Liberal Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am happy to speak today to Bill C-45 concerning the legalization of cannabis. This issue is important to people in my community. I have heard from many constituents about their interests, desires, and concerns related to the legalization of cannabis. I have heard from many people who are in favour of legalization. They would like this bill to become law as quickly as possible. They are in favour because they themselves consume cannabis or are concerned about the negative effects of maintaining the criminalization of cannabis in our communities.

I have also heard from many people who are not necessarily opposed to legalization, but they have concerns. I hope to address these concerns today. I understand their concerns about using cannabis. I am a mother and recognize the concerns raised in that respect. As I say that, I can imagine my kids rolling their eyes at home. As a parent, I worry about my children, too. I understand they will make mistakes, but the legalization of cannabis is not one of my top concerns for my children going forward. I also believe that through the legalization and regulation of cannabis, concerns about cannabis consumption by youth or people operating vehicles can be addressed.

In many parts of my community, a spring walk through the park will bring the smell of lilacs and pot. I do not say this to make light of cannabis use, but simply to point out that it is very common in my community and very common in a situation where it remains illegal. It is very clear, based on a walk down my streets but also on statistics, that the criminalization of cannabis is not keeping it out of the hands of people in our communities, adults or youth.

I understand that the statistics are that 21% of youth have used marijuana and 30% of young adults use it. Those are high numbers. If the goal is to keep people from trying marijuana or using it, the approach of criminalization has not worked. As has been stated in this place many times, but it bears repeating, the World Health Organization found in 2009-10 that the number of Canadians under 15 who had tried cannabis was at a higher rate than for any other country studied. As well, in a 2013-14 study by the WHO, Canada remained in the top five countries of 15-year-olds and was number one for cannabis use among children 13 years of age or younger. Clearly, if a person is concerned about youth access to cannabis, the current system is not working.

Here is the crux of the matter: the threat of a criminal record is not deterring youth from consuming cannabis. They are still doing it. However, once they have a criminal record, this can impact their future opportunities. It can close doors, and to what end? Under the new legislation, as with alcohol, there will be regulations to prohibit the purchase and use of cannabis by youth, but as with alcohol, we will not be threatening them with a criminal record. The criminal record brought only negative consequences without achieving its purported goal, which was to deter use.

Finally, we want to continue to collaborate with the provinces and territories to make sure that the public education campaign can also be done collaboratively and that we all have access to the same information.

Another point is on the nuts and bolts of working with youth. It is harder to have conversations and convey information about something that is hidden. Our government has announced $46 million for a public education program to accompany the legalization of marijuana. Having an open conversation is much more effective. Health Canada has published detailed information on the health risks of cannabis use on its website, and I encourage all Canadians to review it. It is there to be found.

As we talk about youth, I am also concerned about the fact that people who are consuming marijuana are exposing themselves to risks that go beyond health issues related to consumption. For example, there is no way to trace source or ensure the quality of the marijuana they purchase. We saw situations during the prohibition of alcohol where people consumed alcohol that had impurities. It was somehow made in a way that was not safe and would make people sick. Under our current legalized and regulated system for alcohol, we rarely hear of such incidents.

In the same way, in the legalized market, we have more controls over the safety of production and the safety of the method of sale. Personally, I would rather see people going to a store that is regulated to purchase their cannabis than to a drug dealer.

The model of decriminalization fails to address consumer safety. That is not the other option here. The model of decriminalization has and maintains a lot of the harms associated with the prohibition of cannabis use. Decriminalization does not address the concerns raised by my constituents, and it leaves us with a grey zone. It leaves us with a market that remains in the hands of organized crime.

I would like to share some statements made by the Centre for Addition and Mental Health in Toronto from its cannabis policy framework. It states:

Under decriminalization, cannabis remains unregulated, meaning that users know little or nothing about its potency or quality.

As long as cannabis use is illegal, it is difficult for health care or education professionals to effectively address and help prevent problematic use. The law enforcement focus of prohibition drives cannabis users away from prevention, risk reduction and treatment services.

Decriminalization may encourage commercialization of cannabis production and distribution – without giving government additional regulatory tools. Those activities remain under the control of criminal elements, and for the most part users must still obtain cannabis in the illicit market where they may be exposed to other drugs and to criminal activity.

Our government is proposing a system that allows for regulatory control of production, distribution, and sale. Along with the experts at CAMH, I support our government position of legalizing and restricting access, to allow opportunity to regulate cannabis and mitigate the risks.

Our government has committed up to $161 million for training front-line officers on how to recognize signs and symptoms of drug-impaired driving. Whether legal or not, drug-impaired driving is happening in our communities.

In 2008, the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police unanimously urged the government of the day to make resources available for the training of drug recognition experts and for all officers in field sobriety testing. That plea resulted in no action from the government. In 2013, the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police asked the government to make available oral fluid testing technology, and no action was taken by the former Conservative government.

Our government is listening to the concerns of law enforcement agencies and providing the training, resources, access to technology, and legal authority to allow police across the country to provide them with what they need to keep our communities safe.

Currently, Canada's non-medical cannabis industry is entirely criminal, meaning that all non-medical cannabis being sold or purchased in our communities is helping to put approximately $7 billion annually into the pockets of organized crime. Upwards of $2 billion every year are spent trying to enforce our current ineffectual cannabis prohibition regime. Smart action is what is needed to drive down the black market for cannabis. With legalization and regulation, law enforcement resources can be used effectively and we can reduce the involvement of organized crime.

For too long, in my community and across the country, cannabis has been easily accessible among our youth who have been using it at record rates to the great profits of organized crime.

I support Bill C-45 to enact the cannabis act, to provide legal access to cannabis and to control and regulate its production, distribution, and sale.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 21st, 2017 / 4:40 p.m.
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Conservative

Jacques Gourde Conservative Lévis—Lotbinière, QC

Mr. Speaker, I made a point of listening to my colleague opposite. She said that she is concerned about 13- and 14-year-olds using cannabis.

Bill C-45 allows four plants per home. Do they think that our young people are not going to want to take a few leaves, dry them, and try them, or give them to their friends?

With this bill, all young people will have access to cannabis, not just those who are 13 and 14, but also those who are 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, and 15.

Can my colleague tell us whether amendments will be made to this bill?

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 21st, 2017 / 4:40 p.m.
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Liberal

Julie Dabrusin Liberal Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, not every house will have four plants in it, although that is the number of plants people will be entitled to. That being said, there is alcohol in many households, but that does not mean children drink all the time. Parents need to manage their households appropriately.

What we are doing here is creating a system in which cannabis will be legal, but with rules to keep it out of the hands of children. Even children younger than 13 are already using cannabis, so it is not like children do not have access to it. The only difference is that right now they get it from drug dealers. In my opinion, that is much more dangerous.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 21st, 2017 / 4:40 p.m.
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NDP

Richard Cannings NDP South Okanagan—West Kootenay, BC

Mr. Speaker, what are the member's thoughts on pardons? We are going to legalize marijuana. We are going to create a situation where people across the country will be able to smoke marijuana legally. Parents of young Canadians in their twenties might have a criminal record because they were charged in the past with possession of a small amount of marijuana. Their lives were altered forever.

We should have a blanket pardon for all Canadians who have a criminal record only because they were once convicted of possession of a small amount of marijuana. What are my colleague's thoughts on this?

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 21st, 2017 / 4:45 p.m.
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Liberal

Julie Dabrusin Liberal Toronto—Danforth, ON

I understand the concern the member has raised, Mr. Speaker, and we need to think about that.

Right now, cannabis remains illegal and it is not helpful at this moment to get into that conversation because it creates extra confusion. We need to make it clear that cannabis remains illegal now. This is a conversation we will need to think about more carefully in the time to come.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 21st, 2017 / 4:45 p.m.
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Bloc

Luc Thériault Bloc Montcalm, QC

Mr. Speaker, I just want to say that I support harm reduction.

To justify his rush to legalize marijuana, the Prime Minister constantly brings up the spectre of our children doing business with organized crime. However, there is no legislation anywhere in Canada that will allow minors to have access to marijuana.

How then will this bill squeeze out organized crime?

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 21st, 2017 / 4:45 p.m.
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Liberal

Julie Dabrusin Liberal Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, back when there were laws banning alcohol, organized crime got into the business of selling it. Once alcohol became legal and available to anyone who was of age, organized crime got out of the business. In our experience, that is because legalizing alcohol caused the market to dry up.

Legalizing cannabis will therefore have a positive effect. This has been confirmed by experts, and police officers and stakeholders working in this field agree.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 21st, 2017 / 4:45 p.m.
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Bloc

Rhéal Fortin Bloc Rivière-du-Nord, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased that a member of the Bloc Québécois is finally being given the opportunity to speak to the legalization of marijuana.

The Liberal government has taken a rather lighthearted approach to this issue that borders on the irresponsible. Like millions of Quebeckers, I think that our society has reached the point where there is no longer a valid reason for the use of cannabis to be a criminal offence.

That being said, how can the government legalize a substance without promoting it? How can we send the message that, although we want to make this substance available to everyone, we also do not want to see its use increase? It is not easy. We need to take the time to do things right, but that is clearly not what the government wants to do. The government is in a hurry. It is treating the situation as urgent. When the provinces say that they are not ready, the government responds, “be ready”. The Liberals and their Prime Minister are in a rush, but we have never heard them offer Quebec or the other provinces any help whatsoever in implementing the legalization of marijuana.

Quebec asked for a little more time, one year, to make sure that this will not put Quebeckers at risk and to put the appropriate measures in place to protect public health. Quebec asked for 365 days, but Ottawa refused, so the following motion was moved in the Quebec National Assembly:

That the National Assembly ask the federal government to defer the official date for the legalization of cannabis, which is currently planned for July 1, 2018, to July 1, 2019, at the earliest.

Ottawa, however, is digging in its heels. The Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador added its voice to Quebec's appeal, but it is hopeless. No one can understand this. The Liberals would have us believe that urgent action is needed on marijuana, as though there were some sort of life or death national emergency. Why? What could possibly explain this obstinacy? Is this about fulfilling an election promise?

As we saw from the electoral reform fiasco, we know that the Liberals have no problem breaking an election promise. Why? Is this because the Liberals' friends are eager to see a return on their investments in cannabis grow ops? Is it because there is some money to be made on this? We have every reason to ask the question.

The Liberals' haste is making it very difficult to implement marijuana legalization effectively. Frankly, there is no good reason for rushing things like this. Quebec's minister responsible for rehabilitation, youth protection, public health and healthy living, Lucie Charlebois, said:

The provinces and municipalities will be left to implement all this legislation being introduced by the federal government. They are the ones who will be responsible for the services and for that, we at the provincial level need to come to an understanding with all those who will be providing the services....

Ottawa is legalizing cannabis, but Quebec, the provinces, and first nations will have to deal with the fallout. That is the truth of the matter. Who has to change the rules of the road? Who has to put on prevention campaigns? Who will have to open stores to sell cannabis? Who will train the personnel and cover the social and public health related costs? Will it be Ottawa or Quebec?

The answer to all these questions is: Quebec. Ottawa is legalizing cannabis, collecting the cash, charging an excise tax, and making its little producer friends happy. Quebec and the provinces are being left with all the costs, the risks, the problems, and a very tight deadline. The following are some examples.

A Université de Montréal study showed a direct link between marijuana use and psychosis. For adolescents, progressing from occasional marijuana use to weekly or daily use increases the risk of experiencing recurrent psychotic episodes by 159%. Will Ottawa be doing more to protect our young people's mental health? No. Ottawa is actually cutting health transfers. That is outrageous. Quebec will be forced to invest in prevention to protect our young people from these unfortunate experiences.

Another example is evaluation officers. The Fédération des policiers et policières municipaux du Québec is concerned about the shortage of evaluation officers in Quebec's municipal police forces.

Evaluation officers are the ones who enforce the zero tolerance policy for impaired driving. They are the experts who have to measure how much cannabis is in a driver's system. Here is what Robin Côté, president of the Fédération des policiers et policières municipaux du Québec, said on Radio-Canada:

Right now, we have 15 municipal police forces that have one single evaluation officer and five that have none. I do not know how that shortage will play out in the end.

It is not me saying that, it is the president of the Fédération des policiers et policières municipaux du Québec. He went on to say this:

Obviously, what we need is more properly trained evaluation officers.... At this moment in time, it does not look like the ratio of evaluation officers will be high enough on July 1. Currently, just under 0.5% of the association's members are trained as evaluation officers.

They will not be ready by July 1. Is that clear? Here is another example. The mayor of Terrebonne recently asked some very good questions:

What are we supposed to do if, say, tomorrow morning, an employee decides to take a coffee break and smoke some marijuana? What kind of legal framework, what kind of labour laws will be in place to address that in a city like Terrebonne with its 1,100 employees?

Once again the overused property tax is going to fund the provincial and federal policies for which 100% of the revenues will stay in the pockets of the central governments, while the expenses will be incurred by the local governments.

Here is a fourth example. In a November 16 press release, the UMQ said:

...cannabis legalization will represent additional costs to municipalities, including for enforcing the rules on consuming in public places and for training police officers and municipal officials.

