Cannabis Act

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

Sponsor

Status

This bill has received Royal Assent and is, or will soon become, law.

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

June 18, 2018 Passed Motion respecting Senate amendments to 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 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

June 18th, 2018 / noon
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Conservative

Pierre Paul-Hus Conservative Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, QC

Madam Speaker, I should mention that I will be sharing my time with the member for Battlefords—Lloydminster.

I rise once again to speak to Bill C-45 on the legalization of marijuana, on behalf of the millions of Canadians who would like to be standing beside me or in my place.

Let us not forget that the Prime Minister promised that legalizing marijuana would take street drugs out of the hands of children and take the production and sale of drugs away from organized crime. That is the line the government adopted to support this bill, but we can clearly see that it is completely false.

Last fall, we voted under the guillotine of time allocation, and naturally, given the Liberal majority, the bill was passed and sent to the Senate.

I am pleased to see that the senators felt free to propose the 46 amendments we are studying today. Interestingly enough, 29 of these 46 amendments are from the government. We have said all along that Bill C-45 is a botch job, that it would not work, and that we could not support it. Today we have proof, because the government itself had to make 29 amendments to a bill it rushed to ram down the throats of the members of the House of Commons.

Now the Senate, comprised mostly of government-appointed independent Liberals, agrees with the opposition and made a total of 46 amendments. Clearly, Bill C-45 was botched from the beginning, and we still do not understand the logic.

The Prime Minister appears to be living in a fantasy world. We often hear people taking about a magical land of unicorns and Care Bears. I think those people have a point, considering what is going on and how the Prime Minister sees and does things. It really is a fantasy land, and nothing we are being told makes any sense.

The government's official position was that Bill C45 was supposed to resolve the problem of marijuana trafficking controlled by organized crime and keep marijuana out of the hands of children, but it is really having the opposite effect. It is also going to cause other problems.

No, legalizing marijuana will not reduce access to it. Yes, organized crime will find ways around our laws. No, police officers cannot use magical Care Bear powers to fight drug-related violence and crime.

All that because the Prime Minister decided to make this an issue, to make it an electoral promise. He decided that this was urgent and that he had to legalize cannabis as quickly as possible without any respect for the concerns of scientists, doctors, or law enforcement officers.

What is more, the Prime Minister, who is supposedly a great friend to the first nations, did not even take into consideration their extremely serious concerns.

On top of all that, Canadian employers will have to deal with this situation. How will employers be able to monitor employees who work in manufacturing, in industries that require the use of dangerous equipment? We still do not have any answers on that. The government is rushing to legalize cannabis, but there are still unanswered questions.

The basic premise had to do with children. I will talk later about plants in homes, about how organized crime will get around the law, and about how children will be allowed to be in possession of marijuana. They will not be allowed to buy any, but they will be allowed to have it on them. It really does not make any sense.

Let's also talk about police officers. Over the weekend, a police officer gave me an example. He said that, under the existing legislation, when a police officer stops a vehicle and can smell marijuana, he or she has the right to search the vehicle. Most of the time, or quite often at least, when police officers conduct such a search, they find other drugs, such as amphetamines or cocaine, hidden in the vehicle. Having the authority to intervene because of the smell of marijuana often enables the police to discover hard drugs in such vehicles.

Three years ago, in Quebec City, where I live, the police stopped a tractor-trailer. They smelled drugs, searched the vehicle, and found a million dollars from the sale of drugs by organized crime hidden in it.

Now, police officers who smell marijuana will have to do some kind of yet-to-be-determined test to find out if a person is intoxicated, but they do not have the right to conduct other searches. These are real-life situations, not imaginary hypotheticals. Instead of helping police officers, the government is creating problems for them. Bill C-45 defies logic.

There is also the issue of market adjustment. Organized crime is not going away. Independent Liberal Senator Serge Joyal mentioned that, according to police, organized crime has already infiltrated Canada's medical marijuana market. He also said that 35 of Canada's 86 legal cannabis producers are financed in part by investors who use tax havens to hide their identity and that Cayman Islands investors have already pumped $250 million into the Canadian cannabis industry.

Despite the Liberals' attempt to get this bill passed as quickly as possible, senators made a number of amendments, including an amendment that would require cannabis companies to publicly disclose the identity of their shareholders. That is a reasonable solution that the opposition can get behind. This amendment would make it impossible for organized crime to use tax havens to infiltrate the Canadian cannabis market. That should have been in there from the get-go. I hope our friends on the other side of the House will accept this amendment.

As far as possession of marijuana is concerned, that will be legal. Retailers will be allowed to sell marijuana and people will have to be at least 18 to buy it, but children like mine, who are 13 and 14, will be allowed to have marijuana in their possession. At the risk of sounding unparliamentary, that seems stupid. They will not be allowed to buy it, but they will be allowed to have between 10 and 15 joints on their person. My son could have between 10 and 15 joints on him and that would not be an offence or a crime, but he would not be allowed to buy those joints. There are so many things like that that we do not understand and that do not work. We think that there are still too many inconsistencies in Bill C-45.

Then there are the property owners. In Quebec, the Corporation des propriétaires immobiliers du Québec, or CORPIQ, cannot fathom why we would pass a law that would let people grow cannabis plants in apartments in Quebec and elsewhere in Canada. These plants need humidity to grow. People will grow them in closets and are going to do all sorts of things that will damage the apartments and cause problems for the owners, not to mention the issue of the odours. There still remain unanswered questions.

In that regard, I would like to sincerely thank the governments of Quebec and Manitoba, which resolutely refused to let people grow cannabis at home. However, the Prime Minister of Canada told the provinces that they could not prevent people from doing it. Now that the bill has passed and Quebec is saying no, while the federal government says yes, there could be a constitutional challenge over pot plants. Society has far more important problems. We do not need a constitutional battle over pot plants grown at home. I hope Quebec will continue its fight, and I will be supporting it 100%.

This issue is even creating problems at the Canada-U.S. border. The bill does not address those Americans who may travel to Canada with marijuana on them, thinking that it is legal. According to the legislation, when a Canadian border services officer stops an American who is in possession of marijuana, the traveller must be turned back to the United States, where he or she will be charged. Similarly, Canadians who are not careful and who are in possession of cannabis when they are stopped at the U.S. border will also be charged. This problem has not been fixed.

According to a report from US. Homeland Security, there is a significant problem with drugs being trafficked from Canada to the U.S. Nothing has been fixed.

I could have used much more time, but I can say that I am very happy with the Senate's work. I hope that the government will at least listen to reason here.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

June 18th, 2018 / 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

Madam Speaker, I want to clarify something for the member. He mentioned his concern that under our legislation a young person under the age of 18 would be able to legally possess cannabis in the province of Quebec. I want to inform him that the Province of Quebec recently enacted legislation which makes it an offence under provincial regulation to purchase, possess, or consume cannabis for any person under the age of 18.

It is legislation that is enforceable. It is an absolute prohibition that the police will be able to enforce, but it does not result in a criminal record for the child. It is exactly what the police have asked for. It is a ticketing regime that results in real consequences. Police can seize the drug, issue a ticket, and there is a fine. There are other restorative measures that can be instituted, but it is a complete prohibition.

I would also advise that virtually every province and territory has introduced legislation that has made it a provincial offence to purchase, possess, or consume cannabis for all young people under the age of majority. With that information, I wonder if the member might be reassured about his concern.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

June 18th, 2018 / 12:10 p.m.
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Conservative

Pierre Paul-Hus Conservative Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, QC

Madam Speaker, I appreciate my colleague's comments. However, I wonder why Bill C-45 includes a provision that would make cannabis possession by minors permissible. Youth under 18 would not be allowed to buy cannabis, of course, but they would be allowed to have the drug in their possession. The provinces are going to have to deal with that measure.

The federal government could have defined all the prohibitions. Instead, the government is allowing cannabis possession by minors and leaving the burden of regulation to the provinces, which will each handle it differently. Quebec has set out its rules, but if someone goes to New Brunswick there will be other rules. At some point, it is the federal government's responsibility to ensure that we have regulations that help the provinces instead of making things more complicated for them.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

June 18th, 2018 / 12:10 p.m.
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Conservative

Gérard Deltell Conservative Louis-Saint-Laurent, QC

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague from Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles for his excellent remarks.

It is a bit odd to hear our Liberal colleague boast about a provincial government decision. Need I remind the House that just last week the federal government disregarded the will of the provincial Liberal government to prohibit home grow? We know that under the current Prime Minister's government, there can be four pot plants in each of the millions of homes in Canada.

I have a question for my colleague. Will this measure, which would unfortunately allow home grow, help keep children away from marijuana or would the opposite happen? How will we be able to review and evaluate the quality of the marijuana? After all, people keep saying that legalization will bring with it higher-quality pot.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

June 18th, 2018 / 12:10 p.m.
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Conservative

Pierre Paul-Hus Conservative Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, QC

Madam Speaker, my colleague from Louis-Saint-Laurent asked an excellent question, which gets to the heart and to the reality of this whole issue.

Earlier I said that we do not live in a magical land of Care Bears. There are legal industries that are producing massive amounts of cannabis in greenhouses, funded by money coming from tax havens. Some people are having a grand old time. They are making money. Then, there is a huge number of apartments and houses, millions of possibilities and places where people can grow pot plants. In the Montreal area, there is even a Mafia organization, which I will not name, that is already using apartments belonging to different people. These people create a network, control people who grow pot plans in the apartments and houses, and then sell this pot.

As soon as home growing becomes legal, organized crime groups will start planning, as I said in my speech. Since it is legal, organized crime groups will take over 40 or 50 houses or apartments. People will grow the plants, harvest them, and sell the product, ultimately getting a percentage from the organized crime group. This is why, as soon as the government allows home grow, two networks will develop, namely the industrial manufacturing network and the underground network.

We cannot forget about children in all of this. When there are four pot plants in a home, young people can pick the plants and start selling them to their friends on the streets. This is why we do not understand the government's logic, and there are many people who feel the same way I do.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

June 18th, 2018 / 12:10 p.m.
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Conservative

Rosemarie Falk Conservative Battlefords—Lloydminster, SK

Madam Speaker, I rise today to speak to Bill C-45, the cannabis act, a bill that would have a profound impact on our Canadian society.

The Liberal government's plan to legalize recreational marijuana has created a lot of uncertainty and unanswered questions. It is pushing this legislation forward without giving it the due diligence it requires. That is why it comes as no surprise this legislation has been sent back to us with so many amendments.

The priority of the government should be the health and safety of Canadians, but through legislative process, it has been clear that the Liberals are rushing to fulfill a political promise. At the outset, the Liberals set an arbitrary deadline to legalize the recreational use of marijuana, and the rush to legalize this harmful drug continues. This is despite concerns that have been raised from scientists, doctors, and law enforcement officials.

In this legislation, the Liberals have included a section outlining its purpose. The stated purpose of the cannabis act is to protect public health and safety, particularly that of young people, and that its purpose is to restrict access to cannabis for young people and to discourage its use. It also states that it sets out to reduce illicit activities and the burden on the criminal justice system. It states the goal of providing access to a quality-controlled supply of cannabis. Lastly, it wants to enhance public awareness of the health risks associated with cannabis.

Unfortunately, the legislation before us does not and will not achieve these goals. It is important to consider why this legislation does not achieve its stated purpose. We often hear from those in favour of legalizing the recreational use of marijuana that it is just a harmless drug. That is a myth. There is scientific evidence that marijuana is not a harmless drug, especially for young people. To quote the Canadian Medical Association:

Children and youth are especially at risk for marijuana-related harms, given their brain is undergoing rapid, extensive development.

Our understanding of the health effects of marijuana continues to evolve. Marijuana use is linked to several adverse health outcomes, including addiction, cardiovascular and pulmonary effects..., mental illness, and other problems, including cognitive impairment and reduced educational attainment. There seems to be an increased risk of chronic psychosis disorders, including schizophrenia, in persons with a predisposition to such disorders. The use of high potency products, higher frequency of use and early initiation are predictors of worse health outcomes.

The health effects I just described are very serious. They come at a high cost to Canadian taxpayers, and an even higher individual cost to the person experiencing any of these health problems. Knowing this, the recreational use of marijuana should never be encouraged. This is particularly critical when it comes to young Canadians. A young person's brain continues to develop until the age of 25. Although provinces are able to set a higher age, the cannabis act recommends the age of 18 as a federal minimum. That means the Liberals are recommending legalizing marijuana for individuals seven years before their brain finishes developing.

Medical professionals have testified that increased use before the age of 25 increases the risk of developing mental disorders by up to 30% compared to those who have not used marijuana before the age of 25. I would argue that what one permits, one promotes, and knowing what one allows, one encourages. Knowing the medical facts we know, it is irresponsible to allow an 18-year-old to legally smoke recreational marijuana. The Liberals are normalizing drug use and knowingly putting Canada's young people at a disadvantage.

A concern was raised during the study of this bill at the House's health committee that by setting the age at 18 for legal recreational use, there was a greater chance it would land in the hands of even younger children.

The point was raised that children 16 or 17 years old are more likely to be around 18-year-olds than, say, a 21-year-old. This means that the legislation as it is could increase the likelihood of a minor using marijuana. Let us not forget that this legislation actually allows children aged 12 to 17 to possess up to five grams of marijuana. That is the equivalent to 10 to 15 joints. If the message the Liberals are trying to send to the youth is that they should not use marijuana, they have missed the mark. The legal quantity of marijuana possession for children aged 12 to 17 should be zero. Zero sends the right message.

A public education and awareness campaign would also help send the right message. A campaign of this regard should be implemented before the legalization of marijuana and not after. While Health Canada is putting together a program, there has been no indication that it will be rolled out before the legalization of marijuana, and there is no requirement of sorts. There are no provisions in the cannabis act for public education. If not rejected, this legislation should at least be put on pause until a public education plan is rolled out. It also should not be rushed ahead when provinces, municipalities, police forces, and employers are not ready to implement it.

The belief that legalizing recreational marijuana use will eliminate the black market is also flawed. That outcome is dependent on a wide variety of factors, many of which are being left up to the provinces. The fact that this act legalizes home grow plants is actually more likely to result in an increase in the size of the black market. This bill allows individuals to grow four plants per dwelling, with no height restrictions on the plants. Four plants could yield up to 600 grams of marijuana. That is a large quantity and it could easily be trafficked. A network of home grows could easily contribute to organized crime. There is also the question of how the four plant policy will be enforced.

In addition to the impact on the black market, the home grow provision in this legislation also raises other concerns. When marijuana plants are grown in homes, marijuana becomes even more accessible to young Canadians. There is also no ability to control the quality of the marijuana that is grown in someone's home. This directly counteracts a stated purpose of this legislation.

The impact of marijuana plants on a home could be very significant. It is a known fact that the moisture from marijuana plants can create mould and spores in the structure of a home. This can impact the structural security of a home. It can also result in air quality that is harmful to a person's health.

There is also the concern that there is a 24 times greater incident of fire in residences growing marijuana. This creates even more danger for individuals living in apartments and multi-unit dwellings. This legislation also creates a unique concern for landlords.

I have raised many concerns with the legislation before us. I did not even get to the very valid concerns of many Canadians who are concerned with the odour of recreational marijuana use, or the issues of second-hand smoke and drug-impaired driving. Employers are also concerned with marijuana use in the workplace and its impact on workplace safety.

The cannabis act is irresponsible legislation. It fails to meet its intended purpose. It does not keep marijuana out of the hands of children. It does not keep profits out of the hands of criminals. It does not address the many concerns that have been raised by scientists, doctors, and law enforcement.

The cannabis act is being rushed through to fulfill a political promise, and doing so sacrifices public health and safety.

Conservatives will not support the Prime Minister's ill-conceived plan to legalize this harmful drug. Canadians deserve better.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

June 18th, 2018 / 12:20 p.m.
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Liberal

Sean Fraser Liberal Central Nova, NS

Madam Speaker, I disagree very strongly with the member's remarks.

She spent a lot of time canvassing many of the negative health impacts of cannabis, which I fully accept. In fact, she suggested that some advocates for the legalization of cannabis suggest that marijuana is some sort of a harmless drug. I have not heard that from any member in any party in the House, and I resent the fact that such a straw man argument was presented during the course of her remarks.

We have a system today that criminally prohibits possession and use, and it has proven to be incredibly ineffective. Canada is among the very worst of any country in the world when it comes to the consequences that impact our youth today from the over-consumption of cannabis.

Why is the hon. member committing to a system that has proven to be ineffective, rather than trying something new, something that is based on the advice of experts, and something that will reduce consumption by young people and divert profits away from organized crime?

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

June 18th, 2018 / 12:25 p.m.
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Conservative

Rosemarie Falk Conservative Battlefords—Lloydminster, SK

Madam Speaker, in my previous line of work I worked a lot with children and youth, and I have worked in situations where psychiatrists cannot differentiate what is the marijuana consumption side effect and what is the psychosis, whether it is from depression, anxiety, or whatever it is. It makes it difficult to treat patients.

What is most alarming about all this is we have not even seen a public health campaign about this, and how we are going to make children aware that this is unsafe for them. The fear I have is that we are going to normalize this and hurt young Canadian children who will be our leaders for tomorrow.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

June 18th, 2018 / 12:25 p.m.
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Spadina—Fort York Ontario

Liberal

Adam Vaughan LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Families

Madam Speaker, the argument presented by the other side seems to be that this drug is so dangerous, has such extraordinarily harmful effects, is so volatile, and in particular has such a drastic impact on young children that we need to leave it in the hands of criminals. If this drug is as dangerous as the members say, it needs to be made illegal in terms of the current system, but the current system has not prevented it from getting into the hands of youth. In fact, the member opposite just said that people she sees are getting access to the drug, which means the former government's approach to this placed it in the hands of kids. If it is that dangerous, that system is unacceptable.

Clearly, a regulated system that restricts it and focuses on keeping it away from young people is a better way to go than simply the status quo, which the member has already said is so dangerous and so ill thought-out that people could not tell the difference between the psychotic episodes and consumption. Regulating it and keeping it out of the hands of young people is a responsible, smart thing to do. However, if it is this dangerous, why would the party opposite want to leave it in the hands of criminals to finance criminal behaviour in their communities?

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

June 18th, 2018 / 12:25 p.m.
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Conservative

Rosemarie Falk Conservative Battlefords—Lloydminster, SK

Madam Speaker, I am not sure if the member opposite listened to what I had to say.

