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

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

November 8th, 2018 / 3:35 p.m.
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Conservative

Jacques Gourde Conservative Lévis—Lotbinière, QC

Madam Speaker, it is always a pleasure to rise in the House especially to talk about ensuring the safety of my constituents and all Canadians.

Every day since the 2006 election I have had the privilege of being chosen to represent the values that are dear to us in Lévis—Lotbinière. My Conservative colleagues and I are determined to live up to that honour ethically and with respect and integrity.

Generally speaking, the legislation debated and passed in the House moves Canada forward, but since the election of this Liberal majority government, legislation is debated and passed very quickly in the House, which is moving our country backward. The list is long, but consider the marijuana legalization legislation, which is disastrous for the future of our young people, not to mention the bill before us today.

I would like nothing more than to remain positive, even optimistic, or even bury my head in the sand like so many other MPs are doing when it comes to Bill C-75, the 300-page omnibus justice bill.

As the official opposition, we have to once again call out this Liberal government's poor judgment, as it refuses to consider the impact that some of its changes will have on the safety of our children and our country. What is motivating the government? Is it tyring to keep one of its promises at all costs, even if that means setting Canada back? Time will tell.

We were fortunate to have inherited one of the most stable and robust political systems in the world, a model in terms of peace, order and good governance. Of course, things took a turn for the worse with this Liberal government, which wants to liberalize everything that we think should have some oversight.

Making major changes to Canada's justice system should be a judicious exercise, one that is not taken lightly, as the Liberal government seems to have done once again. Believe it or not, rather than taking action to combat terrorism, the Liberals want to get rid of penalties imposed on those who go abroad to join a terrorist group like ISIS.

What should we make of this Prime Minister who believes that reintegration, rather than prosecution, is the best way to treat ISIS fighters? Clearly, in keeping with the usual Liberal opportunism, the rights of victims and the safety of Canadians are not among the Liberal government's priorities to the same degree as they were top priorities for the Conservatives. The Prime Minister wants to lower penalties for serious crimes.

Apparently reason, committee testimony, studies, and plain old common sense just do not matter. If this bill passes, criminals may have to do nothing more than pay a fine instead of serving jail time for serious crimes such as leaving Canada to participate in a terrorist group, trafficking in persons and impaired driving causing bodily harm.

It makes absolutely no sense. All of these crimes are indictable offences and carry with them the maximum jail time they deserve. The Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights heard from victims of crime who are angry that the Liberals are again failing them by denying justice for their loved ones.

Recently, the Prime Minister refused to put a murderer back in jail. He decided to pay veterans' benefits to incarcerated criminals who never served their country. That is scandalous.

Canada's Conservatives have always stood up for the rights of victims of crime, and we will not stop now. That is why we submitted over 100 amendments to ensure the continued safety of Canadians and our country.

We called for serious crimes to remain indictable offences and demanded that the Liberals reverse the elimination of preliminary inquiries and peremptory challenges of jurors.

We also called for a reversal on the elimination of cross-examination of police officers for certain offences and an increase to the maximum sentence for sexual assault.

We demanded that the victim surcharge imposed by the courts not be reduced.

Obviously, some of the amendments are commendable. The Conservatives can support some of the proposals set out in Bill C-75. We agree to remove the provisions of the Criminal Code that have been deemed to be unconstitutional. The Conservatives can support that measure because it will benefit victims of crime and it will clean up the Criminal Code.

It goes without saying that we support increasing the maximum sentence where offenders have been repeatedly violent toward an intimate partner as well as the consideration of intimate partner violence as an aggravating factor in sentencing. We also support more stringent temporary release requirements in the case of offenders who have committed intimate partner violence.

It also goes without saying that we support the provisions to reduce delays in our justice system, particularly those that seek to limit the scope of the preliminary inquiry, allow increased use of technology to facilitate remote attendance by any person in a proceeding, modernize and clarify interim release provisions to simplify the forms of release that may be imposed on an accused, and provide for a judicial referral hearing to deal with administration of justice offences involving a failure to comply with conditions of release or failure to appear as required.

Finally, modernizing the language used in the Criminal Code to make it non-discriminatory is also a very good thing.

The Prime Minister played the part of the grasshopper who travelled here, there and everywhere around the world singing and dancing. Time has become a critical factor for this Prime Minister, who claims that his government is introducing an omnibus bill so that it can fulfill multiple election promises at once, since this is the final sprint before the next election in a few months.

This is deplorable and a fait accompli. Introducing a big bill such as this one leaves the opposition little time for careful and in-depth study. For most of the session, Bill C-45 on marijuana legalization and Bill C-46 on drug-impaired driving kept the Senate busy.