The president of the UMQ, Alexandre Cusson, has questions around zoning for the new Crown corporation's outlets and stores.

Clearly no one is ready, not in terms of prevention, public health, or in administration. Public safety is not ready. Only Ottawa is unilaterally imposing a completely irresponsible deadline that no one wants.

Today, to add insult to injury, the government is imposing time allocation. According to the Liberals, we have exhausted the issue. I have bad news for them: we have only just begun.

The Bloc Québécois has already spoken out in favour of legalizing marijuana. There is nothing new there. We talked about it during the last election campaign. However, this needs to be done responsibly. That is why, like the National Assembly, we are asking that marijuana legalization be pushed back by a year.

However, Ottawa has chosen to be irresponsible. We have no choice but to vote against this bill and speak out against the government's lighthearted approach to this issue and its inflexibility regarding the deadline.

Again, Justin Trudeau's Liberal government has let us down and is putting Quebec in a tough spot. It is pathetic, but not surprising.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 21st, 2017 / 4:55 p.m.
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Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, it does not matter which area of the country it is, whether Quebec, Newfoundland, Manitoba, my home province, or British Columbia, the message is always the same. We have a government that made a commitment during the last election to do what Bill C-45 aims to do. The opposition can say what it will, but over two years, the government has come up with an approach to deal with a very important social issue. Whether it was in the province of Quebec or any other province, there was support for this government to move forward on this very important issue.

Would the member across the way not at least acknowledge that it is good to have some sort of national standard as to how best to deal with the legalization of cannabis, and that moving forward is in the best interests of all citizens of our country?

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 21st, 2017 / 4:55 p.m.
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Bloc

Rhéal Fortin Bloc Rivière-du-Nord, QC

Mr. Speaker, this is not the right approach.

My colleague is saying that the provinces want the government to take urgent action, but that is not the case in Quebec. Quebec, like many other provinces, asked that this be pushed back by one year.

First of all, we, the members of the Bloc Québécois, who represent only the interests and values of Quebec, we were not invited to participate in the committee's work. Secondly, the Government of Quebec passed a unanimous motion calling for it to be postponed, and Ottawa thumbs its nose at Quebec.

I do not want to hear that the provinces are asking the Liberal government to act quickly. On the contrary, they want the federal government to take its time and do this right, in a responsible and orderly fashion. There are major health and safety issues at play here that are more important than an election promise from the Liberal government.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 21st, 2017 / 4:55 p.m.
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Conservative

Garnett Genuis Conservative Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is frustrating to hear government members tell us that the current system is not working and therefore that we have to try something completely different. The government members clearly have not looked at the numbers for marijuana use over time. Let me share some of them.

In 2004, 14.1% of Canadians reported having used marijuana in the last year. In 2008, it was 11.4%. In 2010, it was 10.7%, and in 2011 it was 9.1%. This is from the Statistics Canada website, which shows that there has been a relatively significant reduction over the last 10 years or so in the number of Canadians who report using marijuana. Obviously, the numbers are higher than we would like them to be, given the risks, but we are seeing those numbers going progressively downward as more public health information comes out about the risks associated with marijuana use.

Therefore, I wonder why members of the government keep saying that things are getting worse when things are actually getting progressively better. Also, I wonder if they will change their position if, as I suspect, there is a significant increase in the number of Canadians using marijuana after the government proceeds with the bill. That is what we've seen in other jurisdictions, and there is no reason why Canada would be any different.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 21st, 2017 / 5 p.m.
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Bloc

Rhéal Fortin Bloc Rivière-du-Nord, QC

Mr. Speaker, the figures are what they are, but even if just 1% of the population was taking cannabis illegally, it would be worthwhile to have legislation governing the consumption of cannabis. That is not the issue.

As I said, we in the Bloc Québécois have come out in favour of legalizing marijuana. However, we are opposed to what the government is doing now, because it is doing a sloppy job, and our youth will pay the price. It is the same in Quebec and in the rest of Canada.

I am in favour of knives, but I would certainly object to someone stabbing me in the back. I am in favour of marijuana legalization, but what this government is doing verges on the criminal. It is dangerous and irresponsible, and we will have to pay the price.

I urge this government to come to its senses and consider what Canadians want.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 21st, 2017 / 5 p.m.
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Conservative

Jacques Gourde Conservative Lévis—Lotbinière, QC

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to join the debate on Bill C-45, the marijuana legalization bill.

I would like to start by saying that when I was elected to serve the people of Lévis—Lotbinière back in 2006, I never imagined that I would one day have to debate a bill aimed at legalizing a drug that is harmful to Canadians' health.

Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would live to see the day the Liberal Party of Canada pulled off this feat, if it can be called a feat.

It is also disgusting and crass to see rich investors taking pleasure in owning shares in Canopy Growth Corporation. These investors have made a lot of money since the share price started to climb, fuelled by leaked information from the report on marijuana legalization.

Members will recall that the report's findings indicated that there have been disastrous consequences wherever cannabis has been legalized. Our duty, as legislators in this place, is to leave Canada a better place as a result of all our work and diligence.

We can very well imagine that there must be a great sense of unease, and I would even say a major conflict of values, at Health Canada, which continues to warn about the dangers of consuming marijuana on its government Internet site and in its documentation.

I am wondering what is going through the minds of these people who, like health professionals, parents, and grandparents who bring healthy and positive values to our society, are completely taken aback by the idea that our loved ones will be able to lawfully destroy their lives and their potential by consuming cannabis.

A number of my colleagues opposite are saying that it is just pot. I invite them to visit the psychiatric wing of a hospital and to see what happens when loved ones are held in a secure wing, under surveillance 24/7, because they no longer know how to live and are a danger to themselves. I invite them to go and see these poor people who have been disrupted and dehumanized. Then I want to hear what they have to say.

As everyone here knows, my colleagues and I have spoken at length about the dangers and all of the repercussions associated with using this drug at the critical ages of 13, 14, or even younger. It can cause irreparable harm.

With that in mind, I am still trying to understand why the Liberals have decided to proceed with marijuana legalization. When I participate in policy discussions and debates in the House, I am dismayed at their simplistic and utterly amoral reasoning about how it is our duty to protect our young people and our society and to keep organized crime in check. Unfortunately, we are talking about a market that holds an obscure sway over the facts.

What we have seen in U.S. states that made certain choices will not help us live in a peaceful, respectful, orderly society, drive on safe roads, and achieve progress and prosperity. Anyone who thinks it will is deluded. Back in 2006, during my first year as an MP, I became aware of the groups lobbying the Liberals to go down this path. I rejected it wholesale, and its pernicious influence never took root within me. The Conservatives wanted nothing to do with those lobby groups. We wanted to work on Canadians' real priorities.

Could someone explain to me how the Liberal Party's financial backers, those with the deepest pockets, managed to use our democracy to legalize cannabis, which is currently a source of worry and torment for so many people in distress?

I would like to come back to the word “priority”. Who is pushing the Liberals to make this a national priority? That is a fundamental question to which we must find the answer. There is a good chance that it is people who are untouchable because they have large family fortunes. Rather than creating collective wealth, these people, who are born into money with a silver spoon in their mouth, are unscrupulously using that money for more nefarious purposes.

I am talking about influential people of untold financial means who should not have control over our future. How do those people sleep at night?

Do they not feel any remorse for what they are about to make the Liberal members opposite do? The Liberals will likely not have the privilege of voting according to their own conscience and beliefs.

I think greed is overshadowing common sense here. A person has to be pretty twisted to see a societal problem as a business opportunity.

Members will forgive the comparison, but it seems obvious. The only people I have seen, both in the movies and, unfortunately, in real life, who are capable of using subterfuge to achieve their goals and get what they want are people with psychopathic tendencies.

I do not want to offend my colleagues, but there is no denying that the only people who are able to cause other people harm without feeling any remorse or emotion, while remaining cold and detached, are psychopaths, at least to my knowledge. The issue that is currently before us just does not make any sense.

From a young age, we teach children to watch out for bad guys, not to trust strangers, not to give in to bad influences, and to listen to that little voice inside them when it tells them they are on the wrong track.

I would add that for years, police officers have been working on prevention in our primary and secondary schools, warning our children about people who might offer them some pot and urging them to avoid people who use it.

Now we are having a debate on legalizing a substance that sends so many people to hospital, to prison, or leads them to homelessness. This substance sends young people to youth centres or foster homes. It is a gateway drug to more harmful substances. Far too often, these people end up in the morgue. Yes, I said morgue. The common thread among people who use drugs is that they started by using marijuana.

Where is this Prime Minister's ethics and common sense? Where are his emotions for our young people? Why are the Liberal MPs following him? Who is making the decisions in that party? That is a question that remains unanswered. Is it the Minister of Finance, a bunch of people from Toronto, or a handful of influential rich people? Let us wake up before it is too late or let us free ourselves from the Liberals.

We are fortunate in Canada to have three entities for limiting power. We have the House, the Senate, and the Supreme Court. I am calling on them at this moment in time because the House is heading in the wrong direction despite the Conservatives' efforts.

If the Senate truly represents the wisdom of this country, and if the Prime Minister appointed 25 senators who are worthy of the position when he took office, those individuals will see to it that this does not pass. They have a duty to do so.

Our Canada cannot remain strong and prosperous with marijuana flowing freely in our homes, on our streets, on our construction sites, amongst our skilled workers, in public areas, and in the hands of our loved ones, who are usually our flesh and blood.

An entire generation is going to be left in shambles by this Liberal recklessness. This generation is already up to its neck in debt, and now it will be mentally burdened on top of that. It is shameful.

I have a question for all senators across party lines. Do they really want to have this weighing on their conscience, on their shoulders? I am not talking about the weight of a gram of pot; I am talking about the downfall of an entire generation, an entire nation.

I am also talking about the massive human and financial costs that will be put on the provinces, which can barely meet the health care needs of their citizens as it is. These costs will continue to rise because of the legacy the Liberals are leaving to future generations.

I ask the good Lord to rid us of the Liberals.

Being trustworthy is going to be a factor here. The Liberals' improprieties and tax havens are nothing compared to what lies ahead. Someone needs to stand up and say “no” to pot in our homes, “no” to the Liberal Party, and “no” to this unworthy Prime Minister who left his judgment who knows where, and who is preparing a living hell for us here far away from any tax havens. That is my prediction.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 21st, 2017 / 5:10 p.m.
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Liberal

Matt DeCourcey Liberal Fredericton, NB

Mr. Speaker, my colleague opposite never misses an opportunity to rise and engage in flights of rhetoric on whatever issue the House is debating.

I was disappointed to hear him start his speech by saying that never in his wildest dreams did he imagine he would have to stand up in the House and talk about this issue. He needs to realize that this issue is important to Canadians. It is an issue that we must debate, as MPs elected to represent Canadians, because it involves Canadians' health.

We all know that the current marijuana system does not work and that our approach as a government is centred on health. We also know that the current approach allows criminals and organized crime to profit and fails to keep cannabis out of the hands of Canadian youth.

As a member elected to stand up for Canadians' best interests, why does he think it is not important to talk about a public policy issue that is so pressing right now?

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 21st, 2017 / 5:10 p.m.
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Conservative

Jacques Gourde Conservative Lévis—Lotbinière, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is indeed a very important issue, and if the government were treating it as such, it would have allowed all the members of this House to debate it. It would not have imposed a time allocation motion on us. The Liberal Party is imposing a policy that will be harmful for future generations.

The Liberals are acting like this is no big deal. One day, they will realize they made a mistake, but it will be too late to fix it. However, they can fix their mistake now by giving all the members a chance to debate this bill. The debate should not stop today or Wednesday. We need to allow enough time for all the Liberals, all the NDP members, all my fellow Bloc colleagues, all the Conservatives, and all the independents to rise in the House and speak for their constituents.

Furthermore, we need to consult Canadians properly instead of doing fake surveys. If Canadians are asked what they think of the bill, it will become clear that we on this side of the aisle are on the right track.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 21st, 2017 / 5:10 p.m.
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Conservative

Jacques Gourde Conservative Lévis—Lotbinière, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for the question. I agree.

Let us imagine that there are four plants this tall and this wide in each house. They could produce 3,150 joints a year. A family could be stoned 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 52 weeks a year and there would be some left over to sell or give away.

Do we believe that these plants will be controlled, as the Liberals are claiming? They want to control the quality of the product, but one in three houses will not be controlled and will be able to distribute this product across the country. Let us imagine children smoking a small joint before going to school in the morning. That is unbelievable.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 21st, 2017 / 5:15 p.m.
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Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, the member just made reference to having marijuana plants in homes. I have news for the member across the way that people have alcohol in their homes. Many individuals have bottles and bottles of alcohol. Many individuals have enough bottles in their home that if they drank it all they could die from it.

Is the member implying that people should also have limited amounts of alcohol in homes, because he is so offended that under this legislation people are limited to four plants?

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 21st, 2017 / 5:15 p.m.
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Conservative

Jacques Gourde Conservative Lévis—Lotbinière, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would just like to ask my colleague whether he will be able to look himself in the mirror after he votes for this bill.