The way this legislation is written, children aged 12 to 17 can be in possession of it. This is alarming. We do not have a public health campaign out there right now teaching children or talking about it with children, that this is potentially harmful and dangerous for them. I do not see how the government would protect children when the legislation is written as it is and the Liberals have refused amendments from the other place that would address this.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

June 18th, 2018 / 12:25 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

Madam Speaker, I want to advise the member opposite that one of the harms we are trying to protect children from is getting criminal records, and so we worked with all the provinces and territories. The Province of Saskatchewan has actually enacted legislation that creates an offence for the purchase, possession, and consumption of cannabis for anyone under the age of majority. Therefore, the member's concern that young people would have legal access to this is simply not correct. It will be dealt with in provincial legislation, which is the proportional and appropriate legislative regulatory response.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

June 18th, 2018 / 12:25 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

Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to rise in the House to speak to Bill C-45, the cannabis act.

I would like to begin my remarks by acknowledging the very comprehensive and important work of the Senate. The depth and breadth of its review was unprecedented for any proposed federal legislation that has come before it. It included extensive studies by five committees, which together conducted 47 meetings over 195 hours and heard testimony from over 200 experts and witnesses.

We have followed this process very closely. We have listened very carefully to the thoughtful questions and observations put forth by the members of the other place. The country has been well served by their careful attention to this important issue, and we are deeply and sincerely appreciative of their hard work and wise counsel.

I would also like to acknowledge the work of the aboriginal peoples committee. The government's response benefited tremendously and was made better by its advice and advocacy. I am sincerely grateful for its advice and counsel, which I believe has significantly improved the government's response to indigenous community concerns.

The Senate's comprehensive study has also provided parliamentarians and Canadians alike with an opportunity to learn more about the government's policy to legalize and strictly regulate cannabis, including understanding the main objectives and features of the proposed framework. One of the things I have been struck by throughout this process is the overwhelming consensus among nearly all parties that the government must do more to protect the most vulnerable of our citizens—our kids—from the health and social harms that the current failing system of cannabis prohibition has led to.

Prohibition has not stopped our young people from accessing and using this drug. In fact, Canada's record of youth consumption of cannabis is among the worst in the world. Prohibition has enriched organized crime in the billions of dollars each year while exposing Canadians to an unregulated, untested, and unsafe drug. Finally, the failed system of criminal prohibition has resulted in the criminalization of hundreds of thousands of Canadians and contributed to an unjust disparity and impact on vulnerable communities.

Prohibition has failed. We cannot regulate and control a prohibited substance. It is only by ending the prohibition, which is what legalization is, that we are able to implement a comprehensive and far more effective system of strict regulatory control. It means replacing a dangerous system of illicit production and grow ops with a strictly regulated, licensed regime that provides for adherence to rigorous health and security standards, oversight, testing, and accountability. For the provinces and territories, it means displacing drug dealers and illicit dispensaries with a strictly regulated distribution system, which will do an infinitely better job of keeping cannabis out of the hands of kids and redirect revenues from criminal enterprises to the public good.

Bill C-45 acknowledges and respects the jurisdictions of the provinces and territories to strictly regulate all aspects of distribution and consumption to reduce the social and health harms related to the current failed system of cannabis control. I would like to take the opportunity to acknowledge and thank each of the provinces and territories for their excellent collaborative work in bringing forward their respective legislative framework and, in particular, for providing a proportionate and enforceable prohibition for the possession, purchase, and consumption of cannabis for young people under the age of majority that will allow law enforcement to do their job of protecting youth but which will not expose our kids to the harm of a criminal record.

Although the government commends the valuable work done in the other place in conducting a thorough study of Bill C-45, it is our government's view that some of the amendments adopted would not fully support the bill's policy objectives and could have unintended consequences. For example, the other place adopted an amendment that would prohibit prosecution by indictment when an 18-year-old or 19-year-old distributed five grams or less of dried cannabis to a youth that is less than two years younger. The amendment would also allow for tickets to be issued in such circumstances. Finally, this amendment would also allow for a parent or guardian to share cannabis with their 16-year-old or 17-year-old children at home.

Our government has consistently indicated that the proposed cannabis act would not provide a mechanism whereby young persons could legally access cannabis. In fact, we strengthened penalties for adults who provide cannabis to minors or to use it to commit cannabis-related offences. However, the parental exception created by this amendment would essentially serve to create a legal supply channel in the cannabis act for 16-year-olds and 17-year-olds to access cannabis and would allow a parent or guardian to distribute up to 30 grams of dried cannabis to their 16-year-old or 17-year-old children or wards at home. A youth could in turn distribute up to five grams of dried cannabis received from their parent or guardian in the home with other youth outside the home.

Both the parental exception and the elimination of the ability to prosecute by indictment for close-in-age sharing of small amounts would serve to encourage and normalize cannabis use by our youth and is therefore not accepted by our government.

Ultimately, the crown should retain discretion on how to proceed, based on the circumstances before it. By not accepting this amendment, such discretion would be preserved, and where appropriate, the crown could elect to proceed summarily. This amendment goes against the fundamental objective of the bill, and that is why we are unable to support it.

Next, the Senate has recommended an amendment that would require that the minister collect and publicly disclose the names of every holder of a licence or permit, including persons who have control of or shares in corporations holding a licence. In addition to raising significant concerns from a privacy perspective, this amendment would likely engender a number of significant operational challenges.

For example, the inherent volatility of shareholding in publicly traded corporations could make the proposed reporting requirements practically impossible to meet, and could cause extreme delays in licensing. Moreover, it could also impose unprecedented requirements on businesses operating in the legal cannabis industry, making their treatment inconsistent with the treatment of businesses operating in other sectors of the Canadian economy.

The proposed act was carefully designed to ensure that its current provisions comply with privacy and other obligations and that it respects our charter. Our government has robust physical and personal security screening processes in place for the existing cannabis for medical purposes industry, which is designed to guard against infiltration by organized crime. For example, all officers and directors of a company must undergo thorough law enforcement record checks prior to licensing.

As part of a new regulatory framework, Health Canada has proposed to expand the list of individuals who would require a security clearance to include the directors and officers of any controlling company, in addition to those of the licensed company. An amendment to Bill C-45, adopted by the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology, would also give the minister expanded powers in this regard.

We have designed and implemented a rigorous and robust security framework that we believe will prevent organized crime and illegal money from infiltrating the legal cannabis market. For those reasons, we do not support this amendment.

Finally, I turn to the amendment proposed by the Senate with respect to allowing provinces to prohibit personal cultivation. The determination of four plants as an appropriate and reasonable limit to allow Canadians to engage in personal cultivation only for their use was arrived at after very careful consideration through examination of other jurisdictions and consultation across the country by both our task force and our senior officials. It was intended to allow those who may not otherwise have access to this drug, as a result of being from remote communities or perhaps being underprivileged, to have reasonable access. The limitation of four plants was also determined to be a safe limit, whereby the commercialization of that would be highly unlikely, and prevented by other sections in the act, and that any effort to sell that would be criminalized.

At the same time, our government has created an offence for producing more than four plants. However, we also have been very clear that we have acknowledged the provincial jurisdiction to impose strict regulation in relation to personal cultivation. For example, we have acknowledged that any province can place limits on the number of plants up to four and can place restrictions and regulations determining limits on location, safety, security, health concerns, and the size of fences. They can impose a requirement for permits, for example, and fees to be paid.

What we have also recognized is that prohibition does not work, and the effort to continue to enforce a prohibition takes away a province's and a municipality's opportunity to regulate this behaviour. We have seen the failure of prohibition. We have seen it has resulted in an unsafe situation in all of our communities. It has put our kids at risk and enriched organized crime. We believe that by imposing a strict regulatory framework, federally, provincially, and municipally, we will be able to do a much better job of controlling this behaviour to ensure we reduce the social and health harms to our kids, protect our communities, and protect the health of our citizens.

Despite the disagreements we may have on specific amendments, I want to reiterate that based on our extensive study over the last two years, the government is confident that Bill C-45 represents a balanced approach that will help meet our objectives. This is why we believe the amendments proposed in the other place need to be carefully considered, with a view to maintaining that balance and avoid unintended consequences, through the implementation of a new regime.

Where a disagreement exists with respect to a provincial authority, our government is not telling the provinces and territories that they cannot strictly regulate. However, we have also acknowledged that there may be limits to their ability to do that. The government is not saying that the Province of Quebec cannot prohibit personal cultivation. Nor are we prepared to authorize that in our legislation. We recognize that the failure of prohibition should not be perpetuated and continued in the country when we have an opportunity to regulate this substance properly.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

June 18th, 2018 / 12:40 p.m.
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Conservative

Kelly McCauley Conservative Edmonton West, AB

Madam Speaker, I appreciate my colleague's background as a police officer. He is right. No one in the House wants to see children or Canadians affected by this.

He talks a lot about prohibition. Yes, we know prohibition has not worked. However, there is a big difference between prohibition and normalization.

In Colorado, a report entitled, “Colorado's Legalization of Marijuana and the Impact on Public Safety”, showed that before legalization in Colorado, it was 14th in the United States with respect to use. Upon legalization and normalization, it shot up to number one.

In Washington, according to the “Washington State Marijuana Impact Report, Northwest High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area”, use among youth grew 43% under normalization and legalization.

Therefore, I would like to ask my colleague this. Why the rush toward the normalization of marijuana? We recognize prohibition does not work. However, the statistics in the U.S. have show that normalizing and legalizing it is catastrophic for youth. In Spokane, the DWIs for pot grew 1700% after legalization. Therefore, why the rush toward legalization when the police services have stated that they are not ready for it, and we have not seen education across the country about the effects of marijuana for students?

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

June 18th, 2018 / 12:40 p.m.
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Liberal

Bill Blair Liberal Scarborough Southwest, ON

Madam Speaker, I have conducted a very thorough review of the data that comes from those jurisdictions, and I am not familiar with the data the member quotes.

Let me be very clear on something. It is not the government's intention to normalize the use of this drug. In fact, we are taking a prohibited substance and lifting that prohibition so we can implement a strict system of regulatory control. We are also making significant investments of $108.5 million into a public education campaign to inform Canadian youth, parents, teachers, and health care providers of the real social and health risks and harms that can affect children with respect to the early onset of use, and the higher frequency and higher potency of use.

Our experience with tobacco might be illustrative for the member opposite. Tobacco rates of use among Canadians used to be quite high in the country. For example, approximately 22% of Canadian adults were using tobacco, with similar numbers with respect to our kids. However, through the imposition of strict regulations, which controlled packaging, advertising, and the access that children had to it, and a public education campaign about the risks of this drug, we have seen very significant reductions in use, and a de-normalization of the use of tobacco. We believe that experience can be replicated with cannabis if we make the appropriate investments, and we have already made those investments.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

June 18th, 2018 / 12:40 p.m.
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Conservative

Ted Falk Conservative Provencher, MB

Madam Speaker, I listened to the speech by my colleague across the way. One of the comments he made was that the Senate had an opportunity to move the bill to five different committees for a very robust study. Unfortunately, the government did not listen to all of the advice that came out of the Senate.

Could the parliamentary secretary tell the House why he and his government did not allow this House to have the same kind of robust study?

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

June 18th, 2018 / 12:40 p.m.
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Liberal

Bill Blair Liberal Scarborough Southwest, ON

Madam Speaker, quite frankly, I am rather perplexed by the member's comments. The member may recall that Bill C-45 passed second reading and went to committee. That committee heard from over 100 witnesses, over the course of a very long and concentrated session of testimony, before reporting back to the House. It made a number of amendments and recommendations to the House, which were adopted. We moved forward to third reading, and then it went to the Senate.

This is an issue that has been examined extensively for over 50 years. When we became government, we formed a task force with expertise from the areas of justice, public safety, public health, and problematic substance use. We sent it across the country. It received over 30,000 submissions from Canadians on this issue. There were over 700 written submissions. It conducted dozens of round tables and town halls across the country, gathering information before it made recommendations to the government. Therefore, this has been perhaps one of the most consulted and collaborative processes ever undertaken by a government.

We are grateful for the important work done by the Senate. It has contributed enormously to this discussion. However, we believe we have a well-informed evidence-based policy framework for the strict regulation of cannabis, and we are prepared to move forward on it.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

June 18th, 2018 / 12:45 p.m.
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Liberal

Dan Vandal Liberal Saint Boniface—Saint Vital, MB

Madam Speaker, in the past, the city I represent has had problems with gangs, whether it is street gangs or motorcycle gangs, and a lot of that is around the control of drugs generally and cannabis specifically. That has been an issue in the community I and the city I represent.

Could the member speak from his experience as a police chief of Toronto about similar situations in Toronto?

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

June 18th, 2018 / 12:45 p.m.
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Liberal

Bill Blair Liberal Scarborough Southwest, ON

Madam Speaker, I thank the member for his observation, and I have exactly the same observation in my town. We saw many instances.

Cannabis, the drug itself, has never killed anybody, but I have been to far too many crime scenes where people, usually young men, have been shot to death in a dispute over the territory in which this drug is being sold. Cannabis trafficking, particularly among street gangs, is a trap for those kids, and it is a dangerous trap.

We have seen far too much violence in our communities directly related to this illicit activity. Displacing that from our communities, giving Canadian consumers a legitimate choice, instead of going into those underprivileged areas, could have the affect of reducing the violence in those activities. Just as important, we will not have enforcement in those communities for simple possession of cannabis because we are changing that system. The very first criminal charge that most of those young kids get is for possession of cannabis. This starts them on a lifelong path where they are labelled as criminals. It limits their opportunities and really restricts their future.

There is an opportunity to do it better on behalf of those kids, to make it safer for them, but also to create better futures.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

June 18th, 2018 / 12:45 p.m.
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Conservative

Kelly McCauley Conservative Edmonton West, AB

Madam Speaker, the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police and the chief of police of Edmonton have stated very recently that they do not have a reliable way to measure pot impairment for driving.

Again, why are we rushing ahead with this, when the Chiefs of Police Association and various other chiefs of police say that there is no reliable way to measure pot impairment for drivers.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

June 18th, 2018 / 12:45 p.m.
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Liberal

Bill Blair Liberal Scarborough Southwest, ON

Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to advise the member that president of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, as well as the chair of the law amendments committee and the traffic committee, appeared before the justice committee on Bill C-46, the impaired driving bill. They commended the government for the comprehensive legislation that was brought forward. It responded to their concerns.

In 2008, they asked for money to train drug addiction experts; they were ignored. In 2009, they asked for mandatory breathe screening; they were ignored. In 2013, they asked for access to oral fluid test kits; they were ignored.

We said that we would provide them with access to those resources and that training and give them the legislative authority to use them. The very last comment from the president of the CACP was that this government was listening.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

June 18th, 2018 / 12:45 p.m.
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Conservative

Martin Shields Conservative Bow River, AB

Madam Speaker, one of the things we hear coming out of Colorado, and I read the news media and we can take it for what it is, is that about 50% of production, marketing and selling is still done by the criminal side.

Colorado is finding the same thing around pricing of contraband cigarettes, and in Canada we have a huge share of the market in contraband cigarettes. The government talks about taking it out of the hands of criminals, but then I read that Colorado says that 50% is still handled by the criminal element in the market, that they can cut prices and sell it as they choose, all outside of government control.

Taking it out of the hands of the criminal element does not seem to be working in Colorado. How is it going to be different here?

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

June 18th, 2018 / 12:45 p.m.
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Liberal

Bill Blair Liberal Scarborough Southwest, ON

Madam Speaker, quite frankly, if organized crime in this country is making $8 billion a year, and if in the first year we are successfully taking 50% away from them, $4 billion out of the hands of organized crime, that is a darn good start in my opinion.

Once we give Canadian adult consumers a legitimate choice, a safer, healthier choice, coupled with the fact that we are keeping all of the criminal authorities, penalties, and offences in place so the police can deal effectively with organized crime, we are going to put pressure on it in the enforcement while outflanking it with a new competition in the marketplace.

Ultimately, our goal is to completely displace the criminal element. I have fought organized crime most of my life and if I had the opportunity to take $4 billion out of its pockets in a single year, I would take it.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

June 18th, 2018 / 12:50 p.m.
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Conservative

Stephanie Kusie Conservative Calgary Midnapore, AB

Madam Speaker, today I will be splitting my time with the hon. member for Provencher.

I am here today to speak against Bill C-45 and its legalization of cannabis. This bill is supposedly intended to protect youth, regulate the industry, and eliminate the black market. Not only would it not do any of those things, it would also prevent Canada from upholding several of our international treaties, something very dear to me as a former diplomat, and would likely cause additional tension with provincial governments.

Doctors and other medical professionals have found that the brain continues to develop until the age of 25 and that marijuana use before that age will actually increase an individual's risk of developing mental disorders, such as schizophrenia, depression, and anxiety, by up to 30%. For this reason, one of the principal intentions of this bill was to keep marijuana out of the hands of children. This legislation would be unsuccessful in that regard for two reasons.

The first reason is that the legislation would allow possession for minors, children aged 12 to 17. I have a son who is seven years old, and the thought that he would be able to possess cannabis five years from now is terrifying to me. They would be allowed to possess up to five grams of marijuana, which is approximately 10 to 15 joints. There is also no provision to prevent them from selling or distributing cannabis to other 12- to 17-year-olds. The amount minors are allowed to possess should be zero so that we can send the right message on the dangers for youth. Youth should not be using it and therefore should not be allowed to carry it. Again, the thought of this being anywhere near my young son frightens me.

The second reason is that this bill would also set the age of 18 as the federal minimum. The Canadian Medical Association and other medical professionals recommend increasing the age at which a person can legally consume marijuana to at least 21. Although under the age of 21 there is potential for mental disorders, as previously mentioned, they also recognize that if the age is set too high, people will continue illegal consumption.

If we want to keep marijuana out of the hands of children, 18 is too young an age. Typically, 16- and 17-year-olds hang out with 18-year-olds. The majority of us in the House have certainly been to secondary school.

Another goal of this legislation was to help eliminate the black market for marijuana. Having worked in Central America and Latin America, the black market for narcotics is very well known to me and concerns me very much.