They are two major pieces of legislation that make good on the Liberals' immoral promise to legalize marijuana, a promise made during the 2015 election campaign.

These delays and poor management of the legislative agenda have left the government short on time to fulfill its mandate. It will be hard pressed to achieve its goals with Bill C-75 and other pieces of legislation that have been languishing for months.

We criticized the government for failing to do anything up to this point to reduce delays in our legal system and we were critical in particular about its approach to judicial appointments.

Can members believe that as of April 1, 2018, or three years after he was elected as Prime Minister, there were 59 vacant judicial positions at the federal level? We believe that it takes less time and is more effective to appoint judges than to impose an omnibus bill on Parliament.

In closing, under no circumstances should checking off an item on their list of election promises compromise the safety of honest Canadians and our borders or weaken Canada's justice system.

It is not just the Prime Minister who will be adversely impacted, but an entire generation that we have been honourably defending for more than 150 years.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

October 29th, 2018 / 4:15 p.m.
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Conservative

Mel Arnold Conservative North Okanagan—Shuswap, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise today to speak to Bill C-84. I would first like to mention that I will be sharing my time with the member for Markham—Unionville.

Bill C-84 seems to be another example of the government striking a valiant attempt to make a change, yet it is an incomplete attempt, much like most of the legislation we have seen coming forward from the government. Some of these previous shortcomings include Bill C-45, the cannabis bill, which just came into effect a few days ago. Even though that legislation was debated in the House and passed roughly a year ago, there still remain multiple enforcement agencies, municipalities, regional districts and first nations that agree it simply was not complete or ready. It did not give the provinces or municipalities time to prepare.

After that was Bill C-46, the bill that dealt with impaired driving, which was tied to Bill C-45. We have now heard that because of the way Bill C-46 was drafted, there is no proof that the systems in place and the science and technology around identifying impairment, which was fairly standardized when it came to alcohol, are going to be effective when it comes to drugs. Not only do we have another piece of flawed legislation out there, but we have communities and enforcement agencies trying to scramble to figure out how to deal with that.

The next piece of legislation I am familiar with is Bill C-71, the government's firearms legislation, which, in listening to its rhetoric, is aimed at reducing gun violence, gangs and so on. However, the bill does not mention gangs or gun violence at any point in time. All it talks about is registering firearms and making things worse for law-abiding firearms owners.

The most current is probably Bill C-75, an act to amend the Criminal Code. That is a bill the government introduced to bring modernization to the Criminal Code. That bill has been bantered back and forth many times, but it is now at committee stage. My colleague from St. Albert—Edmonton is currently on the committee studying that bill, and members are looking at stacks and stacks of amendments to another government bill. I experienced the same thing when I sat in on the discussion on Bill C-69, when I happened to be substituting on that committee. I believe there were 600 amendments to that government bill. The bill was 300 pages long, and I believe 300 or 350 of those amendments came from the government side.

I continuously see the government putting forward draft legislation for debate in this House that it has not thought through or consulted on properly, and it just ends up being hashed about at committee. We have seen the Senate return a number of bills to this House with amendments. Worst of all, we see communities, enforcement agencies and the public trying to figure out how they are going to manage or work around this poorly drafted legislation from the government.

Turning back to Bill C-84, an act to amend the Criminal Code with respect to bestiality and animal fighting, I praise the government for bringing forward legislation to deal with this. I agree we need to do what we can, as legislators, to bring in legislation to protect people, protect the innocent and protect animals from the abuses we have seen. Also, to protect them from the ways criminals have been able to skirt the laws through definitions, different interpretations in the courts and so on. On that point, I will give the government credit for at least attempting to do something right.

When I look at this bill, I also see where it comes up short in some cases. I compare it to an insurance policy. I think everyone here has had an insurance policy and has taken a close look at it. Some have possibly made a claim through that insurance policy only to find out that the claim is denied because in the fine print something was excluded.

We may get a chance to amend this bill in committee. Even though it is a short bill and one would not think it needs much amendment, I do not believe it is perfect and I will be talking to committee members about possible amendments going forward.

When I see that the bill includes a phrase that basically bans the fighting or baiting of animals or birds, I question whether that is going to impact our provincial hunting regulations. I have not yet been able to have full discussion with anyone to determine this. In some provinces, it is completely legal and within ethical standards to plant crops to attract wildlife, such as deer and elk, to certain areas for hunting purposes. Those are perfectly accepted standards that continue to this day. In fact, many of those standards actually improve the chances of correct and humane harvest of those animals because they are at a baiting station.

