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

Sponsor

Status

Report stage (House), as of Oct. 20, 2017

Subscribe to a feed (what's a feed?) of speeches and votes in the House related to Bill C-46.

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.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

May 31st, 2017 / 7:30 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Steven Blaney Conservative Bellechasse—Les Etchemins—Lévis, QC

Mr. Speaker, I commend my colleague from Victoriaville on his excellent speech and his commitment to public safety. We have been debating two complementary bills for two days now.

Today, we are talking about Bill C-46 on drug-impaired driving. We know that drunk driving is a major problem in Canada. It is the leading criminal cause of death. Now, because of the Liberals' improvised approach, drugs are going to be added to the mix. The government is improvising.

Unfortunately, my speech may serve to fuel Canadians' cynicism. I would like to talk this evening about Bill C-46, about what is contained in this bill, what is missing from it, and what is needed. I would also like to talk about a bill that was introduced in the House and even went to committee but that was unfortunately gutted by the Liberals, who came up with a watered-down version of a law that is supposed to protect innocent victims from repeat drunk drivers and people who cause fatal accidents while under the influence of alcohol.

We had a robust bill that we introduced in the House, one that could have already made it to the Senate by now and could have received royal assent in order to save lives now. Instead, we are stuck debating this bill that unfortunately has some serious flaws, which I want to point out.

First of all, what is in the bill? In the riding of Bellechasse—Les Etchemins—Lévis, where I am from, an excellent MP, Claude Lachance, had a remarkable career. He said that, in opposition, it is our job to try to find what is positive in what the government brings forward.

One measure proposed by the government is called routine screening. This measure gives police officers the ability to ask an individual behind the wheel to submit to a blood alcohol test to screen for alcohol. This measure will save lives. This has been said many times in the House over the past few hours, and for the past few days, but particularly during the debate on Bill C-226. I have had the opportunity to say it myself. Routine screening is a measure that apparently has proven itself in many countries, for decades now, and it does save lives.

The government has been asked if this measure is constitutional. Unfortunately, the answers I have heard today have been evasive. Even so, it is one of the three pillars of an effective policy to reduce the number of accidents caused by impaired driving.

The second pillar has to do with the increasingly burdensome legal proceedings we have been seeing in recent years. Legal proceedings are interfering with the application of justice. I am not talking about the Jordan decision. I am talking about the last drink and intervening drink defences. The bill covers these issues to protect against abuse of process by drunk drivers. These are useful parts of the bill that would speed up proceedings and bring people caught driving while impaired to justice.

Now that I have mentioned two useful parts of the bill, I want to make an important point about how, if we want to tackle impaired driving successfully, the key is to make sure drivers know the police can stop them. Roadblocks are not working very well, which is why impaired driving still causes so many deaths.

An important provision not found in this bill, is one that would impose minimum sentences, or deterrent sentences. There is a consensus in the House that impaired driving is unacceptable in Canada, especially in the case of repeat offenders, who are a danger to society. We have to protect these people from themselves because quite often they have addictions and put the lives of innocent people at risk.

Members will recall the organization Families For Justice founded by Markita Kaulius, who lost her daughter. I want to recognize her, and I think of her in the context of safety and impaired driving. These victims and their families are asking elected members to send a clear message: it is unacceptable to drive while impaired, and repeat offenders must be kept behind bars. All too often, these accidents that cause irreparable harm are the fault of individuals who have been impaired before. This bill does not include any measures providing for a minimum sentence, a tool that the previous Liberal government did not hesitate to use.

Even the member for Papineau, the current Prime Minister, approved of the use of minimum sentencing for bills on impaired driving. However, once again, the Liberals make promises and then, when it comes time to act, they give us half-measures. That is the case with the bill before us today. It contains measures regarding routine screening and speeding up the court process, but it has one major flaw. It does not contain any minimum sentences.

There is one thing that will certainly raise some eyebrows among those who are listening to us this evening. Our colleagues opposite had the chance to vote on the measures set out in the bill. Just a few weeks ago, the member for Montarville said that there was a flaw in Bill C-226. He said:

...the success of random breath testing is that it must be paired with a major education and awareness campaign. Unfortunately, there is nothing in the bill to address education and awareness.