I invite my colleague to visit all the psychiatric wings of the hospitals in his riding, to observe the young people there, and to ask himself what got them there. The common denominator is that they started by using marijuana, which led them to other drugs and other circumstances. He should go and tour the hospitals.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 21st, 2017 / 5:15 p.m.
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London West Ontario

Liberal

Kate Young LiberalParliamentary Secretary for Science

Mr. Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to debate Bill C-45. I want to start by saying opposition members are fooling themselves if they believe that young people are not already using cannabis. They are using cannabis in record numbers. The present system just does not work, and we need to do something. In some cases, we have heard it is easier to buy cannabis than it is to buy cigarettes and beer.

The current system is allowing criminals and organized crime to profit. Some people argue, as the former member did, that cannabis is a gateway to far worse drugs. I will tell the House what a gateway is. A gateway is when our young people are buying cannabis from a pusher whose only goal is to get this kid hooked on something even far worse. That is the gateway.

I agree that something needs to be done as far as education is concerned. Bill C-45 includes this. We need to warn young people about the harmful effects of using pot. I was happy to attend, just in the last hour, an event sponsored by the Canadian Nurses Association. Their members are aware that everyone needs to be educated. They released a list of how to reduce the harms of non-medical cannabis use. I thought it was very helpful, so I thought I would mention some of the ideas they have. Barb Shellian, who is the president of the Canadian Nurses Association, says this is a non-judgmental approach, because they agree that whether we like it or not young people are going to consume cannabis. I will list some of the concerns they have, because they are concerns for all of us.

Number one, they say to reduce the harms of non-medical cannabis use, delay use until early adulthood.

Since the risk of dependence is higher when use begins at an earlier age, cannabis use disorder and its related health harms may be reduced or avoided if use is delayed until early adulthood.

I agree. We agree. This is the education that must get out to our young people.

Number two:

Minimize frequency of use—Because the risk of harm increases with the rate of use, avoid frequent, daily or near-daily use.

That is good advice.

Number three:

Try to stop when use becomes hard to control—Frequent users of non-medical cannabis who experience difficulty controlling their use should attempt to stop, with professional help, as necessary.

Number four:

Minimize respiratory complications—To reduce respiratory complications, avoid smoking cannabis with tobacco, refrain from deep inhalation and breath holding, and consider using a vaporizer rather than smoking.

Number five:

Avoid using amounts that are large or highly concentrated—Be wary of excessive use or high-potency THC cannabis, including synthetic cannabinoid products. Consider adjusting the dose by using only the amount needed to achieve the desired effect.

While some people might think this is encouraging the use of cannabis, this is education our young people need. I am so glad that the Canadian Nurses Association has put this together. There are a number of further ideas that I think we should all hear about.

Number six:

Refrain from using non-medical cannabis with alcohol—Mixing non-medical cannabis with alcohol can increase impairment exponentially and can also cause anxiety, nausea, vomiting, or fainting.

Number seven, of course:

Avoid driving while high—Given the effect of cannabis consumed by inhalation typically peaks after 30 minutes and gradually subsides after 1 to 3.5 hours.... avoid driving for at least 6 hours after use by inhalation... Wait longer if high-potency products or larger doses were used, if acute impairment persists or if the cannabis was used with other substances (including alcohol).

This is information we need, and information our young people need. We know young people are consuming cannabis, but are they getting this information? I am so glad that the Canadian Nurses Association has put this out.

Number eight, share with care is an interesting point:

Users should take care to minimize lip contact with joints or implements for smoking or vaporization. Shared items that come in contact with the lips increase the risk of transmitting infections, including meningitis, influenza and other pathogens.

Vulnerable groups should abstain from use—An increased risk for cannabis-related problems can occur in high-risk groups, including pregnant women and individuals with a personal or family history of psychosis. These groups should avoid use altogether.

I could not agree more, and this is information our young people need. It continues:

Use caution when ingesting cannabis—To avoid accidental overdose with cannabis edibles, “start low and go slow.” States where cannabis is legal recommend starting with no more than 10 mg of THC and waiting at least two hours before ingesting more.

This is really good information that comes from the Canadian Nurses Association. I am sure it is on its website, if members want to check it out.

I am so happy that our government is investing in public education and law enforcement, because we not only need to regulate, we need to educate. Therefore, our government is investing up to $274 million to support law enforcement and border efforts to detect and deter drug-impaired driving and to enforce the proposed cannabis legislation and regulations.

We have committed up to $161 million for training front-line officers in how to recognize the signs and symptoms of drug-impaired driving; building law enforcement capacity across the country; providing access to drug-screening devices; developing policy and bolstering research; and raising public awareness about the dangers of drug-impaired driving.

Provinces and territories will be able to access up to $81 million over the next five years for new law enforcement training. This is important. We know that we need to do this hand in hand with legalizing cannabis.

Our government has also committed $46 million over five years for public education, awareness, and surveillance. These additional resources will also allow the government to undertake a robust public awareness campaign so that Canadians, especially young Canadians under the age of 25, are well informed about the dangers of driving under the influence of cannabis and other drugs.

Our government will invest additional resources as needed to make sure there is appropriate capacity in Health Canada, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the Canada Border Services Agency, and the Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness to license, inspect, and enforce all aspects of this proposed legislation.

In the months ahead, our government will share more details of a new licensing fee and excise tax system. It will also continue to engage with all levels of government and indigenous people, because we know that not only the federal government but the provinces and municipalities are very interested in how we are going to roll this out and how the tax system will impact the coffers of their governments.

I want to go back to what I was talking about before, about how we cannot keep our heads in the sand. We have to be realistic that the number of young people smoking pot, consuming cannabis, is very high in Canada. It is one of the highest in the world. This is something that has concerned every parent of a teenager. My children are adults now. I am a grandmother. I worry about the harmful effects of cannabis on my young grandchildren when they get to be teenagers, but I know that by then, we will have the education they need to make sure they are making wise decisions. Decisions are being made by young children every day in this country, and for the most part right now, many young people are making those decisions without thinking twice, without even considering the harm it will do if they decide to start to smoke cannabis.

I look forward to any questions.

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November 21st, 2017 / 5:25 p.m.
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Conservative

Marilyn Gladu Conservative Sarnia—Lambton, ON

Mr. Speaker, the member opposite is quite right that with all the children who are now smoking marijuana, we need to get them off it. It is public education and restricting access that will do that.

I was also at the Canadian Nurses Association event, and I am pleased that it brought out that public awareness and education campaign. Do members know why it was brought out? It was because there is a total gap in that area. Although the current government has been committed to this promise for two years, it has done absolutely nothing.

I have seen the RFP that went out for a contractor to put together a program to roll out public education and awareness. That RFP was awarded at the end of October. There is no education program. I have certainly been looking for it.

Why did the Liberals, if they knew they were going to legalize marijuana, not start on public education and awareness two years ago?

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November 21st, 2017 / 5:25 p.m.
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Liberal

Kate Young Liberal London West, ON

Mr. Speaker, the member's point is well taken. We do need to educate, and we are doing that today. We need to make sure that our young people get the information, because the way they receive information is a lot different from how we used to receive information. We are going to start now in the House as we debate this legislation. We are going to talk about it.

We thank the Canadian Nurses Association for getting involved in this education campaign. We agree that we need to do even more, and that is why our government is committed to spending millions of dollars to educate people across Canada.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 21st, 2017 / 5:25 p.m.
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Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I represent Winnipeg North. As in many communities across our country, we have a lot of young people who are especially vulnerable. They are vulnerable to individuals who participate in gangs or the criminal element. There is a financial incentive to go to our schools and our playgrounds to promote the use of cannabis. The single objective of these people is to bring money into an organization or to put money in their own pockets. They are not thinking of health and well-being or the long-term impact it will have on our young people.

For the first time, we are seeing government legislation that would go a long way toward dealing with that issue. I wonder if my colleague could provide her thoughts on my comments.

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November 21st, 2017 / 5:25 p.m.
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Liberal

Kate Young Liberal London West, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for raising that issue and for talking about the gateway drug.

Prior to getting into politics, I worked for a school board, and we would talk quite often about drugs in schools and how to combat them. It was very difficult. I was concerned about what schools my children were going to. I was hoping they would be in a school where there were no drugs. This was when my children were young. I spoke to both a trustee and one of the superintendents of that school. It was disheartening to hear them say that there are drugs in all schools.

That was years ago, and it has not gone away. If people think they can make sure their young people are not faced with this issue, they are really mistaken. Unfortunately, young people are getting drugs from people who have nothing but their own interests in mind. They want to make money, and they are making money illegally. The best thing for us to do is to legalize cannabis and make sure that we provide strategic education to make sure that our young people know the risks involved.

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November 21st, 2017 / 5:30 p.m.
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Liberal

William Amos Liberal Pontiac, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is a privilege to speak on Bill C-45, because so many Canadians are talking about it right now. If one goes to a school in the Pontiac, and I have visited several, or to a municipal council to talk about what the federal government is doing that is new, much of the same thing is heard, which is that Canadians are interested and concerned. More than anything, they are open-minded about finding the right path on this issue of marijuana and cannabis legalization. Why? Simply put, it is because they know that what has been done in the past has not worked. At the end of the day, Canadians expect the government to not simply stick its head in the sand but to react to evidence and the problems of everyday communities, where we see rates of the consumption of cannabis by our youth that really concerns them.

It is very important that we are taking this opportunity today to debate this bill and to consider what our communities are saying. I would like to report a bit on what I have heard and speak about why I am hearing support from my constituents in the Pontiac for this bill.

Number one, there is an appreciation that a public health approach is being brought on this matter. At the end of the day, slapping criminal sanctions on individual Canadians for engaging in the consumption of cannabis is an approach that has not worked. It has landed a lot of people in jail, and in particular, it has landed a lot of indigenous Canadians in jail. That is a major concern for constituents in the riding of Pontiac.

It has allowed criminals, organized crime, to take advantage of a market and sell products in an uncontrolled fashion to the most vulnerable in our community. That is simply not acceptable. We need to do better.

I was playing ping pong the other day in a high school in Fort-Coulonge, and I was thinking about how great it was that we were able to play a sport in a school and have fun. I knew that just down hall, at some other point in the day, there would be an opportunity for a kid to buy marijuana. Why? It is because the market is uncontrolled. The market is unregulated, and it is being run by criminals. We can no longer hide, and we can no longer fail Canadians on this important issue.

Our youth deserve protection. It should not be easier to buy marijuana than it is to buy a pack of cigarettes or a six-pack of beer. It should not be that way.

I am proud of our government for acting and for all the consultation it has done. It has consulted with law enforcement, with health experts, and with safety experts, road safety experts in particular. There was a Task Force on Cannabis Legalization and Regulation, and pursuant to its advice, this legislation was developed. This was not done in a hurry. It was done after careful consideration.

I am so pleased that caucus members, in particular the parliamentary secretary to the minister of health at the time, came to visit the Pontiac to discuss the concerns of our community. If we are going to get to a place where we legalize but strictly regulate and restrict access to cannabis, we need to do so in a manner that has the full confidence of Canadians.

I appreciate that it is the opposition's job to oppose and to raise issues it is hearing from constituents as well, and that is a good thing. However, this issue of cannabis legalization and strict regulation and control has to be done with a view to the public interest.

I do believe there is a strong consensus emerging in Canada that we can get there by learning from the mistakes and successes internationally, and that we can create a new framework that will ultimately protect our kids, clean up our streets, and get us to a healthier country because, at the end of the day, that is what we all want. We want safer communities, healthier Canadians, and protected kids. It is comforting to many of my Pontiac constituents.

I will admit quite frankly that many seniors in my riding have expressed concerns about whether this will just open the floodgates. The response is no, not at all. In fact, this bill, complete with the investments our government is making, which I will speak to in a moment, is the single best way to tighten the societal measures that will restrict access. When I tell constituents that this bill would make it a specific criminal offence to sell cannabis to a minor and establish significant penalties for those who engage young Canadians in cannabis-related activities, whether consumption or distribution, etc., they understand that this is not a free-for-all. It is absolutely not about that. It is about protecting our communities in a smarter and better way.

I would like to take a moment to talk about investments in public education and law enforcement. This is not just a law that our government is presenting; it is a whole investment program that will ensure that these protections and regulations are put in place. For example, our government promised to invest $46 million over five years in public education, awareness, and surveillance. These additional resources would allow the government to undertake a robust public awareness campaign so that Canadians, especially our children, are well informed about the dangers of driving under the influence of cannabis and other drugs.

The people in our ridings are well aware that, for a long time, young people across Canada have been making the poor decision to smoke, rather than drink, before getting behind the wheel because they think that it is somehow more acceptable or that they will not be caught. We all know that this is not true, but we need an awareness campaign, and our law enforcement officers need to be given the resources they need. We are making sure that happens. We have committed up to $161 million to train front-line officers to recognize the signs and symptoms of drug-impaired driving, build law enforcement capacity across the country, provide access to drug-screening devices, develop policy, bolster research, and raise public awareness of the dangers of drug-impaired driving.