That is why I question the wording in this bill. I will be following through further on this to make sure that this bill, like many other bills the government has put forward, is not flawed after it gets through committee. I want to make sure we are protected in those ways.

Another thing that troubles me with this bill is why it took the government almost a year to introduce its own bill that is identical in most ways to a bill introduced by a member from our side of the House, the member for Calgary Nose Hill. Her bill was introduced in December 2017, and yet the government sat on it and did not move it forward for debate. The government could have had this process done by now and given credit where credit was due, to the person who brought the issue forward.

It seems to be a continuous mantra of the government to not do anything until it is caught not doing anything. We see it when we have witnesses appear at committee to give testimony. We see it in the Auditor General reports. It just seems to be a continuing theme.

In fact, I had the same experience myself. I introduced a private member's bill a couple of years ago to recognize volunteers in search and rescue situations. Just a few weeks later the government announced that it was going to create service medals for search and rescue volunteers. Again, it was not doing anything until it got caught not doing anything.

That is the case here. It is disappointing that the government has to be shown the way forward by members on our side. We see this quite often with the opposition day motions we bring forward. In fact, we had another one just last week. We put forward an opposition day motion that the Liberals could have easily acted on much sooner, but we had to force their hand by forcing the argument and putting it to them to make them step up to the plate. It is just another case of, as I said, not doing anything until they are caught not doing anything. Then they get caught in a bind and have to put out something that is not complete, not well-thought-out and not well-processed.

With that, I am finished my comments. I know I will be receiving questions on this.

Elections Modernization Act—Speaker's RulingPoints of OrderRoutine Proceedings

October 24th, 2018 / 3:20 p.m.
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Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

I am now prepared to rule on a point of order raised on October 23, 2018, by the hon. member for Perth—Wellington regarding Bill C-76, an act to amend the Canada Elections Act and other acts and to make certain consequential amendments.

The hon. member objects to an amendment adopted by the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, sometimes called PROC in this place, on the basis that it amends a section of the parent act not amended by the bill. He argues that the committee went beyond the mandate the House had given it and urges the Chair to strike the amendment from the bill. He notes that Speakers have exercised this power in the past to deal with inadmissible amendments adopted by a committee.

I am grateful to the hon. member for having raised this matter, as it affords me the opportunity to clear up a misconception about what is commonly referred to as the “Parent Act rule”.

As the hon. member no doubt noted, the passage he cited concerning this rule, found at page 771 of House of Commons Procedure and Practice, is contained in a section about relevance.

The Parent Act rule, the idea that an amendment should not amend an act or a section not already amended by a bill, rests on a presumption that such an amendment would not be relevant to the bill. This can be true. Often, such amendments attempt to deal with matters not referenced in the bill, and this is improper.

However, there are also occasions when an amendment is relevant to the subject matter of a bill and in keeping with its scope but can only be accomplished by modifying a section of the parent act not originally touched by the bill or even an entirely different act not originally touched by the bill. This is especially so when the amendments are consequential to other decisions taken by a committee or by the House.

In the present case, an amendment adopted by the committee creates a new section 510.001 of the Canada Elections Act. This section would empower the commissioner of Canada elections to request and obtain certain financial documents from political parties. The hon. member made no suggestion that this amendment was inadmissible. He objects, however, to a related amendment to section 498 of the act that makes it an offence to refuse to comply with the commissioner's request. Section 498, while not originally part of the bill, is the section that spells out offences relating to Part 19 of the act, which is where the new section 510.001 would be found.

I have trouble seeing how this could be considered irrelevant to the bill. Were I to accept the hon. member's argument, we would find ourselves in the strange circumstance of allowing an amendment that creates a new obligation but refusing an amendment that spells out the consequences for failing to comply with that new obligation.

The parent act rule was never intended to be applied blindly as a substitute for proper judgment as to the relevance of an amendment. Clearly, amendments that arise as a direct consequence of other admissible amendments should be considered relevant to the bill, even if they are made to a section of the parent act otherwise unamended.

The hon. member noted that our procedural authorities do not reference any exceptions, leading him to conclude that none are possible. He well knows, however, that practice and precedent are also binding. As is stated at page 274 of House of Commons Procedure and Practice:

Where there are no express rules or orders, the House turns to its own jurisprudence, as interpreted by the Speaker, who examines the Journals and the Debates of the House to determine which rulings of past Speakers and which practices and precedents should be applied.

