An Act to amend the Criminal Code (offences relating to conveyances) and to make consequential amendments to other Acts

Sponsor

Status

In committee (Senate), as of Dec. 14, 2017

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Summary

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

Part 1 amends the provisions of the Criminal Code that deal with offences and procedures relating to drug-impaired driving. Among other things, the amendments

(a) enact new criminal offences for driving with a blood drug concentration that is equal to or higher than the permitted concentration;

(b) authorize the Governor in Council to establish blood drug concentrations; and

(c) authorize peace officers who suspect a driver has a drug in their body to demand that the driver provide a sample of a bodily substance for analysis by drug screening equipment that is approved by the Attorney General of Canada.

Part 2 repeals the provisions of the Criminal Code that deal with offences and procedures relating to conveyances, including those provisions enacted by Part 1, and replaces them with provisions in a new Part of the Criminal Code that, among other things,

(a) re-enact and modernize offences and procedures relating to conveyances;

(b) authorize mandatory roadside screening for alcohol;

(c) establish the requirements to prove a person’s blood alcohol concentration; and

(d) increase certain maximum penalties and certain minimum fines.

Part 3 contains coordinating amendments and the coming into force provision.

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

Oct. 31, 2017 Passed 3rd reading and adoption of Bill C-46, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (offences relating to conveyances) and to make consequential amendments to other Acts
Oct. 25, 2017 Passed Concurrence at report stage of Bill C-46, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (offences relating to conveyances) and to make consequential amendments to other Acts
Oct. 25, 2017 Failed Bill C-46, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (offences relating to conveyances) and to make consequential amendments to other Acts (report stage amendment)

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

October 27th, 2017 / 1:05 p.m.
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Conservative

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

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague from Mégantic—L'Érable for his question.

Indeed, this is further proof that the government has no idea where it is going. This week, we voted on Bill S-230, a Senate bill that would amend the Criminal Code with respect to drug-impaired driving. The government decided to vote against this bill, which was ready, approved, and complete.

The government has introduced Bill C-46, which is all wrong, and it is trying to get us to embrace it by claiming that it will solve all our problems. On the contrary, it will create more problems. We have another problem to fix, and it has to do with how our government is managed.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

October 27th, 2017 / 1:05 p.m.
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Conservative

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

Madam Speaker, I thank the member for listening carefully to my speech.

I was not digressing or off-topic. I was talking about Bill C-45 because it directly relates to this bill. At one point, the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness said that we should have voted in favour of the bill and that we needed it because it was the carbon copy of Bill C-45. Once again, Bill C-45 is flawed and yet we want to hastily pass Bill C-46, which is deeply flawed. It is not that we do not want to do things right, as my colleague for Mégantic—L'Érable said. We want to help and we want it to work, but we need to do the job properly.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

October 24th, 2017 / 10:05 a.m.
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Liberal

Robert-Falcon Ouellette Liberal Winnipeg Centre, MB

Niwakomacuntik Tansai Nemeaytane Awapamtikok.

[Member spoke in Cree]

[English]

Mr. Speaker, outraged by the toll alcohol is having in northern Saskatchewan, in 2015 a crown prosecutor took six months off work to talk to first nation communities and look for solutions.

Harold Johnson, an indigenous author of a new book called Firewater, took a critical look at the impact alcohol has had on the people in the north. Harold, who is based in La Ronge, Saskatchewan said:

...alcohol is responsible for much death and destruction in the north, and as a Crown prosecutor he's had a front-row seat to its effects.

Ninety-five percent of what we deal with in provincial court, the person who committed the offence was drunk at the time of the offence. It's every day.

Are we tired of going to the graveyard? Are we tired of burying our relatives? Have we had enough of this now?

As Johnson told the CBC, alcohol misuse permeates all aspects of society, whether it's the justice system, health, poverty or the economy.

Indeed, according to a 2011 study of northern Saskatchewan health regions, two-thirds of fatal motor vehicle accidents are alcohol-related. The rate of drug and alcohol use during pregnancy in the north is three times the provincial rate.

Moreover, the CBC reports that according to Johnson, it even affects the cost of infrastructure in the north, as contractors take into account absenteeism and lowered productivity because of hangovers and include those costs in bid prices.

It is an issue that has also touched Johnson in his own personal life. Two of his brothers have been killed by drunk drivers, and most recently in 2014. The Justice Department gave him six months to work with the Lac La Ronge Indian Band and the Montreal Lake Cree Nation in a search of answers to open a discussion. He says he is not hoping to work miracles, but just to get people talking. As he says, “Are we tired of going to the graveyard? Are we tired of burying our relatives? Have we had enough of this now?”

I am proud to be here to debate Bill C-46, which proposes substantive changes to modernize the provisions of the Criminal Code dealing with drug- and alcohol-impaired driving offences.

The purpose of the bill is to protect public health and safety by creating new provisions and strengthening existing provisions to deter impaired drivers and come down hard on anyone caught committing drug- and alcohol-impaired driving offences. This bill also aims to give police the resources they need to improve the detection of the presence of drugs and alcohol in impaired drivers and facilitate the prosecution of such cases. It is important to develop a regulatory policy to stop impaired driving.

Part 1 of the bill amends certain provisions that deal with offences. Among other things, the amendments seek to do the following: enact new criminal offences for driving with a blood drug concentration that is equal to or higher than the permitted concentration; authorize the establishment of prohibited blood drug concentrations; and authorize peace officers who suspect a driver has a drug in their body to demand that the driver provide a sample of a bodily substance for analysis by drug screening equipment that is approved by the Attorney General of Canada.

It is important not only in the big cities, but also in the rural areas and communities where I come from. I am proud to be here and to have the opportunity to express myself in Cree, English, and French, the founding languages of our nation.

People may have noticed that I did not provide a translation for the part of my speech that I delivered in Cree. I addressed those words to the people in our communities. I hope they will hear them. They need to hear discussions about what we once were and what we can become.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

October 24th, 2017 / 10:15 a.m.
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NDP

Richard Cannings NDP South Okanagan—West Kootenay, BC

Madam Speaker, I thank the member for speaking in Cree. A lot of indigenous languages are on the verge of disappearing entirely, including Syilx language in my community, so I would encourage that.

I know that he talked primarily about alcohol and its effects. Bill C-46 is about marijuana and other drugs as much as it is about alcohol, and a lot of it revolves around how we are going to test for marijuana in roadside tests. How does the government plan to do that when we heard at the justice committee that there is no relationship between marijuana THC levels in blood and impairment? People who are using marijuana legally can have chronic levels of THC in their blood, so they would essentially be banned from driving. Would the member comment on that?

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

October 24th, 2017 / 10:20 a.m.
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Conservative

Rachael Harder Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Madam Speaker, the Liberal government is currently rushing through the marijuana legislation despite kickback from health care practitioners, law enforcement agents, parents, teachers, municipal leaders, and provinces who are all speaking up and speaking out against this legislation and the time frame that has been imposed on this country. Despite this outcry, the government insists on continuing and rushing forward, for no other reason than the Prime Minister of course would like to include it in his party on July 1, 2018.