This is a serious set of legislative measures and investments. What we are really doing is investing in the future of a smarter Canada, which does not stick its head in the sand, does not say there is no health issue, and does not ignore the fact that youth consumption of cannabis products is at unacceptable rates, but does accept that we can do better if we look at the evidence, go into it with our eyes open, and tell ourselves yes, we can do better.

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November 21st, 2017 / 5:40 p.m.
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Conservative

Marilyn Gladu Conservative Sarnia—Lambton, ON

Mr. Speaker, I fully agree that this is going to be a big change for Canada. We know that 88% of Canadians do not use cannabis and will be subject to unintended consequences if we do not do this right.

The member talked about the need for public education, and I certainly heard today from the benches across the aisle that it is no different from alcohol. That is not true for young people, because it is extremely harmful to them. Therefore, part of the problem will be to educate the members on the benches across the aisle. If public education is so important, why did the government do nothing for the last two years on public awareness?

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November 21st, 2017 / 5:40 p.m.
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Liberal

William Amos Liberal Pontiac, QC

Mr. Speaker, the answer is clear. There is no truth to the statement that the government has done nothing. This government, by virtue of engaging in this very debate, by virtue of bringing forward legislation, and by virtue of campaigning on the need to shift our approach, has brought this debate to the very front and centre of Canadian politics.

I can tell members that when I go to high schools, which I regularly do in the Pontiac, the very first question raised is cannabis legalization and how it is going to work. The youth of today are hungry for education on this issue, because they have been learning it on their own without the help of government for so many years.

We need to change the channel here and to be honest with our kids. I think my nine year old and six year old are going to look back on this era and think, thank goodness, the government took its head out of the sand.

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November 21st, 2017 / 5:40 p.m.
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NDP

Alexandre Boulerice NDP Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his speech.

However, I would like to remind him that, in their 2015 platform, the Liberals stated that arresting and prosecuting these offences is expensive for our criminal justice system, which was clogged with far too many minor, non-violent offences. We agreed and they were quite right.

However, the Liberals refused to listen to the NDP's solution, which was to decriminalize marijuana as soon as they were elected. Consequently, people continue to be arrested and charged. People have criminal records. This is going to cause problems for these people when they apply for jobs, look for housing, work abroad, and travel.

What are the Liberals going to do about pardons for people who have a criminal record because the Liberals did not do the right thing?

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November 21st, 2017 / 5:40 p.m.
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Liberal

William Amos Liberal Pontiac, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for his question.

I find this very curious because we now find ourselves in a situation where the NDP opposition is interested in the issue of decriminalization of various drugs.

The Liberal Party is prepared to discuss legalization, very strict regulation, and control of drugs. However, we are not interested in the notion of decriminalization, whether of cannabis or of any other drug.

I concur that we are on the same wavelength when it comes to focusing on public health issues. I see that we agree on that. However, Canadians are not interested in moving forward with decriminalization.

I am convinced that by using an approach based on evidence, Canada will head down the right path one step at a time.

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November 21st, 2017 / 5:40 p.m.
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Liberal

Chandra Arya Liberal Nepean, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for mentioning it is a program, and not just a law. During the previous administration, 10 years of doing nothing made it much easier for our kids to buy cannabis than a pack of cigarettes or a bottle of beer.

Could my hon. colleague expand on how it is good to have a combination of legislation and education on this particular issue?

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November 21st, 2017 / 5:45 p.m.
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Liberal

William Amos Liberal Pontiac, QC

Mr. Speaker, that is an important question.

Yes, it would be inappropriate for this government to advance a legislative proposal without significant funds, and that is exactly what we are seeing. Canadians expect this. They expect us to have a series of measures that will educate and protect in collaboration with our provincial and territorial partners. This is one aspect I may not have raised sufficiently in my earlier points.

At the end of the day, this is a joint initiative. I have been really impressed by how the provinces have come to the table and been working hard. As people are well aware, there have been meetings of high-level officials every two weeks for many months. That is because we all understand that this is going to take a collaborative effort to bring us to a place where we are focusing on the health outcomes of Canadians, the safety of Canadians, and not simply on slapping criminal penalties on those who otherwise should not be in jail.

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November 9th, 2017 / 11:20 a.m.
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Liberal

Ron McKinnon Liberal Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam, BC

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak in support of Bill C-45, an act respecting cannabis and to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, the Criminal Code and other Acts.

I think all members will agree that protecting the health and safety of Canadians is a key priority for all orders of government in Canada. With this in mind, on April 13, Bill C-45 was introduced in the House. Its goal is the creation of a strict national framework for controlling the production, distribution, sale, and possession of cannabis in Canada. The bill would provide for legal access to cannabis where adults could obtain it through an appropriate legal framework, sourced from a strictly regulated industry or by growing it safely and in limited amounts at home.

The bill would also establish safeguards to protect youth, including prohibiting the sale or distribution of cannabis to anyone under 18 and restricting marketing and advertising activities geared towards youth.

Growers and manufacturers of cannabis would require a federal licence and be subject to a strict oversight regime intended to control product safety and quality, and to prevent diversion to the illegal market. Effective oversight and control of cannabis cannot be achieved by working in isolation from our partners in the provinces, territories, and municipalities.

From the outset, our government has been clear that the control and regulation of cannabis requires a pan-Canadian approach, involving all orders of government, at all stages of development and implementation. This reality is reflected in the important role that our provincial and territorial partners played in the work of the task force on cannabis legalization and regulation.

The task force was established in June 2016 with a mandate to provide advice to the federal government on how to legalize, strictly regulate, and restrict access to cannabis. Input from the provinces and territories, as well as from indigenous communities, was essential to the successful work of the task force.

The provinces and territories nominated experts to serve on the task force, and made suggestions as to who should be consulted. These individuals met with the task force, and shared their views on cannabis legalization and regulation and on how best to achieve our shared objectives of better protecting public health and safety.

It should come as no surprise that the input from the provinces and territories was instrumental in shaping many important provisions of Bill C-45.

Consistent with the task force report, Bill C-45 proposes a shared framework for the control and regulation of cannabis that would require ongoing federal, provincial, and territorial collaboration. The bill sets out clear controls and standards around cannabis, and provides flexibility for each government to work within their own jurisdictional authority and experience. Those who are best placed to implement each aspect of the framework would do so.

At this time, I would like to explain how the various roles and responsibilities would be shared between our governments, beginning with the federal role. Bill C-45 proposes that the federal government would be responsible for establishing and maintaining a national framework for regulating the production of cannabis, setting standards for health and safety, and establishing criminal prohibitions.

This would include establishing restrictions on adult access to cannabis and serious criminal penalties for those operating outside the legal system; creating rules to limit how cannabis or cannabis accessories could be promoted, packaged, labelled, and displayed, in line with the rules in place for tobacco products; instituting a federal licensing regime for cannabis production that would draw on lessons learned from the current system for access to cannabis for medical purposes; establishing industry-wide rules and standards, for example, serving sizes or potency limits, as well as a tracking of cannabis to prevent diversion to the illegal market; creating minimum federal conditions to provide a national framework to protect public health and public safety; and enforcing cannabis importation and exportation prohibitions at the border, except when legally authorized.

At the same time, Bill C-45 recognizes that provinces and territories and municipalities have a key role to play in the new system.

The legislation would respect that provinces and territories, together with municipalities, have the authority to tailor certain rules in their own jurisdictions and enforce them through a range of tools, including administrative sanctions. Consistent with the recommendations from the task force, the provinces and territories, working with municipalities, would be able to establish rules with respect to where cannabis-based businesses could be located within a community, and also where cannabis could be consumed in public.

Provinces and territories could also set additional requirements to address issues of local concern. For example, provincial and territorial legislatures would have the authority to set a higher minimum age for cannabis possession. Provinces and territories could also set more restrictive limits on possession or personal cultivation, including lowering the number of plants or restricting where they may be cultivated.

Thus, Bill C-45 is drafted in such a way as to provide the provinces and territories with the ability to establish stricter rules under their own authorities.

We are pleased to see that the provinces and territories are already taking action to prepare for the legalization and regulation of cannabis. From coast to coast to coast, provinces and territories are continuing the conversation with Canadians about how best to regulate the sale and distribution of cannabis in their towns, cities, and communities.

While provinces and territories will decide on a system that responds to their particular circumstances, it is clear that all jurisdictions share our government's responsibilities to keep cannabis out of the hands of youth, to shut out organized crime, and to protect public health and safety. This is true for all orders of government.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 9th, 2017 / 11:25 a.m.
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Conservative

Ted Falk Conservative Provencher, MB

Madam Speaker, having served with my colleague across the way from Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam on the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, and being the only two non-lawyers on the committee, I know that he is a very common-sense and practical kind of person. Therefore, my question to him is this. Does the legislation really meet the objectives that the Liberals have stated, that is, to minimize the access that youth would have to cannabis? Does he believe that allowing every household in Canada to have four mature marijuana plants would minimize the exposure and access that youth would have to cannabis?

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November 9th, 2017 / 11:25 a.m.
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Liberal

Ron McKinnon Liberal Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam, BC

Madam Speaker, I also appreciate serving on the justice and human rights committee with the hon. member for Provencher.

In answer to his question as to whether the legislation would serve to protect Canadians and youth, absolutely. It also recognizes the role of parental responsibility in households in the same way that parents and adults in a household now protect their children from access to alcohol that may be widely present in the home. If there is cannabis present or being grown in the home, it would still be part of that parental responsibility to maintain control in a responsible way, just as parents do when looking after their children, and as they will do throughout their lives.

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November 9th, 2017 / 11:30 a.m.
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NDP

Wayne Stetski NDP Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Madam Speaker, I lived in Lincoln Park in Port Coquitlam for 10 years, and I still have friends who live there. I know how important this issue is to the people of Port Coquitlam.

In my own riding, I held a town hall about a year ago where 3,300 people stayed on the phone for an hour to learn about this initiative, and of course to express some of their concerns.

About a year ago, I met with the Canadian Nurses Association. I asked one of the nurses there what she thought about the legalization of marijuana, and some of the concerns. I appreciate that the member talked first and foremost about safety. She said that she has a friend who works in emergency rooms in Colorado, where marijuana has now been legal for a number of years, and that this friend had said that the number one thing that was now bringing people through the doors of emergency rooms in Colorado was related to marijuana, either because of impaired accidents, both automobile and otherwise, and paranoia from combining mental health prescription drugs with marijuana.

Therefore, I would like to ask the member this. Do you feel comfortable that the proposal you have brought forward will actually keep Canadians safe?

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November 9th, 2017 / 11:30 a.m.
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Liberal

Ron McKinnon Liberal Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam, BC

Madam Speaker, the legislation will keep Canadians safe in many ways. For example, marijuana is currently very widely used among our youth. Canada has one of the highest per capita rates of marijuana use among youth in any developed country. The problem is the marijuana they are getting is from an unknown source, of unknown potency, and unknown quality. It also puts them into contact with the black market, which is a gateway to many other serious drugs and substances.

Providing a controlled source of marijuana of a known provenance, with a known potency and purity, would help that situation. It would also provide a way for people to buy and sell it legally, controlled in a similar way to tobacco.

The biggest effort to keep children away from using marijuana is going to be around education, not by prohibition, and not by threatening them with some sort of criminal prohibition. It devolves upon all the adults in the equation to look after the children, to keep them educated, and to advise them of the danger of this substance.

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November 9th, 2017 / 11:30 a.m.
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Conservative

Luc Berthold Conservative Mégantic—L'Érable, QC

Madam Speaker, I do not detect much enthusiasm when my colleagues on the government side are talking about Bill C-45, the marijuana legalization bill. Many of them simply read out prepared speeches and do not really believe everything they are saying.

Since I live in a rural area, in a community that is very worried about what is happening in Canada for the first time in its history, I cannot honestly imagine that, deep down, the members opposite are happy about moving forward with Bill C-45. I am not the only one who thinks so. There is very strong opposition in my riding, of course. Police bodies, municipalities, and provincial governments are also opposed to having this kind of legislation imposed on them and especially object to the government's utterly irrational agenda with regard to Bill C-45. Doctors, psychiatrists, scientists, and leaders everywhere are speaking out.

Just before coming here to give this speech, I asked some of my constituents about their thoughts on Bill C-45. Here are some of the comments I received:

I no longer live in the area, but I am still 200% against it. People are not allowed to smoke anywhere, but soon people are really going to start complaining when they realize just how much pot stinks. Legalizing the drug is a really stupid idea.

Here is another comment:

We have enough trouble dealing with drunk driving, and now they want to add another driving problem with this legislation. The accident rate went up in countries where they legalized cannabis, and we will be no exception.

I am not the one who is saying this. Here is another quotation:

I am 100% against. I have seen the havoc drugs have wreaked on the lives of users and their loved ones, and it really is not pretty. We cannot forget that this “soft” drug is a stepping stone to other hard drugs. Therefore, people will be saying that it is no big deal because it is legal. This is very dangerous, especially for our youth.

That is not all. Here is another one:

It seems that politicians have not consulted, or have not consulted enough, with experts on the subject.

Here is one final comment:

They are already having a hard time providing mental health care, so how are they going to deal with growing demand because statistics show that marijuana use often leads to problems like that and makes a lot of people depressed. This makes me worry about the future.