There are multiple examples of amendments of this nature having been accepted in the past. In 2003, Bill C-250, an act to amend the Criminal Code (hate propaganda), contained a single clause amending section 318 of the Code to change the definition of “identifiable group”. At the beginning of the report stage, on June 6, 2003, the Chair accepted amendments to sections 319 and 320 of the Criminal Code, which also dealt with hate propaganda.

On May 5, 2014, when the Procedure and House Affairs Committee presented its report on Bill C-23, an act to amend the Canada Elections Act and other acts and to make consequential amendments to certain acts, the report contained an amendment to section 345 of the act, which was not originally amended by the bill, but sought to clarify what did not constitute an election expense under section 376, which the bill did amend.

Just last year, in a report tabled on October 5, 2017, the health committee amended Bill C-45, an act respecting cannabis and to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, the Criminal Code and other acts, by modifying section 7 of the Non-smokers' Health Act, originally untouched by the bill. This change arose out of an earlier amendment to the definition of “workplace” in the same act.

These are just a few examples where exceptions were made to the parent act rule because the amendments were clearly relevant to the bill. Given that the present amendment is of a similar nature, I have no difficulty concluding that it too should be found in order.

I thank all hon. members for their attention.

October 16th, 2018 / 10:40 a.m.
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Liberal

John Oliver Liberal Oakville, ON

Tomorrow Bill C-45, an act to legalize and regulate the production of cannabis, comes into effect. I wanted to take this moment in time to acknowledge and thank the HESA committee for the work that they did in furthering that legislation.

You will recall it was a year ago September that we met for a solid week before anybody else was back here on the Hill. We heard over a hundred witnesses and made some very substantive changes to the legislation. On October 5, 2017, we tabled our document in the House and it proceeded to go to the Senate after that.

Again, thank you for that time and the contribution by the committee.

October 5th, 2018 / 1:30 p.m.
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Allan Rewak Executive Director, Cannabis Council of Canada

Good afternoon. I'd like to begin by thanking the committee for the opportunity to be here today. As was mentioned, my name is Allan Rewak and I am the executive director of the Cannabis Council of Canada, or C3.

We serve as the national trade association for producers of medicinal cannabis approved by Health Canada, under the ACMPR, and very soon, Bill C-45, the Cannabis Act.

With me today, as mentioned, is our association's vice-chair Philippe Lucas, who will take the lead on all questions related to medicinal cannabis and the needs of the patients we serve.

C3's diverse membership represents approximately 85% of the cultivation of legal cannabis in Canada under the current ACMPR and reflects the full diversity and scale of our nascent legal industry. Today, in consultation around the upcoming federal budget, I'd like to express two key complementary but also mutually reinforcing recommendations.

First, as we build this new industry together, we believe we must ensure that the tax environment for both medicinal and recreational cannabis is conducive to building up an industry that can effectively compete against an illicit market.

Secondly, as we do this, we must ensure that medicinal patients, who really gave birth to our sector, are not unfairly penalized for accessing the medicine that has improved their quality of life.

In regard to the first issue, as I'm sure this committee is aware, all adult-use cannabis sold in Canada will be subject to both provincial and federal sales tax. Additional provincial tax measures will occur in certain provinces and we also will have a federal excise tax. On top of this, we will have a cost-recovery fee to assist Health Canada in regulating and measuring our industry. Taken together, this cascade of taxes presents an immense cost burden on an industry that requires very significant, upfront capital outlays to begin, and which is competing against an existent illicit market that is remarkably well funded and quite adaptable.

If our shared goal is to truly replace this illicit market, we must ensure that the tax burden does not make legal cannabis uncompetitive vis-à-vis the illicit marketplace. If we are to successfully defeat the illicit market, we must be able to directly compete against them for market share, price, availability and product selection, which will altogether be the deciding factor for the success of this new policy regime.

Today we're here to share our concerns around the growing tax burden that will affect the viability of licensed producers and also the success of public and private retailers in all provinces. We believe that as we move towards October 17, we must also, as we look at this issue, not forget the needs of our medicinal patients who are facing an ever-increasing escalation in the price of their medicine. This is a direct result of the Cannabis Act.

As CFAMM has told you today, from a patient perspective, cost has always been cited as a primary obstacle in accessing medicinal cannabis, and the burden of sales tax compounds this through the application of an excise tax. Ironically, while critically and chronically ill Canadians can get opioids or benzoids tax free, patients using cannabis at the direction and support of a medical professional will face an additional 10% sin tax on their medicine on October 18.