Now, the government has made it clear that Bill C-46, the impaired driving act, is closely tied to the marijuana legislation. However, despite the so-called positive intent of this bill, Bill C-46 is, in fact, poorly drafted and fails to hold up to scrutiny from scientists and legal practitioners who have commented with regard to this legislation.

The impaired driving act before us would include roadside tests that lack scientific evidence, would grant police the power to force tests without reasonable evidence of impairment, and is of course full of very poorly worded measures that make many parts of this bill likely to be thrown out by the courts. This poses significant issue.

As I will detail shortly, there are legitimate questions around the constitutionality of certain provisions within Bill C-46. As the Canadian Bar Association has noted in its brief, impaired driving is one of the most litigated laws in all of Canada. There have been many appeals, many constitutional challenges, and a great deal of court time taken up with establishing legal precedence. Rushing this legislation through the House without the proper time to ensure the government has it right would inevitably lead to a great number of appeals and further backlog.

This could not happen at a worse time since the Liberals have failed to appoint new judges and adequately care for our justice system here in Canada. In the era of the Jordan decision, where court cases are being dismissed without a trial because of long wait times, the legislation has the potential to actually clog this up even further, thereby taking away from our justice system. This means accused criminals could actually be set free without a trial because of this poorly crafted legislation before the House today. To recklessly endanger the criminal justice system in order to rush the legalization of pot is a gross mismanagement of prioritization, and poor government.

Permit me to discuss the constitutionality of this bill. This legislation would allow law enforcement agents to demand a saliva or blood test from a driver if they reasonably suspect that the person has drugs in his or her body. For example, if officers notice the person has unusually red eyes, abnormal speech patterns, or perhaps has the scent of marijuana on them, they could demand a drug test.

The problem is that these types of drug impairment tests actually ignore science, thereby putting the Liberals' entire drug impairment driving section at risk of being unconstitutional. A first-year medical student should be able to tell us that marijuana has a main component within it called THC and that it dissolves in fat and not water. It is accepted science that THC disappears from the blood within a couple of hours after smoking it, however impairment lasts much longer.

Why is this important? It is important because blood is mostly water while the brain, which is where the impairment actually takes place, is mostly fat. Although the THC may not be found in the blood, it may be found in the brain. The new impairment tests this legislation is putting forward actually only measure the THC concentration in the blood, thus rendering the new tests proposed by the Liberal government absolutely useless. This fact draws into question the constitutionality of large parts of the bill before this House.

If the purpose of the legislation is to demonstrate impairment but the government's test for impairment is not scientifically viable, then it is going to be challenged by defence lawyers and tossed out by the courts. This, of course, is a significant problem.

Although an officer would need reasonable grounds to test for drug impairment, when it comes to testing for alcohol impairment the officer would no longer need reasonable grounds to do so. The federal justice department states on its website, “...police officers who have an approved screening device on hand would be able to test any driver they lawfully stop, even if the officer does not suspect the driver has alcohol in his or her body.”

In other words, in the same way that a police officer can pull one person over and demand to see a licence and proof of registration, the officer would also be able to demand that a driver take a Breathalyzer, even if the officer has absolutely no reason to suspect impaired driving.

Although the roadside test in and of itself cannot lead to a charge, it would allow the police to open up further investigation and subject the driver to further testing and scrutiny, which could lead to great embarrassment, time off work, etc., with respect to this person who is accused of doing something that the officer had absolutely no reasonable grounds to accuse the person of. For these reasons, many criminal lawyers from across Canada are raising their eyebrows, putting up a flag, and saying that this will be challenged and perhaps tossed out in the courts.

It is clear that the current government is doing all that it can to rush the legislation through, both Bill C-46, as well as the legalization of marijuana, but the approach is altogether wrong. The timeline for legalizing marijuana is simply too short. Cities and towns have said this, first nations chiefs and elders have said this, provinces and territories have said this, and police and first responders have said this. The government has made it clear that Bill C-46 and the legalization of marijuana go hand in hand. It is attempting to tighten the legislation around drug-impaired driving before the possession and use of marijuana is made legal in our country. However, it has failed to leave enough time for law enforcement agents across the country to properly train and adopt the new screening technologies needed to enforce this bill. I have been told by several police chiefs that the only place law enforcement agents can receive adequate training in this regard is in the United States, and that the cost for this training is quite expensive, upward of $20,000 per person. To make matters worse, the wait time in order to get into this training is more than 12 months long, which then poses some problems because marijuana is going to be legal in Canada in about nine months from now. Therefore, members can see my concern here.

Canada is a big country, and there are many police forces with different levels of resources. Many of the smaller centres are already having a tough time making ends meet. Many centres do not have the money to pay a team of lawyers and consultants to write new operational policies for front-line officers, and do not have the resources to buy a huge supply of new marijuana tests. They certainly do not have the staff training budgets to train all of their officers on how to use the new technology, that is to say even if they could get into the training within the time frame provided, which they cannot.

What is the result? The result is the disempowerment of the police force across this nation. It also means insufficient law enforcement, which puts the public safety of Canadians at risk.

Before closing, I would like to address one more concern with respect to the legalization of marijuana. When I look at studies done in Washington and Colorado, they demonstrate that with legalization comes a decrease in the perception of risk among our young people. This stands to reason because a government-regulated product should have better quality control standards than something grown by organized criminals, and no one thinks the government will legalize a product that would pose any sort of risk or harm element to him or her. However, we all know, or should know, due to the studies that have been given to us, that there is no safe use for youth. Both the Canadian Medical Association and the Canadian Paediatric Society have made it very clear that marijuana damages brain development in youth and young adults under the age of 25. Youth who use marijuana are more likely to have mental health issues later in life, including schizophrenia, and they are more likely to underachieve. These risks are not understood by Canadian youth, and therefore are problematic.

Before legalization takes place, there needs to be a strong public education campaign for both parents and youth on the health effects of marijuana. The Liberal government's own legalization task force recommended this, and we have yet to see it come into effect. Again, the legalization of marijuana is set to take place in less than nine months from now.

In conclusion, I would say that this legislation is extremely poorly crafted. The Canadian Bar Association has laid out the many ways this legislation will likely be challenged in court. Those challenges and appeals are going to clog the justice system, letting accused criminals off the hook, meaning victims of crime will watch their attackers go free, all because the Liberals made a political promise to legalize marijuana, and to have it done by July 1, 2018. This is unacceptable. This is detrimental to Canadians.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

October 24th, 2017 / 10:35 a.m.
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Liberal

Anthony Housefather Liberal Mount Royal, QC

Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to rise in the House today to speak in favour of Bill C-46. As chair of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, I want to thank my colleagues from all the parties who helped come up with 15 amendments, which were adopted by the committee. I believe those amendments will improve the bill.

It was a great pleasure, as always, to work with members of all parties on this issue. In coming up with amendments, our committee made productive contributions toward improving the bill before us.

I strongly agree with Bill C-46. The goal of the bill is to reduce the number of alcohol and drug-related offences on our roads. Too many Canadians die, too many Canadians are injured, too many families across the country are hurt every year because of impaired driving accidents. The crashes that ensue, because someone has consumed alcohol or drugs and taken to the road, are not acceptable under any circumstances.