He ended by saying that the government was going to come back with its own bill. Well, today, we have before us a bill that does not contain any coherent measures regarding an education and awareness campaign. We are talking about impaired driving, but everyone here knows that this issue is related to the legalization of marijuana. The government is introducing two major bills, but it is allocating very little funding to one of the biggest societal changes that Canada is facing and that will have unbelievable social costs. It is also not adopting any awareness measures. This government’s botched bill is leading us to disaster.

Lastly, I will add that another flaw of this bill is the lack of consecutive sentencing provisions. If a repeat drunk driving offender kills three people, the government does not want to impose consecutive sentences for that crime.

These are all flaws in the bill. It falls short on so many fronts that I fear it will not be possible to amend it in committee. It is so full of holes, it looks like Swiss cheese. The government could have done much better.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

May 31st, 2017 / 7:40 p.m.
See context

Scarborough Southwest Ontario

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member for his speech and also for bringing forward Bill C-226, a private member's bill that presented a number of very significant and important advances in dealing properly with impaired driving that the government took very seriously. As the member knows, I supported the bill at second reading and it went to the public safety committee, but, unfortunately, upon further examination of it and testimony from expert witnesses at committee, it was found to be flawed in many respects. It came back to the House and was not successful at third reading.

I hope the member is encouraged by the fact that many of the issues he attempted to address in his private member's bill, such as the various loophole-type defences, the bolus drinking defence, the intervening drinking defence, the St-Onge Lamoureux matter, the clarification of blood alcohol concentration presumptions, and the introduction of a system whereby the police would be able to demand and require mandatory roadside alcohol screening are all very important innovations.

I would agree with the member that after the passage of this bill, we should make sure that the public is well aware of the consequences, because the great benefit from those measures is in prevention. It is not merely in catching, detecting, and incarcerating individuals, but through saving lives.

I would also point out to the member that Bill C-46, as presented, does in fact contain minimum penalties for impaired driving. For example, I would bring to his attention proposed section 320.15, which allows for a maximum penalty of 10 years, exactly as in his bill, a minimum fine on first offence of $2,000, on second offence 30 days, and on third and subsequent offences 120 days. I would ask the member to comment on whether he believes that the measures contained in this bill would achieve what he sought to achieve through his private member's bill.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

May 31st, 2017 / 7:45 p.m.
See context

NDP

Jenny Kwan NDP Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House this evening to speak to Bill C-46, an act to amend the Criminal Code (offences relating to conveyances) and to make consequential amendments to other acts. This bill was introduced in conjunction with Bill C-45, the cannabis act, and aims to update Canada's impaired driving laws.

Updates to these laws are welcomed and there is unfortunately much to be improved on in Canada regarding impaired driving. Over the past three decades, all provinces have seen significant decreases in their impaired driving rates.

For a significant majority of Canadians, a group that is growing larger each year, gone are the days when drinking and driving was totally socially acceptable or even something that was excusable once in a while. This has been a very important shift in culture that has saved countless lives.

The year 2015 marked the lowest rates of impaired driving incidents since data on this had been collected, starting in 1986. Since 1986, incidents have decreased by 65%, with a 4% drop from 2014 to 2015. However, there is still work to be done. In 2015, police reported 72,039 impaired driving incidents, representing a rate of 201 incidents per 10,000 of population. This is significant.

Impaired driving is still one of the leading causes of criminal death in Canada, and Canada continues to have one of the worst impaired driving records in the OECD. It is clear that we need to keep making progress on this front.

Criminal penalties for impaired driving, while an important component of restorative justice as a signal that our society condemns a behaviour and as a deterrent from committing an act, will not alone prevent a behaviour from occurring.

Simply put, if someone is being charged with an impaired driving offence, the damage is already done. In the worst situations, it means an innocent life has already been lost. Once someone is impaired, be it due to illegal drugs, legal narcotics, or alcohol, it represents a failure in our duty to properly educate the public about the dangers of this behaviour.

Given that government is moving forward with legalizing the recreational use of marijuana, now is a crucially important time to embark on public outreach, awareness, and education programs to inform Canadians. Canadians need to be informed, not just about legalization, not just about new criminal sentences for this or that, but about what constitutes impairment, what the dangers of impairment driving are, and alternatives to impaired driving.