This is extremely unlikely to happen, because it is dependent on many factors. Factors such as pricing, distribution, production, and packaging are not included in this bill. They are, rather, left to the provinces to legislate. Additionally, allowing people to grow marijuana at home would only increase the size of the black market, as Canadians would be permitted to grow yields of up to 600 grams in their homes. Such a large amount of marijuana can easily lead to trafficking and make it extensively harder to enforce.

We heard this from Joanne Crampton, the assistant commissioner for federal policing criminal operations in the RCMP, who stated:

organized crime is a high priority for federal policing, in particular, for the RCMP. We target the highest echelon within the organized crime world. We're very cognizant...and realize that the chances of organized crime being eliminated in the cannabis market would be.... It's probably naive to think that could happen.

She said it is “probably naive”. This is yet another goal of this legislation that would not be achieved.

This legislation is also being rushed through Parliament without necessary debate or consultation. We have heard repeatedly from municipal and provincial governments that they will not have the necessary time or resources to adequately respond to the impact Bill C-45 would have on both Canadians and our communities.

There are numerous organizations and associations that have asked to push back the arbitrary deadline. For example, the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police asked the government to extend the deadline. I think “asking” is a subtle word. I would say that “begging” would be more appropriate.

Over 68,000 police officers in Canada will need specific training in the wake of this monumental legislative change, and a few months is not a realistic time frame within which we can do this. If police are not prepared to deal with the legalization of marijuana due to inadequate training, this may lead to poor decisions and result in bad case law for any new legislation. This is important, because law is based upon precedent, and we are going into a time when these precedents will be set for the future.

We need our law enforcement in Canada to have the proper ability and resources to uphold the law. Police will require final legislation from all levels of government before being able to begin their planning and training. The government should have provided police forces with clearer direction in this regard. Provinces, municipalities, police forces, and our indigenous communities have made it clear that they are not ready to implement this legislation and that more time would have allowed for adequate consultation to develop a successful framework.

There will also be major international implications from implementing this legislation. The legalization of marijuana does not comply with three United Nations treaties: the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, the 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances, and the 1988 Convention Against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances. Might I add, as a former diplomat, that I cannot see how this could not possibly affect the Vienna Convention as well in regard to consular matters.

We also know that this could cause additional tension with our southern neighbours, the United States. Officials at United States' border crossings have been asking individuals whether they have consumed marijuana, and if the response is yes, these individuals have been denied entry by our next-door neighbour. This will be problematic when individuals' legal marijuana use in Canada results in their consistently being denied entry into the United States.

At the health committee, we heard that the former mayor of Grand Forks, Brian Taylor, was barred from going back to the United States due to a “relationship with marijuana”. A relationship: those are pretty strong words.

By the way, Grand Forks is a beautiful place. I went there as part of my honeymoon. I loved it there. It sits near a river. There is a presidential museum there, which we had the opportunity to visit.

Getting back to the bill, not having a solution to this problem may cause additional tension in the context of already hostile NAFTA negotiations. This is a serious issue that is still unresolved.

This legislation is also likely to cause jurisdictional problems here at home. Quebec and Manitoba have taken a strong stance against home grown marijuana, but the government will force all provinces to allow home growth, contrary to a unanimous amendment from the Senate.

Provincial governments will bear much of the burden of this legislation when it comes to regulations on distribution, production, and enforcement, so it is only fair that they have discretion in this area. This is yet another case of the federal government forcing its policies on provincial governments, much like it is trying to do with the carbon tax. It is very similar indeed.

The bill is extremely worrisome, as it contains some major issues. The Standing Committee on Health heard from many witnesses on Bill C-45, and the government keeps failing to implement their recommendations. These concerns are from respectable establishments, such as the Canadian Medical Association and the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police. Some significant and well-known organizations in the nation are saying that they are not ready, that this legislation is not ready, and that they require more time.

I always say that we will be the official opposition that holds this legislation to account through enforcement, through distribution, and through education.

If my Liberal colleagues across the floor truly cared about the well-being of Canadians, they would not be putting this legislation forward in its current form. We need to stand up for the safety of all Canadians and vote against Bill C-45.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

June 18th, 2018 / 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

Madam Speaker, I worked on organized crime investigations for many years. I also chaired the national Organized Crime Committee and served on the national executive committee of the Criminal Intelligence Service Canada. I have been called many things, but never naive.

The member expressed her concern about the safety of Canadians, and I share that concern. In the bill we brought forward to deal with impaired driving, there is a thing called mandatory alcohol screening. At one point, the Conservatives voted unanimously in support of it when it was contained in a private member's bill, and then they voted unanimously against it when it was in a government bill. It will likely come back before the House. The evidence with respect to that measure is overwhelming. Mandatory screening could prevent between 25% and 35% of lives lost to impaired driving.

I wonder if the member might comment on her position with respect to that in as much as she has expressed her concern about the safety of Canadians.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

June 18th, 2018 / 1 p.m.
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Conservative

Stephanie Kusie Conservative Calgary Midnapore, AB

Madam Speaker, I really like apples, and I really like oranges. However, I do not think one can compare apples to oranges. I think that is what my colleague across the way is trying to do, compare apples to oranges.

The reality is that there is no mechanism right now by which enforcement can effectively determine impairment. This is determined. We want to ensure that all organizations and all aspects of society are prepared for this. Right now, this is simply not the case.

This is what we are asking for. We are asking for more time to not only better evaluate this bill but for the municipalities and provinces that have responsibility for enforcement organizations to be prepared for this.

How do they like them apples?

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

June 18th, 2018 / 1 p.m.
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Liberal

Bill Blair Liberal Scarborough Southwest, ON

Madam Speaker, there is one other issue I want to address.

The member indicated that she believes that the police services have said that they are not ready. I want to share with her that the leadership of the RCMP, the Ontario Provincial Police, the Sûreté du Québec, and the Toronto Police Service, which represent about 65% of all police officers in this country, have said that they are ready.

I have read the newspapers as well. There are individual chiefs who, on the cusp of retirement, have said that they do not think they can be ready. However, when the largest police services in the country, which are dealing with the most complex national issues anywhere, have said that they are ready to go and have that level of readiness, I think we should respect that leadership and their indications.

If the member has spoken to a couple of individuals who do not think they are ready, then perhaps we could just refer them to the leadership of the RCMP, the OPP, the Toronto police, and others.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

June 18th, 2018 / 1 p.m.
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Conservative

Stephanie Kusie Conservative Calgary Midnapore, AB

Madam Speaker, what would happen if we let 35% of criminals out of the prisons? What would happen if we let 35% of people drive drunk? Thirty-five per cent is too much.

We need 100% readiness, 100% confidence from our forces across the nation that they are ready to deal with the implementation of this legislation. Sixty-five per cent is not enough, and I point to the examples I just gave. It is not enough. This legislation would have such a monumental impact on the safety and well-being of Canadians that 65% is not enough. Canadians and our forces must be 100% ready.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

June 18th, 2018 / 1 p.m.
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Conservative

Martin Shields Conservative Bow River, AB

Madam Speaker, as a former principal, students having alcohol in a high school was something we really did not allow. However, under this legislation, those youth in high school would have it.

The member has very large concerns about youth and possession. Would she like to make a statement about youth and possession?

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

June 18th, 2018 / 1 p.m.
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Conservative

Stephanie Kusie Conservative Calgary Midnapore, AB

Madam Speaker, as I mentioned, I have a young son. He is seven years old, and the thought that he could possess any amount of marijuana, never mind the amount outlined in this bill, within five years is terrifying to me. I like to think that I am a good parent in the sense that we would have conversations about the things that exist out there in the school and in the friend environment. However, the reality is that there could be other children his age who have possession of this substance and are distributing it at school.

This is something that very much concerns me as a parent, and as my hon. colleague pointed out, is something that is and should be of concern for educators as well.

It just shows again how—

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

June 18th, 2018 / 1:05 p.m.
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Conservative

Ted Falk Conservative Provencher, MB

Madam Speaker, I am thankful for the opportunity to speak this afternoon on Bill C-45, an Act respecting cannabis and to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, the Criminal Code and other Acts. Bill C-45 was first introduced in this place on April 13, 2017, just over a year ago. It is remarkable that the Liberal government, in just a little over a year, is desperately trying to force this proposal through. Although there has been a great deal of work done around the bill, it is abundantly clear that this has happened far too quickly. The Liberals are rushing through this legislation to meet their political deadline, not a well-thought-through plan, but a deadline that is self-imposed. This is despite very serious concerns that were raised by scientists, doctors, and law enforcement officials.

I want to note from the outset that I do not support the legalization of marijuana. The Conservative Party has adopted a much more measured and responsible approach to keeping minor marijuana possession illegal, but to make it a ticketable offence. This is the position that has long been adopted by the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police. Unfortunately, Liberal backbenchers appear willing to support the Prime Minister's dangerous proposal. I believe we have a moral responsibility to soberly consider the consequences of legalizing marijuana in so many areas of Canadian life.

The fact that the Liberals are continuing down this reckless road without having a fully fleshed-out legal framework in place for the significant supplementary conditions is irresponsible. The only appropriate way to move forward with a bill of this scope, if that is truly what the Liberals wish to do, is to move cautiously and carefully. Anything less represents a profound failure to ensuring that these changes do not increase risks to Canadian children and families.

It is the primary duty of any government to keep its citizens safe. The specific goals of Bill C-45 are outlined in clause 7, and they include protecting youth, regulating the industry, and eliminating the black market. The problem is that Bill C-45 will accomplish none of these goals. I will focus for the most part on my concerns around protecting our youth.

Mr. Marco Vasquez, a former police chief in the town of Erie, Colorado, had this to say to the Standing Committee on Health:

When you increase availability, decrease perception of risk, and increase the public acceptance of any commodity, you will see increased use. Once we see that increased use, it's very difficult to keep marijuana out of the hands of our youth. We know from validated studies that marijuana use for youth under 30 years old, especially chronic use, can have an adverse effect on brain development. We also know that one in six youth become addicted to marijuana.

We've certainly seen an increased use of marijuana in Colorado, and I believe that the increased use will ultimately increase disorder and risk factors for our youth. We're already seeing signs of increased disorder within our communities.

Dr. Laurent Marcoux, president of the Canadian Medical Association also noted:

Children and youth are especially at risk of harm, given their brain's development. And they are among the highest users of cannabis in Canada.

To better protect this part of the population, we are recommending that the age of legalization be set at 21 years. The quantities and the potency of cannabis should also be more restricted to those under age 25.

Despite these increased risks, however, evidence shows that youth today do not believe cannabis has serious health effects. A comprehensive public health strategy for cannabis must therefore include education, similar to what has been done with tobacco.

Educational strategies should be implemented before, and no later than the enactment of any legislation in order to increase awareness of the harms and to conduct further research on its impact.

These are just a couple of the comments on the matter of youth consumption of cannabis. Currently, Bill C-45 recommends the age of 18 as a federal minimum, but medical professionals have testified that the brain continues to develop until the age of 25. Increased use before the age of 25 increases one's risk of developing mental disorders like schizophrenia, depression, and anxiety by up to 30%, compared to those who have not used marijuana under the age of 25. This is why the CMA and the other medical professionals recommended raising the age at which a person can consume marijuana to at least age 21.

Another challenge with the bill is that children ages 12 to 17 are able to possess up to five grams of marijuana. As the points I have just raised will underscore, this is ridiculous in light of the medical evidence of the harm it can cause to youth. Bill C-45 offers no provision to prevent them from selling or distributing cannabis to other 12- to 17-year-olds.

I turn now to the home grow provisions included in this bill. Bill C-45 would allow four plants per dwelling, with no height restriction on the plants. If grown in optimal conditions, this could yield as much as 600 grams of marijuana. What we heard from plenty of testimony at the health committee is that there is a great deal of apprehension around home grow. These concerns were raised by most medical groups and police forces who appeared.

For one thing, this proposal absolutely would not keep marijuana out of the hands of youth. If it is in the home, youth will have access to it. Furthermore, there is no requirement to lock up the marijuana if the home has people under the age of 18 living in it, or even just frequenting it. What we have seen in other jurisdictions is that by legalizing homegrown marijuana, that area has been hugely penetrated by organized crime. This is why the State of Washington, for example, does not allow home grow, except for medically fragile persons who cannot get to a dispensary. It has been able to reduce organized crime to less than 20% of the market.

Dr. Kevin Sabet, president of Smart Approaches to Marijuana, told the health committee:

We are deluding ourselves if we think that major drug trafficking organizations will not exploit every chance they get to have a way to be legitimized through the legal market. We're seeing this in other states. We're also deluding ourselves to think that they will go away and not try to undercut the government price of cannabis. The economies rule the day here in terms of price. The lower the drug price, the more likely someone is to use, and the illegal market can easily undercut the legal market.

I want to speak for a moment about my province of Manitoba as well. The Government of Manitoba made a responsible decision to prohibit home grow in the province. This decision will cut out more of the black market and better protect children. Unfortunately, the Liberals appear poised to reject an amendment that would confirm the ability of provinces to make these sorts of localized decisions within their own territories. Quebec and Nunavut have also expressed a desire to take similar steps in their respective legislatures.

The Liberal government has thrown a lot at the provinces and territories with Bill C-45, and to reject an amendment that would help provinces better manage this transition to legal marijuana would indicate a significant lack of judgment. I hope that the Liberals will make the right choice and help provinces make the best decisions possible for their residents.

My wife is a very good cook and baker, and when she bakes a batch of cookies or cakes or brownies, not cannabis brownies, but real brownies made with cocoa, she does not put them on the counter thinking that they are not available to children. With the legislation before us, we are going to see home grow marijuana readily available to youth in kitchens, living rooms, family rooms, and dens. The ill-conceived and poorly thought-out plan of legalizing home grow operations makes one of the Liberals' priorities, which is protecting youth, completely unattainable, because it is going to be easily accessible.

When I get a prescription for pain medication after surgery, I do not take that prescription and leave it lying on the counter where it is easily accessible to children, for example, in the sunlight where it can grow. I put that prescription in the cabinet where it is inaccessible to children.

We tell children not to play with matches. We do not keep matches within the reach of children, yet we are going to have homegrown marijuana within the reach of our youth and children. We are absolutely going to be inviting them to play with this dangerous chemical.

It is irresponsible for the government to think it is reaching this objective of protecting our youth by allowing home grow operations to be legitimate and forcing the provinces to agree. It talks about provinces having the ability to set their own regulations, and indeed some of them have. I compliment my Manitoba government for establishing stricter regulations as far as the age by which possession and use will be accepted. However, not allowing the provinces to establish restrictions on home grow is irresponsible.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

June 18th, 2018 / 1:15 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

Madam Speaker, I thank the member opposite for his remarks and for his hard work on committee. We always appreciate his contributions.

I was going to begin by sharing with him the provisions in Manitoba's Bill 11 regarding the prohibition on cannabis, which actually makes it an offence for the possession, consumption, and purchase of cannabis for persons under the age of majority in that province. The member is obviously aware of it, notwithstanding he expressed concern that it was somehow going to be made legal.

I would point out to the member opposite that we have acknowledged the provincial and territorial jurisdiction to place restrictions on personal cultivation and its location, to impose such things as restrictions on and requirements for fencing, security, safety, sanitation, smell abatement, and not having it in proximity to schools or other public places frequented by children. We have acknowledged the authority of provincial jurisdiction to place whatever restriction they believe are appropriate in order to regulate this substance, and the personal cultivation of this substance, only for personal use, in a safe and responsible way.

We have also acknowledged that prohibition takes away the opportunity to regulate it. Therefore, we have not said to the Province of Manitoba that it cannot regulate it in this way, but we are not changing our legislation to allow for prohibition when the evidence is overwhelming that prohibition has failings.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

June 18th, 2018 / 1:15 p.m.
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Conservative

Ted Falk Conservative Provencher, MB

Madam Speaker, as for the age of majority, the member is slightly off there. I think Manitoba has opted to go with 19 as the age, and not 18, which is a responsible decision.

I disagree with the member very strongly that children would not have easier access to marijuana under the bill. The government should recognize the concerns the provinces have already established with the homegrown aspect of their legislation. If the provinces are identifying some serious concerns, and the Senate has identified them, why do we not go along?

Obviously, there are some experts outside of this House. I know it is hard to believe, because we think we are all experts here, but there are experts outside of this place who have very valid opinions. I think it would be wise to acknowledge some of those other opinions and to give them some of the things they need.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

June 18th, 2018 / 1:15 p.m.
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Conservative

Kelly McCauley Conservative Edmonton West, AB

Madam Speaker, one of the issues we raised earlier was the amount of officers across the country who need training on impairment. Our police chief in Edmonton stated that it is very expensive and a huge burden on municipalities. The public safety minister has stated that the government would provide funding for this, and said, “a long way to go before the summer so we're all working on all fronts to get this adopted.... We're also working on the accreditation...testing machines”, etc., and we are going to be funding it.

However, in the main estimates, which is the spending authority for the government, there is not one single penny listed under Public Safety for funding to help municipalities or the RCMP. In the vote 40, the slush fund that the Liberals have set up, which is supposedly to get money out the door faster, there is not one penny under Public Safety to help out municipalities. In the departmental plan, which is supposed to be setting out priorities for the year, it does not mention a single result or goal for assisting municipalities in the training of officers.

I would ask my colleague, does this sound like the government, as the Minister of Public Safety says, is stepping up to help municipalities and, if so, where is all the money hidden?

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

June 18th, 2018 / 1:15 p.m.
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Conservative

Ted Falk Conservative Provencher, MB

Madam Speaker, with regard to where the money is going to come from to train all of the law enforcement officials to deal with this new epidemic we are creating, which is the excessive use of marijuana, there is no money.

We have heard at committee that it is going to cost an average of $20,000 per law enforcement individual to be trained to detect impairment by cannabis. There has been no money set aside for the RCMP or other law enforcement agencies to train their officers to properly detect and determine it.

The other thing is that there has been no legislation yet adopted, nor will it soon be adopted, that would establish limits for impairment and medically approved devices that need to be purchased by all of these police forces. That is another cost that I do not think the government has at all anticipated nor provided for.

It is reckless on the government's part to push its political agenda in trying to get the bill approved quickly. I think it needs more time. We need to make sure that the regulations are in place.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

June 18th, 2018 / 1:20 p.m.
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Conservative

Kevin Waugh Conservative Saskatoon—Grasswood, SK

Madam Speaker, I rise today to speak to the amendments to Bill C-45, respecting the legalization of cannabis. I will be sharing my time with the member for Markham—Unionville.