If I were starting from scratch and writing alcohol-related legislation, there would be no tolerance whatsoever for anyone who is caught driving with alcohol or drugs in his or her system. Nobody can drive safely when marijuana or other drugs have been consumed, no matter how little. No one can drive safely when alcohol has been consumed, no matter how little.

It is true that due to the constraints of our testing, we cannot test at certain levels, which means we have to set per se limits. We need to have certain thresholds which one cannot pass in order to create an offence, in addition to when an officer suspects impairment. From my point of view, no Canadian should be driving if he or she has consumed drugs or alcohol.

I would like to talk about the two of the most contentious issues related to this legislation. Our committee held extended hearings. We sat for many hours over a period of two weeks and listened to witnesses from across the spectrum. The two areas about which I heard the most concern were mandatory screening and minimum mandatory sentences.

The constitutionality of mandatory screening was questioned, and I want to go back to the recent speech made by my colleague from Lethbridge. I thought it was very interesting to hear her question the constitutionality of minimum mandatory screening. I want to point out that she, along with most of her colleagues, voted in favour of the private member's bill of the member for Bellechasse—Les Etchemins—Lévis, Bill C-226, that was recently before the House. It proposed mandatory screening. I find it funny to hear the member question the constitutionality of mandatory screening when that was the entire premise of Bill C-226, which she voted in favour of earlier this year.

Why, despite constitutional questions raised, do I support mandatory screening? Because at committee we heard there was only one way to deter drunk driving, that there was only one way to deter drug-impaired driving. That was to scare people into really believing they would be caught. Minimum mandatory sentences and what will happen after the fact, will not deter people; it is the idea that police may actually catch them in the act.

At committee, we heard from witnesses from Colorado, Australia, and from other jurisdictions where mandatory screening was introduced. They told us that mandatory screening had a huge deterrent because of the heightened probability of being caught.

Since mandatory screening was introduced in Australia, Finland, Sweden, France, and Ireland, there was an incredible reduction in the number of deaths related to alcohol. In Finland, where mandatory screening was introduced in 1977, a study noted that the number of drivers impaired by alcohol had decreased by 58%. According to a report published in Ireland, deaths caused by impaired driving decreased 19% in the first year following mandatory screening.

We know that mandatory screening really works. It has been proven to work across the globe. Some groups, such as the Canadian Bar Association and the Barreau du Québec, asked questions about the way mandatory screening would work. At committee, we introduced a provision into the preamble of the bill to reassure Canadians that any check needed to be done in line with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Police officers are able to do a lot of things when they make a legal stop, including asking someone for a breath test, under common law. We are now codifying what existed already under the common law. We are seeing that without reasonable suspicion, we can ask for a breath test, provided it was a lawful stop. The committee and all of us want to ensure we follow those rules and have asked, as part of this law, that the minister undertake a review of what has happened in three years to ensure mandatory screening is carried out properly.

Other measures and amendments on minimum mandatory sentences were introduced at committee. While I am very pleased that maximum sentences have increased for the very serious offences under the law, we did not introduce new minimum mandatory sentences. This was the one and only area where I saw divergence between ourselves and members of the official opposition.

The committee heard from groups, such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving, that there was no proof in any case that minimum mandatory sentences actually stopped people from driving impaired. When asked specifically, MADD stated that it did not favour increasing the minimum mandatory sentences that existed. However, I note that the committee, on an amendment from a Liberal member, reinserted minimum mandatory sentences in the one place it had been removed in the bill, which was for the most serious offence of driving while impaired causing bodily harm, and extended the maximum sentence.

I am not one of those people who believe there should never be minimum mandatory sentences. For the most serious offences, there needs to be minimum mandatory sentences. However, I also note that this has to come under a thorough review to determine exactly the right standards and the right duration of those sentences, because we also know there are drawbacks. When there is a minimum mandatory sentence, one does not plead out. People are very reluctant to plead out because they know they will go to prison for a certain minimum term. Therefore, it clogs the court system, which is already clogged, and causes difficulties under Jordan, where people are acquitted because they do not get a speedy enough trial.

We also know that minimum mandatory sentences are not really a deterrent. They do reassure families and victims, but they do not deter people from the behaviour. I would rather wait, before we change what the minimum mandatory sentences were, the committee having reinserted the exact same minimum mandatory sentences that exist now in law, to see what the review of the Minister of Justice has to say. Certain minimum mandatory sentences already in the Criminal Code have been found unconstitutional and others may need to be inserted. I would rather wait for a thorough review before changing them for impaired driving offences.

Finally, I want to thank the dozens of witnesses who appeared before committee. It was heart-wrenching to hear the testimony of parents who had lost children in impaired driving accidents. It was heart-wrenching to hear about the beautiful people whose lives were prematurely shortened and whose mothers would never become grandmothers, would never see their kids graduate from college, and would never see their kids have families of their own or have successful careers. It was awful. The people who came before committee to be heard deserve commendation. They chose not to just sit back and suffer, but to make changes to improve our laws, to fight to improve our laws to improve Canadian society. I want to herald the parents who had the courage to come before the committee. While they supported the thrust of the bill, I do not support their call for longer minimum mandatory sentences at this time.

From what I heard, we really need to work on what we do to help the victims their families. That issue of concern needs to be addressed. However, I support the thrust of the bill and encourage all my colleagues to support it.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

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

Anthony Housefather Liberal Mount Royal, QC

Madam Speaker, again, there is no July 1 date. There was never any desire to put this on Canada Day. I do not think that is actually correct. As well, we were not studying Bill C-45; we were studying Bill C-46.

The police brought before our committee were asked questions. We asked multiple police organizations whether they could be ready. Most of them said that they could be, but they needed money and resources for testing. The government has indeed put in place an amount of $161 million for training front-line officers to recognize signs and symptoms of drug-impaired driving. Provinces and territories will be getting another $81 million over the next five years for new law enforcement training. I believe that people can be ready.

What I am concerned about, and of course, the hon. member for Sarnia—Lambton was not at committee, is that nobody was able to tell the committee that there had been an increase in deaths or fatalities, or even impairment accidents, in jurisdictions where marijuana was legalized. We spoke to police from those jurisdictions, and we did not get that feedback. Again, I think we all have that concern, and we all want to make sure the police are ready.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

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

Richard Cannings NDP South Okanagan—West Kootenay, BC

Madam Speaker, I am happy to speak to Bill C-46 today, a bill that would change the Criminal Code in relation to offences related to driving under the influence of alcohol, marijuana, and other drugs. The bill is essentially paired with Bill C-45, a bill that would legalize marijuana, so it is safe to say that it is meant to provide some comfort to Canadians concerned about the dangers of driving under the influence of marijuana or THC as much as it is about alcohol impairment.

The NDP clearly stands for deterrence to driving while impaired. Canada has a terrible record of deaths and injuries related to impaired driving. About 1,000 Canadians are killed each year in traffic accidents involving impaired driving.

Others have spoken eloquently on that aspect of the bill, but what I want to spend most of my time here today talking about are the concerns about the difficulty of testing, in any meaningful way, for impairment by marijuana.