We know Canadians don't support this. A national poll, commissioned by both CFAMM and the Canadian Medical Cannabis Council in February 2018, found that over 60% of Canadians support removing the tax on medicinal cannabis, suggesting it should be zero-rated, just like all other prescription drugs. In fact, to the best of our knowledge, Canada is the only jurisdiction in the world—and there are 30 countries that are legalizing or have legalized medicinal cannabis—that does not have a differential tax rate fully implemented for medicinal and adult consumer-use cannabis. Notably, in our discussions with members of all political parties in the House and in the Senate, we have yet to find anyone who actively believes in an aggressive fashion that taxation on medical cannabis makes sense and would oppose the removal of excise tax as we move forward in fully developing this regime.

While our country is about to take the momentous step of legalizing cannabis for adult consumers, we urge you not to forget those 300,000 Canadian patients who benefit from its use for medicinal purposes. We believe that, as all other prescription drugs, no GST and certainly no sin tax should be targeted towards sick or suffering Canadians.

In closing, I would like to thank the members of this committee for the opportunity to be here today to voice our concerns primarily on the part of patients. With my colleague Mr. Lucas, I'd be pleased to answer any questions you may have after the other deputants have provided their remarks.

On a personal note, before we begin that, happy Thanksgiving to all of you.

Accessible Canada ActGovernment Orders

September 19th, 2018 / 4:50 p.m.
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Conservative

Marilyn Gladu Conservative Sarnia—Lambton, ON

Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to speak to Bill C-81, an act to ensure a barrier-free Canada.

I want to say at the outset that I am pleased to see that the minister has brought forward this bill. I have absolutely no doubt about her sincerity in trying to improve the lives of people with disabilities. I too am aligned in that direction. I have listened carefully to the debate we have had so far talking about how to get people with disabilities the same rights and responsibilities as other citizens, how to make sure they are able to live independently and how to make sure they are free from violence. I am aligned in all those things. I think I have heard that all the parties in the House are aligned in how we improve the lives of people with disabilities, and what we can we do with this bill to make sure it is effective.

When it comes to deciding to tackle an issue, with my engineering perspective I will ask what it is we are trying to do. I think it is trying to get people to be able to live independently, to have the same rights and responsibilities as others and to be free from violence. What is the plan to make that happen? What mechanisms will we put in place in order to make sure the money or the incentives flow so the behaviours of people will take root?

In my speech, I am going to talk a bit about what has happened in the past and what the Conservatives did. Then I will talk a little about the Liberal record. Then I will talk about the situation in my own riding, some ideas about possible solutions and some concerns I have with the legislation as it is written today.

I know things were going on to help improve accessibility when the Conservatives were in power. Although I was not here myself, I saw all the announcements and improvements happening in my own riding of Sarnia—Lambton, where multiple millions of dollars were spent to upgrade different buildings to ensure they were accessible for people in wheelchairs and to put different aids in place to help people with disabilities. I note that was going on.

At the same time, we have heard other members in the House talk about the Conservative Party's introduction of the registered disability savings plan in 2008. This plan is quite a rich plan. I looked at the details of it when we were addressing an issue that I will talk about later. However, this is a plan where a disabled person can put in up to $5,000 a year and the government will match it threefold. That program has been going on for almost 10 years. Although it has not come to the point where people are collecting from the program, it is a very well thought out way of ensuring people with disabilities will have the wherewithal to retire in dignity.

I see that and see the efforts of the member for Carleton, who brought forward a very intelligent bill aimed at addressing the problem people with disabilities have when they want to go work and their benefits are clawed back. In some cases, the money they are getting from other disability programs is clawed back. I was really disappointed in the extreme that every Liberal in the place rejected that private member's bill. That bill would have been such a help to people with disabilities. We talked as well about the member for Calgary Shepard bringing forward a private member's bill on rare diseases, which was also rejected. I just heard a member from the NDP talking about her bill being rejected.

This is where one really has to question people's motives. When people say one thing and do another, they are likely to be called hypocrites. When I look at the Liberals, I see there is a lot of talking about helping people with disabilities, but then we look at the record of what has happened since the election in 2015. The first member who had the portfolio to do something here on accessibility, or helping the disabled, was the member for Calgary Centre. It was in the mandate letter, yet nothing was done. That member is also a person who has lived experience as a person with disabilities, but nothing was done. It was not a priority.

It was then passed along to the member for Etobicoke North. However, I do sympathize with her. She is the Minister of Science and has a lot of very important things to do which, of course, I, as a fellow science person, cannot criticize. Again, nothing really came forward.

Then when I looked at the bill to see what was in it, I thought that perhaps there would be a lot of infrastructure money. We know there are a lot of buildings that are not accessible and they need a lot of money in order to repair them so they will be accessible. In some cases, those could be incentives. There is a number of ways that could be done, but nothing in the bill talks about that.