There is no question that the current Liberal government is intent on pushing this bill through, despite numerous concerns voiced by experts, by law enforcement, and by Canadians across this country, including school boards, from coast to coast to coast. This is not a bill that should be forced through Parliament on a whim. As Parliament has spent many months studying the implications of this bill, many concerns and problems with the bill have been brought forward, as we have heard continuously in the last hour or so in the House. It is critically important for all Canadians that the current Liberal government work to resolve these problems, and that it listen to these concerns rather than try to push this bill through at all costs.

The Senate, as we know, has returned Bill C-45 to the House with 45 amendments, but the government has agreed to only 29 of them. The government has no plans to resolve any of the problems, which are still left unaddressed given its rejection of other crucial amendments. However, notably, the Liberals are refusing to allow provinces to determine on their own whether to ban cultivation of marijuana in individual homes. This is a big issue. Provinces such as Manitoba and Quebec have already signalled their deep concern with the negative social impacts that would occur as a result of allowing households to grow up to four marijuana plants. These provinces have concerns and they want to have the power to ban homegrown marijuana cultivation, but the current Liberal government has blatantly ignored these concerns and has said, “absolutely not”.

Most of the medical groups and the police services that have appeared before the House committees studying this bill have said they are against the provision in Bill C-45 to allow homegrown marijuana. Even if these households contain small children, even if this provision would allow organized crime to exploit homegrown marijuana production, and even if the police have said they will have serious difficulty monitoring whether people are growing no more than four plants in their homes, the government has said no to those provisions. The Liberals have shown that they care more about pushing through this bill as soon as possible than they care about public safety or about fixing the significant flaws in the bill. This action is totally unacceptable, and it also demonstrates clearly that the Liberals have their priorities backwards.

I spoke to many real estate people in my province of Saskatchewan, and actually on lobby day many of them came through our offices here, representing the Canadian real estate boards. They are also concerned. There are no landlord-tenant regulations for growing four plants in a home that maybe somebody is renting. This is something that needs to be discussed with the Canadian real estate board, and it has yet to do so.

In March of this year, I spent eight days touring various communities in Nunavut. I visited eight or nine schools on our trip, and that was really enjoyable. While I was meeting with the people of these communities, I heard many serious concerns with this bill, and how it would negatively impact the well-being of these northern communities. We should say right off the bat that there are no health centres in Nunavut for people struggling with addictions. I heard time and again there is not one facility in Nunavut that handles addictions, so when people have a problem they will be flown either to Winnipeg or all the way to Montreal. These people want to stay in their communities, yet they have no addiction facilities. Perhaps we should start there with at least one addiction facility in Nunavut and work out from there, but no, this bill will pass and we will see the horrific incidents that will happen time and again in Nunavut because of this. While the Liberals are taking no steps to mitigate the negative consequences that this bill would have in these communities in Nunavut, many of the elders are really concerned with this cannabis bill and they have not been consulted.

I found that first-hand when I toured each village up in Nunavut. Many of the elders are really concerned with this cannabis bill, and they have not been consulted. The government claims it consults indigenous peoples, and yet seven or eight of the Inuit communities I saw had not been consulted on this bill as of March.

The government wants to make sure at all costs that provincial and territorial governments will not be able to ban the homegrown marijuana plants within their own jurisdictions. This is not at all helpful, and it does nothing to address the many concerns I heard during my visits to these communities in late February and March. These people are being ignored by this Liberal government, because the Liberals' priority is to push this bill through at any cost.

The role of Parliament, of course, is to ensure that bills passed are for the betterment of all Canadians and do not cause harm to people across the country. Actually, the way in which Bill C-45 is being handled by the current government suggests in no way, shape, or form that the best interests of Canadians are being attended to.

We have talked to many people in this country about the bill. The number one consideration is the education aspect of it. In December, the government began its advertising about cannabis legislation. Where should it have started? I would think it should have contacted the Canadian school boards for a start. Does the government not think we should be in every classroom in this country talking about the good and the bad about cannabis? The government has not done anything at the school board level in this country.

I know this because I have a daughter in the city of Saskatoon who is a teacher. She is teaching grades 7 and 8. They have not even discussed this bill, and it is coming forth right away. I also have a son in Alberta who teaches at a junior college in Lethbridge. They have not even talked about this. These are kids in grade 9, 10, and 11, yet these schools have not talked about this bill and how it will be worked out in the provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan.

When the minister brought this bill forward, we were told that a vast education program would come with it. We have seen one or two ads on television, but let us get to the grassroots and to the kids who are in grade 6, 7, 8, and beyond. Why would we not talk about this bill in schools? Why would we not give each school in this country some literature so they can talk about the harmful effects of cannabis? The government has done none of it.

I was a school board trustee for nine and a half years. I asked the government questions time and time again about the education of this bill. Representatives told me it had hundreds of thousands of dollars to spend on education. It has done next to nothing.

Schools are petrified that come September, they are the ones that will have to deal with this. They will have to deal with seven-year-olds coming to school with cannabis in their pocket, and yet none of the education has been done.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

June 18th, 2018 / 1:25 p.m.
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Conservative

Kevin Waugh Conservative Saskatoon—Grasswood, SK

What does the member mean by “Come on”, Madam Speaker? In our schools in Saskatoon that has happened already. That is how much members know about this. They have no idea what goes on in our communities, that we are trying to give our students in elementary school and secondary school better lives. Instead, the government is just pushing Bill C-45 ahead without any consultation with the people who it affects most of all, which is our young people.

Shame on the government. It has not done the consultation it said it was going to do. It has not reached out to the Canadian School Boards Association. I know this because I have talked to the Saskatchewan school boards. The government has done nothing. Shame on it for pushing Bill C-45 without talking to the people who it affects the most, which is our kids. They are our future.

I cannot support this bill without the consultation that the government said it was starting months ago. The government has done nothing and it should be ashamed. There is no way those on this side are going to support Bill C-45.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

June 18th, 2018 / 1:30 p.m.
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Liberal

Alaina Lockhart Liberal Fundy Royal, NB

Madam Speaker, one thing the member opposite mentioned in his speech was that he did not feel outreach had been done, and that we are not talking to students about cannabis. I have heard this before. I have a 15-year-old daughter in high school now, and I said to her, “Listen, I have heard from some colleagues that they are not hearing about this educational piece we are doing on cannabis. Have you heard anything about it?” She said to me that it was in her news feed all the time on all the social media forums.

I would just like to comment that we are not the audience at which this education plan is directed, so it is quite possible that my colleagues are not seeing the impact of this education in their own news feeds. However, it is happening.

How does my colleague across the way think we should best educate the students about the concerns we have with cannabis, about its proper use, and about the legislation that is coming through?

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

June 18th, 2018 / 1:30 p.m.
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Conservative

Kevin Waugh Conservative Saskatoon—Grasswood, SK

Madam Speaker, not everybody follows Facebook; not everyone follows Twitter. What does the member think this government should have done back in December, as it was proposing this bill to come forward this year?

Does the member not think it should have reached out to the Canadian School Boards Association? Does the member not think it should have reached out to all school divisions in this country, with some literature, with some pamphlets, with some education on it, or maybe even a video or two?

That would seem to be the wise thing to do. We just heard from the hon. member that the government has done none of this. It is relying on Facebook and Twitter. Is that not disgusting, that the government has never once gone into the schools in this country to tell people about the effects of this cannabis bill, Bill C-45?

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

June 18th, 2018 / 1:30 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, it would be highly irresponsible for anyone to actually believe that, today, there is not cannabis in our classrooms. That is the reality of the situation in North America, in the U.S., in Canada, and in the western world, nowhere do we have a higher usage by young people of cannabis, in one way or another.

Today we have gangs that are selling cannabis to those 12- and 13-year-olds. By legalizing and regulating cannabis, we will help young people and will take hundreds of millions of dollars away from criminal elements in our society. We will be able to use that money better, whether it is in health care or whatever else it might be.

Would my friend across the way not at the very least acknowledge what the rest of Canadian society already knows, that there is already a general awareness and usage of cannabis among young people, virtually higher usage than in any other country in the western world?

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

June 18th, 2018 / 1:30 p.m.
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Conservative

Kevin Waugh Conservative Saskatoon—Grasswood, SK

Madam Speaker, I would acknowledge that there is marijuana in every school in this country. There is no question about that. Does that make it right? Of course it does not make it right.

What are we going to do to talk about the health of the cannabis bill that is coming forward? I question it. I still think we will have an underground economy in marijuana in our country, and I do not think this bill talks about that at all. We have some issues here with this bill. It has been fast-tracked. We all know that. I just do not think the government has done its due diligence.

One of the questions I would like to ask the hon. member is about reserves in this country that control their own police forces. They have not been consulted at all. These are police forces within indigenous communities. They do not have the money to do training on cannabis, and yet the government is going through with this. First nations, on reserves, have said loudly that they wanted in on this. They want training, and yet there is nothing from the public services minister. There is nothing that will give police on reserves, that are run by indigenous people, the right to do this.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

June 18th, 2018 / 1:35 p.m.
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Conservative

Bob Saroya Conservative Markham—Unionville, ON

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to once again speak on an issue that I and many Canadians are deeply concerned about. I rise to speak against Bill C-45. This bill would legalize marijuana in Canada, a dangerous drug that is nothing less than damaging and addictive. I have been very clear that I am against this piece of legislation. I have taken the time to listen to experts from all backgrounds, and the findings continue to be the same: Marijuana is dangerous and Canada needs to think twice before going through with this bill. The Liberals really do not seem to get it.

Let me remind us all of the facts. According to the Canadian Medical Association, increased use of marijuana before the age of 25 severely impacts brain development. This means that this drug should not be made available to young people. In Colorado, where marijuana is legal, there have been cases of elementary school students consuming brownies containing marijuana and showing up high at school, as a result of how accessible the drug is in their homes. We are now beginning to see that happen in Canada. People have a misconception that marijuana is already legal.

Unfortunately, it gets worse. In Oshawa last month, on two different occasions, marijuana snacks were brought into schools in the form of gummy bears and cookies. The government refuses to think of our children. This is wrong. Unfortunately, the Liberals continue to put their political agenda above the safety of Canadians and are failing to consider the consequences. Worst of all, our police force is underfunded, unequipped, and not properly trained to react to an influx of drugs into our communities.

When it comes to health and safety, Canadians deserve the best. If we look at the example of Colorado again, Colorado is already regretting its decision to legalize marijuana. Just last month, we heard the Colorado governor say that he would not rule out banning marijuana once again. We should not make the same mistake as Colorado.

Many Canadians are deeply worried. The constituents in Markham—Unionville have told me countless times how concerned they are about the consequences of allowing marijuana to flow freely into our communities.

I will remain on the right side of this issue. The legalization of marijuana is a serious matter. I do not understand why the government refuses to look at all the facts. It has an arbitrary deadline in mind and is continuing full steam ahead. The Liberal government's plan to legalize marijuana would make Canada the first developed country in the world to do so. That fact alone should make us pause.

Why are we signing up to be the largest social experiment of the 21st century, when all the experts are telling us to slow down? I would have hoped that instead of politicizing the issue, the Prime Minister would take into consideration the many concerns presented by health experts, first responders, community leaders, and residents. Instead, the Prime Minister has opted to use everything at his disposal to rush Bill C-45 into law.

The evidence is clear. Marijuana contains over 400 chemicals. Many of these are the same harmful chemicals found in tobacco smoke and cause serious harm to youth brain development. There is no doubt about it: Marijuana is not safe. The misguided idea pushed by the Liberals that recreational use of this drug is harmless and should be legalized reinforces a misconception that marijuana is harmless. It would result in the normalization of marijuana use, for which our young people will pay dearly.

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 bill.

I have heard loud and clear from my riding that people are concerned about the negative consequences that legalizing marijuana would have on our community and our youth. They are worried about what it would do to the value of their homes. However, the Liberals just keep going.

This is a piece of legislation that pertains to an issue very close to me. 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 damaging and addictive.

Canadian families expect safe and healthy communities in which to raise their children. Elected representatives can and should provide guidance on this drug to reflect the views of all Canadians. Let us all remember that we are talking about the health and safety of Canadians, and they deserve better. Let us not rush through the legislation. We need to do what is right for all Canadians. The provinces, municipalities, and police forces are not ready to implement this legislation.

I have said many times before that I oppose the legislation entirely. I choose to listen to the concerns raised by scientists, doctors, and law enforcement officials. I want to advocate for the voices that are not heard in the legislation and for those who say that the government's plan is being rushed through without proper planning or consideration of the negative consequences of such complicated legislation. The passing of Bill C-45 would lead to negative repercussions at the global level.

The government claims that the legislation will control the drug, but in reality it would allow the drug to get out of control, especially when we look at the issue of home grow. I really just cannot believe it. If marijuana is in the home, youth will have access to it. We have already seen this happen. Why will the government not look at the bill for what it really is, a big mistake? We cannot normalize this drug. We should not legalize it. Our children will pay the price.

I was speaking to the police chief of York region. He is definitely against this. He asked me to ask the member of Parliament for Scarborough Southwest what side he was on for the 40 years he was in law enforcement, compared to now.

There is no money. For York region alone, it will cost $54 million over three years. The previous Liberal provincial government had promised up to 60%, and 40% will be taken by the local residents of York region. Is that fair?

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

June 18th, 2018 / 1:40 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

Madam Speaker, I am delighted to have the opportunity to respond to the question put to me by my friend from Markham—Unionville. I was on the side of protecting our kids. I was on the side of public safety. I was on the side of fighting organized crime for 40 years, and I still am.

I would like to correct a couple of things. Perhaps the member opposite is simply not aware. He said that the police are underfunded for this. That is simply, patently false and incorrect. I am sure the member would be reassured by the knowledge that our government has committed $274 million to fund the police. For the first time, that includes receiving training and access to technology.

He made reference to the York Regional Police. In recognition of municipal police services, we made $81 million available for the training and equipping of municipal police services. That will be done through the provinces, so perhaps he could direct his concerns to the new provincial government in Ontario.

Finally, we also gave up one half of the federal excise tax, in a 75-25 split, so the provinces would have more money to supply municipalities to address their costs. Therefore, the member's remarks are perhaps not adequately informed about the facts of the funding that is available to law enforcement. I take it as well—

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

June 18th, 2018 / 1:45 p.m.
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Conservative

Bob Saroya Conservative Markham—Unionville, ON

Madam Speaker, from what I understand, the total share of this $80 million or $90 million is only $300,000 over three years. If we divide it, 80% of the money goes toward federal forces, for training of the RCMP and other agencies, and only 20% goes toward this, as I am told. Therefore, the total share is $300,000 over three years. However, the cost to implement this federal bill is $54 million. There is a $21.6-million shortfall, which will be taken up by local residents, such as those of York region. In many cases, their taxes are up in the 54% tax bracket.

There are many other issues, such as enforcement in relation to homegrown plants. Police officers can hardly do the work they have been hired for at this moment. Will they be expected to go door to door to check the number of plants?

I also learned from the police chief that the conviction rate is only 40% because judges are throwing the cases out. The residents say that these four, six, or 10 plants are ready, and the others will be available in one week. There are seeds and plants, and 10 different crops coming up in their homes.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

June 18th, 2018 / 1:45 p.m.
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Liberal

Sean Fraser Liberal Central Nova, NS

Madam Speaker, I would like to thank the member opposite for his thoughtful deliberation on this file. However, I patently disagree with him on a number of issues he raised.

He suggested that this bill would lead to the situation getting out of control and that it would hurt our youth. Those things are happening right now. They are not happening just in Canada; they are happening as much in Canada as anywhere else in the world where countries are tracking statistics on the rate of cannabis consumption by young people.

Why is the member opposite so committed to the status quo, when it has failed our youth and has diverted profits to criminal organizations? Why would we defend a system that has proven to be a failure?

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

June 18th, 2018 / 1:45 p.m.
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Conservative

Bob Saroya Conservative Markham—Unionville, ON

Madam Speaker, why legalize it? Why not decriminalize it? I agree that this is a big issue, and now the government will make it worse by making marijuana available at every street corner. Only 150 stores are proposed nationwide for the first, second, and third year. People think that it has already been legalized. This bill would make the situation worse. There would be more crimes committed. The police do not have the equipment, the training, or the money to enforce it. How are the police going to enforce this?

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

June 18th, 2018 / 1:45 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, a good way to start off is to comment on a question from across the floor, which was something like why legalize instead of just decriminalizing it.

With respect to decriminalization of cannabis, there are two entities I am aware of that support it. One would be the Conservative Party of Canada. The other would be the many different criminal elements in society, because it is the criminal element that would benefit the most if all we did was decriminalize cannabis. Let us think about it. As opposed to having a criminal charge, one would get a fine. That is what the Conservative Party would like to happen. I know that the gangs in the north end of Winnipeg would love to have a policy of that nature.

Through legalization, we are saying that we want to have a real, tangible impact on two things in particular which, for me, are the highest priorities. One is the use of cannabis by young people in our society today. This legislation would go much farther than anything we have ever seen in this House in the last 20-plus years in terms of taking a more responsible approach. I suggest that we would actually have fewer young people engaged in cannabis as a direct result of this legislation. I will give a specific example.

The other thing we are going to see is a lot of disappointed individuals who use cannabis as an illegal way to acquire great sums of money. We are talking about criminal activities that generate hundreds of millions of dollars every year through selling cannabis to youth in every region of our country. People should put themselves in the position of a young 14-year-old or 15-year-old attending a school anywhere in our country who is told that he or she can make money by taking a bag of marijuana and selling it to their friends or siblings.

There is a lot of peer pressure for young people, and the motivation is often to go out and generate pocket money. Ultimately this goes back to the gang activities we often see in our communities. That is what is actually happening today in our high schools and elementary schools. There are individuals who, through criminal activities, are being motivated to get young people more engaged. As a per capita percentage, we have more young people engaged in cannabis than any other country in the western world. There is so much we could be doing to have a real positive impact.

I am very pleased with the amount of consultation that has taken place. One member of the Conservative Party said that very few people know about it and the member is concerned about the school boards and so forth. I would suggest there are very few issues which have generated the type of attention this one has. In fact, it was a major platform issue for the Liberal Party of Canada going into the last federal election. It has been covered by many different media outlets. People make reference to social media. It has been included in householders across the country.