I sat on the justice committee for one of the meetings set aside to consider Bill C-46, and we heard very interesting and compelling testimony about roadside testing for marijuana. We are all used to the concept of testing for alcohol levels through roadside breath tests. These tests produce results that accurately measure blood alcohol levels. Blood alcohol levels rise and fall in a predictable manner that relates closely to impairment. We can therefore deduce impairment from alcohol blood levels, and we do that in roadside tests every day across the country. We have per se limits for alcohol impairment, usually .08% or .05% blood alcohol.

The psychoactive ingredient in marijuana is THC, and it acts in a very different physiological way than does alcohol. Unlike what happens when drinking alcohol, THC levels rise very quickly in the blood when marijuana is smoked, and while those initial levels are high, the person may not be significantly impaired, because the effects of THC occur when the THC leaves the blood and binds to fatty tissues in the brain. THC binds to fatty tissues so strongly that blood levels generally drop very rapidly. When impairment levels are high, THC levels in the blood are usually very low, so THC levels in the blood do not necessarily relate at all to the level of impairment.

Impairment also differs significantly between alcohol and THC. Alcohol impairment involves a loss of motor control, hence the famous tests such as walking a straight line or standing on one leg. THC impairment affects faculties such as reaction time rather than motor control. People impaired by THC will often report that they know they are impaired, so some are more likely to decide not to drive, or they will drive more slowly. Alcohol impairment has essentially the opposite effect, so drunks drive more recklessly. I do not want to suggest that people under the influence of marijuana are safe drivers, just that we have to test for impairment in a very different way.

At committee we also heard from a toxicology expert that we can back extrapolate from a blood alcohol level measured at some time after an incident to assess the level that would have existed at the time of that incident. We cannot do that for THC. If a driver involved in an accident was found to have some level of THC some hours after the fact, we could not, with any scientific certainty at all, know what the THC level was at the time of the accident. Even if the level was tested at the time of the accident, we would have no way of relating the THC level with impairment.

Dr. Thomas Marcotte, an expert in testing for THC and impairment, from the University of California, San Diego, gave extensive testimony on these difficulties. He and his colleagues have found no way to usefully match THC levels with impairment. He and others have found that it is not only difficult to relate THC blood levels to impairment but that regular users of marijuana will have chronic low levels of THC in their blood, with no impairment at all. This is extremely problematic for the task of finding a meaningful way to test for THC impairment on the roadside.

We are making it legal for Canadians to use marijuana. Indeed, it is already legal for users of medical cannabis. If some of these law-abiding Canadians have chronic low levels of THC in their blood, and we use some per se limit of THC as a surrogate for impairment, then we are essentially saying that yes, people can legally use marijuana or medical cannabis, but they can never drive again or they could be charged with impaired driving, despite not being impaired.

Also at committee we heard from two witnesses from Australian police forces. Australia has used extensive roadside testing for alcohol and drugs, which others have mentioned in this debate. Much of this testing is through what they call “booze buses”, which process hundreds of thousands of Australians annually. They literally close off highways and test everyone for alcohol levels, while a smaller sample are screened for drugs.

Australian police also carry out so-called random testing at their own discretion, usually in neighbourhoods they feel need scrutiny. It is this type of testing the NDP has great concerns about, as it is clearly open to racial profiling. My colleague for Victoria on Friday covered some of these concerns very well in his speech, so I will leave this point, but I am sure members will hear more about it from my colleagues later today. However, one of the serious issues with Bill C-46 is that it undermines the present system of testing only after reasonable suspicion of impairment.

The Australian police also testified about the test they use for THC. These tests are expensive: about $30 for the preliminary test and ten times more for a secondary test given to those who score positive. Anyone found with any level of THC is charged with impaired driving and has a licence suspension. Now, this works in a jurisdiction such as Australia, where marijuana is illegal. However, as we have heard from experts at committee, people who use marijuana regularly, and there are many across Canada, including thousands who use cannabis for medical reasons, will have chronic levels of THC in their blood. If they lived in Australia, they would not be able to drive at all for fear of being charged for impaired driving, even when they were not impaired, and even if they had not used marijuana for many hours or even days.

How do we test for marijuana impairment? As I mentioned before, THC impairment presents as a slowing of reaction time and other similar faculties, but not a loss of motor control. Dr. Marcotte testified that he and others were working on developing iPad-based tests that would test for these abilities. However, we hear from the government side in this debate that its members are confident that meaningful roadside mouth-swab tests will somehow be developed in the next few months, despite expert testimony that any test measuring THC will be meaningless as a measure of impairment. If we use the Australian model, we will be criminalizing marijuana users who have chronic levels of THC in their blood, even though they have not used marijuana that day and are in no way impaired. We need a better solution to this problem.

On July 1 next year, Canadians will be able to use marijuana legally, and many will be using and driving. We need a system that tests for impairment from marijuana, not for meaningless THC levels.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

October 24th, 2017 / 11 a.m.
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NDP

Richard Cannings NDP South Okanagan—West Kootenay, BC

Madam Speaker, yes, there are issues around second-hand smoke as well. It is not something that comes into debate when we talk about alcohol, for instance; it is a very different situation. What I and other Canadians are concerned about with the legalization of marijuana is the issue that now we would have to test for impairment, and the real issue is developing a test for impairment that actually does that. It is clear that we cannot do it with per se limits for THC, so we have to look at developing other tests. People are working on it. I do not know that it would be ready within a few months. I got the impression from the testimony at committee that this would not and could not be ready in time. Therefore, it is something we have to consider before bringing Bill C-46 forward.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

October 24th, 2017 / 11 a.m.
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Conservative

Marilyn Gladu Conservative Sarnia—Lambton, ON

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House to speak against Bill C-46, an act to amend the Criminal Code, regarding offences relating to conveyances, and to make consequential amendments to other acts, also known as the impaired driving legislation. This bill is the accompanying legislation to Bill C-45, the cannabis act, with which I am extremely familiar.

In essence, Bill C-46 seeks to create new and higher mandatory fines and maximum penalties for impaired driving, as well as authorize mandatory roadside screening for alcohol. Although I am entirely in favour of higher penalties for those driving while impaired, as this sends a strong message that impaired driving will not be tolerated, I have extreme concerns about this bill.

Similar to members of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, I and my fellow members of the Standing Committee on Health sat through an entire week of testimony on the subject of marijuana and how the proposed legalization might affect our society. Nearly every witness who spoke before the committee stressed the need to be prepared well ahead of the date of the legalization, which in our case is the arbitrary date of July 1, 2018. Witnesses highlighted Canada's lack of testing equipment, of drug-recognition experts, of training abilities, and simply of public education in this area.

Bills C-45 and C-46 are inextricably linked. It is crucial that we understand that the part of the bill on drug-impaired driving that we are discussing stems directly from Bill C-45. The overlap between these two bills is evident and although the government is still trying to deal with these two bills as separate and independent bills, that is not the case.

This morning, I would like to address numerous concerns that I have regarding the legislation, in an effort to once again remind the government just how far we are from being truly ready to deal with the consequences of legalizing marijuana in Canada.