In fact, the bill has sort of an element of what the minister's powers would be. It has an element of a standards organization that can talk about what the right thing to do would be. There are mechanisms in the bill to complain. There are mechanisms in it to inspect. However, there are no action words. There is really no doing of anything. It is going to be consulting and spending a few more years to try to figure out what we should do, when we already know some of the things we should do. Some of the things we should do involves investing the same kind of infrastructure money that was previously done under the Conservatives.

I have heard the government speak about the $180 billion of infrastructure money that it will invest over the next number of years. In fact, the Liberals got elected on a promise to spend very small deficits in order to put infrastructure in place. That was going to create jobs and drive the economy and repair our roads and bridges, etc. None of that ever happened. My point is that there was a lot of infrastructure money that was planned to be spent. Even though the government has had difficulty getting that accomplished, as I think it has only spent about 40% of what it planned, it has still racked up way more deficit but not on the intended things.

There is an opportunity for the government to do something immediately with respect to infrastructure to improve accessibility. Those are things where the building codes exist today. The specifications exist today. The standards exist today. No work needs to be done to consult anybody on that or have new standard organizations to do it. This already exists. All it really needs is political will to put that money in place.

Instead, the government has basically a different political will, if we look at where the billions of dollars that the government is spending is going: $4.2 billion on foreign aid; $2.65 billion on climate change support for foreign countries like China and India; $5 billion for the Syrian refugees; $1 billion for the asylum seekers; and multiple billions of other things that are spread around the world but not for Canadians and not for the disabled. When we look at where time, energy and money is put, that determines what our values are or what our priorities are.

It has been three years before seeing any kind of legislation and the legislation does not have any strong actions in it. It is more of “we'll put structures in place to consult”. I really question whether there is enough political will to achieve good outcomes here.

As I mentioned, I have some good examples from my riding that I can share. I know that the previous member of Parliament, Pat Davidson, was very active. She really cared about improving accessibility. Elevators were put in multiple buildings. We had accessibility all over the county of Lambton. As well, we have upgraded many of the schools to be accessible.

The Sarnia Arena is going under remediation. I was there for an event this past weekend and all of the entrances and front sidewalks, etc. have been improved for accessibility and all of the standards have been met.

Not everything is wonderful in my riding. We have a situation in Port Lambton where the post office, which is a Crown corporation and is under the legislation being proposed, is not accessible. It has been there for a long period of time and was grandfathered, but it is not accessible. We are having a municipal election and people are going to have to go to Canada Post to vote. In Port Lambton that is pretty much all there is. However, it is not accessible. People have known about it for a long time. My office has called and nagged and has been told that they will get to it. However, no one has got to it.

Here is an example where the solution is known. It just needs to get done and it needs to get done in a hurry. Again, where is the will to force these solutions to happen?

I have a tremendously great example of a fellow named Dan Edwards in my riding. Unfortunately, he had an accident which rendered him unable to walk and left him in a wheelchair. He has been super inspirational in the riding. He does fundraising for mental health efforts and different things.

This is one of the things he did. We have a fundraiser in Sarnia—Lambton called the Dream Home. It is a fundraiser for the hospital. He decided to get together with the architect who was going to build the latest Dream Home for a lottery to raise money for the hospital and decided to make it a visitable home. A visitable home is a home where any person in a wheelchair would be fully able to access everything, from cooking to the entrances. Everything is ground floor. It is very well done.

I had the opportunity to tour the home and see what he and architect had designed together. He shared with me a lot of information about the very many plans like this. It is quite possible. We have these solutions that we could put in place to allow people to live independently. That would be great. Again, money and political will is some of what is required here.

The other piece of advice I would give with respect to solutions and rolling out the infrastructure money is to ensure that it is well-distributed. Of the $180 billion that was announced over 10 years, only $2 billion of that was earmarked for rural communities. When we look at improving accessibility, I think we will find that there is even more need in the rural communities. In many cases, they have grandfathered their buildings. There are more older buildings, and they have not been made accessible. As well, there is less of a population base to bring in the revenue to do these things of their own volition. That needs to be considered.

With respect to some concerns about the legislation, $290 million has been proposed. I heard discussion earlier about 5,000 new public servants. I was not clear if that was 5,000 public servants with disabilities who would be hired while attrition happened, so over time, or whether that was 5,000 additional public service employees. Of course, I would be opposed to increasing the size of government.