The NDP, from the outset of this initiative, has been calling on the government to take the lead on public awareness campaigns that promote deterrence before anyone gets behind the wheel. The statistics show that campaigns and programs like these have resulted in a decline inn alcohol-related incidents, so these efforts should be continued and expanded, given the current context.

The campaigns have helped Canadian contextualize impaired driving to understand it better for themselves and to intervene when others might be about to engage in it. Education as simple as one glass of wine has a similar amount of alcohol as one beer and one shot helps dispel some of the myths and misunderstandings of impairment.

Unfortunately, thus far, the government has not held that leadership role in helping contextualize what constitutes what constitutes drug impairment. In fact, the government has shown a lack of leadership by leaving the legal limits up to regulation to be set later.

The government has made recommendations around two nanograms, five nanograms, and a hybrid offence for those with alcohol and drugs in their system, but these are not set. It has also not taken the lead on explaining to Canadians how a person reaches those levels of impairment, for how long they can expect to be impaired, and other important aspects of conceptualizing this new legal landscape.

It also is not clear that the limits suggested will not result in the arrest of individuals who are not impaired. The Canadian Medical Association has stated, “A clear and reliable process for identifying, testing and imposing consequences on individuals who use marijuana and drive absolutely needs to be in place nationally prior to legalization.”

This is because, like alcohol, consumption method, consumption frequency, and personal metabolism can impact the level of impairment. Some experts are questioning using nanograms as a result. We need to ensure we are making evidence-based decisions, decisions based on science.

Canadians need to be able to make informed decisions. In the absence of information, there will be misinformation, and that would be a serious failure on the government's initiative should that occur.

The goal should be to create the social conditions where the criminal penalties being brought in by Bill C-46 are used as little as possible. People are not getting behind the wheel in the first place.

Like my other colleagues who have spoken on the bill, I am supportive of updating our impaired driving laws to reflect the changing realities and severity of these offences. However, like my colleagues, I am concerned with striking the correct balance regarding the civil liberties of Canadians.

Civil liberties groups and the legal community have expressed serious concern about the removal of the need for reasonable suspicion to conduct a roadside breath or saliva test. The concern stems not only from the potential infringement on civil liberties, but also that it will be disproportionately applied to certain visible minority groups.

It has been spoken about in the House that random and mandatory breath tests for alcohol screening could be challenged under section 8 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the right to be secure against unreasonable search or seizure. It has also been mentioned that it could be challenged under section 9, the right not to be arbitrarily detained or imprisoned.

The British Columbia Civil Liberties Association has stated quite clearly in the past on mandatory breath testing that “Giving police power to act on a whim is not something we want in an open democratic society.”

It is my hope that at the committee stage the government takes the study of the bill very seriously. It will be imperative to hear from civil liberty experts, constitutional law experts, and health care experts. We need to understand the science of the testing. We need to ensure there is a robust educational program for Canadians so they know about this law, they know and learn about what the consequences are so they are responsible for their actions.

I sincerely hope the government will be open to amendments, even significant ones, should the evidence suggest that they are needed. This is simply too important to get wrong.

There are the outstanding questions.

Earlier I asked about the possibility of someone being in a room where there was a lot of marijuana smoking and whether that could get into the person's bloodstream even though that person was not actively smoking marijuana. In those cases, how would that be dealt with? Do we have the science in place to ensure people are protected in those circumstances?

With alcohol, for example, we have designated drivers. If people are in a crowd with people who are drinking but they are not, they will not be impacted. However, it may not be the case with marijuana.

My colleague from Vancouver Kingsway, the NDP health critic, raised some very critical questions, particularly for those who would use medicinal marijuana. When they consume the substance, and some of them may have to consume a lot because of a medical condition, what does that mean for them with respect to these implications? The THC could be stored in their bodies for an extended period. It theoretically could be the case that they did not smoke while driving. How would that be dealt with and are what are the implications? Does it mean in those instances they would still be liable?

There needs to be a lot of clarification with respect to that and there needs to be public education. People need to know and understand that. People in the medical community who are prescribing medicinal marijuana need to let the patients know the risks and what impairment might mean.

I am, at this stage, not sure where the science is. There are a lot of questions out there. The science has to be solid as we move forward.