Driving under the influence of alcohol or marijuana is one of the many causes of death in Canada. We have worked tirelessly for decades to reduce the number of drunk drivers on our roads with voluntary roadside checks, social programs, and many public education campaigns. However, that has not been the case for driving under the influence of marijuana.

Many studies have indicated that drivers who have used marijuana are more than twice as likely as other drivers to be involved in motor vehicle crashes. Fatal crashes involving drivers who recently used marijuana doubled in Washington after the state legalized the drug. Yes, that is right: they doubled from 8% to 17%. In Colorado, the increase in impaired drug driving due to the legalization of marijuana was a 32% increase at the start.

In terms of the statistics in Canada, if we look at traffic fatalities, we see we already have 16% caused by alcohol-impaired driving; another 24% were caused by drug-impaired driving, and most of that is marijuana; and then there is another 18% that is a combination of the two. That is the problem we have now. The government is rushing in 249 days to put in place the legalization of marijuana, when the police have clearly said they are not going to be ready. They are saying they need 2,000 people trained as drug recognition experts, and there are only 600 today. It is very costly to train them, and the training takes place in the U.S. The U.S. is backlogged because various states are busy legalizing. We are not going to have the trained officers we need.

Many colleagues today have talked about the testing. There is absolutely no test for impairment with marijuana. We can test for THC presence in the saliva and the blood, but that says nothing about whether people are impaired. This is really problematic because people who are on medical marijuana may have this residual in their system for days and days; people who were exposed to second-hand smoke may have it in their system; or people who may have smoked marijuana over the weekend and be driving 24 hours or more later and not be impaired might still have it in their system. It is really a problem that there is not a test in place. It will mean serious challenges to any offences charged under these new laws because there is no scientific way of telling whether somebody is impaired.

It is hugely hypocritical of the Liberal government to be introducing this bill and deciding to take alcohol limits from .08 down to .05, to be more stringent, when it is opening the barn door wide to allow people to drive impaired with marijuana without a test. Now, there is discussion of the per se limits, but of course those limits do not speak anything to impairment. We may have to take a pragmatic view and say that we are going to do what some other jurisdictions did and go with zero per se limit: if someone has any level at all, they must not drive. Then again, that will impact many people who are not impaired but who have THC in their system. The government needs to quit rushing this legislation and concentrate on developing the science.

Every testimonial we heard at committee talked about the importance of having a public education campaign in place before the legalization. They want a campaign similar to what MADD did, trying to educate people about not driving drunk. That kind of campaign needs to happen before legalization. We need to have a campaign on other things as well, such as stopping smoking and about how marijuana smoking is bad for us. However, especially with respect to Bill C-46, we need to have that education in place. The fact is that the government, Health Canada, did not even send out the RFP with bids coming back. Bids were due last week, October 16. The program is just being created and it has not started to roll out.

We have been warned and warned by these other jurisdictions that this will be a danger to public safety, and so we need to look at that.

As well, we talk about the recommendations that came forward from committee.

Ms. McLellan, chair of the Liberal task force, recommended giving researchers additional time to develop effective and reliable testing tools.

The fact that the Liberal government is ignoring that advice is shocking. It has no regard whatsoever for Canadians' health and safety. In that same report, the task force also highlighted comments from Washington and Colorado about the importance of implementing education campaigns well ahead of legalization.

The degree of impairment can vary widely depending on the potency of the marijuana used and the driver's frequency of use. This bill sets no limits on those parameters and fails to properly prepare our law enforcement officials for their role. We have only 249 days to go. We need to educate Canadian society as a whole about the dangers of drug-impaired driving.

The deadline imposed by the government is unrealistic and puts Canadians' health at risk. Canadians need to understand the risks of drug-impaired driving before we move forward with this bill. There are just too many unanswered questions, which makes me doubt whether the government is capable of enforcing this law safely or effectively.

With flawed legalization and the flawed drug impaired driving framework proposed, I join my voice to those of my colleagues in calling for the Liberal government to rethink its deadline of July 1, 2018, and to do everything in its power to ensure the health and safety of all Canadians, especially on our roadways.

In summary, we see we are rushing ahead with an arbitrary deadline when the police have said they are not ready, we do not have testing in place, we know the rates of impaired drug driving will likely increase and potentially double, and we know that 88% of Canadians do not smoke marijuana. These are the people who will experience these unintended effects, these tragic affects, so I call on the government to please reconsider and not rush toward this arbitrary date.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

October 24th, 2017 / 11:15 a.m.
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Conservative

Len Webber Conservative Calgary Confederation, AB

Madam Speaker, today I rise to contribute to the debate on Bill C-46, which proposes a number of changes to impaired driving legislation in Canada. More specifically, this legislation is proposing a number of changes in anticipation of the passing of Bill C-45, which seeks to legalize marijuana in Canada.

I, among others in the House, along with my colleague, the member for Sarnia—Lambton, sit on the health committee. We returned a week early in September from the summer recess to hold a series of marathon meetings on Bill C-45. At the committee, witnesses from across Canada and around the world presented their concerns on a number of issues related to the legalization of marijuana. Specifically, there were a number of experts who provided commentary on the aspects surrounding impaired driving. I want to share some of their testimony with members today.

Before I do, I want to say that we all know all too well that impaired driving is a deadly activity that often claims the lives of people who are entirely innocent. Canada is now on the verge of normalizing marijuana use, which could likely see impaired driving and death rates rise. I am not suggesting for a second that drug-impaired driving does not happen now and has not claimed lives already; however, I and many others are concerned that the normalization of marijuana use will make matters much worse on our roads and highways.

On September 12 of this year, during health committee testimony, Deputy Chief Thomas Carrique from the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police stated:

What we do know is that impaired driving by way of alcohol is the number one criminal cause of death in this country. If we are to expect that the use of cannabis may go up, that causes us great concern. It puts our communities at peril....

He went on to say:

It is unknown what the combination is when you combine drugs and alcohol. We have heard all sorts of statistics from our neighbours south of the border that indicate that it has a great impact. There is...a 28% increase in the amount of intoxication. That creates a...danger behind the wheel.

Deputy Chief Mark Chatterbok, of the Saskatoon Police Service, who also represented the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, stated:

We anticipate that as a result of new legislation the number of impaired drivers will only increase. This increase will be realized in a city and a province where impaired statistics are already far too high.

...the Saskatoon Police Service has concerns about an increase in impaired driving due to drugs or a combination of alcohol and drugs....what happens when a driver already found to have a blood alcohol content of 0.07 also has the presence of THC in his or her blood. Technically, this driver may be under the legal limit for both individual substances, but what effect does the presence of both of these drugs have on impairment?

That is a very good point, and to my knowledge the issue has not been addressed. The Liberal government has set an artificial deadline to legalize marijuana use in Canada. As a result, it is left rushing through other legislation, such as Bill C-46, to try to head off a huge problem. The huge problem of the Liberals, once again, is their failure to keep their promises. Therefore, we are being asked to rush through legislation for no other reason than to enable the government to meet its deadline of Canada Day 2018. It has been my experience, whether making dinner or in making legislation, that rushing only ends in mistakes and poor results. There are aspects of this bill, Bill C-46, and also Bill C-45 for that matter, that will likely end up before the courts because a charge or conviction will be challenged.