Another concern I have with the bill has to do with leaving things for the regulations. As a parliamentarian, and a detailed-oriented one, I do not like to leave things to chance. I have seen before, under some of the legislation that the Liberals have brought forward, where it is all left to regulation.

With Bill S-5, for example, the Liberals decided, from the plain packaging and the vaping, they were going to leave a lot of it to the regulations. We were approving a bill, and as the point was made, that we really did not know what the final outcomes would be. We were going to leave it to the regulation.

In the example of Bill S-5, the Liberals want to go to a plain package. The dimensions of the plain package are produced by machines that are obsolete, that are no longer owned by anybody who is legitimately in the business. The Liberals have given businesses six months to convert.

They would have to redesign the old, obsolete machines and get them built somewhere, and that is certainly an 18-month deal, or they would have to be shut down altogether in order to achieve this plain packaging goal, or let them use the existing size. That is an example of where when things are left to regulations, they do not always get done the way that we might want. That is why parliamentary oversight is important.

Bill C-45, the cannabis legislation, is another example where the Liberals decided to leave a lot of the details to the regulation. The problem is that the regulations did not come out quickly enough to address all the unanswered questions that were still out there. Now we are left with a situation where we will legalize on October 17, and there is still a huge number of things that are not addressed in the regulations. Again, there is no parliamentary oversight to talk about them.

This point came up again on Bill S-228 with the regulation that we most recently talked about, which is the one that prohibits the marketing of unhealthy foods to children. Instead of defining what the healthy foods are, the comment was that it would be left to the regulations.

As parliamentarians, we have a right to know what that list will be and have some opportunity to object or give input if we do not agree. By leaving it to the regulations, we would be passing a blank bill that says we would be doing something. We have no idea what the something is and we have no input on the something, but we are expected to vote in favour of it. I have an issue with that.

When it comes to accessibility, we have been much too slow in moving forward and addressing these things. For example, there are a lot of the grandfathered buildings. My mother is 84 and walks with a rollator. There are a lot of places she cannot go because of staircases or it is too narrow to get through. Something needs to be done there and I look forward to seeing what solutions will be brought forward are.

I will talk a little about some of the things the government could do that would make people have more faith in its wanting to help disabled people.

Members may remember when I was here on a Friday, asking a question about the disability tax credit. Through that whole event, we found out that where 80% of people with type 2 diabetes were previously approved, all of a sudden 80% were disapproved. We raised the concern, and the Liberal government insisted that nothing had changed. Of course, as the scandal went on, it came out that indeed things had changed. There were instructions given to interpret the criteria differently, and it went very broad. It affected not just people with diabetes but people with other disabilities, such as autism and mental disorders like bipolar. It took months and months to get justice for those people. This is what undermines people's faith that the government is sincere in its efforts to improve things for people with disabilities.

I will give members another example. For people with multiple sclerosis, it can be very difficult, because people are not always be at the same degree of wellness. It is sort of intermittent where there may be periods where they cannot work and other times they may be fine.

However, the current EI rules are not flexible enough to allow a person who has MS to be on EI and work intermittently, the same total benefits as someone who takes it consecutively would get. I raised this issue with the Minister of Labour. There is an easy fix there. If 670 hours of eligibility are required and there is a certain amount of hours that people get in benefits, then allow the intermittency. Those are the kinds of things we can do for people who have disabilities to be able to live independently, to work and to engage. We need to do that.

I did take the point that was made earlier that no disability lens was used for the legislation. When we do legislation, we do it with a gender-based lens. Therefore, it is very appropriate here to take that recommendation from the member and put a disability lens in place.

I also do not like the powers to exempt in the bill. I find that when we allow exemptions and have cabinet decide, we get into trouble. We saw this with the carbon tax. The government had the power to exempt and it decided to exempt the largest emitters up to 90% of their emissions. There is an example where having the power to exempt is really not what we want.

In summary, I absolutely want to see persons with disabilities have the independence they need and have the help they need. However, it has to happen faster. I call on the government today to start putting money into infrastructure for accessibility and do the solutions that we already know about, while we craft improvements to the bill.

Carbon PricingOral Questions

June 20th, 2018 / 3:10 p.m.
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NDP

Don Davies NDP Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. In a moment I will be asking for unanimous consent to present a motion.

Last night, the Senate passed Bill C-45, important legislation that will positively change 100 years of legal, social, and economic attitudes towards cannabis. It will legalize an activity that the vast majority of Canadians regard as acceptable.

