What does this bill purport to do? Bill C-330 would be making an amendment to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, specifically section 55. Section 55 of that act lists all the areas where the Governor in Council is able to make regulations for the purposes of carrying out the provisions of the act. What the bill would do is insert a new clause under paragraph 55(1)(g). Paragraph(55)(1)(g) allows the Governor in Council to make regulations “respecting the premises, processes or conditions for the production or sale of any controlled substance or any class thereof, and deeming such premises, processes or conditions to be or not to be suitable for the purposes of the regulations”.
The proposed paragraph 55(1)(g.1) that the member wants to insert through this bill would require persons or classes of persons who intend to produce or sell any controlled substances to obtain the written consent of the landlord, and it would prescribe the manner and form in which that consent is to be obtained and the conditions under which it must be renewed. That is what this bill is purporting to insert into the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.
I have a few problems with this bill because I think it oversteps its bounds in a few areas, and I will walk the House through them.
I will start off with the Allard decision rendered by the Federal Court a few years ago, which was in response to the previous Conservative government's regulations that dealt with medical cannabis and the authorizations included therein. The new access to cannabis for medical purposes regulation was the Liberal government's response to the Federal Court of Canada's February 2016 decision. In that decision, the court found that the requirement for individuals to get their cannabis only from licensed producers, which was the regime for medicinal cannabis imposed by the previous Harper government, violated the liberty and security rights protected by section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
I feel this bill would be inserting another impediment to the constitutional and charter-protected rights of patients to access medicinal cannabis. If the federal government is going to insert itself, through this law, by basically mandating that written consent would have to be authorized by a landlord, the courts could reasonably see that as an impediment and a contradiction of the spirit of the ruling rendered by the Federal Court in 2016. That is my number one reason.
As I walk the House through this, I think the big problem is that this bill would very clearly insert itself into provincial jurisdiction. If we look at section 92 of the Constitution Act, 1867, specifically subsection 13, it is very clear that provincial jurisdiction over property and civil rights is there for all to see. Provincial jurisdiction over that area has been reaffirmed by the courts on numerous occasions, and I know provincial governments are very quick to assert their right in this particular area if they suspect any federal intrusion.
Property and civil rights can cover a whole range of issues, and I think that was the intent of the Fathers of Confederation. They wanted matters of a merely local or private nature, basically property and civil rights, to be included under provincial jurisdiction. Canada is a very big and very diverse country, and from British Columbia to Manitoba to Prince Edward Island we have various different local cultures. The provinces need to be authorized to make laws that fit the local cultures in each of those provinces. I feel that by trying to legislate how written consent has to be informed in the relationship between a tenant and a landlord, Bill C-330 would be very clearly inserting a federal power into an area defined under property and civil rights.
The very clearly written Allard decision by the Federal Court on a section 7 protected right for access to medical cannabis for patients who require it, and the fact this is very clearly an area of provincial jurisdiction are two clear reasons why I think the House should vote against this bill.
I would also like to talk a little about the federal criminal law power, because it is another thing we have to talk about with respect to this particular bill.
In previous rulings, the Supreme Court of Canada has held that a valid criminal law requires, first, a prohibition; second, a penalty; third, a criminal law purpose, such as peace, order, security, morality, and health. If I look at the aim of Bill C-330, I do not think it really matches the requirements of a federal criminal law power. If we look at the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, that is very much what it concerns. It tries to prohibit or to limit certain types of behaviour.
We know that the bill is being discussed in the context of medicinal cannabis, because recreational cannabis, as was rightly pointed out by the government side, will come under a new regime once Bill C-45 receives royal assent. However, I think that a federal bill that aims to become a statute but inserts itself into property and civil rights is not a valid exercise of the federal criminal law power. That is a third point that we have to be aware of when discussing the bill.
While I talk about this, let there be no illusion that I don't have sympathy for landlords who are going through this. I think every member of Parliament has had landlords approach them who have valid concerns about how their properties are being managed. I would say to them that, for most of the issues, the provincial governments will be responsible for regulating these kinds of contracts in their residential tenancy acts and so forth. I know that the Government of British Columbia has come forward with some proposals specifically with reference to when Bill C-45 is implemented. The member for Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo is quite right to be suspicious of Health Canada's inspection regime, because I do not think Health Canada has allocated enough resources or is carrying out enough inspections to ensure that licence holders are complying with the terms of their licences.
I have brought this very same issue to the attention of the Minister of Health. I wrote her a letter on behalf of constituents a few years ago, and I did get a response. I will read from that letter from the health minister, because I think we need to keep the pressure on the health minister to live up to her obligations. Part of her response reads:
The Department has taken measures to ensure that Canadians are well informed about the rules and their responsibilities to help them comply with the new regulations [the ACMPR]. We have also emphasized the need to comply with all relevant provincial, territorial and municipal laws, including local by-laws about zoning, electrical and fire safety, as well as all related inspection and remediation requirements. We have also outlined on our website precautions Canadians can take to reduce risks to their health and safety.
I will be following up with the Minister of Health, because I still think there are some very real gaps. Obviously, from the feedback I have heard from constituents, the actions of Health Canada thus far do need some improvement. I hope that the parliamentary secretary is listening to my concerns, because I will be following up on them.
I think it is a question of resources and commitment that we need to take up with the health minister. When we look at the minister's response, she has outlined “provincial, territorial and municipal laws”. She acknowledges that this is an area of provincial concern and jurisdiction; hence, lending more credence to the argument that Bill C-330 kind of falls outside the scope of what we are able to do.
I will conclude by saying that while I cannot support Bill C-330, I will respect the intent behind it. I know that the member for Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo has identified a problem and is trying to take action to solve it. However, I just do not think that Bill C-330 is the answer. I think that we need to keep the pressure up on Health Canada and the Minister of Health to ensure that the inspection regime is running as well as it possibly can.