What happens if we pass these changes and legalize marijuana and then parts of this law are struck down? We will not be able to turn back the clock at that point because marijuana use will already be rampant.

Being ready for the legalization of marijuana is a huge issue, in particular for law enforcement. There are thousands of police officers who will require specialized training on all of the anticipated legal changes. However, they do not have the time to complete this before Canada Day.

Also before the health committee this year, Deputy Chief Mike Serr, speaking on behalf of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, said:

In order to support the successful implementation of this comprehensive legislation, the CACP urges the Government of Canada to first consider extending the July 2018 commencement date to allow police services to obtain sufficient resources and proper training, both of which are critical to the successful implementation of the proposed cannabis act.

We need to remember that training takes both time and money, and law enforcement has clearly indicated that they do not have enough of either.

Sure, that government has announced that it has committed funding for training, but it is not enough and we only have 249 days to get it all done. In fact, departments cannot even put together training manuals for the police yet, as the laws to legalize marijuana have not even been made clear. Moreover, the bill still has to go the other side, to the red chamber, and how long could that take?

Just to give the House an idea of the monumental task of training thousands of police officers, deputy Chief Mark Chatterbok also said:

The International Association of Chiefs of Police website lists the process for certification for DRE training.

That is drug recognition expert training. The deputy chief continued:

Everyone who's involved in the program first has to first take the standardized field sobriety training before they attend the DRE program. Then the program itself consists of three phases. The first phase is a two-day preschool. The second phase is a seven-day classroom program with a comprehensive exam following that. Then between 60 and 90 days following phase two, the candidates attend a program in the U.S. where they have to evaluate subjects who are suspected of being impaired by drugs. My understanding is that they must participate in at least 12 evaluations successfully in order to then get the certification.

This training is going to take a long time to complete, and there is no way it will be done on time by Canada Day.

This brings me to my next point, one that was raised by almost every single witness at committee. In fact, there was a strong consensus on this issue amongst all parties as well, and that is public education. It has not gone unnoticed that we are spending a great deal of time and money to legalize marijuana, but we have not embarked on a public education campaign to educate Canadians, especially our youth.

We know that marijuana use by youth is higher in Canada than anywhere else in the world, and we know there is the strong likelihood of increased drug-impaired driving after legalization. We also know that early use, before the age of 25, has negative impacts on human brain development. In fact, the Canadian Medical Association, CMA, which represents 83,000 physicians, said that the age of legalization should ideally be 25 years of age. It says:

Existing evidence on marijuana points to the importance of protecting the brain during its development. Since that development is only finalized by about 25 years of age, this would be an ideal minimum age based on currently accepted scientific evidence....

We know that marijuana use by youth can facilitate the onset of schizophrenia and other psychotic conditions in certain people. Complications include cognitive impairment, social isolation, and even suicide. Just this month at the World Psychiatric Association's World Congress in Berlin, we were presented with further evidence of that.

Knowing all of this, and knowing the rush this Liberal government is in to legalize marijuana, why are we putting off a public education plan? We know that for a message to sink in, it must be repeated over the long term, yet we are looking at a last-minute public education plans. A last-minute public education plan will not get the message across in time. I do applaud MADD Canada, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, who have taken an early and proactive lead in public education about drug-impaired driving. However, more needs to be done in this area.

To close I would like to reiterate and summarize my main points of concern. While I support a strong stand against impaired driving, I also believe that we need to look at the bigger picture. We need to recognize that we are not ready for marijuana legalization in Canada. We have not educated Canadians adequately on marijuana and its effects. We have not educated Canadians, especially our young, on drug-impaired driving. Neither have we provided our police with adequate time to prepare for all of these changes. We do not have accurate drug detection equipment. We do not have enough trained, front-line officers to handle drug impairment.

In short, we are not—

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

October 24th, 2017 / 11:30 a.m.
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Conservative

Dave Van Kesteren Conservative Chatham-Kent—Leamington, ON

Madam Speaker, it is a privilege to speak to Bill C-46. We have discussed the proposed legislation at length here. The bill introduces new and higher mandatory fines and maximum penalties for impaired driving crimes as well as mandatory alcohol screening at the roadside.

The Conservative Party supports measures that protect Canadians. However, we are concerned for a number of reasons, one of which is that the police, municipalities, and premiers are not prepared for the legislation that would be enacted, and I am referring to Bill C-45.

This is good legislation insomuch that it would increase fines and the penalty for impaired driving would be less of something that people generally who are driving would consider. However, some serious complications have ensued.

I want to take us to the very heart of this legislation, which is Bill C-45, the legalization of marijuana bill. What does that entail? For starters, it means that 18-year-olds in this country would legally be able to purchase and legally be able to indulge in smoking marijuana.

There has been a lot of talk about this proposed legislation. There has been a lot of talk about what the bill would do. I would like to bring to the House's attention a recent poll in the Vancouver Sun. The question was, “Where do you think people should buy their pot?” Multiple choices were listed. The highest group of people, 82.31%, answered “None of the above. I don't agree with legalization”. If we are hearing that this is what people want, it certainly does not reflect what we are seeing at the polls. The number dwindles down from there, shops that sell cannabis, pharmacies, liquor stores, etc.

I was pleased to hear from the member for Steveston—Richmond East the same news as was contained in the Vancouver Sun, that the federal government will not move ahead with marijuana legalization if it is not ready. It is good to hear that members on the other side are starting to talk this way. The member further said, “The concerned group is right. Things are not ready yet. We are still in the process.” We are looking for more of that encouragement from members on the opposite side. It is a step in the right direction, but it is a long way from where they should be.

I have been in this place for 12 years. I have served on a number of committees. Oftentimes when legislation is being proposed or new ideas come up, I always ask: Are there other jurisdictions that we can point to that have had this experience? What have they discovered? What have they learned from their enactment?

I am pleased to say there are a number of jurisdictions, and I am going to cite a few from a study on the legalization of marijuana in Colorado. Colorado took it upon itself in 2013 to legalize marijuana. It had relaxed laws and it continued on in that direction. We must remember that when we legalize marijuana the legal age will be 18, whereas in Colorado the age is 21. I do not have time to talk about that, even though it is an important issue as well.

The Colorado experience was such that it talked about impaired driving and fatalities. Marijuana-related traffic deaths more than doubled from 55 deaths in 2013 to 123 deaths in 2016.

If this foolish legislation, Bill C-45, is passed we are going to hear moms and dads, sisters, brothers, and grandparents asking the Liberals to answer for their situation, for their circumstance, for their pain, since they brought the legislation forward.

Marijuana-related traffic deaths increased 66% in the four-year average since Colorado legalized recreational marijuana. There is more.

In 2009, Colorado marijuana-related traffic deaths involving drivers testing positive for marijuana represented 9% of all traffic deaths. By 2016, it doubled to 20%. On youth marijuana use, we are talking about 21-year-olds. Youth past-month marijuana use increased 12% in the three-year average from 2013-15. In the latest poll, 2014-15, results show that Colorado youth ranked number one in the nation compared to number four in 2011-12. Colorado youth past-month marijuana use for 2014-15 was 55% higher than the national average. We know what is coming down the pipe.