That is why, Mr. Speaker, if you seek it, I hope you will find unanimous consent for the following motion: That, in the opinion of the House, given the passage of Bill C-45 and the imminent legalization of cannabis for personal recreational use, and recognizing that many Canadians are facing criminal charges, experiencing criminal sanctions, or bearing criminal records for cannabis offences that are soon to be legal, the government should take all necessary steps to immediately provide pardons for those burdened by criminal records for cannabis offences that will soon be legal.

Cannabis ActStatements By Members

June 20th, 2018 / 2:20 p.m.
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Liberal

Bill Blair Liberal Scarborough Southwest, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to acknowledge the passing of Bill C-45 in the Senate and to recognize the substantial work undertaken by all parliamentarians. I sincerely thank senior officials and our incredible support staff who have contributed to legislation that will legalize and strictly regulate the production, distribution, and consumption of cannabis in Canada. The evidence that nearly a century of prohibition has failed us is overwhelming, and it has compelled us to do a better job of protecting our kids and keeping our communities safe.

I want to acknowledge the excellent work of our task force and the thousands of Canadians who have contributed to the national discussion on this important issue. We are indebted to our provincial and territorial counterparts, indigenous leaders, and municipalities for their hard work and partnership. We will continue to work with all levels of government, indigenous communities, and law enforcement to transition to a responsible legal framework that works for all Canadians.

As the process of implementation unfolds, I would remind everyone that until the current criminal prohibition is repealed and replaced, the law remains in effect and should be obeyed.

MarijuanaOral Questions

June 19th, 2018 / 3:05 p.m.
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Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe New Brunswick

Liberal

Ginette Petitpas Taylor LiberalMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, once again, protecting the health and safety of Canadians is our number one priority. The current approach to cannabis is not working. It lets criminals profit and does not protect our young people.

We thank senators for all the work they have done over the past few months, and we have agreed to the vast majority of amendments brought forward. We are convinced that Bill C-45 will give us the opportunity to achieve our objectives and ensure a responsible transition towards a legal market.

MarijuanaOral Questions

June 19th, 2018 / 3:05 p.m.
See context

Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe New Brunswick

Liberal

Ginette Petitpas Taylor LiberalMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, once again, protecting the health and safety of Canadians is a top priority for our government. The existing approach to cannabis does not work. It allows criminals to profit from cannabis and it is also a failure because it does not protect our children.

We thank the Senate for all its work and we agreed to the vast majority of the proposed amendments. We firmly believe that Bill C-45 will help us reach our objectives and ensure a responsible transition towards a legal cannabis market.

MarijuanaOral Questions

June 19th, 2018 / 2:55 p.m.
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Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe New Brunswick

Liberal

Ginette Petitpas Taylor LiberalMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, the health and safety of all Canadians is a top priority for our government.

The approach taken by Mr. Harper's Conservatives did not work. It allowed criminals to profit from cannabis and did not manage to keep cannabis out of the hands of children.

We thank the Senate for its work and we agree on the vast majority of the proposed amendments. We believe that Bill C-45 will help us meet our objectives and allow for a responsible transition towards a legal market.

MarijuanaOral Questions

June 19th, 2018 / 2:20 p.m.
See context

Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe New Brunswick

Liberal

Ginette Petitpas Taylor LiberalMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, protecting the health of Canadians is an absolute priority for our government. The Harper Conservatives' approach did not work. It allowed criminals to profit and did not manage to keep cannabis out of the hands of youth. We thank the Senate for its work, and we agree with the majority of the amendments presented by Conservative and independent senators. We are convinced that Bill C-45 will allow us to reach our objectives and ensure a responsible transition to a legal cannabis market.

Firearms ActGovernment Orders

June 18th, 2018 / 11:45 p.m.
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Conservative

Ted Falk Conservative Provencher, MB

Mr. Speaker, that has nothing to do with the bill we are discussing. The hon. member and friend from Winnipeg Centre should look at the legislation carefully to see if this is something that would really address the situation he is talking about, gang violence in his own constituency, which is a significant problem. I realize that and acknowledge that this is a serious issue in his riding.

I will affirm very clearly, from my understanding of this legislation and from what I have read, that this will not help you at all, because it is not law-abiding gun owners you have a problem with. It is gangs, illegal guns, and the drug trade, which will only get worse once Bill C-45 is passed later this week by the Senate. You will have nobody else to thank for that but yourself—

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

June 18th, 2018 / 3:05 p.m.
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Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

It being 3:08 p.m., pursuant to order made on Tuesday, May 29, 2018, the House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion relating to Senate amendments to Bill C-45.

The House resumed consideration of the motion in relation to the amendments made by the Senate to Bill C-45, An Act respecting cannabis and to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, the Criminal Code and other Acts.