I would find it very difficult to believe that there is any elected official let alone members of the general public in Canada who are not aware of it. People are very much attune to and aware of what is taking place in anticipation of cannabis being legalized. I do not share the concerns the Conservatives have that people are not aware or that there is just not enough attention being given to the issue.

Whether it is the bureaucrats at the health or public safety departments, or the ministers in particular, I must point out that in my many years of being a parliamentarian, never have I seen an individual lead the process on legislation, and be as open and transparent as the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada and to the Minister of Health. The parliamentary secretary has done an outstanding job.

I want to commend members in both the House and the Senate, as well as all the other stakeholders for the outreach and information flow to ensure that this legislation is being done in the right way.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

June 13th, 2018 / 4:10 p.m.
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Liberal

Ginette Petitpas Taylor Liberal Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe, NB

moved:

That a message be sent to the Senate to acquaint their Honours 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, the House:

agrees with amendments 1, 2, 5, 6, 10, 11(b) and (c), 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17(b), 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 24, 27, 28, 29, 30, 34, 35, 36 and 37 made by the Senate;

respectfully disagrees with amendment 3 because the government has been clear that provinces and territories are able to make additional restrictions on personal cultivation but that it is critically important to permit personal cultivation in order to support the government’s objective of displacing the illegal market;

respectfully disagrees with amendments 4, 11(a) and 38 because they would be contrary to the stated purpose of the Cannabis Act to protect the health of young persons by restricting their access to cannabis;

respectfully disagrees with amendment 7 because the criminal penalties and the immigration consequences aim to prevent young people from accessing cannabis and to deter criminal activity by imposing serious criminal penalties for prohibited activities, including importing and exporting cannabis and using a young person to commit cannabis-related offences;

respectfully disagrees with amendment 8 because the Cannabis Act already includes comprehensive restrictions on promotion;

respectfully disagrees with amendment 9 because the government has already committed to establishing THC limits in regulations, which will provide flexibility to make future adjustments based on new evidence and product innovation;

respectfully disagrees with amendments 17(a) and 25 because other Senate amendments that the House is accepting would provide the Minister with expanded powers to require security clearances, and because amendments 17(a) and 25 would present significant operational challenges and privacy concerns;

respectfully disagrees with amendment 23 because law enforcement has an obligation to maintain evidence unless there is a risk to health and safety, and provisions currently exist in the Cannabis Act to provide compensation should evidence be disposed of and ordered to be returned;

respectfully disagrees with amendment 26 because mechanisms already exist to provide for public scrutiny of federal regulations;

proposes that amendment 31 be amended by replacing the text of section 151.1 with the following text:

“151.1 (1) Three years after this section comes into force, the Minister must cause a review of this Act and its administration and operation to be conducted, including a review of the impact of this Act on public health and, in particular, on the health and consumption habits of young persons in respect of cannabis use, the impact of cannabis on Indigenous persons and communities, and the impact of the cultivation of cannabis plants in a dwelling-house.

(2) No later than 18 months after the day on which the review begins, the Minister must cause a report on the review, including any findings or recommendations resulting from it, to be laid before each House of Parliament.”;

respectfully disagrees with amendment 32 because the Bill already provides for a comprehensive review of the core objectives of the Cannabis Act, including a requirement to table a report in Parliament and because the suggested amendment to amendment 31 provides for a review of the public health impacts of the Cannabis Act;

respectfully disagrees with amendment 33 because Parliament already has broad discretion to initiate studies of specific matters by parliamentary committees, and because the Bill already provides for a comprehensive review of the Cannabis Act, including a requirement to table a report in Parliament.

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to be here today and to rise to speak to Bill C-45, Cannabis Act. I would first congratulate the other chamber for its excellent work and careful study of this bill. Once again, I want to point out the great work done by all senators over the past seven months and by committees that did remarkable work over many meetings.

We are about to witness an historic moment in Canada. When this bill comes into effect, it will change the way our country controls access to cannabis.

It will be an important change for every one of us, including governments, indigenous peoples, law enforcement agencies, health professionals, and Canadians.

As I have said many times, our objective for legalization is to replace a system that is not working. We need to keep cannabis out of the hands of youth and profits out of the hands of organized crime.

Bill C-45 gives us the tools we need to accomplish that.

As we know, the bill before us today is the result of more than two years of study and consultation.

It builds on the extensive work of the task force on cannabis legalization and regulation. The task force consulted with a wide range of stakeholders, from the provinces and territories, to law enforcement, to health and safety experts. It also reached out to young Canadians, indigenous people, and many others. Their feedback and recommendations certainly helped shape this bill.

The proposed legislation is informed by lessons learned from jurisdictions in the United States and elsewhere that have legalized and regulated cannabis. It included effective practices from other regulatory regimes such as tobacco, for which we have implemented a public health approach with demonstrated success.

As a result, the proposed legalization strikes the right balance between making cannabis legally available to adults and protecting all Canadians.

Over the past few months, this bill has been studied and debated by the other place. Five of its committees carried out comprehensive studies and heard from over 200 witnesses. This work led them to propose a number of amendments to the bill. Several of those amendments made Bill C-45 stronger.

For example, senators had proposed an amendment that would strengthen our ability to keep organized crime out of the legal industry by giving the minister the power to require specific persons associated with a licensed organization to hold a valid security clearance. There is no doubt that this change improves Bill C-45 and the government will fully support it.

We are, however, concerned that other proposed changes could undermine the bill. After careful thought and consideration, we have decided not to support some of the proposed amendments. My colleague, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health, will speak in more detail about this decision.

In the meantime, I would like to focus on two specific issues that have captured the interest of the other place. Let us talk about the indigenous perspective.

The first concerns the indigenous perspective on Bill C-45. In a recent letter, the Minister of Indigenous Services and I acknowledged the interests and concerns raised by the Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples. We have committed to continue to take action in specific areas including supporting mental health and addiction services, public education and participation in cannabis production, and addressing jurisdictional and revenue-sharing issues.

We have committed to report to both chambers on progress in these areas within 12 months of receiving royal assent. I would like to assure members that our government has noted these areas of interest and concern. We will address each area through continued engagement with indigenous communities, indigenous organizations, and with the Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples.

Home growing was the other issue that received careful consideration from the other place. As we know, the bill allows adults to grow four plants per household. There are three reasons why limited home growing should be allowed.

First, allowing people to grow a small number of plants for personal use will prevent the needless criminalization of otherwise law-abiding citizens. Second, limited home growing will help displace the black market, an unsafe, unregulated market that supports criminals and organized crime.

The bill sets out strict rules for growing cannabis at home. Setting a very low limit on the number of plants is a reasonable way to allow adults to cultivate cannabis for their personal use while prohibiting larger-scale grow ops.

Under the proposed legislation, provinces and territories have the flexibility to impose additional restrictions on personal cultivation should they wish to do so. This flexibility will allow provinces and territories to tailor their legislation to local circumstances and priorities in keeping with the public health and safety objectives set out in the proposed cannabis act.

This new legislation is an essential component of our overall public health strategy for cannabis. The purpose of this approach is to minimize the harms associated with cannabis use and decrease the probability of substance abuse. Our public health approach includes significant investments in budget 2017 and budget 2018 for promoting awareness and providing information. It also provides for close monitoring of the impact.

In accordance with this strategy, we will provide the facts on cannabis to Canadians. The government will then be able to measure and understand the impact of these policy changes over time.

We know that there are health risks associated with cannabis use. These risks are higher in certain age groups and among people with specific health conditions. Our objective is both to give people the information they need to make informed decisions about cannabis and to minimize the risks.

Through all of this, our top priority is to protect our youth. Youth face the greatest health risks from using cannabis and are especially vulnerable to its effects. For this reason, the bill contains many measures that have been designed to restrict access to cannabis and to protect young people. This is essential, given that Canadian youth use cannabis at a rate that is among the highest in the world. This is why Bill C-45 proposes serious criminal penalties for those who provide cannabis to anyone under the age of 18.

The bill also includes prohibitions on promotion and advertising and on products, packaging, and labelling that would be appealing to youth.

The bill introduced today was carefully crafted to address the long-standing problem of immediate access to and prolonged use of cannabis in Canada. There is a pervasive illegal market that is deeply entrenched. This market does not comply with any rules or regulations to protect the public, and especially our youth.

We promised a solution to Canadians, and we have kept our promise. Over the past two years, our government carried out a huge amount of research, analysis, and planning for Bill C-45. We consulted various stakeholders and we spoke with our partners.

We made strategic investments to inform Canadians about the health impacts of cannabis and the risks associated with driving under the influence of drugs.

We also examined and accepted a number of sensible amendments, and we will do so again today.

I am convinced that Bill C-45 gives us the legal framework we need to protect Canadians, especially our young people.

Canada is well positioned to make this change. We already have a world-class system for the production and regulation of cannabis for medical use. The bill proposes to build on this strong regulatory regime.

We will continue working closely with our partners at the provincial and territorial level and indigenous communities to ensure a successful implementation of this legislation once it is passed.

The provinces and territories are ready. Canadians are ready as well.

As parliamentarians, we have done our job and produced an historic package of legislative measures in the interest of Canadians.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

June 13th, 2018 / 4:20 p.m.
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Conservative

Marilyn Gladu Conservative Sarnia—Lambton, ON

Madam Speaker, the minister is clearly not in possession of the facts. Although she claims that this new bill is going to work to eliminate marijuana from the hands of children, it is clear that is not going to happen and neither will it eliminate organized crime.

Washington State did not allow home grow and organized crime was eliminated. The minister has gone on record saying that what the government is implementing will accomplish that, when clearly in Colorado, that allowed home grow, that did not happen.

Knowing that four plants in a house can be 600 grams, and that was before the height restriction was removed, there will be a huge amount. Provinces like Manitoba and Quebec have recognized that that will not keep it out of the hands of children. The minister's own province of New Brunswick put in lock-up provisions recognizing it does not.

With that, why did the minister allow home grow to be included in this legislation?

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

June 13th, 2018 / 4:20 p.m.
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Liberal

Ginette Petitpas Taylor Liberal Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe, NB

Madam Speaker, once again we have to make it very clear that our objective in moving forward with Bill C-45 is simple. We are moving forward with legalization as we want to restrict access to cannabis by our youth. We want to protect our youth. We also want to regulate the product that is on the market.

With respect to the issue of home grow, we have to recognize that if we want to displace the illegal market, we have to use all the tools that we have at our disposal.

We recognize as well that when individuals have a prescription to grow cannabis for medical purposes, they have the opportunity to grow that product at home. When we talk about recreational cannabis, we feel that both systems should be consistent.

I also have to add that for all provinces and territories, should they choose to add additional limits with respect to home cultivation, they will be able to do so. If a province chooses to only allow one plant to be grown, it can absolutely do that.

As my friend and colleague indicated, the province of New Brunswick, my home province, has even put a specific requirement forward. It wants to ensure that if New Brunswickers choose home cultivation they will have to do so under lock and key.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

June 13th, 2018 / 4:25 p.m.
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Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Madam Speaker, I recognize that for both ministers this is a very difficult bill. Overall, I certainly support Bill C-45. In general, it strikes the right balance. However, I am disappointed that some of the Senate amendments have been rejected, and I wonder if the minister would reconsider.

I tried similar amendments when the bill was before committee. The ones I could generally lump together are clause 9, pages 10 and 11; and another one further in, clause 51, pages 29 to 31, dealing with what we might characterize as social sharing. I am very concerned that young people will not realize that if they are 18 years old and their best friend is 17 years, 11 months, and two weeks old, passing a joint to this friend in a social setting would constitute distribution and could even involve jail time.

I think we ought to look at these amendments that came from the Senate. Again, I think that the government has done a pretty fair job here. I have a lot of concern on regulations, which I will raise later. I am very concerned to make sure that legal growing outdoors of organic cannabis would be permitted. However, for now, looking at these amendments, I wonder if there might be some reconsideration around this particular area of concern.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

June 13th, 2018 / 4:25 p.m.
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Liberal

Ginette Petitpas Taylor Liberal Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe, NB

Madam Speaker, as I have indicated earlier, very clearly, the Senate has certainly been studying this proposed legislation for the past seven months. We absolutely appreciate the work that it has done. We have given careful consideration to all of the amendments that the Senate has brought forward, and after discussions with my colleagues, the Minister of Justice, the Minister of Public Safety, as well as many cabinet colleagues, and the parliamentary secretary, we have made the decision to accept some amendments and some we have decided to oppose.

When it comes to the specific amendment that my friend and colleague has mentioned, we really felt that it was counterintuitive with respect to the sharing aspect at such a close age. It is an area that we have given close consideration to, but at this point, our government is not prepared to accept that amendment.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

June 13th, 2018 / 4:25 p.m.
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Conservative

Bernard Généreux Conservative Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup, QC

Madam Speaker, just two days ago, the Government of Quebec adopted its own bill for the province, and it was extremely clear about the province's desire to be able to ban home cultivation.

The minister says that they talked about the bill throughout the entire two-year process and that the senators did good work. They did such good work that their 46 amendments speak to the mediocrity of this bill.

The reality is that the Government of Quebec does not want its citizens to be allowed to grow plants at home because it feels that it is not in the interest of young children.

Why will the minister not respect the will of the Province of Quebec?

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

June 13th, 2018 / 4:25 p.m.
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Liberal

Ginette Petitpas Taylor Liberal Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe, NB

Madam Speaker, once again, I want to thank my colleague for his question.

With regard to home cultivation, we obviously thought about this issue and also closely examined this amendment. We recognize that the Senate did a thorough job, and we studied all the recommendations made to date.

I do not agree with my colleague who called it a mediocre law. The task force on cannabis legalization and regulation did great work, and we have been working on this bill for two years. We are convinced that Bill C-45 is really good.

It was very important for the other chamber, the Senate, to review it and make recommendations. On this side of the House, we studied these recommendations very carefully and we accepted the majority of amendments.

We do not hold the same position on home cultivation, but we nevertheless respect the work done by everyone.

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June 13th, 2018 / 4:25 p.m.
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Liberal

Mark Gerretsen Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

Madam Speaker, it is a real pleasure to see the bill come back to this House with some of those recommendations. However, despite the fact that we hear rhetoric from the opposition around increased consumption among youth, the reality of the situation is that we know youth in Canada are at the high end of utilizing marijuana as it currently stands.

I wonder if the minister could comment on those statistics and on what the bill seeks to accomplish in terms of reducing cannabis use among youth in Canada.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

June 13th, 2018 / 4:30 p.m.
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Liberal

Ginette Petitpas Taylor Liberal Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe, NB

Madam Speaker, the priority of Bill C-45, as we legalize cannabis, is to restrict cannabis and get it out of the hands of youth. We recognize that in Canada, in many instances, it is easier for our youth to purchase cannabis than it is for them to purchase cigarettes. We recognize that the current system is not working, and that is why we are moving forward with the bill. We want to legalize, restrict, and also regulate this substance.

We recognize that Canadian youth are among the highest consumers of cannabis among the developed countries. As a result, we are taking a public health approach. We are making some significant investments in the area of public education and awareness. We are also partnering with many agencies to make sure that we provide the appropriate tools to provide the public education and the awareness campaign that is needed to ensure that they get the proper information.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

June 13th, 2018 / 4:30 p.m.
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NDP

Rachel Blaney NDP North Island—Powell River, BC

Madam Speaker, one of the concerns one of the members brought up earlier was about having two young people together, one who is of age and one who is very close but not quite there, and the criminal record they could get for making the mistake of passing a joint. I wonder if you could talk a bit about what your plans are to actually educate young people to make sure that we negate that as much as possible.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

June 13th, 2018 / 4:30 p.m.
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Liberal

Ginette Petitpas Taylor Liberal Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe, NB

Madam Speaker, as I was indicating earlier with respect to the public education and awareness campaign, it is important to make sure that the appropriate investments are made to inform Canadians about Bill C-45 with respect to the coming into force date and all the information that needs to go with it. I also have to stress that the information and tools we are going to put in place with respect to public education and awareness are key.

The public education campaigns have already started. They started last year, and we are continuing to roll out these products. We recognize that we have to get the key messages out to Canadians, because we want them to be able to make responsible choices.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

June 13th, 2018 / 4:30 p.m.
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Conservative

Marilyn Gladu Conservative Sarnia—Lambton, ON

Madam Speaker, I would like to say that this will probably be my last opportunity to speak to Bill C-45, so I want to make sure I give it full coverage.

The government says that the reason it is bringing in this legislation is that what is in place now is not working. What is proposed under Bill C-45 is not going to work either, even with the many amendments that have been brought forward.

What was this bill supposed to do in the first place? If we refer to the purpose of the bill, it is supposed to “protect the health of young persons by restricting their access to cannabis”. We can see right away a couple of things in the bill that are going to put cannabis into the hands of young children. First is clause 8, which would allow young people aged 12 to 17 to have up to five grams of cannabis. That is the wrong message in any universe.

We have talked about home grow and how when people have in excess of 600 grams of cannabis growing in a house, young people are likely to get hold of it, in the same way they get hold of liquor in the liquor cabinet. This is certainly not going to keep cannabis out of the hands of young children.

Furthermore, I would say that if the government has a belief that the systems being put in place in some provinces are going to help out, let me assure the House that Kathleen Wynne put in a process in Ontario of LCBO-type stores and delivery. For people in Sarnia—Lambton, the closest store is in London. If they called their drug dealers today, in about 30 minutes they could have whatever quantity they wanted delivered to their houses for about $7 a gram. The government has proposed a price of $10 a gram, with $1 in tax on top of that. If it thinks that is going to work to displace the organized crime that is in place, it is sadly mistaken.

The other item I want to talk about with respect to youth is the public education that was supposed to happen. The Canadian Medical Association has been clear that among young people under the age of 25 who use cannabis, 30% will have severe mental illness issues, such as psychotic disorders, bipolar, anxiety, and depression, and 10% will become addicted. Where is the public education on that? Where is the message to tell young people today that this is harmful? That message is not out there. Young people are saying, “It's no more harmful than alcohol.” They are not getting the message.