Colorado is one jurisdiction that we can point to, but we can talk about drug usage and what other countries have experienced as well. When we do that, I would like to talk about the Netherlands. I have a little tie to the Netherlands. My parents emigrated from the Netherlands and I have family who live there, so I have a little understanding of what goes on there.

Before I talk about that though, I need to say that although there are some different opinions and different laws in other countries, the current UN treaty forbids countries to legalize or regulate drugs for recreational use. We are a signatory to that. Most countries, with the exception of Uruguay, moved in another direction. Holland tried something different. It tried a two-tier system. It sounds complicated and I would explain that the Dutch have an attitude. Let me quote what Prime Minister Mark Rutte said. He is a hip guy, he is not a stuffy old guy. Mark was the guy who rode his bicycle when the G7 participants went to the Netherlands and President Obama came in with choppers and cars. Mark said during an interview that, “people should do with their own bodies whatever they please, as long as they are well informed about what that junk does to them.” He was talking about marijuana usage.

He went on to say that cannabis legalization of the Colorado model for 21-year-olds, “—where the state taxes and regulates all levels of the supply chain and adults age 21 and over are allowed to purchase weed from state-licensed stores—was out of the question”. He said “if we were to do that, we'd be the laughing stock of Europe.” In relation to the system that they tried to adopt, which would maybe allow some marijuana usage for those with the right to do so, this two-tier system where it is being sold openly but cannot produce it, is complete bankrupt. This is from Jon Brouwer, a law professor at the University of Groningen who specializes in Dutch drug policy. It is a system that is fundamentally flawed, pumping millions into the criminal underworld. Of course, the Liberals insist that this will greatly hinder the underground and the criminal element. We are finding out in Holland, which started to tamper with it, it did not work that well.

I spent some of my time yesterday reading a report by the World Health Organization. I recommend it. It is a great read. It reinforces pretty much everything I have been saying. The health and social effects of non-medical cannabis use is what we have all signed to. I encourage members to read that. I will not be supporting Bill C-45. I think Bill C-46 is moving in the right direction, but we certainly need to do a lot more work.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

October 24th, 2017 / 11:45 a.m.
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Conservative

Dave Van Kesteren Conservative Chatham-Kent—Leamington, ON

Madam Speaker, I say, “so what?” The member is right. We have a huge number of young people who are smoking marijuana, far too many. It does not change the fact that this legislation would not correct that or move it in the right direction. Speaking to Bill C-46, the legislation that we are dealing with right now on the laws pertaining to driving, I have three sons who are policemen. They have told me, as have the police chiefs and countless others in law enforcement, that this is crazy, that we are not near ready for any of this, that we are not ready for that legislation in itself, let alone the fact that we would be encouraging young people to smoke marijuana. We are not talking about just the legalization. When a government takes it upon itself and says, “This stuff is legal, go for it”, what is it actually saying?

I would just encourage the member to take a good, hard look at what his government is proposing and I am hoping that by July 1 the government does an about-face.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

October 24th, 2017 / noon
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Conservative

Gérard Deltell Conservative Louis-Saint-Laurent, QC

Mr. Speaker, we are talking about a very sensitive and very serious matter, namely, how the legalization of marijuana relates to road safety issues. What effect will it have, and what measures should be taken?

I want to begin by saying that we on this side of the House are in favour of cracking down on impaired drivers. We must never compromise on safety. Any time someone takes the wheel, they must be fully cognizant of the fact that they are wielding what can be a terrifying weapon if it is not used properly. It is the responsibility of all drivers to ensure that they are fully competent to drive. Woe to anyone who chooses to drive while impaired by either alcohol or, unfortunately, drugs. That is where Bill C-46 comes in.

Essentially, the bill makes the law tougher on people who consume drugs and then take the wheel. We certainly cannot oppose virtue, but it is the approach that is highly objectionable and needs to be examined because in our view it is not the right one.

Let us return to the thrust of the matter. The government wants to legalize marijuana. That is why it tabled this bill. It is not a good thing. Anyone who has even taken a slight interest in this matter knows that wherever this has been tried, whether in Colorado or Washington, there has been an increase in crime, the consumption and illegal production of drugs, accidents, social problems, and deaths on the road.

Furthermore, this bill and the Liberal's ambition to legalize marijuana will normalize the use of a drug. There is no place for this in public discourse. It has a place in debate, but not in legislation. It is unacceptable to move forward with normalizing a drug.

The government is claiming that, with this new approach, organized crime will not reap the ill-gotten gains of marijuana production. I only need to quote one person to refute this argument, and that is the Commissioner of the RCMP, who says that it is naive to believe that organized crime is going to lose out. I am not the one saying so; it is the Commissioner of the RCMP, who knows all about this. For more than 150 years, the RCMP has done a superb job of fighting organized crime, the people who make money on the backs of the poor. The Commissioner of the RCMP is telling us that we would be naive to believe that this will allow us to stamp out organized crime.

Colorado and Washington's experience has shown that organized crime has actually gotten better at organizing. Worse still, legalizing, and therefore normalizing, marijuana consumption means this dirty business will be sanctioned by the government. When a teenager or youth tries marijuana for the first time, they will be doing so legally and with the approval of the Liberal government. That first contact will open the door to hard drugs.

No drug user starts off with cocaine. First they try one little joint. Then they try a stronger joint. Then they start taking a little of this and a little of that. This depraved behaviour will have the blessing of the Liberal government. This is totally inappropriate. That is my overview of the marijuana issue.

Now, let us take a closer look at what Bill C-46 says about driving and driving-related measures. First of all, the government has been rushing forward on this issue at breakneck speed. Everything absolutely must be finished and passed by July 1, 2018. What is the rush? Is there a meteor heading for Earth? No. The July 1 deadline is all in the Liberal members' heads.

This is to say nothing of the Liberal government's outrageous idea to tie our national holiday, Canada Day, to the legalization of marijuana. Are the Liberals going to sing, “O Cannabis!”? I certainly will not. I am proud to be Canadian and I want us to sing O Canada, not “O Cannabis”. Well, that is what the Liberal government wants to do on July 1. What were they thinking, for Pete's sake? There are 365 days to choose from and they chose that day. If I were not in the House of Commons I would call them fools, but I will watch my language. It is not right to do that on July 1st, and so hastily to boot.

The provincial governments are left to deal with everything having to do with health, public safety, transportation, and housing. Thanks to this gracious Liberal government, it will be legal to have pot plants in every house in Canada. That is fantastic. This creates more problems.

Is there a single provincial government that is happy about having to implement all this in the amount of time they have been given? No, there is not a provincial government, a premier, or a health minister who has said that everything is just fine. Some are getting through this a bit better than others and say that they are on track to adapting to this new reality, but this is not something that should be done under pressure as quickly as possible. The provincial authorities are the ones that are stuck dealing with this problem. It is an insult to our provincial partners.

The same applies to road safety. Does the government seriously think that the police have all the tools they need to deal with this new reality? Does the government think that the police have the training needed to use those new tools? Does it think that all police officers will be ready to deal with this right away and that they will be ready to enforce this law on July 1, 2018?