Finally, we do not ever want to see tragedies. We do not want to see anyone's life lost because someone was behind the wheel impaired, whether it be from alcohol or any other substance. That has to be paramount. We have to move forward to bring in laws to ensure that it takes place through education, through enforcement, and most important of all, through our own self-imposed responsibility for our own actions. People need to be clear about what those laws are so that they can make sure they do not do what is so wrong. Once it is done, they cannot take it back.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

May 31st, 2017 / 8:05 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Alice Wong Conservative Richmond Centre, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise this evening to speak to the proposed legislation, Bill C-46, regarding impaired driving and amendments to the Criminal Code. This bill examines and alters the procedures and consequences for impaired driving for both cannabis and alcohol. I will comment on a few aspects of the changes regarding alcohol, but the majority of my speech will be focused on the impacts of drug-induced impaired driving.

To begin, I would like to say that several changes proposed in the legislation are encouraging, such as increases in maximum penalties and mandatory fines. Unfortunately, not all the penalty changes seem appropriate. Rather than increasing mandatory minimum prison sentences, the government has decided to change the fines for a first offence, based on blood alcohol content, the BAC. While I can understand the importance of knowing the BAC of an individual behind the wheel, I would want to ensure that a slightly lower BAC would not somehow mean that a person was not penalized for driving under the influence. Alcohol has different effects on different people. Would an officer be able to use his or her discretion in a situation, or would a device be able to determine the accuracy of the BAC? I simply want to ensure that the corresponding fines are appropriate and fair.

One of the proposed changes affecting our law enforcement officers would be the ability to demand breath samples from any driver they lawfully stop. Officers would no longer be required to have a legitimate suspicion that a driver had alcohol in his or her body. Some critics have even stated that this would be unconstitutional, and research shows that most Canadians would oppose giving police these greater powers.

Recently, the CBC reported:

If Canada's new impaired driving laws are passed police could show up on your doorstep — up to two hours after you arrive home — to demand a breath or saliva sample.

How would the government ensure that someone who arrived home safely while sober and then consumed alcohol afterward would not be wrongly accused?

Another concerning change regarding alcohol-impaired driving proposed in Bill C-46 is that it would actually reduce the penalties previously outlined in the Criminal Code with respect to ignition interlock devices. Ignition interlock devices allow offenders to reduce the period of prohibition from driving by opting to use a vehicle equipped with an ignition interlock device under a provincial program. With the use of these devices, they are able to drive anywhere in Canada during this time.

While it is true that offenders should receive another chance to prove that they are capable of driving, they must first serve the appropriate minimum absolute prohibition period. These wait times have been reasonable: three months for first-time offenders, six months for second-time offenders, and 12 months for third-time offenders. Unfortunately, the Liberals have decided to reduce these wait times to the point where there would be no minimum prohibition at all for first-time offenders. Subsequent offences would be reduced to the following: second-time offenders would be prohibited for only three months, and third-time offenders would be prohibited for only six months. These drastically reduced prohibitions are dangerous. The changes could allow offenders to be behind the wheel before they were ready.

I would ask the government to reconsider some of these changes to ensure that offenders are properly convicted for their actions and that the probationary periods, as currently outlined in the Criminal Code, are maintained.

Moving on to drug-impaired driving now. The Government of Canada website states that:

Bill C-46 proposes to supplement the existing drug-impaired driving offence by creating three new offences for having specified levels of a drug in the blood within two hours of driving. The penalties would depend on the drug type and the levels of drug or the combination of alcohol and drugs. The levels would be set by regulation.

While it is encouraging to see tougher penalties for repeat offenders, some concerns remain about the ability to enforce these new offences based on the specified levels. For example, would officers be able to use discretion for those near the cut-off, or would the measuring devices be able to determine exactly how significant the influence of the drug is? Furthermore, the level of the drug may have a greater impairment on some people, causing their behaviour to be more harmful to the safety of others. My concern is that the punishment may not be congruent for all offenders.

It is of the utmost importance that we seek to protect Canadians from impaired drivers and ensure that there are strict penalties for those who choose to drive while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. However, it is also critical that those penalties are accompanied with sufficient education and resources for our police officers. The legislation does not include any specifics regarding the process by which police will be trained in order to handle the increased threat of drug-impaired driving upon the legalization of cannabis.