If the proper process had been followed, these people would not be so worried. If this bill were addressing an actual need, these people would already have answers to their questions. They would not be so worried about how marijuana legalization will affect our roads and our young people, the very young people the government claims it is helping by legalizing marijuana.

I recently read a comment about how this legislation will normalize marijuana to the point that young people may be even more interested in using it. I am trying to keep my feelings out of this, but I must admit I am having a hard time.

July 1, 2018, is nine months from now. In September, the Ontario Provincial Police Deputy Commissioner told the Standing Committee on Health that more time and more resources are needed to train police officers. Those two elements are lacking here. This is how the Deputy Commissioner described the likelihood that police officers will be ready by July 1, 2018:

...it's impossible. The damage that can be done between the time of new legislation and police officers being ready to enforce the law...can make it very hard for us to ever regain that foothold.

We heard the same message from Mario Harel, the president of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, when he appeared before the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights:

...are we delivering on the public safety objectives Canadians would expect of us? We are 10 months away, so allow me to put this into perspective.

We have 65,000 police officers in Canada who require training to understand the new legislation once it is passed into law....Provincial governments for the most part are still developing regulatory and delivery schemes, which directly impact law enforcement.

Quite frankly, the capacity currently is not there to deliver the amount of training required.

The police themselves are the ones saying this.

Why are the Liberals so determined to rush Bill C-45 through? What are they hiding? What is the hurry? Who do they have to answer to, if not Canadians, police chiefs, doctors, and psychiatrists? Who is the government trying to pander to by rushing to legalize marijuana?

This will have a serious impact on young people. We know this. I have heard from many people who are saying the same thing. What the government is claiming is totally false.

If young people under 25 are allowed to use cannabis, this will have a serious impact. It has been proven that this can have a permanent and possibly very serious effect on their mental health and brain development. I will not start quoting scientists and all the studies that have been done on that, for there are too many to name.

All I know is that if the government goes ahead with this on July 1, 2018, Canada will not be the same, Canadian society will not be the same. The Liberal government and every Liberal member will be to blame. The hon. member for Compton—Stanstead, the hon. member for Shefford, the hon. member for Saint-Maurice—Champlain, the hon. member for Québec, the hon. member for Lac-Saint-Jean, the hon. member for Argenteuil—La Petite-Nation, the hon. member for Gaspésie—Les Îles-de-la-Madeleine, the hon. member for Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, the hon. member for Louis-Hébert, the hon. member for Avignon—La Mitis—Matane—Matapédia, the hon. member for Brome—Missisquoi, and the hon. member for Saint-Jean and all the others will be to blame for everything that happens after July 1, 2018.

They still have a chance to get this right, but, if they continue to impose Bill C-45 on Canadians, after July 1, 2018 it will be too late.

Police chiefs have said that they are not ready. The damage will be done and we will never be able to go back. This is where this government is taking us. This is where this government is taking our society. This is where this government is taking Canada after July 1, 2018.

History will be defined by what came before July 1, 2018, and what came after July 1, 2018.

Those are the facts and that is what we are up against. I hope that the members I named and all the others, such as the hon. member for Pontiac, the hon. member for Thérèse-De Blainville, the hon. member for Pierrefonds—Dollard, the hon. member for Dorval—Lachine—LaSalle, the hon. member for Bourassa, and the hon. member for Laval—Les Îles will understand this before the damage is done.

We are at a point where individual members of the Liberal government must assume their responsibilities towards their constituents, the youth in their ridings, and Canada.

I regularly see the member for Scarborough Southwest defend this irresponsible date of July 1, 2018. I invite him to come and tour our regions and to speak with our mayors and police chiefs so that he will understand once and for all that the date of July 1, 2018 is premature. Canada is not ready to deal with these changes.

Personally, I prefer the Canada as it exists now prior to July 1, 2018, to the Liberals' Canada after July 1, 2018.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 9th, 2017 / 11:40 a.m.
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Scarborough Southwest Ontario

Liberal

Bill Blair LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada and to the Minister of Health

Madam Speaker, I thank the member for his invitation to go to his riding to give his constituents information, not to cause fear but to help them be better informed.

I find the member's comment that he prefers the situation as it currently exists intriguing. Let us be clear what that situation is. Today we have the highest rate of cannabis use among children of any country in the world. The member apparently prefers that. The current supply of cannabis being sold to our children comes from organized crime. They make billions of dollars from that. The member prefers that.

I am just curious. Does the member not see that with the imposition of a strict regulatory regime for the production and distribution of cannabis we would have an opportunity to do a better job of protecting our kids and a better job of making our communities safe, displacing organized crime from this business?

I find the current situation unacceptable, but the member opposite laments its passing. I would like him to explain why the current situation is his preferred environment.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 9th, 2017 / 11:45 a.m.
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Conservative

Luc Berthold Conservative Mégantic—L'Érable, QC

Madam Speaker, we are looking to the facts.

With respect to Colorado, consumption of marijuana rose after legalization. That is why I prefer the Canada as it exists now to the one that will take shape after July 2018.

I will remind the member for Scarborough Southwest, who was a respected police chief, what his colleagues say when asked if it is possible for the police to be ready for July 1, 2018.

“Impossible. Senior police officials tell MPs they won't be ready for legal cannabis.”

That is the reality, and these are the facts. I am tired of hearing them insist otherwise.

In my riding's high schools, it is not true that most students consume cannabis. It is simply not true. The students who consume cannabis are far outnumbered by those who do not. Unfortunately, once marijuana is legalized and normalized, the scales could tip the other way, with consumption becoming more common among youth than not. That is what will happen.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 9th, 2017 / 11:45 a.m.
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NDP

Robert Aubin NDP Trois-Rivières, QC

Madam Speaker, I want to thank my colleague, the member for Mégantic—L'Érable, for his remarks. I thought one thing he said was particularly interesting, namely that he holds the Liberal members to blame.

I was under the impression that every member of this Parliament was elected to be a lawmaker. We did not choose this poorly crafted bill, evidently. However, I have trouble understanding how my colleague, as a Conservative, would bear some of the blame, given that his party proposed no amendments or changes, not even to postpone the coming into force of what I must say is a rather poorly crafted bill.

Listening to his speech, I shared some of the concerns expressed by the people of his riding, because we hear these concerns in many ridings.

Why are the Conservatives not proposing any amendments to this deeply flawed bill?

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 9th, 2017 / 11:45 a.m.
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Conservative

Marilyn Gladu Conservative Sarnia—Lambton, ON

Madam Speaker, the government is continually saying that this legislation would keep cannabis out of the hands of our children, but that is not true. The provinces disagree. The New Brunswick health minister just came out with some added provisions to try to protect children from homegrown cannabis. I see that Saskatchewan advocates are looking for more things.

Subclause 8(c) of the bill would allow children aged 12 to 17 to have up to five grams.

Could the member share what they think in Quebec about those provisions?

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 9th, 2017 / 11:45 a.m.
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Conservative

Luc Berthold Conservative Mégantic—L'Érable, QC

Madam Speaker, everyone agrees that it makes no sense for children between the ages of 12 to 17 to be in possession of marijuana.

Unfortunately, that is probably what is going to happen, particularly since this bill will allow people to grow marijuana at home. Who is going to start counting the leaves on their pot plants to make sure that three or four of them have not been stolen by children between the ages of 12 to 17? That does not make any sense. This measure is irresponsible and disrespectful toward Canadian youth.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 9th, 2017 / 11:45 a.m.
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Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise to share a bit of information that will hopefully be of benefit to members and will get Conservative members to rethink some of the spin they are hearing from their Conservative colleagues, or possibly their research team. I do not know exactly where they are getting their facts. On the last question, about the five grams, it would be illegal under this legislation to have five grams in one's possession. Less than that would be under provincial jurisdiction.

Let me start by commenting that I was really touched by the comments made earlier today by representatives of all political parties. As someone who has served in the Canadian Forces, I have had the opportunity to participate in many marches in remembrance. I would like to briefly provide a comment of respect for those war veterans I marched with back in the early 1980s. I applaud and recognize their ultimate sacrifice to make Canada what it is today.

I understand that the New Democrats and the Green Party will be supporting this legislation. Canadians need not be surprised. Liberals talked about this in the last federal election. It was in our election platform that this was what we would do. At the end of the day, there has been a great deal of support for what the government is moving forward with. I am surprised at the degree to which the Conservative Party seems to want to fight this issue. What surprises me most is the fact that it does not have any problem using misinformation.

In Canada today we have the highest consumption rate in terms of young people engaged in using cannabis. That means that there are more young people per capita in Canada who have tried or used cannabis than in countries like the United States, the U.K., and Australia. We already know that our system is not working, and we need to address the issue. It might affect some ridings more than others, but at the end of the day, it is a national issue.

There are already too many young people being encouraged to use cannabis. There is a criminal element out there that wants young people to use it. They sell it to young people, because they have a vested financial interest in getting young kids to use cannabis. This legislation, in good part, would deal with that.

The Conservatives seem to have no problem with people going into our schools and telling children to buy bags of cannabis. Those students are going to be experimenting with who knows what, because criminal elements are trying to get our kids to smoke marijuana. We do not know what is in the bags being circulated in our schools, or in the cigarettes, or tokes, or whatever they are called. Excuse me for not knowing the word. We have no idea what the drugs are being laced with or what is sold to children in our schools. What we know for a fact is that there are too many young people in Canada who are being enticed to participate in the consumption of cannabis.

We finally have a government that is saying that it is going to strictly regulate, legalize, and restrict access to cannabis. In the area I represent, I believe that is good news. Every year we get gangs or that criminal element making hundreds of millions of dollars. A major amount of that money comes through selling cannabis to young people. I am talking about 11 to 13-year-olds.

When people talk about the impact on the brain and on a young person's growth, there is no question that we need to be concerned about this. However, if members are really concerned about this and they want to do something about it, they might want to consider voting in favour of the legislation. If they are really sincere in their comments about about young people, they will vote in favour of this.

I am concerned about the young people whom I represent in Winnipeg North. I want to see less money going to the criminal element there. I want to see fewer 11-year-olds consuming cannabis. This legislation is a giant step in the right direction to allow that to happen. The Conservatives seem to believe that if the legislation passes, people who have consumed cannabis will be driving around on streets all over Canada. I have news for them. That happens today.

When it came to training our police or our law enforcement agencies, the Conservatives committed $2 million. This government is committing $161 million for training of law enforcement officers and providing the type of equipment that is going to be necessary. Therefore, not only are we doing the right thing by bringing forward the legislation, we are also providing the financial means necessary to assist our law enforcement agencies. I do not share the opinions of Conservative members who seem to think that our law enforcement agencies will not be ready in time. The resources and the sense of commitment we see day in and day out from law enforcement officers will ensure we are in a ready position to deal with this good, sound legislation.

A great deal of effort has been put into this legislation. I made reference to the fact that we had an election platform. Canadians have been consulted extensively on this issue. We have had a task force on it. We have standing committees that have dealt with it, either directly or indirectly. A great deal of debate has taken place, not only in Ottawa but in our constituencies. We now have before us legislation that would make a positive difference.

I want to bring it down to the real grassroots communities we represent. Today, far too many dollars flow to the criminal elements in our communities. Cannabis is one of those things that contributes hundreds of millions of dollars every year to that. This legislation would help to get rid of that. By doing that, we will see fewer young people using cannabis because we will be taking the profit away from the criminal element, which has a financial interest in getting our young people on cannabis or at least trying it. That is one of the reasons why more young people in Canada use cannabis than in any other country in the world.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 9th, 2017 / 11:55 a.m.
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NDP

Robert Aubin NDP Trois-Rivières, QC

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his speech.

There are 338 members of the House of Commons. The government has a slight majority, which means that it is in charge of planning our country's legislative agenda. That brings us to the bill proposed by the Liberal government. The 338 MPs are the ears and the voice of the people we represent. The members on this side of the House are not all complete idiots who do not care about what our constituents say.

How is it then that not one of the 38 amendments proposed by the NDP to try to strengthen this bill was accepted? One has to wonder.

How is it that the Liberals always seem to have all the answers?

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 9th, 2017 / noon
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Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Madam Speaker, whether with this legislation or other legislation, we have seen a change in attitude at the standing committees. I am very familiar with the amendments and the process in which amendments are brought forward. The standing committees control the committee, what is debated, the votes, and so forth. We have had standing committees in which amendments have been brought forward and have passed. Opposition amendments have passed, many in fact, on a wide variety of legislation. We can contrast that to the former government. I could not name one amendment that ever passed during the years of the Conservative majority government.

Our government listens. It is very responsible with all ideas brought forward. I do not want to comment specifically on the amendments the member across the way might have brought forward, but our government gives consideration to all amendments.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 9th, 2017 / noon
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Conservative

Bernard Généreux Conservative Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup, QC

Madam Speaker, I listened to my colleague defend this bill with great passion, but I do not know where this passion is coming from.