That is absolutely not the case. The head of the RCMP and all of the other police forces across Canada are saying that they do not have the tools they need, even though that is fundamental. This bill requires people to deal with this situation even if they are not ready. That is the problem. The Liberals are rushing to implement this measure without doing the necessary research. If they have to legalize marijuana, could they not at least take the time to do things right and make sure that the police and everyone else who has to deal with this sad reality have the proper training? Unfortunately, that is not what the Liberals are doing. They are just rushing this thing through.

The government is saying that it is going to spend millions of dollars to make people aware of the risks associated with marijuana. First, that sends a contradictory message because why would the government legalize something that it does not want people to use? That makes no sense. Second, the money that the Liberal government has allocated to make people aware of the risks associated with marijuana is just a fraction of what Washington State and Colorado allocated for the same purpose.

We are hearing a lot of bluster about this, but the government has not taken any real action to serve Canadians as it should in this regard. The government is not doing enough in terms of prevention and it is not providing the resources and tools our police officers need. The government is trying to rush the provinces into this and force them to hastily implement this measure by July 1, 2018.

Legalizing marijuana, which normalizes and gives our children easier legal access to the drug market, is clearly a bad idea. What is worse, Bill C-46 will lead us astray; we will not have enough time to give law enforcement the training or equipment it needs and even less time to raise awareness among those we are trying to protect. Unfortunately, the government is going too fast in the wrong direction.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

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

Mark Warawa Conservative Langley—Aldergrove, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is a real honour to be in the House today to speak to Bill C-46. I want to thank the member for Louis-Saint-Laurent. He provided some very important points to this House. I appreciate not only his passion and hard work for his constituents but also that he is standing up for Canadians.

Bill C-46 is evidence of another broken promise by the current Liberal government. It is another symbol of the top-down approach that the Prime Minister takes. He informs members of his caucus, of his party, that this is what he has decided to do and that this is what they will do, which is to have marijuana legalized as of Canada Day, with a great celebration. This member brought up that the Prime Minister has said that is what the Liberals will do and that they must support that position, that plan.

Recently, we saw what happens when members show some independence and represent the concerns of their constituents. They are kicked off committees or are disciplined severely, because they must assimilate and support the position of their leader. It is disappointing. That is not what Canadians were promised. They were promised transparency. They were promised that the government would be listening, truly consulting, and representing the concerns of Canadians, of the constituents. We saw a model of that being hammered down, where one member of the Liberal caucus who said, “I'm going to represent my constituents”, was severely punished.

I am proud to bring the voice of the constituents of my riding of Langley—Aldergrove. I love it. It is a beautiful part of Canada. I have consulted about this. I consulted with a unique group of people, young professionals on my youth advisory board, which is made up of students from grades 11 and 12, as well as university. These are our future leaders, so I asked them about impaired driving and the legalization of marijuana. The current government has a minister for youth who is the Prime Minister himself. He has said that he represents this age group. This age group is telling the Prime Minister and these Liberal members to slow down the process. They feel that it is being rushed and the government will not get it right.

I think of the old adage, haste makes waste. There is real truth in that, and we are seeing that played out by the Liberal government, which is hastily moving forward regardless of what it is hearing from Canadians, from the provinces, and from police chiefs. Overwhelmingly, the government is being told to slow the process down and that it is moving too fast because Canada is not ready for this, particularly with respect to Bill C-46. This is the legislation that the government, with great gusto, promised would make our roads safer. The Liberals said that they would not legalize marijuana until they first had legislation in place in Canada to make sure they keep our roads safe. They were going to get tough on impaired driving. That is anything but the truth, because they are not. What they are proposing will make our streets much less safe.

I have met a lot of people in my riding and have heard some tragic stories while representing my constituents. I met Victor and Markita Kaulius. Their daughter Kassandra was killed by a drunk driver not that long ago. They were devastated, as any parent would be. Whether it is a daughter, a son, a sibling, a spouse, a partner, it is devastating to lose someone. It is a normal part of every human being to want justice if that were to happen because of a criminal offence. Driving impaired and killing someone is the number one criminal offence in Canada. Therefore, Canadians are calling out for justice. Markita Kaulius became part of an organization across Canada that has sent literally tens of thousands of petitions to this House calling for a toughening of the Criminal Code of Canada.

The previous government, in the last Parliament, introduced legislation to toughen the impaired driving laws in Canada, to include mandatory minimum sentencing. It found that the sentences coming from the courts in Canada for impaired driving causing death were actually just fines. None got anywhere close to the maximum.

It suggested that impaired driving causing death be called what it is, vehicular homicide, and Families for Justice said it wanted mandatory minimums. They felt that, if someone knowingly drives a vehicle while impaired and kills someone, a first offence should be at least five years. Five years is actually one-third of that; it is about a year and a half. With statutory release, after one-third of a sentence people qualify to be released.

Families for Justice asked for five years. In the additional three and a half years after the initial one and half years of being locked up and receiving treatment and programs, people would be supervised to make sure they were not driving while impaired. It was very reasonable, and it is actually where Canadians are.

The last government said yes, and it introduced legislation. All the leaders running in the last election were asked if they would support the legislation, because there was not enough time to get it passed in the last Parliament. The Prime Minister wrote a letter to Markita Kaulius saying that he would support that.

Moving forward into this Parliament, that was another broken promise. The Prime Minister did not support that. There have been two pieces of legislation. One was a Conservative private member's bill, and one was a Liberal private member's bill. They were not good enough for him. He wanted to be in front, leading the parade on this, so those were shut down. We now have Bill C-46.

As per the promise the Prime Minister made to Markita Kaulius and to Families for Justice, in Bill C-46, there were to be mandatory minimum sentences. I was honoured to serve on the justice committee just recently in the study of Bill C-46, before it came back to the House. The Liberal government, as dictated by the Prime Minister's Office, said that we are going to get tough by increasing the maximum—and nobody gets the maximum. The guidelines to the courts, to provide discretion to the courts, said that on a first offence, people would receive at least a $1,000 fine for killing someone while driving impaired. For the second offence, the second time someone killed somebody while driving impaired, they would get 30 days in jail. Now with 30 days, one-third is 10 days. The third time someone killed somebody while driving impaired, they would get 120 days, which is 40 days.

I was flabbergasted when the Liberal members at the justice committee were defending that as being just. They said that five years, which is a year and half of incarceration, and dealing with the causes of why this person was driving impaired, is much too harsh. They wanted to give the courts discretion.

The courts are bound by precedents, previous rulings of the court. They need to have discretion, but they need guidance from this House. Canadians wonder why sentencing is so small, and why it does not represent what Canadians want. It is not our judges; it is the people sitting across the way. They are weak on crime.

Canadians want us to be tough on crime. They want fairness and justice, and they are not getting it from the Liberal government. Sadly, Bill C-46 is not even close to what Canadians want. It is another broken promise by the Liberal government, a top-down approach that will unfortunately leave our streets very unsafe. Marijuana-impaired, alcohol-impaired, and illegal drug-impaired driving will be a growing problem in Canada because of the government.