The only public campaign that has been done was done by the Minister of Public Safety, who did a brief TV commercial to let kids know that they should not drive while they are drug-impaired, which, while true, is totally inadequate to have the kind of public education that was recommended by Colorado and the State of Washington. Colorado did $10 million worth of public education for a population that is lot smaller than what Canada has. The State of Washington did the same.

We are certainly not going to achieve the first objective of keeping it out of the hands of children. What about some of the others? Will we provide for only the legal production of cannabis “to reduce illicit activities in relation to cannabis”? If we look at all the places that have legalized marijuana, we see that in Colorado, which allowed home grow, it still has significant issues with organized crime. The police have a lot of nuisance complaints, and there are entire residential neighbourhoods that smell. There are lots of problems there.

We can look at the State of Washington, which decided that it would not allow home grow, except in the case of medicinal marijuana. It was able, in three years, to reduce organized crime to less than 20%. Because it had set the age at 21, it was able to make it difficult for young people to actually get hold of marijuana. It is unlikely that 21-year-olds would be sharing with 17-year-olds, unlike with the legislation we have before us.

Another problem that has not been addressed by the government with respect to home grow concerns property-owner rights. In Ontario and Quebec, once this legislation is passed, property owners would be unable to prevent people from growing marijuana in their houses. For those who are maybe less experienced, when growing marijuana, there can often be a mould problem in the house. I have been approached by the real estate associations, which have asked questions. Currently, when there is a home grow in a house, and the house is sold, they have to do a total remediation for the mould and a recertification of the house. They want to know if they are going to have to do that for all the home grows. That question has not been answered by the government.

The other question that has not been answered by the government has to do with the impact at the border. I live in a border community. Conversations have been had with Homeland Security and with border officials. They have said, “Canada is changing its law. We are not changing our law federally. It still is illegal federally, and we are not adding resources because of Canada's law.” Dogs will sniff. If people have second-hand smoke residue on their clothes, if a kid borrowed the car and happened to be out with other kids who were smoking marijuana, if people smoke themselves and do not happen to have any with them but have the residue, the dogs will sniff it out, and people will be pulled over into secondary, and they will go through the standard procedure there. The problem is that there is not enough secondary for the number of people who will be pulled over. When asked what they will do then, they said they would put a cone in the lane the person is in and perform the secondary inspection there, which will back everything up. They have informed us to expect an increase of up to 300% in wait times at the border.

The government has known about this for two and a half years. It has done nothing to establish any kind of agreement with the government of the U.S., other than to say to make sure that people tell the truth. That, of course, is great advice, but it will not prevent the wait times and the problems that are going to be seen at the border.

Furthermore, the government has not educated young people to understand that if they are caught with marijuana in the U.S., it is a lifetime ban from that country. The U.S. is not the only country that will ban people for the possession of marijuana. There are a lot of countries in the world. Young people who intend to have a global career are not being informed about this, and there could be very adverse consequences from the public education that has not happened.

This bill was also supposed to “reduce the burden on the criminal justice system”. Unfortunately, we know that the justice minister is behind the eight ball in terms of putting judges in place. She is about 60 short. Because of that, we see murderers and rapists going free due to Jordan's principle. If there were an intent on the part of the Liberals to try to clear the backlog and make sure that those who have committed more serious crimes receive punishment, one of the things they could have done, as was suggested many times, even since last September, was let those who have marijuana charges drop off the list and get out of the queue so that the more serious offences could be prosecuted. Of course, the Liberals have done nothing with respect to that, and so again, they are not going to actually offload them from the system. In fact, there would be more criminal charges under this legislation than previously existed, because now, if people had five plants instead of four, that would be an offence. Now, if they had 31 grams instead of 30, that would be an offence. Now there would be offences for transferring it to younger people. There would be a lot of offences that did not exist previously, so definitely, we will not achieve that goal.

There was the goal to ”provide access to a quality-controlled supply of cannabis”. Now that they would allow home grow, and everyone is going to be doing their own thing, there would actually be no management of the quality control of this product. That is also not acceptable.

Some of the other unanswered questions we see have to do with workplace safety. This was raised when the marijuana issue was studied by the original council. There was testimony brought to committee. There were questions raised all over the place. How are we going to protect the employers, who have the liability, and the other employees, who are worried? They are worried about people who may come to work drug impaired. We do not want to be flying with Air Canada and have the pilot impaired. We do not want to have people operating nuclear plants who may be drug impaired.

Bill C-46 was supposed to be the companion legislation to Bill C-45. Bill C-46 was going to allow mandatory and random testing on the roadside, because, as people know, it is dangerous to smoke drugs and then drive a car. That was going to open the door, then, for people to say that if it is dangerous to smoke drugs and drive a car, perhaps it is also dangerous to then drive a plane or drive a train or operate a nuclear plant, or any of these other things. The question of workplace safety and how we are going to protect and what legislation is going into place is a total blank space.

We have not looked to our neighbours to the south that have legalized and have both mandatory and random testing in place. I worked on many projects, and I actually had an office in the States at one point in time, so I know that American employers are able to screen people before they hire them. They are able to mandatory test them, and they are able to random test them. The government has totally lacked leadership in addressing the issue of workplace safety, etc.

With respect to the actual amendments that have come, some were good and some were not good. One amendment that was brought would allow 18-year-olds to share their marijuana or allow parents in a home to share their marijuana. I am glad the government decided not to accept that one.

I am still concerned about the fact that there is even marijuana in the house. However, if that amendment was accepted it definitely would not have not been keeping marijuana out of the hands of young children.

One of the amendments that they did not accept had to do with the banning of promotional things like T-shirts, caps, and flags that would have a cannabis symbol on them. The government did not accept this amendment from the Senate. I am very concerned about that.

There are a lot of Canadians out there who are worried that when marijuana is legalized in Canada they are going to use Canada Day flags that have cannabis on them. Everybody will have a T-shirt with cannabis on it. That will be disgusting. It will absolutely denigrate our country and the people who have served our country and made Canada a proud country. It will deface that. The government has allowed people to continue to have that kind of paraphernalia by refusing the language here. It is total hypocrisy because under Bill S-228, which talks about prohibiting unhealthy advertising to children, we would not want to see pop or something like that on a T-shirt or a flag. However, with cannabis, it is okay. I am totally opposed to that.

Another thing that the government should have taken into account was the amendment that was brought on capping the potency of THC. We have heard reports from all over Canada, as people are increasingly trying marijuana for the first time or experiencing B.C. bud, which purportedly has one of the highest THC contents and a lot of potency, that people are presenting at the emergency wards with uncontrollable vomiting due to THC poisoning. Knowing that a part of the intent of this bill is to protect the health of Canadians and of youth, I cannot understand why the government would not recognize that there needs to be some control on the potency of things that are out in the marketplace.

Some of the amendments were compassionate and talked about giving people more time to pay their fines. I thought that was good that the government accepted those. I also thought it was good that they would, for young people, ages 12 to 17, who were experiencing an offence, look at ticketed offences, which is something that we would have supported, and restorative justice options.

If we look to countries that are doing the best job of intervening and helping people to get off drugs, look to Portugal. If anyone is found in possession of drugs there, they are given an intervention with a medical person, a psychiatrist, and a legal person. They then try to figure out what the root cause is of why these people are self-medicating or why are they becoming addicted, and what can be done to help get them off of it, in terms of mental health therapies or drug addiction therapies, etc. We need to look at this whole thing.

The other part that I think is unfortunate is that the indigenous people have not been adequately consulted. I was very disappointed to find that in September of last year, when we first heard at committee from Chief Day and from the Métis nation, they said they had not been adequately consulted. It is disheartening to hear that again when this went before the Senate, the same message came out that they had not been adequately consulted, and that they wanted to have the ability within their own communities to define whether or not cannabis would be allowed. Apparently under federal law, it was clarified to them that if it is a federal right of Canadians to possess cannabis, then it is not something that they would be able to go against. There was some resistance about that based on the sovereignty of the indigenous peoples. I think that was not resolved to their satisfaction.

It is worrisome that the government continues to rush ahead. It says that this is the most important relationship, the nation-to-nation relationship, yet it is willing to go and throw gasoline on a fire in terms of moving ahead when it has been asked not to do so.

Some of the other questions that arose at committee that really have not been adequately answered have to do with a lot of the detailed specifics about who is going to pay. Municipalities are saying there will be a cost to them to implement it, but they have not been included in the cost breakdown or the agreements that have happened. That is of concern. There have also been concerns raised by people who currently are consuming medical marijuana, and their understanding is that they are going to be paying tax on that.

Typically, in Canada, prescription medicines are not taxed. Therefore, as long as people have a prescription from a doctor for their medicinal marijuana, my expectation would be that it would not be taxed. However, that is not what the government is saying. Also, there is language in the budget bill that is a little suspicious, which states it would exempt people from paying tax on medicinal marijuana that has a drug identification number. The problem with that is that there are no medications that have a drug identification number because there are so many different components in marijuana that the companies have not been able to spend the research dollars required to characterize them or to effectively control the quality of them so that they could acquire a number like that. Therefore, that is a meaningless promise, for sure.

There were some amendments that were brought to bring this legislation in line with the tobacco legislation. I am in favour of having those things aligned. However, it seems unusual that the government would be spending $80 million to get people to stop smoking and then $800 million to get people to start smoking marijuana, especially when the Minister of Health just stood up and talked about how the government knows there are harmful effects.

One of the things I find very interesting, from a timing point of view, is that today Health Canada took the harmful impacts of cannabis off of its website. That was something that had been on the website. I had someone that brought it to my notice, and sent me a screenshot of what used to be there and a screenshot of what is not there now. It is very interesting that on the day that the Liberals want to see this legislation pass into law, it would suddenly take off of the website the information that shows there are harmful effects from cannabis not only to young people but also others.

Therefore, I would request that the government not hide things. Rather, it should try to be open and transparent, as it says it is always trying to be, and put that information back on the website. Every place that has legalized marijuana has said that one of the most important things to do is to invest in public education, and target that education not just to young people so that they understand the harmful effects this would have on their brains, but also to adults and parents who can influence young people, and the general public so that they can understand as well.

I am very concerned about some of the unintended consequences that will happen as a result of this legislation. I know there are people already smoking marijuana in Canada today. However, when it becomes legal, there will be many more who will decide to try it. They may not be informed about what the impact will be when they cross the border or what the impacts might be on their mental health or that of their children. They may not understand what the health impacts will be for them. They may not understand the ramifications with respect to their place of work and how they are going to impact both their employer and those who work around them.

That said, I am very opposed to the legalization of marijuana, which I have said on many occasions, not just because it is bad for people but because this bill has so many holes in it and so many unanswered questions, and there will be so many bad, unintended consequences for Canadians, that it will be left to the Conservative Party, when we come to victory in 2019, to clean up the mess made by the current government's moving forward in this rushed and irresponsible fashion to implement this bill.

This bill will absolutely not keep marijuana out of the hands of young children. It will not get organized crime out of this business. It will not unload our criminal justice system. It certainly will not provide access to a quality-controlled supply.

What we can expect is that on Canada Day there will be a lot of people out with their T-shirts on, totally insulting those Canadians who are proud of our country and who are not in agreement, and there are a lot of Canadians who are not in agreement with this legislation.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

June 13th, 2018 / 4:50 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

Madam Speaker, I want to begin by thanking the member opposite for her remarks and for her hard work on the health committee. Her opinions are always valued.

One thing that is clear, and that I have found there is an overwhelming consensus for right across the country, is that the current system of criminal prohibition is failing our communities and our kids terribly. We have the highest rates of cannabis use among children in the world. The entire production and distribution system of cannabis today in Canada is controlled by criminals. The products that our kids are exposed to are untested, unregulated, and unsafe. With respect to prohibition, I think there is a general acknowledgement that it simply does not work.

It is only by lifting that prohibition and replacing it with a comprehensive system of regulation for its production, distribution, and consumption that we have any opportunity to bring some control to a situation that is clearly out of control and damaging our communities and enriching criminals.

Therefore, I ask the member opposite what her intention would be. The next time your party may come into government, would you recriminalize this and reinstitute the prohibition after we have lifted it?

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

June 13th, 2018 / 4:50 p.m.
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Conservative

Marilyn Gladu Conservative Sarnia—Lambton, ON

Madam Speaker, the member opposite is absolutely right that the situation today is not a good situation, but if Liberals had done what was prudent, they would have put in place a system like Washington state that actually reduced organized crime's involvement, raised the age to 21, and made it more difficult for people to get hold of marijuana.

In terms of what will happen in the future, I look forward to the day in 2019 when Conservatives are victorious and return to government. At that time, it will be like the toothpaste is out of the tube. There will be a big mess to clean up and a doubling of traffic deaths, which has been seen in every other jurisdiction. Public education has not been done by the government, after warnings from every jurisdiction that legalized marijuana. That is going to have to happen for people to understand the harms. However, by that time, there will be young people who have mental health issues, there will be traffic deaths, and all of the unintended consequences to property owners.

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June 13th, 2018 / 4:50 p.m.
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NDP

Don Davies NDP Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Madam Speaker, I first want to express what a pleasure it is to work with my hon. colleague on the health committee. She almost puts a reasonable gloss on the Conservative position on cannabis, and for that I congratulate her.

The position of the Conservative Party on cannabis has been extremely perplexing to me. In the comments of the hon. member for Thornhill, he compared a homegrown cannabis plant to the equivalent of leaving opioids out for children. Right now in Canada, the reality is that with extreme criminalization, in fact, a potential life sentence for trafficking, we have the second highest rate of cannabis use among young people in the world.

Given that reality and given that millions of Canadians who have used and currently use cannabis do not feel it is a criminal act, and given that her party is opposed to legalization, I have a question for her on the edibles and concentrates provision. This bill would continue to make edibles and concentrates illegal in Canada. Given that one of the purposes of the bill is to get rid of the black market, I wonder what her party's position is on the legalization of edibles and concentrates. Is she and her party content to leave those products in the hands of organized crime, which is selling those products, in some cases, without any of the regulations that Canadians want to see with those products?

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June 13th, 2018 / 4:55 p.m.
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Conservative

Marilyn Gladu Conservative Sarnia—Lambton, ON

Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to work with the member as well on the health committee. He brings forward many good points.

Here are some of the facts that come to bear on this question: 30% of the market today is edibles. We received testimony from multiple jurisdictions that had legalized edibles, and they talked about some of the problems they encountered originally with overdoses in children, especially with gummy bear and candy-flavoured items. Having very strict controls and learning lessons from those people will be important, but once again, the government decided not to have parliamentary oversight when those regulations are developed. The bureaucrats will be able to put in place whatever they want. Perhaps they will not listen to the learnings of other jurisdictions, and I am against that.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

June 13th, 2018 / 4:55 p.m.
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Conservative

Kevin Waugh Conservative Saskatoon—Grasswood, SK

Madam Speaker, I have a couple of items.

I want to thank the member for Sarnia—Lambton for talking about the education system. We have seen a few ads by the government on television, but not enough. It was prepared to spend $300,000, $400,000, or $500,000 for an ad campaign and we have not seen that, even though we could be months, or even weeks, away from this bill becoming law.

In January, I went to Nunavut. There are no addiction centres at all up north. They are concerned. There is not one addiction centre in Nunavut, yet the government has not consulted with them. They are concerned about this because their people from the north have to go to Winnipeg and even Montreal to addiction centres. There is no plan by the Liberal government to place addiction centres up north. I would ask the member to talk about the addiction centres that will certainly be needed when this bill becomes law.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

June 13th, 2018 / 4:55 p.m.
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Conservative

Marilyn Gladu Conservative Sarnia—Lambton, ON

Madam Speaker, that is an excellent question. Yes, the government has been woefully inadequate in putting treatment facilities in place, not just in Nunavut but across the country. If we compare it with other places that do this well, talking about public education and treatment, Colorado spent $10 million on public education and it has five million people. Washington state spent $7 million and it has seven million people, and it spent it a year before the legalization. The $100,000 we are talking about for 36 million people is woefully inadequate.

Let us take Portugal. The government is always saying how well Portugal does things. Portugal has 170 treatment centres for 11 million people in a very small, driveable space. That is not the situation in Canada, and we have to start putting emphasis on treatment for people, especially those who are predisposed. Nunavut has recognized the threat and decided not to allow homegrown cannabis, along with Quebec and Manitoba, and treatment centres are needed there as well.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

June 13th, 2018 / 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

Madam Speaker, I have been following the Conservatives' debate on this issue, and I find it amazing. Their position is to decriminalize cannabis. By decriminalizing cannabis but not legalizing it and putting in regulations, I suspect they will find great support from gangs. Gangs and the criminal element would be the biggest beneficiaries of the Conservative policy on this issue. If we decriminalize cannabis, that means that the gangs can continue to get involved. After all, it is not legal, but now these individuals would not go to jail. Rather, they would get a fine. It just does not make any sense.

Where I believe we agree is that over the last decade we have seen our youth more engaged in cannabis than the youth in any other western country in terms of the crisis that currently exists. This legislation would legalize, regulate, and educate. I believe there would be marginal criminal activities surrounding it. Those monies would be generated for government. I see it as a win-win-win. The biggest winners would be our young people because there would be more education and it would decrease the number of young people participating in cannabis.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

June 13th, 2018 / 5 p.m.
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Conservative

Marilyn Gladu Conservative Sarnia—Lambton, ON

Madam Speaker, instead of talking about hypotheticals, let us talk about what organized crime is thinking about the government's legislation. They are jumping up and down. Their going price is $7 a gram, but the government is going to start at $10 a gram and then add another dollar. Not only that, the government is going to do what Colorado did and allow home grow. We can see how profitable organized crime has been there. By the way, the government also eliminated the visa requirements for people coming in from Mexico, so lots of experienced people could just move in and take over the whole thing. When we think about the advantages for organized crime, and how the police have already said that there is not enough of them to enforce all the provisions for home grow in this legislation, organized crime is going to be happy. It is going to make a huge amount of money when people have to go through Kathleen Wynne's LCBO model between nine and six.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

June 13th, 2018 / 5 p.m.
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NDP

Don Davies NDP Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Madam Speaker, as I tuned in to listen to the Senate debate on the cannabis bill, Bill C-45, I was given a stark reminder of why so many Canadians have so little confidence in that unelected, unaccountable body. Certainly it is legitimately questionable whether an institution capable of producing such baseless fearmongering and ignorance has any legitimacy blocking legislation passed by an overwhelming majority in this democratically elected House of Commons.