Education on impaired driving is not limited to police officers. It is critical that the Liberal government also emphasizes effective education to deter Canadians from impaired driving. The report and recommendations outlined by the Liberal government's task force recommended extensive education on cannabis and impaired driving awareness before any legislation takes effect. Unfortunately, the government has chosen to ignore that sound advice and is pushing through the legislation.

Impaired driving continues to be one of the leading causes of death in Canada and it is unwise to move forward without effective education and resources for our police forces and for all Canadians. While I find it hypocritical that after 10 years of denouncing the stricter penalties for criminals put forward by the previous Conservative government, the Liberals have opted to impose higher maximum penalties and mandatory fines, it is a good first step to ensuring that our streets are safe.

That said, as I have mentioned throughout my speech, the changes outlined in Bill C-46 are not enough to protect Canadians from the dangers of impaired driving. I hope the government will choose to slow down the legislation and provide relevant education before it chooses to move forward with cannabis legalization. The legislation has been rushed and has been put on an unreasonable timeline. The Liberal government needs to recognize that when passing major legislation such as this, it is far more important to get it right rather than to do it hastily.

I hope the government will consider the concerns I have raised and together we can work to protect Canadians from the devastating realities of impaired driving.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

May 31st, 2017 / 8:30 p.m.
See context

NDP

François Choquette NDP Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, I rise today in this House to speak to Bill C-46, an act to amend the Criminal Code (offences relating to conveyances) and to make consequential amendments to other acts. In simpler terms, this bill seeks to address drug-impaired driving, more specifically regarding marijuana use.

This bill goes hand in hand with Bill C-45, which provides a framework for the legalization of marijuana. The NDP has always stood for sensible measures to prevent impaired driving. This bill is a step in the right direction. We have to focus on powerful deterrents that can actually help prevent tragedies. Therein lies the weakness of this bill.

Before this legislation comes into effect, we need a robust public awareness campaign, and that has not been done. I will discuss that over the next few minutes. Also, Bill C-46 does not clearly define the levels of marijuana in saliva that would qualify as impairment. That is another problem.

We need a strategy that is based on science in order to stop impaired drivers. The bill sets out no reliable strategy or benchmarks that would make it possible to set clear limits around THC levels.

Impaired driving is the number one cause of criminal death in Canada. This is a very serious problem that affects every part of the country, and we must address it. We must do everything we can to raise awareness around driving while impaired, either by drugs or alcohol, and to put prevention programs in place. We must give those that make arrests, like the police, all the tools they need.

Canada has one of the worst impaired driving records in the OECD. We have a lot of work to do. Cannabis legalization will have a number of repercussions. We will need to be ready, and we will need to take the necessary steps to mitigate these repercussions. We have to develop an effective public awareness campaign, and the Liberal government has to properly fund it. There is no such campaign at present—the work has not even begun yet. The proposed funds are not only lacking, they have not been invested yet. Despite all of that, the marijuana legalization legislation will be coming into force in about a year's time.

The Canadian Automobile Association, or CAA, a well-established association of which I am a member, recently ran a headline on that very question that read, “Federal marijuana announcement step in right direction but leaves unanswered questions”.

As we know, the CAA is a group that advocates for drivers and other road users. Without wanting to promote the CAA, I still want to say that they are now looking after cyclists, too. I will now read a quote from the article in question that is well worth hearing:

While the government committed today to making more money available to train police in drug recognition and to acquire testing devices, it didn’t say how much or when it will be available.

I will read more later, but the gist of it is that police, law enforcement in general, needs proper training. They need every tool available to address the reality of people driving under the influence of marijuana. The government has made no information available to us. We have neither the tools, nor the funds to deal with this issue. This is a big problem. It is one of the bill's weakest points.

The article continues as follows:

The government also reiterated a budget 2017 commitment to spend less than $2 million a year over five years on public education—a sum that is clearly inadequate, given the misconceptions about marijuana’s effect on driving.

Less than $2 million a year is not enough. What is worse is that the plan offers nothing tangible, specific, and of enough substance to tackle the many misconceptions that currently exist about marijuana use and its effect on drivers.