The Liberals want to usher in the type of world where, starting July 1, 2018, a 12-year-old will be able to legally access marijuana. I have children and grandchildren. In all honesty, I cannot believe that, in a developed country like ours, we are going to be sending a message to kids that it is perfectly acceptable and easy to do drugs whenever they want.

Does my colleague have any grandchildren? Does he think that the day when they can easily buy drugs on a street corner will be a good day for his grandchildren?

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 9th, 2017 / noon
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Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Madam Speaker, I have grandchildren. Like the member across the way, I do not want my grandchildren to go in a direction that is unhealthy for them. That is one of the reasons why I think this is good legislation. I do not want some 22-year-old individual trying to sell my grandchild marijuana. If he sells him that little bag of marijuana, he will make money that will go into criminal activities. Millions of dollars go into criminal activities, and that happens today. It is out of concern for my grandchildren and other children that we need this legislation passed.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 9th, 2017 / noon
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Conservative

Joël Godin Conservative Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier, QC

Madam Speaker, first of all, I want to congratulate the member for Winnipeg North on being nominated for hardest-working MP. Well done, dear colleague.

I have tremendous respect for my colleague, but I would add the caveat that just because a person is hard-working does not mean everything they do is right.

I also want to take this opportunity to remind members that November 5 was municipal elections day in Quebec. The 28 municipalities in the beautiful riding of Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier voted in a mix of new officials and re-elected incumbents. The day after the elections, I wasted no time in congratulating the mayors and councillors. However, a warning was in order as well. In eight months' time, these municipal councillors and mayors will have a problem to deal with. These elected officials will be responsible for making sure life goes on in their municipalities after July 1, 2018. They will have decisions to make. They will have to keep an eye on their parks. What will be happening around schools?

My colleague said earlier that 12-year-olds could be walking around with drugs in their pockets. We must not forget that children are more impressionable than adults. I am deeply troubled.

Municipal elected officials will also have to look at what this means for highway safety codes. Those are under provincial jurisdiction, but municipalities do have local responsibilities. Recently, the Government of Quebec enacted legislation giving municipalities additional responsibilities, including speed limits in residential areas. Municipalities handle that. What a gift for our newly elected officials.

I take no pleasure in rising in the House today to speak to a Liberal bill that will destroy our youth, theact respecting cannabis and to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, the Criminal Code and other acts.

I was talking about municipalities. We also have to talk about the other level of government, the provincial government, which will have to deal with all these problems in return for a portion of the federal government's revenues from legalizing this product.

Many studies have made it abundantly clear that using marijuana affects people's health, especially the health of our young people. We must not forget that health is under provincial jurisdiction.

We also have to talk about road safety. We have no idea how our hard-working police officers are going to enforce that. There has been talk of training and investment, even of sending people to the United States for training. Nobody is ready for this. We should be taking our time.

As for personnel management, the Quebec minister of labour does not know what to do about the problem. People will be going to work after using drugs. It is a lot harder to verify people's state after they use drugs than after they drink. This is just one more thing being downloaded onto the provinces.

A university president from the Quebec City area asked how they are supposed to deal with this and manage it on campus. A myriad questions remain unanswered, and yet the government is fixated on one thing: July 1, 2018. Why is there such a rush to get this bill into law?

I recognize that drug use exists and that we need to do something. However, just because the government cannot control an existing problem does not mean that we should trivialize and legalize it. We should be taking more responsible steps and taking the time to come up with better solutions. I do not think this is the right way to tackle the problem.

We need to work on prevention. We need to encourage our youth to play sports and get involved in the arts and in their community. Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier has 500 organizations. Their problem right now is that they cannot renew their membership lists or find new volunteers.

Why has the federal government not developed a program to encourage our youth to get involved in their community? When they are involved in sports, dancing, singing, or arts and crafts, whatever the activity, that is all they think about. They do not have time for mischief or smoking marijuana.

The government opposite outlined specific purposes in the legislation. They are:

a) protect the health of young persons by restricting their access to cannabis;

However, it will be sold everywhere. Furthermore, people will have easy access from home since they will be allowed to grow their own pot plants. I will continue:

b) protect young persons and others from inducements to use cannabis;

Once again, it will be available everywhere. Here is the the third purpose:

c) provide for the licit production of cannabis to reduce illicit activities in relation to cannabis;

In other words, the government is saying that it will kill organized crime, but the Canadian Police Association said that it was naive to believe that organized crime activity could be restrained, reduced, or influenced. That is the word the Canadian Police Association used to describe this government. Then, the bill goes on:

(d) deter illicit activities in relation to cannabis through appropriate sanctions and enforcement measures;

Young people from 12 to 17 will apparently be able to go around with 5 grams of marijuana, which is the equivalent of 10 to 15 joints depending on their size. I will keep reading:

(e) reduce the burden on the criminal justice system in relation to cannabis;

Yes, we agree on decriminalization, but let us make the distinction between decriminalization and legalization. All 338 members of Parliament probably made some mistakes in their youth. It is certainly better to pay a fine, as we do for speeding, than it is to have a criminal record. The bill goes on:

(f) provide access to a quality-controlled supply of cannabis; and

(g) enhance public awareness of the health risks associated with cannabis use.

The government is saying that marijuana is not good for people's health, but it is going to legalize it. The government is saying that people should not use it, but it is going to put measures in place that will make it more accessible to our young people. I rise in the House today to protect our young people. That is important for any self-respecting society. It is naive to think that this is going to get rid of organized crime.

My goal is to protect young people under 25. All studies show that the brain development is complete by age 25. Why put young people between the ages of 18 and 25 at risk? The government is treating our young people like lab rats. We are the first G20 country that wants to legalize this drug. Why? We will become a testing ground and that is unacceptable. We are sacrificing a generation. That shows a lack of respect for our young people and makes it seem the government does not believe in the future of our country.

This government is here for the wrong reasons. It is spending money hand over fist and now has backed itself into a corner, so it is looking for a way to make some fast cash. First, that is an irresponsible way for a government to behave, because it has no vision. Second, it is using our young people to fill its coffers. The government has failed to mention what the cost of the consequences will be. We need to take the time to find a more respectful solution.

Even the tax is set out in budget 2017. We are wasting our time here today. The Liberals want this measure to take effect on July 1, 2018, and they did not agree to any of the amendments proposed by the NPD. They are looking forward to July 1, when they can raise some money for the friends of Pierre Elliott Trudeau's heir, our famous Prime Minister.

It does not take a genius to understand that this government is implementing measures that will take money out of the pockets of Canadians and harm our young people. That is unacceptable. This government needs to listen to reason. I am calling on the government to take more time before implementing this legislation, to be serious, and to show some respect for our young people. I am rising today on behalf of our youth.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 9th, 2017 / 12:10 p.m.
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Scarborough Southwest Ontario

Liberal

Bill Blair LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada and to the Minister of Health

Mr. Speaker, first of all, I would like to begin by simply advising the member that I spent most of my adult life fighting crime, and crime and violence can be reduced in our society, but not through tough talk, through smart action.

I also wanted to clarify something. The member opposite said that he supports decriminalization. I suggest to him that we have recognized the harm that can be visited on young people from being criminalized by getting a criminal record. That is why we have set limits. For example, if a young person under the age of 18 has more than five grams of marijuana, that would be a criminal offence. However, below that, we have worked with the provinces and territories so they could enact provincial legislation that would enforce an absolute prohibition on the possession, purchase, and consumption of cannabis. In every province, a provincial offence would prohibit a person under the age of majority in that province from possessing cannabis. It would give the police the authority to seize that cannabis and ticket for that offence. What it would not do is give that kid a criminal record.

I have spoken to people on both sides of this House, and we all care about our kids. We care about their health, their safety, and their outcomes. One of the greatest impediments to their outcomes is that criminal record. This government has listened to that, and have done exactly what the member wants us to do. We have removed the threat of a criminal sanction from those kids, but we have enforced the prohibition through smart provincial regulation, exactly as we do for alcohol, by the way.

If we look at those provincial regulations coming forward, we see that we would be getting exactly what the member thinks is the right thing to do. Does it ease the member's concern knowing that is happening? Does it ease his concern with respect to young people having prohibited access to this drug?

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 9th, 2017 / 12:15 p.m.
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Conservative

Joël Godin Conservative Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier, QC

Mr. Speaker, first, I am aware of my colleague’s past, and I am surprised and disappointed with his position.

He is saying that, because the penalties imposed on young people in the past had no effect, we should give up. That means that we are unable to curb the distribution and sale of drugs.

Mr. Speaker, correct me if I should not be saying this, but that is a cowardly approach. It is unacceptable, because it means shirking our responsibilities. Instead of dealing with the problem, we are legalizing marijuana because we are unable to take control of the situation. That means that, if there are other problems in society, we will simply say that, because we are unable to take control, because we cannot find a solution, we will give up and open the door wide. It is irresponsible.

Unfortunately, I did not really understand the question, because it was too long, but I hope I answered it to my colleague’s satisfaction.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 9th, 2017 / 12:15 p.m.
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NDP

Anne Minh-Thu Quach NDP Salaberry—Suroît, QC

Mr. Speaker, I will return to what my colleague has just said about criminalization. All the studies show that criminalization and the longer minimum sentences implemented by the Conservatives for cannabis-related offences have not worked. They have not reduced drug use in young people, and they have not reduced the involvement of organized crime in the sale of cannabis.

On the contrary, according to the statistics on drug-related offences reported by the police in 2014, one year after the Conservatives’ repressive laws were passed, cases of methamphetamine possession rose by 38% and trafficking by 17%, while cases of heroine possession rose by 34% and trafficking by 12%. The minimum sentences did not work, the war on drugs was unsuccessful. Why do the Conservatives not want us to adopt and implement a new strategy, an approach based on public health? Right now, the number one drug, the most commonly used drug in Canada and throughout the world, is cannabis. The people who use cannabis the most are young people between the ages of 12 and 25. We need a new strategy to continue to work with young people and improve prevention. Obviously, there are shortcomings in the bill we are debating, but we can work on these shortcomings and make improvements.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 9th, 2017 / 12:15 p.m.
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Conservative

Joël Godin Conservative Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier, QC

Mr. Speaker, if my colleague had really listened to what I said, she would see that I agree that there is a problem and we need to find solutions. Decriminalization is not a magic wand to solve all our drug-related problems, but it is a step in the right direction. Now, let us take the time to determine the best way to proceed.

What I said earlier is that we need to protect young people aged 25 and under and set up a prevention program. In fact, I might not have said it because I was short of time, but I included it in my speech. We need to establish a prevention program, a program to encourage young people to become involved in sports, the arts and volunteering, and put in place the means to eliminate the distribution of drugs to young people.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 9th, 2017 / 12:15 p.m.
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Conservative

Ed Fast Conservative Abbotsford, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am thankful for the opportunity to engage in this debate. Bill C-45 is, of course, the bill that would legalize marijuana in Canada.

When we talk about legalization, we have to understand what this legislation would do. It would normalize the use of marijuana in everyday life across Canada. Like cigarettes, which were normalized many years ago, and the same with booze, marijuana would now become an accepted part of Canadian life. The message we send to our children would be a terrible one. It is one that says we give up, we surrender, because we are no longer going take action to eliminate the use of marijuana and other drugs in our society. We are simply going to go, as my colleague said, the coward's way: acquiesce and legalize it.

I am absolutely confident that Bill C-45, which represents the normalization of the use of marijuana in Canada, would become a massive public policy failure for the Liberal government, just like its tax reforms, where it attacks small businesses, diabetics, those who are getting employee discounts, and the mentally ill. That has become a massive policy failure, and Bill C-45 would also become a massive policy failure for the reasons I will articulate.

The bill would effectively legalize the sale, use, and cultivation of marijuana. As I said, it would normalize its use. We have worked so hard as a society to discourage cigarette smoking, and yet here we are opening the door to what is arguably an even more dangerous substance. The irony is that the current government, while it would pass the bill to legalize the use of marijuana, would then engage in a public relations and communications strategy telling young people who would be purchasing marijuana that they should not buy it because it is very dangerous and they should not use it, but it would be legalized and normalized. I mean, the hypocrisy of that is jaw-dropping.

I was an elected official in the City of Abbotsford for many years. I was very pleased to serve there as a city councillor. I can tell members that, as a council, one of the biggest challenges we had was the growing of marijuana plants at home. Many of these were illegal grow ops. Eventually, medicinal marijuana was approved for use in Canada, and homes are now growing this under the auspices of providing some kind of medicinal relief. What has happened is that we have communities and neighbourhoods within Abbotsford that are wonderful neighbourhoods, but they have houses in which marijuana is grown. Historically, they would cover the windows with foil, and the stench emanating from those properties was overwhelming. There was a constant stream of neighbourhood members who would come to us council members and complain about it.

This bill would authorize the growing of marijuana plants at home. I can assure members that many Canadians, unfortunately, will take that opportunity to grow more than the four plants that would be allowed under the proposed legislation. This would result in continued challenges with our neighbourhoods across Canada.