Disturbingly, in the hours leading up to the final vote on Bill C-45, the Liberal government was forced to quietly swear in two new senators to ensure its passage, even though they were not present for one minute of testimony, one minute of debate, or one minute of review of the bill. However, they cast their vote in lockstep with the government. Some democracy. Some sober second thought.

After studying this legislation for over six months, it is not even clear that all 93 senators actually understood the most basic facts about cannabis, such as the most basic facts about cannabis quantity. While reviewing the act, Senator Nicole Eaton, a Conservative from Ontario, said this:

[F]ive grams is about four tokes. So, in other words, if I’m a high school student—I’m 16—I have four tokes in my pocket, which is under five grams. So you just don’t take it away from me, but I’m allowed to possess it, right?... I’m allowed to have less than five grams, or I’m allowed to have zero grams? This is what I don’t understand.

There is quite a bit the senator does not understand. For the record, five grams of cannabis is enough for some 10 joints. That is far more than four tokes.

Given this statement, l was rather surprised to learn that both Senator Eaton and Senator Frum were forced to abstain from votes on the cannabis bill because they stand to profit from legalization. Senator Eaton declared a conflict of interest over the bill “due to an impending investment in the cannabis industry.” However, until she recused herself, Senator Eaton was an active participant in debates and committee work on legalization, including voting against Bill C-45 at second reading.

For her part, Senator Frum has a property “that will be leased for the purposes of selling recreational cannabis”. After initially indicating her opposition to Bill C-45, she recused herself from debate, deliberation, and voting on the matter.

While it may seem like a contradiction to publicly oppose Bill C-45 while privately investing in cannabis, such behaviour has become disturbingly common in the lead-up to legalization. An emerging group of so-called cannabis capitalists, notably composed of the same police officers and government officials who have spent years prosecuting the war on drugs, has already begun staking its claim to the new recreational market.

Some prominent names include the following.

Kim Derry, who served as deputy chief when the current Liberal member for Scarborough Southwest, the Liberals' point man on cannabis, was Toronto police chief, is now the security adviser for THC Meds Ontario.

Former Ontario Liberal deputy premier, George Smitherman, who once served as the province's health minister, is tied to THC Meds Ontario as well.

Former Liberal prime minister John Turner is a board member for Muileboom Organics, Inc.

Chuck Rifici founded Tweed Marijuana Inc., the country's first licensed provider to go public, while he was chief financial officer of the Liberal Party of Canada.

Former police chief and Conservative cabinet minister Julian Fantino, who once compared cannabis to murder and voted in favour of harsh mandatory minimum sentences for cannabis as a member of the Harper cabinet, has now gone into the cannabis business himself with former RCMP deputy commissioner Raf Souccar.

It is a travesty of justice and a hypocrisy of the highest order that those who fought hardest for legalization may benefit the least from it, while those who spent a lifetime enforcing prohibition are now lining up to fill the boardrooms of the cannabis industry.

Those who put their liberty on the line as activists for legalization, and who, in the pursuit of their defence of cannabis, often took legal liability and got criminal records, not for any violent activity but in their drive to get sensible cannabis policy in this country, now carry the burden of a criminal record for their efforts. Not only have they been shut out, but the federal government has not even offered them a path to participate in the cannabis industry, or to obtain pardons. Are they now supposed to sit back in admiration of the moral flexibility and business acumen of their former detractors?

The inescapable truth is that Bill C-45 is principally about legalizing the cannabis industry, not the plant or its usage. This bill is not about legalization, but about making cannabis less illegal. If this legislation were truly about legalizing the cannabis plant, it would herald the end of criminalization, the end of stigmatization, and the end of the prohibitionist approach to cannabis policy that has been such a failure for almost 100 years. Instead, this legislation would create an incredibly complex criminal framework that legal experts and police chiefs predict will result in more, not fewer, cannabis offences post-legalization.

There have been many opportunities to change course as Bill C-45 worked its way through Parliament. I want to be clear. I do give the government credit for rejecting the most harmful amendments proposed by the Senate, and for accepting the NDP's proposals in a number of ways, including to legalize the sale of edibles and concentrates, albeit not for one year post-legalization. This is unjustified, but it is the best the Liberals would do. The government has also agreed to remove the misguided 100-centimetre plant height limit. Unfortunately, the Liberals have also rejected a number of key improvements to Bill C-45.

I would like to take a moment to focus on some of the Senate's key proposed amendments and the government's response to them.

First is home growing. Based on the advice of the task force on cannabis legalization and regulation, the federal government has proposed to allow the personal cultivation of cannabis for non-medical purposes, with a limit of four plants per household. However, after considering a proposal to ban home growing outright, the Senate chose to amend Bill C-45 to allow provincial governments to ban home growing themselves. Now, this is not a rational or evidence-based approach to cannabis policy. As the College of Family Physicians of Canada put it, “Banning home growing for personal use defeats the purpose of legalization, which is to reduce the harms of criminalization.”

New Democrats believe that, under legalization, the personal production of cannabis should be permitted, similar to the home production of alcohol, such as beer and wine. Personal production would play an essential role in eliminating the illicit cannabis market since it would ensure that individuals who want to consume cannabis can afford it and have access to it in regions without nearby retail storefronts. For many Canadians, particularly those in rural areas who would not be served well by the retail marketing of cannabis, this may be the only way to get access to cannabis.

I would point out that under the Supreme Court of Canada's ruling, medical cannabis users are allowed to grow their own cannabis. In some cases, they are growing eight plants, and they can obtain a licence from another person and grow for that person. Would it not be the height of folly if across Canada one house on a block could grow cannabis, because it is grown for medical reasons, but the house beside it could not, because it is for recreational purposes? That is the height of inequity and it would make a mockery of the law.

I would point out that the health and safety issues generally associated with home cultivation are overwhelmingly the result of large-scale, industrial, illicit growing operations that operate covertly in residential buildings due to prohibition. This can result in damage due to improper ventilation, and the illegal electrical hook-ups pose a fire risk. However, the personal cultivation of four plants would obviously not pose similar risks any more than growing four plants of any other species in the home. I daresay that most Canadians in an average household have more than four plants in their house. By contributing to the dismantling of the illicit market, home cultivation would actually serve to help eliminate those covert industrial growing operations.

Furthermore, I would point out that raw cannabis plants are non-psychoactive. According to University of British Columbia botany professor Jonathan Page, who testified at committee, if anybody, including a child, were to eat the raw bud of cannabis, that person would get the acidic form, which is non-psychoactive. The fresh material is not capable of getting one high. One needs to bake it, heat it, or smoke it in order to obtain that result.

The government chose to reject this amendment because it said, “t is critically important to permit personal cultivation in order to support the government’s objective of displacing the illegal market.” Canada's New Democrats agree.

On potency limits, the Senate also proposed an undefined potency limit for cannabis products. I think the Conservatives are supporting this. On this point, it is important to note that the task force on cannabis legalization and regulation rejected potency limits for a number of reasons. It believed that if prohibited these products would continue to be available on the illicit market. The task force also concluded that there was insufficient evidence even to identify what a safe potency limit would be. The task force emphasized the significant risks associated with the illicit production of high potency concentrate, and instead called on the government to regulate them within a legal market.

I would point out that illicit producers often use flammable solvents, such as butane, to extract cannabinoids from plants, an inherently dangerous process that can also leave carcinogenic residues on the end product. Product safety was also a concern as the extraction process may also concentrate contaminants, such as heavy metals and other impurities in addition to THC.

The government rejected this amendment because “the government has already committed to establishing THC limits in regulations, which will provide flexibility to make future adjustments based on new evidence and product innovation.” While we support the decision to reject this amendment, Canada's New Democrats believe that the government should heed the advice of the task force in this area.

On branding, the Senate proposed deleting a provision of Bill C-45 that currently would allow a person to promote cannabis, a cannabis accessories or a service related to cannabis by displaying a brand element on the thing, provided that it would not be associated with young persons, appealing to young persons, or associated with a way of life that would include glamour, recreation, excitement, vitality, risk, or daring.

The government rejected the Senate's amendment because “the Cannabis Act already includes comprehensive restrictions on promotion.” Again, Canada's New Democrats agree.

Branding restrictions on cannabis in Bill C-45 are there now. Indeed, they are already more stringent than those applied to alcohol. I do not need to remind any of the members of the House of the tragedy that occurred just a few months ago. A young Quebec girl died after consuming a high alcohol volume drink and ended up drowning in a river. If we look at that product, it is definitely marketed to young people, even to children, and there are no similar restrictions on alcohol. The House should look at closing that in the future.

With respect to parental sharing in the home, just as is currently the case with alcohol, the Senate proposed to allow parents to share cannabis with a younger family member of at least 17 years of age in the home. Canada's New Democrats believe this was a sensible proposal and the government was ill-advised to reject this amendment.

We currently allow this approach for alcohol because we understand that parents can be trusted to model responsible behaviour to their children and to make positive choices for their family's well-being. In fact, the New Democrats believe parental education will be a key component of low-risk use of cannabis and should not be criminalized. After the bill becomes law, parents will be able to legally consume cannabis in the house, and if they want to pass a joint to their 17-year-old and discuss responsible use of cannabis, the bill would make that a crime. We do not think that is sensible.

The government has also rejected the Senate's parallel proposal to ensure that sharing among individuals close in age within two years would not be criminalized, and that a cannabis offence carrying a sentence of less than six months would not be used in deportation proceedings for someone without citizenship status.

The government justified its rejection by saying, “the criminal penalties and the immigration consequences aim to prevent young people from accessing cannabis and to deter criminal activity by imposing serious criminal penalties for prohibited activities...”.

If criminalization and the threat of imprisonment or deportation prevented people from using cannabis, then Canadians would not be consuming an estimated 655 metric tonnes of it per year and we would not have the second highest rate of cannabis use among youth between 16 and 24 in the world, and that is when we have full criminalization and life sentences for trafficking.

Contrasting that, a single bottle of liquor is enough to kill a child, and yet I know of no 14-year prison sentence arising from the distribution of beer or liquor. However, a parent who shares a joint with his or her son or daughter who is 17 would be a criminal under this legislation. An adult who possesses 31 grams of cannabis in public would be a criminal. A youth who possesses more than 5 grams of cannabis would be a criminal. An 18-year-old who passes a joint to a 17-year-old friend would be a criminal. An adult who grows five cannabis plants would be a criminal.

This kind of continued criminalization is inconsistent with a rational and evidence-based criminal justice policy and will only serve to reduce the positive impacts of the bill. The prohibitionist approach has been repeatedly discredited by its failure throughout history.

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 possessing and consuming cannabis. In fact, we are today. According to Statistics Canada, in 2016, the most recent year of available data, there were about 55,000 offences related to cannabis reported to police and police charged 17,733 people with pot possession.

A recent Vice News investigation found that black and indigenous men and women have been overrepresented in cannabis possession arrests across Canada just in the year since the Liberals formed government, and yet Bill C-45 would preserve the criminalized approach to cannabis, along with the damaging paternalism of the war on drugs.

I want to be clear that from the very beginning Canada's New Democrats have worked hard to reach across the aisle with constructive proposals to improve the bill. These changes included the following: 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 shocking that the Liberal government would structure a so-called cannabis legalization bill in such a way that pardons could not be included through amendment.

We proposed empowering provincial governments to create parallel production licensing regimes in order to give provinces the flexibility to implement legalization in the manner best suited to their jurisdiction. For example, this would have allowed provinces to let craft growers, small scale producers, and outdoor growers compete against the federally licensed corporate giants.

As said earlier, we proposed the legalization of edibles and concentrates, which are among the safest ways to consume cannabis and are the growing part of the market. This would allow Canadians and entrepreneur of businesses across the country to provide safe, regulated products to customers instead of allowing this to be provided underground.

We proposed decriminalizing the penalties section in line with the Tobacco Act. We proposed that the legalization should 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 should be consistent with that stated intent.

I am disappointed that the government chose to reject these vital proposals, but I am heartened that the bill at least contains a mandatory review of Bill C-45's operation in the next Parliament. I view this as a tacit admission by the government that it knows the bill contains problematic sections that will need to be fixed.

To be clear, Canada's New Democrats will support this motion and this legislation because we have fought for an end to prohibition ever since the 1971 LeDain Commission. The bill before us today is an important step forward but it is far from perfect.

After the last election, Canadians rightfully expected that the Liberals would produce a timely and fair cannabis law. As it now stands, the federal government has left the heavy-lifting of legalization to the provincial, territorial, municipal, and indigenous governments. The bill will lead to the emergence of a patchwork approach to legalization that will shut out the most long-standing cannabis activists, the folks who have spent decades honing their craft and providing world-leading medicinal cannabis to patients across Canada.

Some provinces have chosen to impose a government retail monopoly, some have chosen to shut out existing compassion clubs, and some provinces are pushing to ban home growing outright. This is disappointing. It is a lost opportunity. It is a betrayal of the clear promise that the Liberals made to Canadians in 2015.

Done properly, an appropriate legal approach to cannabis can achieve impressive benefits economically, technologically, and medicinally. The New Democrats will continue to work to provide the best cannabis legislation in the world for Canadians.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

June 13th, 2018 / 5:20 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

Madam Speaker, the member began his remarks by making some very disparaging remarks and named a number of individuals, suggesting somehow they had done something improper.

I know the member and I know he would never knowingly disparage an innocent Canadian. I know he believes, as I do, that parliamentary privilege is not a licence to slander innocent Canadians. I want to advise him that of the five people he mentioned as having some kind of privileged access to the cannabis business through Health Canada, four of those individuals were denied their licence applications and were not successful. They are no longer, in any way, associated with the licensed cannabis industry. The one who actually was approved, was approved by the previous government, when the Conservatives were in power.

I want to give the member opposite an opportunity to apologize to those individuals who he unjustly disparaged.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

June 13th, 2018 / 5:20 p.m.
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NDP

Don Davies NDP Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Madam Speaker, that comment reveals a sensitivity that is far in excess of what I actually said. I will not apologize to the House for pointing out hypocrisy.

When a former Conservative cabinet minister compared cannabis to murder and was part of the police process to actively prosecute Canadians for cannabis and is now rushing to profit from the industry, when former Prime Minister John Turner, who as prime minister of the country, could have brought in cannabis legislation, or decriminalization if he wanted to, and chose instead to perpetuate a criminal approach to cannabis and is now seeking to profit from it, it is rightful to point out that kind of hypocrisy, and Canadians deserve to know.

At the same time, all those Canadians who have been working under this prohibitionist criminal regime, who have fought and put their liberty at risk, who have sometimes achieved criminal records and now, under this legislation, may not even be able to participate in the legalized market, I find that hypocritical. I find that unjust.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

June 13th, 2018 / 5:20 p.m.
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Conservative

James Bezan Conservative Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman, MB

Madam Speaker, I find it very disturbing to listen to the debate and to see the breakneck speed with which the Liberals and the NDP want to have this law come into place. Our police agencies, including the RCMP, are not set up to handle drug-impaired driving.

For those individuals in rural areas, like my riding of Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman—

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

June 13th, 2018 / 5:25 p.m.
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Conservative

James Bezan Conservative Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman, MB

Madam Speaker, the member needs to be very aware that there will now be a process to determine the level of impairment. Right now, if people are caught with any type of narcotic in their system, it is an illegal activity. Now we will have to determine whether that individual is driving under the influence of marijuana. Of course we only have so much resources in rural areas.

In my riding of Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman, which is about the same size as the state of Israel, we are looking at maybe one or two officers in the entire region who will have the ability to make that determination on whether somebody is impaired. If that individual is on leave, if that individual is taking time off or is not on shift, how are we ever going to charge anyone? This will give free licence for everybody to be out there driving under the influence of marijuana.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

June 13th, 2018 / 5:25 p.m.
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NDP

Don Davies NDP Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Madam Speaker, I think I speak for every member of the House, and we can join issue, with the fact that nobody countenances or endorses any Canadian operating any kind of machinery, whether a motor vehicle or anything else, or coming to work under the influence of cannabis. We all agree with that.

I would also point out that it is against the law now. People cannot operate motor vehicles under the influence of cannabis now. Canadians should be well aware of that. We have impaired driving laws in the country. The current law that is before the Senate, Bill C-46, is an attempt to modernize that law with a specific focus on cannabis. There are certain problems with that bill too, by the way, which is that it seems to be quite difficult right now to get an accurate reading of impairment or set an appropriate per se blood limit reading for cannabis. There are some problems with that.

At the moment, we all know that driving under the influence of cannabis is against the law, and it should be treated that way.

I want to talk about whether we are ready or not. Very many times Canadians are ahead of politicians. The vast majority of Canadians have voted with their actions for years now. Millions of Canadians have used cannabis and continue to use cannabis, and they do not feel they are criminals by doing so. This law is an attempt to catch up to the reality in Canada.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

June 13th, 2018 / 5:25 p.m.
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Conservative

Jim Eglinski Conservative Yellowhead, AB

Madam Speaker, last year I stayed in Ottawa on July 1 for Canada Day celebrations. It was kind of a disappointing day because it rained really hard, and then I found a lot of the music had nothing to do with Canada's heritage or history. Anyways, we will leave that aside.

What I did notice last year being here on Canada Day was that Wellington was pretty well plugged with people waiting to get in here, thousands and thousands of people trying to go through security to get on Ottawa's main grounds up here.

I wonder if the member could just use his imagination and imagine all of them having a little bit of smoke, or a little toke, whatever we want to call it. We have Ribfest coming next week, and we know how this town smells so great during Ribfest. Imagine what Wellington would smell like with 10,000 people smoking marijuana. I wonder if the member could imagine that.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

June 13th, 2018 / 5:25 p.m.
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NDP

Don Davies NDP Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Madam Speaker, I am going to end by asking the hon. member to use his imagination as well to focus on a piece of this bill that has another problem with it, and that is that this bill would prevent the exportation of recreational cannabis products. As countries around the world start to legalize, and they are and they will, as California, Colorado, Washington State, and many other states in the union and jurisdictions around the world have done, the ability to support our entrepreneurs who can develop safe, healthy, high-quality products for the world is something we should be supporting in this House. Imagine Canada being a world leader in a new product regarded around the world as being safe and of the highest quality. That is the kind of policy we should be working to develop in this House of Commons.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

June 13th, 2018 / 11:30 p.m.
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Conservative

Mark Warawa Conservative Langley—Aldergrove, BC

Madam Speaker, I want to ask the member what he thinks about the growing of marijuana in residences. The Senate has recommended that it would be up to the provinces to decide whether it would be legal to grow recreational marijuana, four plants which is actually 12 plants. Would the member agree with the recommendation of the Senate that it would be up to the provinces?