Some people still believe that smoking marijuana has no effect on their ability to drive. Some even believe smoking marijuana makes them better drivers. We must bridge that information gap with a massive information awareness campaign that will go on not just for one year, or two or even three, but rather in perpetuity. We must ensure information is always available when we are dealing with dangerous substances. For example, in the case of alcohol, education campaigns designed to prevent the consequences of impaired driving are still ongoing and will keep going for another 10 or 20 years. We can never stop educating people. As the CAA points out, less than $2 million is but a drop in the bucket, given current needs.

In response to the Liberal's marijuana legalization bill, the Société de l'assurance automobile du Québec, or SAAQ, has already kicked off its campaign to raise awareness about the effects of cannabis on driving. The bill has also put pressure on the provinces, which are increasingly called upon to invest in awareness and prevention so that people, especially kids, who are our future, have all the information they need.

The SAAQ's campaign costs money. The Liberal government has yet to give our municipal and provincial governments a single red cent. The bill should specify the percentage of taxes going to the federal, provincial, and municipal governments. That would guarantee that the provinces and municipalities will not get shortchanged in the long run.

This is critical, as those who really need the tools and the funds to properly educate our youth and raise their awareness are the schools, our social organizations, everyone involved in health care, everyone working with young people, youth centres, and stakeholders at every level of government.

Being legal does not make a substance safe. Marijuana use creates all sorts of health and social problems. People need to know about this. They need to take every precaution if they decide to consume marijuana. Personally, I would prefer it if marijuana, cigarettes, and alcohol were no longer consumed, but as we all know, the world does not work that way.

We need to make all the information available so that people can take the necessary precautions if they decide to consume cannabis, and so that no one ever drives under the influence, which would certainly be dangerous. This information should reach the public, and especially young people, to ensure we make everyone safer.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

May 31st, 2017 / 8:45 p.m.
See context

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise this evening to speak to Bill C-46. This bill presents a number of complicated and novel problems for lawmakers. I will say first that I will vote for this bill at second reading. It should get to committee.

There are many things in here that we need to move ahead with. I hope that my speech can reflect on the areas where the bill will need amendments. It is particularly in the sections that would enable the Governor General to make regulations in the future that we should approach regulation-making with caution.

Let me start by saying what is important about Bill C-46.

It is important that we do more to deal with the carnage on our roads caused by people whose judgment is not only impaired by drinking but who also fail to understand that an automobile is a lethal weapon. Persons getting behind the wheel when they have had anything to drink at all should be as socially unacceptable today as people lighting up a cigarette on an elevator.

Social norms change over time. The social norms once allowed us to give the people around us the present of second-hand smoke without thinking anything about it, but it is now viewed as a reckless activity. One would have thought that with the attention and the hard work of wonderful groups like Mothers Against Drunk Driving, it would be clear to all Canadians as responsible citizens that if they have had anything to drink at all, they do not drive. Unfortunately, we see far too many examples of innocent people, children, or whole families killed on our highways by people who have gotten behind the wheel when they should never have done so. We need to do more to stop the threat of drunk drivers on our roads. This bill would begin to do that. This bill would begin to take some important steps.

Certainly it is important for people to know that they can be pulled over on reasonable grounds and have a breath test applied by a roadside breathalyzer. On reasonable grounds, police officers would be able to stop more people for randomized breathalyzer testing on the side of the road. It is important to note that Bill C-46 would require a police officer to have reasonable grounds to believe a person is committing an offence or at any time in the last three hours has committed an offence as a result of the consumption of drugs or alcohol. Throughout this bill there are requirements for reasonable grounds. Still, the threshold for giving a roadside breathalyzer test is going to be reduced, with the goal of getting more people who are drinking and driving off our roads, and that is important.

The risk here is that we would be conflating the legalization of cannabis with problems of driving and substance abuse, and this is where we need to be careful. In 2014, an astonishing 74,800 cases were reported across Canada of driving impaired due to alcohol or drug use. There were 74,800 cases in a single year reported by police. Of those cases, 97% were alcohol-related and 3% involved drugs. That is not to say that drugs are not the problem, but it is clear that in order of priority, alcohol is the bigger problem as a percentage, empirically, on our roads.