There was a stated objective of the government that it wanted to protect youth, and that the regulation and legalization of marijuana would achieve that end. The Liberals stated that they also wanted to eliminate organized crime, but we know that children under the age of 18 are not supposed to be buying marijuana. Anyone over the age of 18, under the proposed legislation, would be able to legally purchase and consume marijuana, but those under the age of 18 would not. Ironically, those between the ages of 12 and 17 would be allowed to possess small amounts of marijuana. Where would they acquire that marijuana? They cannot buy it legally. Who are they going to go to? Well, organized crime would supply that drug.

There is a bigger problem. All of the medical and and scientific research says that marijuana use among young people has a very negative impact on their developing young brains.

Why would the Liberal government want to legalize a drug that we know will be used by our youth in increasing numbers, because it will be that much more available to them? Why would we allow this to happen when it is very clear from the medical literature that the use of marijuana amongst young people invariably leads to significant mental health issues? In fact, I am predicting that if this legislation passes, in 5, 10, 15 years from now, Canada will face a mental health crisis. All of these youth who have had greater access to marijuana will be suffering from significant mental health challenges. What a terrible legacy for us to leave for our children.

I want to address the issue of the timing of this legislation. As we know, the Prime Minister has said he is going to ram this thing through and implement the legislation by July 1, 2018. However, we have heard from police chiefs across Canada that it is impossible for them to get ready and implement this legislation with all the challenges this bill represents. We have heard from communities across the country, including from my own city of Abbotsford, which communicated with the federal government, made a submission to the committee that studied this bill, and said, “Please, you cannot do this by July 1”. The provinces and territories are saying to the Prime Minister that July 1 is way too ambitious a date to implement this plan by, that they will not be ready for it. Their police services will not be ready, their educational system will not be ready, and Canadians will not be ready for it.

Generally speaking, it is going to result in a fiasco. However, that is what we have to expect from the Liberal government. Whatever file it touches, it it ends up being a huge mess. That includes ethical failures like those of the finance minister and the Prime Minister and his fundraiser having offshore accounts. No one trusts the government anymore. There has been a fundamental breach of trust.

Let us look at some of the other challenges. I want to be very clear that we support ticketing the possession of small amounts of marijuana. We are supportive of decriminalization of small amounts of marijuana. We do not want to leave young children with a criminal record.

However, this bill goes far beyond decriminalization. It is clear-cut legalization of the use of marijuana and the normalization that will follow. We run a huge risk as we normalize the use of marijuana in Canada, where people will be entitled by law to possess small amounts of marijuana. Many Canadians will be travelling. They will have used marijuana regularly. They will have some of it in their glove compartments. When they get to the U.S. border, suddenly the border agents will be asking, “Hey, what do you have in your car? Do you have any guns or drugs?” People will say, “No, we do not.” The agents will rifle through the car and find marijuana in the glove compartment. Those people will probably be apprehended on the American side of the border. They will have a criminal record on that side of the border. They will have to go through the legal process there. That is one of the many small consequences the bill will generate.

Finally, it is very clear that the government has run out of money. That is why it is taxing Canadians to death. It has gone after small businesses, diabetics, employee discounts, the mentally ill, and now it is going after marijuana. The government is going to tax marijuana. More and more, it is because the government is running short of money. Can members imagine that being the reason for passing a bill like this that will have enormous consequences for Canadians?

I say to my Liberal friends across the way in closing that they should give their heads a shake and reconsider what they are doing here. This is bad policy that will hurt future generations of Canadians. They should not do it.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 9th, 2017 / 12:25 p.m.
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Liberal

Mark Gerretsen Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the comments by the member for Abbotsford. We get along great at the environment committee and had a great discussion this morning.

Regrettably, I see some challenges with what he has presented here today. In particular, he talked about normalizing the use of cannabis. Is he aware of the fact that 21% of our youth have used marijuana? Is he aware of the fact that 30% of young adults use marijuana? What more is required for him to realize it is already a problem?

He then talked about access to cannabis, particularly the access of young children to cannabis, and how it will somehow give rise to the criminal activity behind production and distribution. How many of these young people are getting alcohol brewed at home, or tobacco that has been grown and dried at home and rolled into cigarettes? It simply will not work like that.

The reality of the situation is that when we have legalized it and regulated its production, and when we can start to properly inform and educate children about the challenges involved, as we have done with cigarettes, we will be so much more successful. I am not creating a brand new scenario here. This has already been the case. We have already seen this happen with alcohol and tobacco. We have had a much higher success rate at keeping those out of the hands of children.

Would the member like to respond to the fact that so many youth are already experimenting with cannabis?

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 9th, 2017 / 12:30 p.m.
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Conservative

Ed Fast Conservative Abbotsford, BC

Mr. Speaker, I did want to reiterate what my colleague said. We do work very well at committee and get a lot of things done, which indicates there is a lot of goodwill around the environment committee table.

He has suggested that a significant percentage of Canadian youth already use drugs to some degree. He is right. Therefore, the member asked if this was not already a problem. Yes, it is.

This bill would make that problem much worse for the reasons I articulated. Just because there are youth who have been using it illegally, like our Prime Minister did, it does not mean it is good for them or that we should normalize its use. It means we should find new and creative ways of discouraging the use of marijuana.

The irony is that with this bill, the government's legalization of the use of marijuana will increase marijuana use amongst our youth at the same time the government is establishing a policy to communicate with youth telling them not to use marijuana. The hypocrisy is jaw dropping.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 9th, 2017 / 12:30 p.m.
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NDP

Pierre-Luc Dusseault NDP Sherbrooke, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for his speech. However, I often have difficulty understanding the Conservatives’ logic when it comes to finding solutions to problems. Often, their first reaction is to say that all the answers are in the Criminal Code. They want to criminalize everything, as though that would solve the problem.

My other colleague even drew a parallel with cigarettes by talking about the awareness campaigns, which, statistics have shown, enabled us, over time, to reduce tobacco use without having to criminalize the toxic substance.

I therefore wonder why we should not use the same approach with cannabis that we used with cigarettes; in other words, legalize it and launch awareness campaigns to reduce its use.

Since it worked for cigarettes, why would it not work for cannabis?

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 9th, 2017 / 12:30 p.m.
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Conservative

Ed Fast Conservative Abbotsford, BC

Mr. Speaker, I will say this. The member suggested that we in the Conservative Party want to make the use of marijuana criminal. Here is a news flash: the use and selling of marijuana in Canada is illegal right now. We want to preserve the state of the law as it is. The best thing we can do, something that has been resisted by the NDP and the Liberals for time immemorial, is to come up with targeted mandatory minimum prison sentences for those who produce and sell marijuana, especially those who sell marijuana to our youth. I articulated in my speech the terrible impact that marijuana use has on the young developing brain. Therefore, we should be going after the predators who produce the stuff and sell it to our kids, rather than simply saying that we should give up and normalize it. That is a backward solution.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 9th, 2017 / 12:35 p.m.
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Conservative

Mark Warawa Conservative Langley—Aldergrove, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is a real honour and privilege to represent my beautiful community of Langley—Aldergrove. I want to thank the member for Abbotsford for his hard work over the many years, representing his community well. He brought up many good and important points. I hope the government is listening.

I want to congratulate the parliamentary secretary for being recognized for having spoken more words in Parliament than anyone else. What a great record. He sure talks.

The parliamentary secretary asked where the facts were coming from. If the government does not know where the facts come from, we have a problem. Maybe this is one of the reasons why Canadians are concerned with the government and why they are losing trust in it. The decisions the Liberals make are not logical.

The member for Abbotsford addressed the national issue of too many young people using marijuana. It is a problem when 21% of children use it.

I took a one-week bike training course with the RCMP. I wanted to be with RCMP members as they travelled into parks. I wanted to see how they dealt with the issue of drugs. It was being confiscated from youths because it was bad for them. The officers also took their names. Yes, it is illegal. Yes, 21% of youth using it. It is a problem. I was very proud of how they handled the situation.

I agree with the member for Abbotsford that it should be decriminalized and that it should be a ticketable offence rather than a criminal offence. However, right now it is illegal and we have a problem.

The government is talks about the 21% of children and 30% of young adults. Young adults are on my youth advisory board. These are bright young people who, hopefully, will be our leaders in the years to come. I did not ask what percentage of them were using cannabis. I asked them what they thought of the government's goal to have it legalized by July 1, and they all smiled. I asked if they thought the Liberals were on the right track. Almost all their hands went up and they all wanted to have input. Overwhelmingly they criticized the government.

Young people from all political persuasions sit on the youth advisory board. I did not want just Conservatives, I wanted a full spectrum representing our community of Langley—Aldergrove. They said that the government should not be moving so fast, that it should be listening to the different police forces across Canada, and that It should be listening to health authorities across Canada, all saying that Canada was not ready for this.

The Prime Minister may have smoked some joints or been in the room where joints were being smoked while he was the leader of the opposition, which is inappropriate. However, because we can do something does not mean we should do something. The youth advisory board overwhelmingly said that the government should slow down the process. It is a problem, so it needs to educate youth on the risks associated with it. That is how we dealt with the tobacco problem, and it has been quite successful.

Past governments maybe should have done more to address this through education. Maybe there should have been research on what the medical benefits were from marijuana, because it is a problem. The logic of the government is that we have a problem, so let us legalize it and that will solve it.

In criminology, one can determine what somebody is likely to do by past behaviour. It is the same in psychology. It is common sense; it is logic. Therefore, why not look at what has happened in other jurisdictions that have legalizing marijuana? Did it make things better or worse? Actually, it made things way worse. The criminal connection to the distribution of pot has increased in Colorado. These are the facts and the research that has been done.

In the years since it was legalized in Colorado, the state has seen an increase in marijuana-related traffic deaths, in poison control calls for aid, and in emergency room visits. The marijuana black market has increased in Colorado, not decreased. Numerous Colorado marijuana regulators have been indicted for corruption.

Dr. Harry Bull, superintendent of Cherry Creek Schools, said, “We were promised funds from marijuana taxes that would benefit our communities, particularly schools.” This superintendent is in charge of one of the largest school districts in the United States. He went on to say, “So far, the only thing that the legalization of marijuana has brought to our schools has been marijuana.”

I have been with the police bike unit and also in police cars. I have seen how officers professionally protect our communities, how they try to keep our communities safe in practical, realistic ways, and how they confiscate.

The government is proposing that if somebody is driving a car with some buddies in it and there is an open bottle of alcohol in that vehicle, if the care is stopped by the police, the police can confiscate that open bottle of alcohol. However, if police officers stop a car that has four people in it and marijuana is found, every one of in the car can legally have 30 grams of marijuana, or 60 joints. That is 240 joints in total.

It is illogical to say that this is the way we will fight the problem or this how we will fight organized crime. The parliamentary secretary said that too many criminals wanted young people to use pot but the government did not. Therefore, the Liberal government is going to compete with the criminal element. The Liberals will ensure that the quality of the pot is good and people can have lots of it. The Liberals are saying that anybody aged 18 and older can have 60 joints. If it were a child, the Liberals would confiscate it. Under this legislation, children between the ages of 12 and 18 will be able to have five grams, which is 10 joints. What the government is saying is illogical.

We should learn from others who have made mistakes. The government has proposed that we go way beyond what Colorado did. Our roads will be less safe and there will be more deaths, yet the Liberals are rushing the legislation through before there is any technology to determine drug-impaired driving.

We just dealt with Bill C-46. How will the government get tough when somebody gets killed by a drunk driver? There will be a fine of at least $1,000 for driving drunk and killing somebody. The second offence will result in at least 10 days in jail, a 30-day sentence for killing the second time. What the government has proposed is bizarre. Our communities will be less safe. This is wrong.

I would remind the government that just because a government can do something does not mean that it should.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 9th, 2017 / 12:45 p.m.
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Liberal

Michel Picard Liberal Montarville, QC

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the unfortunate attempts of my colleague across the aisle to show that there is a problem by trying to explain why we need to decriminalize cannabis.

In other words, he is telling parents and Canadians in his riding and mine, among others, that there is no problem, we will leave the profits to organized crime. We will just give offenders a small fine and reduce the penalty.

By what lack of logic can they promote the status quo? They have done nothing for 10 years, and they admit that it is a problem. By what twisted logic can they explain to parents in our ridings that we prefer to keep organized crime in charge rather than taking control as we are doing?

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 9th, 2017 / 12:45 p.m.
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Conservative

Mark Warawa Conservative Langley—Aldergrove, BC

Mr. Speaker, the member is quite wrong to insult police chiefs and health professionals and say that is bombast. There is a problem. The solution the government is proposing and stubbornly moving ahead with is wrong. Canadians and professionals are telling the government that it is wrong, asking it to please reconsider what it is doing.

As the official opposition, we will work with the government, if it listens to Canadians, the police chiefs, and the health care professionals and does the right thing. We would support that. However, what it is doing now is foolish and wrong.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 9th, 2017 / 12:45 p.m.
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NDP

Pierre-Luc Dusseault NDP Sherbrooke, QC

Mr. Speaker, I must address what was just said, because my colleague is offering no solution. In fact, he thinks that the status quo will do the job. In his opinion, allowing marijuana to remain illegal, as it has been for decades, works. How can he offer the status quo as a solution?