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

June 13th, 2018 / 11:30 p.m.
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NDP

Don Davies NDP Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Madam Speaker, there are a couple of factual points I would like to make.

First of all, the legislation says that it would allow Canadians to grow up to four plants per household. The member made a reference to 12 plants; I am not sure where that comes from.

Yes, we on this side of the House do believe that is a reasonable and proper provision of this bill. It was the task force on cannabis legalization headed by Anne McLellan that did an exhaustive examination of this issue, and decided to recommend that Canadians should be able to grow four plants. As the member may know, under the Supreme Court of Canada's decision, Canadians have the constitutional right to grow medicinal cannabis. It would seem quite perverse if the people in one house on a block could grow cannabis legally because they are growing it for medicinal use, and in the house beside it the people were not able to grow it simply because of the different purpose.

I also would point out that every single jurisdiction in the United States, Washington, Colorado, Oregon, and California, this year, all permit the growing of marijuana in reasonable limits and with reasonable parameters around it. If we want to have legalization of cannabis in this country, we have to trust Canadians to be able to responsibly use cannabis and to grow plants like any other plant, as long as it is done responsibly and in a reasonable amount.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

June 13th, 2018 / 11:30 p.m.
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Ville-Marie—Le Sud-Ouest—Île-des-Soeurs Québec

Liberal

Marc Miller LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Infrastructure and Communities

Madam Speaker, I would like to say that I will be splitting my time with my colleague and hon. member for Vancouver Quadra.

Before I give the formal part of my speech, I would like to start by discussing an element that was brought up by the hon. member for Vancouver Kingsway, who had spoken about a number of members of the Senate and others as well as the Right Hon. John Turner as to their potential financial interest in legalizing marijuana.

I understand this is an issue of privilege, that members can say what pleases them in this House. However, I found it particularly unparliamentary that the member would raise the record of someone who has served this country with distinction and with honour in talking about the Right Hon. John Turner who was Prime Minister of Canada, and among the positions he occupied he also was the minister of finance and the minister of justice. He is a man of some advanced age, I believe. I would like to wish him a happy birthday; he turned 89 quite recently. I know it on good authority that he has zero interest in the legalization of marijuana or any pecuniary derivative thereof.

I will not presume bad faith on the side of the hon. member, and I hope that when he gets a chance to retract those words he does so because we are in fact talking about a person who served this country honourably, regardless of party lines. I do hope the member takes the chance to retract those comments.

I am pleased to rise in the House today to respond to an amendment adopted by the Senate with regard to Bill C-45, an act respecting cannabis and to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, the Criminal Code and other acts.

I commend the Senate for the valuable work that it did as part of its in-depth study of Bill C-45. However, I believe that some of the amendments the Senate adopted do not fully support the political objectives of the bill. They may also have unintended consequences.

Take for example, clause 5.2, a new clause that would provide for the following:

For greater certainty, this Act does not affect the operation of any provision of provincial legislation that is more restrictive with respect to, or prohibits, the cultivation, propagation or harvesting of cannabis in a dwelling-house.

Bill C-45 would allow adults to grow up to four cannabis plants per residence. Cannabis grown in a dwelling-house could not, under any circumstances, be sold to others, and anyone who grows more than four plants could be criminally charged.

The justification for the proposal to allow Canadians to grow up to four cannabis plants per household is twofold. First, this proposal would help displace the illegal cannabis market. Second, it would help prevent the unnecessary criminalization of otherwise law-abiding Canadians who safely and responsibly grow a small number of cannabis plants at home for personal use.

Home cultivation would also create a legal source of cannabis for people who do not have easy access to it through a provincial or territorial store or an online platform, particularly those who live in remote regions.

The proposal to allow people to grow a limited quantity of cannabis for personal use is similar to the current provisions regarding tobacco and alcohol. Canadians can legally grow their own tobacco or brew their own beer at home for personal use.

We can also trust Canadians to properly store cannabis, just as they safely store their prescription drugs at home in a responsible manner.

I would also like to point out that in the national cannabis survey, one of the questions the government asked was where people currently get their cannabis and where they thought they might be able to access it in the future. Of all the respondents who use cannabis, only 2% had thought of cultivating it for personal use.

The home cultivation our government is proposing is based on the opinion of the task force on cannabis legalization and regulation, and is in line with the frameworks adopted by most of the American states that have chosen to legalize and regulate cannabis for non-medical purposes, particularly Colorado, California, Oregon, Nevada and Alaska.

Those states allow home cultivation and have limits regarding the number of plants that can be grown, ranging from four to 12 plants per household. It is important to remember that Bill C-45 was designed to allow the provinces and territories to oversee the distribution and sale of cannabis within their borders and to add additional restrictions regarding certain aspects that are not proposed in the federal cannabis legislation, such as personal cultivation, if they wish.

That flexibility is there so they can adapt their laws in response to local realities and priorities in a way that is compatible with the public health and public safety goals in the proposed cannabis legislation.

The Government of Canada believes that the provinces and territories are in the best position to determine whether they need such restrictions and to establish tougher regulations. Most of the provinces do allow home cultivation of four plants as set out in Bill C-45. However, some provinces have already chosen to include restrictions in their legislation. For example, New Brunswick requires cannabis cultivated outdoors to be surrounded by a locked enclosure. Indoor cultivation must take place in a separate, locked space. Alberta would allow indoor cultivation only, and Nova Scotia has indicated that it would allow landlords to prohibit cannabis cultivation and smoking in rental units.

If someone decided to challenge a provision of a provincial cannabis law, a court would review the provincial system in its entirety, along with the federal cannabis law. It would then be up to the court to determine whether there was a conflict or whether the objectives of the federal legislation had been frustrated.

Over the past two years, our government has carried out extensive consultations and studies to support this bill. In this way, we have developed the best possible measures for protecting all Canadians, especially young Canadians.

Bill C-45 is largely based on the recommendations of the task force I mentioned earlier, which were formulated based on the opinions and expertise gathered through the extensive consultations. The bill reflects and balances the broad array of opinions from the provinces and territories, municipalities, communities, indigenous governments, and a wide range of experts and stakeholders.

The provincial and territorial governments developed their own legislation based on this insightful framework, and their investments and preparations for the establishment of retail systems are well under way.

Bill C-45 proposes to allow adults to grow up to four cannabis plants at home. It is essential to allow home cultivation in order to support the government's objective of displacing the illegal market.

The government is proposing a national approach to home cultivation designed to allow this activity to be achieved in a way that takes into account the valuable comments received from countless stakeholders. Although the framework for legalization includes some flexibility for setting certain restrictions on home cultivation, we are of the opinion that this amendment is inconsistent with that approach.

However, as we know, the bill contains a provision to review the cannabis act. Under that provision, three years after the coming into force, the minister will have to ensure that the act and its application are reviewed. Our government is proposing to amend that provision in order to specify that the review in question will include a review of the impacts of the cultivation of cannabis plants in a dwelling-house. Our government is committed to carefully examining the findings of such a review.

Based on the evidence currently before us, we are fully convinced that home cultivation can be done in such a way that is compatible with the health and public safety objectives of the bill. It constitutes a reasonable way to allow adults to grow cannabis for personal use, and that approach squares with the opinion of the task force and the approach adopted by most of the American states that have legalized and regulated cannabis.

For those reasons, I will not be supporting this amendment.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

June 13th, 2018 / 11:40 p.m.
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Conservative

Cheryl Gallant Conservative Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Madam Speaker, my colleague from Surrey explained to me where the 12 comes from. People are allowed to have four mature plants, four immature plants, and four plants that are just being planted.

If somebody with a prescription for marijuana is growing four plants, and someone else in the household does not have a prescription, does that mean they are allowed eight plants, which is really 24 plants? People are not supposed to share prescriptions with other people. If there is another person in the house with a different prescription for medical marijuana, would that person be allowed four plants, which is really 12, and then there would be 36 in the house?

I just want to know how this is going to work. I think that multiplication is even right with Liberal gun registry math.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

June 13th, 2018 / 11:40 p.m.
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NDP

Don Davies NDP Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Madam Speaker, I want to read into the record exactly what I said earlier that seemed to have offended the member's feelings.

I said, “An emerging group...of cannabis capitalists...composed of the same police officers and government officials who have spent years prosecuting the war on drugs, has already begun staking its claim to the new recreational market.”

“Some prominent names include: Kim Derry, who served as the deputy chief when the current Liberal member for Scarborough Southwest... was Toronto police chief. He is now the security adviser for THC Meds Ontario. Former Ontario Liberal deputy premier, George Smitherman, who once served as the province's health minister“ is also tied to the the same company. “Former Liberal Prime Minister John Turner is a board member for Muileboom Organics, Inc, Chuck Rifici founded Tweed Cannabis Inc., the country's first licensed provider to go public while he was chief financial officer of the Liberal Party of Canada....Julian Fantino, who once compared cannabis to murder and voted in favour of harsh mandatory minimum sentences for cannabis as a member of the Harper cabinet, has now gone into the cannabis business.”

“It is a travesty of justice and hypocrisy of the highest order that those who fought hardest for legalization may benefit the least from it, while those who spent a lifetime enforcing prohibition are now lining up to fill the boardrooms of the cannabis industry.”

I would like my hon. colleague to answer this. What was wrong with any of that? What is inaccurate? Why did John Turner, when he was prime minister, not legalize cannabis if he now thinks that he should be on the board of directors of a company and profit from it?

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

June 13th, 2018 / 11:45 p.m.
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Liberal

Marc Miller Liberal Ville-Marie—Le Sud-Ouest—Île-des-Soeurs, QC

Madam Speaker, I would remind the hon. member that he is speaking about a former prime minister, the Right hon. John Turner, who served this country honourably and in a very distinguished fashion. I see absolutely no remorse on the member's part, so I feel no particular compulsion or need to answer any further questions, which are quite leading.

I would encourage the member to examine his conscience a little more in-depth and show a little remorse and respect for the House, and respect for a former distinguished prime minister, and distinguished cabinet minister, both in finance and justice. The member should take a little time and think about what he just said.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

June 13th, 2018 / 11:45 p.m.
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Liberal

Marc Miller Liberal Ville-Marie—Le Sud-Ouest—Île-des-Soeurs, QC

Madam Speaker, if the member opposite examines the fiscal framework that we have been discussing with the provinces, she will note that we will be taking none of profits for personal use but investing it into fighting a lot of the ills that the consumption of cannabis has caused, including ensuring that youth know about the ills of consuming cannabis, particularly the effect on the immature brain.

We will be giving 75% to provinces and municipalities to ensure that they address the issue, because they are in a good position to address it, and that they put it through their streams to ensure youth, in particular, know of the ills of consuming cannabis.

Bill C-45—Notice of time allocation motionCannabis ActGovernment Orders

June 13th, 2018 / 11:45 p.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

Madam Speaker, I would like to advise that an agreement could not be reached under the provisions of Standing Orders 78(1) or 78(2) with respect to the consideration of Bill C-45, An Act respecting cannabis and to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, the Criminal Code and other Acts. Under the provisions of Standing Order 78(3), I give notice that a minister of the crown will propose, at the next sitting, a motion to allot a specific number of days or hours for the consideration and disposal of proceedings at the said stage.

Bill C-45—Notice of time allocation motionCannabis ActGovernment Orders

June 13th, 2018 / 11:45 p.m.
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Liberal

Bardish Chagger Liberal Waterloo, ON

I will read it into the record in English, Madam Speaker.

I would like to advise that an agreement could not be reached under the provisions of Standing Orders 78(1) or 78(2) with respect to the consideration of certain amendments to Bill C-45, an act respecting cannabis and to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, the Criminal Code and other acts.

Under the provisions of Standing Order 78(3), I give notice that a minister of the crown will propose at the next sitting a motion to allot a specific number of days or hours for the consideration and disposal of proceedings at the said stage.

Consideration of Senate AmendmentsCannabis ActGovernment Orders

June 13th, 2018 / 11:50 p.m.
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Vancouver Quadra B.C.

Liberal

Joyce Murray LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the President of the Treasury Board

Madam Speaker, I rise to speak to the message from the other place on Bill C-45. Before I start my remarks on that, I want to say that this is a historic time. I am very proud of this legislation, this change in social policy that we are making as a government.

If we reflect on what it is like to go out for dinner with friends and have a beer or a glass of wine with dinner, and we think about the fact that there was a time when that was illegal, when the provision of alcohol was controlled by the criminal underworld, and when the act of partaking in alcohol was a crime, it is almost impossible to imagine that this made sense in an earlier period, and it certainly does not make sense to us today. In the same way, in the future we will be looking back at a time when cannabis was illegal, criminalized, and purveyed by criminal gangs. In a future day, the public in Canada will not be able to imagine how that could have made sense. In fact, it does not make sense. That is why I am so proud of what we are doing today.

It does not make sense because it has not worked. Having the use of cannabis deemed a criminal matter, as opposed to a health and safety matter, makes no sense. It creates massive profits for the Hells Angels and other organized criminals. It provides no safety with respect to what might be in the content of the product that is being consumed or what might be harmful. Members should make no mistake: It is being consumed, notwithstanding the fact that it is an illegal activity, a criminalized activity. Our young people are using this product at higher rates than virtually anywhere in the world. Therefore, it is far past time to take the control and regulation out of the hands of the criminal underworld, which has been profiting from it, and place them in the hands of government, where health and safety aspects can actually be addressed by the government.

That is exactly why, in 2011, after the election, I began this discussion in Ottawa with Liberal colleagues, saying that I think it is time we address the situation and, as a party, consider legalizing marijuana. I had the privilege of bringing a film called The Union, a documentary about the control of cannabis by the criminal underworld and all the negative aspects of that for our society: the shootouts in open streets in broad daylight in our cities when there were gang wars; the drawing into criminal activity of young people, who were being recruited by the gangs to be part of their distribution network; and the hundreds of thousands of young Canadians who ended up in the justice system because of their involvement with cannabis.

Therefore, it is with great pride and humility that I want to acknowledge Parliament and the government for what we are doing here. This is a historic time. I have to say that in 2011 it looked pretty impossible. However, our Prime Minister took the bull by the horns and made this commitment in our last election platform, and we have proceeded with this project.

I am now going to talk about some of the details of implementation so that we do this as best as we possibly can as a Parliament and a government.

As others have already pointed out, both houses of Parliament have conducted extensive studies of the proposed cannabis act. In the other place, Bill C-45 was studied by five different committees, which heard from over 200 experts and witnesses. Four of those committees conducted an in-depth study of specific aspects of the legislation and its implications. They carefully assessed issues related to criminal law provisions, indigenous persons, international obligations, and Canada's borders. I want to add my voice to those who have acknowledged this important contribution, and to thank the other place for its extensive work on this bill.

The study of this proposed legislation by Parliament built on extensive work by the Task Force on Cannabis Legalization and Regulation. In 2016, after the previous election, the task force undertook extensive consultations to hear from Canadians; public health experts; law enforcement; provincial, territorial, and municipal governments; indigenous organizations; U.S. state governments with more experience administering cannabis regimes; and more.

The proposed act was developed largely on the basis of the thoughtful advice of this task force, and the act has been carefully designed to support the policy objectives stated in clause 7. It was carefully designed to ensure that its provisions would comply with privacy and other obligations and respect the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

For these reasons, the amendments proposed by the other place had to be very carefully reviewed and assessed on the basis of whether they would support the bill's policy objectives and could have unintended consequences. Based on this review, it is clear that some amendments, in fact the majority of the amendments brought forward,would further improve the bill, and they support its objectives. Others are problematic.

For example, the amendment that would further clarify the requirements and the scope of the legislative review that would be undertaken three years after the coming into force of the act would be a positive improvement to the legislation. This amendment would establish a clear timeline of 18 months, following the beginning of the review, for the minister to table in Parliament a report on the findings of the review.

In line with the objective of a separate amendment in the other place, it is proposed that the act clearly indicate that this legislative review carefully consider the impacts of this legislation on public health, including on youth, the impacts on indigenous peoples, and the impacts of home cultivation.

However, on the other hand, a number of amendments adopted in the other place cannot be supported, as they could create significant issues. This is the case, for example, of an amendment that would require that the minister collect and publicly disclose the names of every holder of a licence or permit, including persons who have control of or shares in corporations holding a licence. This amendment would raise concerns from a privacy perspective and would impose requirements on businesses operating in the legal cannabis industry that would be inconsistent with how businesses operating in other Canadian industries are treated.

It would also pose some issues from an operational perspective. For example, the volatility of shareholding in a publicly traded corporation could make the proposed reporting requirements practically impossible to meet and could cause extreme delays in licensing.

Health Canada has a robust physical and personnel security screening process in place for the existing cannabis for medical purposes industry. It is designed to guard against infiltration by organized crime. All officers and directors of a company must undergo thorough law enforcement record checks prior to licensing.

As part of the new regulatory framework, Health Canada has proposed to expand the list of individuals who would require a security clearance to include the directors and officers of any controlling company, in addition to those of the licensed company.

As we finalize our study of Bill C-45, I urge all parliamentarians to remember that this legislative framework is one of the pillars of a comprehensive public health approach the government is proposing to better protect Canadians and minimize the harms associated with cannabis use.

The government is taking action in a number of key areas, informed by the strict regulatory controls that are currently in place for Canadians who access cannabis for medical purposes and by lessons learned from our considerable success in taking a public health approach to reducing tobacco smoking rates. Our strategies include efforts to educate Canadians about the harms and risks of cannabis use, to promote healthy choices and reduce youth access, and to prevent problematic and high risk patterns of use, and many more.

It is important that we consider the proposed legislation in the context of these broader proven strategies for protecting public health. The government has taken every reasonable action to ensure that this bill is designed to take those things into account. I am proud of Bill C-45 and proud to—

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.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

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?

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

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.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

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?

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

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.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

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?

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

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.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

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.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

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?

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

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.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

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?

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

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.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

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.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

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.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

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?

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

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?

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

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.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

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?

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

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.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

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?

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

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.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

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.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

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?

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

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