Can my colleague at least acknowledge that what his government did for 10 years did nothing to improve the situation? In fact, the situation got worse, since cannabis use increased over the 10-year period in which his government was in power.

How can he stand up today and say he wants to reduce cannabis use, while the strategy his government used for 10 years did absolutely nothing? In fact, it made things worse. How does he explain this?

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 9th, 2017 / 12:45 p.m.
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Conservative

Mark Warawa Conservative Langley—Aldergrove, BC

Mr. Speaker, the member may have missed some of the comments that were made in the House. I do not know why he would have missed those, but he is incorrect.

I think all members in the House realize there is a problem and are open to discussion to make appropriate changes. The status quo is not working. That has been acknowledged by members on all sides of the House. The question is whether the Liberal plan is the right one. Is it the solution? Professionals are telling us no. Others that have legalized, not even to the degree that the government has proposed, have warned us not to do this because it is wrong. The small revenue the federal and provincial governments would get would be outstripped dramatically by the social and medical costs, so it would hurt Canada.

I ask the government to please slow down.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 9th, 2017 / 12:45 p.m.
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Conservative

Dan Albas Conservative Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola, BC

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the member's commitment to our shared province. The government has proposed legislation that it feels is the proper approach to legalization. It is doing two things.

First, it is saying it is going to keep marijuana out of the hands of children. Second, it is saying that it is also going to get rid of organized crime. The problem is this. We have a heavily regulated industry like tobacco, but there is a tremendous amount of contraband tobacco, because organized crime moves in. On the flip side, if we try to regulate something like marijuana to stop children from getting a hold of it, we kind of end up in a circle where we cannot achieve either goal because one is almost fundamentally at odds with the other one.

The member has mentioned a third option. Could you maybe suggest what the Conservative policy is in addressing marijuana and its use?

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 9th, 2017 / 12:45 p.m.
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Conservative

Mark Warawa Conservative Langley—Aldergrove, BC

Mr. Speaker, that is a genuinely important question. We need to have a true study on the possible benefits of medical marijuana. There is a lot of opinion on that. We are seriously considering that we should perhaps decriminalize marijuana so it could be confiscated and be a ticketable offence. No one should have a criminal record for possession, unless he or she is part of a criminal element that distributes it to our youth.

The government proposes that youth would now be able to have it, which is illogical, because its goal is to keep it out of the hands of children. However, now it is saying small children can walk around with 10 joints in their pockets. When they turn 18, they can have 60 joints in their pockets. No one should have that in their pockets.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 9th, 2017 / 12:50 p.m.
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NDP

Anne Minh-Thu Quach NDP Salaberry—Suroît, QC

Mr. Speaker, Bill C-45 will legalize cannabis use within the limits my colleagues have already mentioned.

Many decisions fall to the provinces, including the legal age for using cannabis, the development of a point-of-sale system, and education. The government is pushing for a very short deadline. We are talking about passing this bill before July 1, 2018, which is only eight months from now. In politics, eight months goes by fast.

However, we are still waiting to see how the federal government intends to make sure that the law is applied from Vancouver to St. John’s, Newfoundland, by way of Quebec. Despite everything, I think it is very clear that we must go ahead with this bill. I support the legalization of marijuana, provided that it is done effectively and that we can prevent the sale of cannabis to children, that a reliable long-term source of revenue is devoted to public health, prevention and research, and that a comprehensive strategy to fight impaired driving is adopted.

We know that the prohibition and criminalization of cannabis, which the Conservatives have maintained in place in the past 10 years, have proven to be completely ineffective in reducing cannabis use and related criminal activity in Canada.

Earlier I touched on the statistics concerning drug-related offences reported in 2014, when the Conservatives were in power and had already implemented an extremely repressive system with longer minimum sentences, in an attempt to manage drug use. One year after the Conservatives passed their repressive laws, cases of methamphetamine and heroine possession had increased by 38% and 34%, respectively. Methamphetamine and heroine trafficking had increased by 17% and 12%, respectively.

Thus, drug use was not reduced, but actually increased, as did trafficking. We need to determine a strategy for making sure that those who use cannabis the most, young people aged 25 and under, are truly taken into consideration, and that we stop hiding our heads in the sand and practising denial. We must realize that the war on drugs has not worked, and that we need to find new solutions.

We agree with the solution proposed by the Liberals, namely adopting a public health approach. There are, however, many flaws in their approach, hence the need for discussion. Unfortunately, we are already at the third and final reading stage. We are concerned because we proposed several amendments that were rejected out of hand by Liberals at committee.

The government set up a task force, and in their report, the experts on the task force explained that legislation must be enacted to do the following:

reduce the burdens on police and the justice system associated with simple possession of cannabis offences; prevent Canadians from entering the criminal justice system and receiving criminal records for simple cannabis possession offences; protect public health and safety by strengthening, where appropriate, laws and enforcement measures that deter and punish more serious cannabis offences...

The bill addresses those issues by legalizing the consumption of up to 30 grams of dried cannabis and the possession of up to four plants per household.

However, as I said, the bill is scheduled to come into effect on July 1, 2018. Around 100,000 people have been given criminal records over the past two years for simple cannabis possession even though the government is planning to legalize it in less than a year. How many more young people is the government willing to put in jail for something that will be legal in about 10 months? Will it at least direct the police and judicial authorities to stop enforcing the existing law until such time as the new law is in force?

The Liberals' own working group was given a recommendation to decriminalize marijuana. They do not agree amongst themselves. The Prime Minister recently said that granting pardons would certainly address some of the backlog in the justice system. We know that, since the Jordan decision, a number of investigations have been halted and charges have not been laid in cases involving offences much more serious than simple marijuana possession.

We are going through the same thing with Bill C-45, as they do not want to proceed with decriminalization in the interim. This will only add to the burden on the judicial system and to the monumental costs associated with arresting people for simple possession.

Statistics Canada and other organizations have repeatedly demonstrated to us that these arrests and ensuing criminal records disproportionately affect young people, racialized persons and aboriginals. I wonder how many criminal records from young people arrested for smoking a joint end up on the desks of my colleagues from Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal. How many applications for pardon do they process each year?

As elected members, do we not want the Liberal government to fulfill its promise while making the right choice for Canadians, regardless of their age or the colour of their skin, meaning to go ahead with decriminalization, at the very least, and consider granting pardons? I cannot understand why this would be a problem in light of the fact that it appears in the Liberal Party's platform in 2015.

These long overdue amendments will only come into force in 15 months, at the earliest. Delays and lack of resources are causing a crisis in the justice system. We cannot afford to continue to allocate police and court resources to charging and convicting people for simple possession of cannabis, a substance that will be legalized in a few months.

The working group will continue working toward meeting its objectives, which now focus on youth, prevention and education. The bill must protect Canada's youth by keeping cannabis out of their reach, and must ensure that Canadians are well informed through public health campaigns so that young people especially are made aware of the risks of cannabis use.

Bill C-45 imposes heavy sanctions on whomever traffics, sells or gives cannabis to a minor. How is this a public health matter, I wonder? First off, we need more scientific research not only on the short and long-term effects of cannabis use, but also on the properties of this plant. Some people already use it for medicinal purposes. We have often heard of patients undergoing chemotherapy or veterans using it, for example.

Since they claim to want to protect youth, will the Liberals increase funding for research on the chronic and long-term effects of consumption on the health of young people in particular?

I am also looking at the 2017 budget, which announced a ridiculous budget of less than $2 million per year over five years. Last week, it was announced that this budget will be increased to $6 million per year over five years, but it still totally ridiculous. On top of education, awareness campaigns and prevention, we need federal funds for frontline community organizations. Along with the schools, they will be ready to engage with young people on the ground when they want information. However, how will $6 million ever be enough to help the millions of community groups in Canada? Will the burden fall on the provinces? It is a fair question.

If we do a comparison with American states such as Colorado, we are far from doing all we can. Colorado spends nearly $37 million per year in prevention alone. That is seven times what the Canadian government provides for in this major bill on the legalization of marijuana. I would remind members that will happen in less than eight months.

I also know very little about what the government intends to do with the money that will be made from the sale of marijuana. What types of prevention programs will be available? Who will they be targeting? Will there be funding for community groups? We should keep in mind that this is extremely important.

The bill also raises a lot of important questions concerning the provinces. Will they need additional time to establish their regulatory system? This is another reason why we would have wanted the process to start earlier or go beyond July 1, 2018. The issues relating to the sale system and the legal framework are also very important to minimize the risks associated with the legalization of marijuana.

Another issue we need to clarify has to do with the nature of the cannabis tax structure and revenue. How will they be shared among the provinces and the federal government? The provinces and Canadians are looking to the Department of Finance to make a decision on this issue. In Quebec, Minister Charlebois has already expressed her displeasure about the time granted to the provinces, and Premier Couillard did the same regarding taxation.

I would like to talk about many other things, but I see that my time is up. I want to simply point out that the NDP proposed 38 amendments in committee and that all 38 amendments were rejected. That is rather absurd.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 9th, 2017 / 1 p.m.
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Scarborough Southwest Ontario

Liberal

Bill Blair LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada and to the Minister of Health

Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin with a point of clarification for the member. I thank her for her conditional support for Bill C-45. I want to simply advise her that the government has, in fact, announced $46 million for a public education program that will begin to roll out very shortly. I hope that addresses one of her concerns.

I seek clarification from the member. She has stated that she supports decriminalization, but let us be really clear about what decriminalization is. Decriminalization maintains the prohibition and simply replaces the criminal sanction with a civil penalty: a ticketing scheme with a fine. In an environment in which the prohibition remains, one cannot regulate the substance.

When the member described her vision of decriminalization, she said that the law would not be enforced, not that it would be enforced in a different way with a different outcome, a civil penalty. I submit to the member opposite that what she was describing was, in fact, legalization without regulation.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 9th, 2017 / 1 p.m.
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NDP

Anne Minh-Thu Quach NDP Salaberry—Suroît, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Liberals have once again shown that they do not listen at all to the NDP's recommendations.

First, my colleague announced $45 million. However, that is over a five-year period, which means about $9 million per year, total, and that includes all the drugs in Canada, not just marijuana.

As for his argument on decriminalization, we recommend that the government decriminalize marijuana while waiting for its legalization in eight months. We are not asking for either one or the other. Since the legalization is supposed to happen anyway, why would we allow thousands of young people across the country to have a criminal record that will prevent them from having a job, buying a house, and travelling? That would be a crippling disadvantage for a young person.

We are talking only about decriminalizing the simple possession of marijuana, not about more serious crimes. This is really a matter of nuance. I think that my colleague across the way is very smart and can understand the nuances.

We hear about increased investments in prevention. Community groups have been calling for this for years now. There is not enough money. I used to be a teacher, and many young people are falling behind in school because they are under the influence of drugs, marijuana being the most popular among young people. I am not sure if my colleague has visited any schools.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 9th, 2017 / 1 p.m.
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Conservative

Marilyn Gladu Conservative Sarnia—Lambton, ON

Mr. Speaker, my colleague made many good points. It is clear that the government is not going to achieve its stated objectives with Bill C-45. It is certainly not going to offload from the criminal justice system, because there is more criminality in this bill than there was already. It is certainly not going to keep cannabis out of the hands of children, because it would allow home grow, and it is certainly not going to get rid of organized crime.

If we want to implement something, we tend to look at who else did this and who else did it with positive results. If we look at Washington State, it actually reduced organized crime to less than 20%. Young children there are finding it hard to get hold of marijuana. What did it do? It did not allow home grow, except for the medically fragile, and it controlled all the distribution. It took its medical marijuana system, which was very well regulated, and expanded it.

It seems to me that this bill falls really short in many areas, but especially in the area of public awareness. There was clear testimony that we needed to get on that. We only have 234 days left before the government would arbitrarily roll things out. Can the member comment on the public education needed?

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 9th, 2017 / 1:05 p.m.
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NDP

Anne Minh-Thu Quach NDP Salaberry—Suroît, QC

Mr. Speaker, indeed, as my colleague just pointed out, not enough is being invested in prevention or in awareness and education campaigns. We want young people to understand that our intention here is not to normalize marijuana use, but rather to educate them about its effects. There is also not enough being invested in research on long-term use and the effects of chronic use on young people's health. The Liberals need to invest more money in that area. I cannot say enough about the importance of prevention, and my colleague talked about it too.

In addition, we need to stop criminalizing and increasing penalties for the simple possession of cannabis. Many studies have shown that the war on drugs did not work. Over the past 10 years, drug use and drug trafficking have continued to rise. We need to work harder and change our strategy.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 9th, 2017 / 1:05 p.m.
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Conservative

Bob Saroya Conservative Markham—Unionville, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak on an issue I care deeply about. I am thankful to have the opportunity to speak to Bill C-45. This is a piece of legislation that pertains to an issue very close to my heart. Today, I am going to speak to why Bill C-45 cannot be passed.

I want to provide some context. Marijuana is a dangerous drug. With all the pro-marijuana publicity lately, it can be hard for many Canadians to remember that marijuana is indeed a damaging and addictive drug. Further, it causes harmful effects on youth brain development, and a greater incidence of psychosis and schizophrenia.

The Conservatives oppose this legis