However, then we begin to dive into it. Certainly with the legalization of cannabis, reasonable concerns have been raised. What if people are impaired by having imbibed, smoked, or eaten cannabis and are now under the influence of cannabis and have THC in their system? This is where, as I dive into the evidence, it gets a lot more complicated, because if we are going to base our policies on evidence, it is not at all clear that the same kind of physiological effects occur from imbibing cannabis as from drinking alcohol.

For example, studies by the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation, as reported in The New York Times, talk about the estimates from a number of studies. In the case of the dangers of drunken driving, for instance, 20-year-old drivers with a blood alcohol content of 0.08%, which is the legal limit across Canada, had an almost 20-fold increase in the risk of a fatal accident.

When the researchers look at those who have imbibed cannabis, they find that the effect of using cannabis does affect driving, but it is within the same range as the legal allowable levels of blood alcohol. It is not at all clear. According to a 2012 study from the Journal of Psychopharmacology, only 30% of people who were under the influence of THC failed a field test of their ability to show physical coordination and good cognitive reflexes. The effect of smoking marijuana is clearly going to be very different from the effect of drinking and driving.

This is again research from the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation. For the purpose of explaining this, I am going to use the term stoned drivers and drunk drivers. They concluded that stoned drivers drive differently from drunken ones and have different deficits. Drunk drivers tend to drive faster than normal and overestimate their skill, whereas the opposite is true for stoned drivers. More worrying, when we are dealing with the application of criminal law, is that those who are habitual users of marijuana can have levels of THC in their systems that do not affect their judgment. The metabolizing in the body of cannabis is very different from alcohol. To spot someone who is drunk, we need to test for ethanol. To spot someone who has been using cannabis, we look for THC, but the THC can be present in the bloodstream days after the last use and when a person is not actually impaired.

As we are going forward with developing tests and deciding when someone is criminally responsible, we need to approach this problem differently. If we find a level of blood alcohol of 80 milligrams of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood, we know someone was driving over the limit. That is not going to be so easy to figure out with THC.

Those who are studying this recommend some interesting approaches, including in the very useful study by the U.S. Department of Transportation, from February 2015, called “Drug and Alcohol Crash Risk”. I recommend this to other MPs who are looking for data. It is from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration of the U.S. Department of Transportation. They looked at the adjustment for age, gender, ethnicity, alcohol concentration levels, and so on. They did not find that high risk correlated with drug use at all when they corrected for these other social factors.

What they recommend is fascinating. They say that if we are going to put resources into avoiding people being killed on the road, it would be far better to focus on banning establishments for imbibing cannabis away from home. I want to underscore this, because I do not think anyone has mentioned it in the debate so far. If we are legalizing cannabis, as we are, do not have facilities and establishments that encourage people to get in their cars to drive to a place to have cannabis. Encourage there being no driving involved and create the social norms that say do not drive at all when imbibing cannabis.

It is going to be very hard, and a failing test for the science, to find mechanisms for roadside testing for THC. It is far better to focus on where the threat to life and limb clearly is. It is overwhelmingly people who get behind the wheel of a car after having too much to drink. Frankly, I think a glass of wine or a beer is too much to drink to get behind the wheel of a car, yet we have a social construct and culture that there is nothing wrong with it. I have always loved the show Cheers, with the friendly guy behind the bar. Take a bus there. Take the subway there. We need to change our norms around what is okay, because a car is a lethal weapon.

Finally, I want to hope that when we take the bill to committee, we look at unintentional consequences. If we make it easier for police officers to pull someone over for a breathalyzer, we need to watch for issues of racial profiling. We need to watch for the unintended consequences of additional searches that take place once someone is pulled to the side of the road.

I am not standing against the bill, by any means, but I think these issues are far more complicated than the debate we have had so far tonight. I look forward to seeing the bill sent to committee. I hope that when we look at regulating THC and finding ways to do roadside testing that we do not start with the assumption that if we can find THC in a person's body they have been reckless in their use of an automobile. Those two may not correlate the way blood alcohol levels indeed correlate toward recklessness and unsafe driving.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

May 31st, 2017 / 9:05 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Larry Maguire Conservative Brandon—Souris, MB

Mr. Speaker, I rise this evening to take part in the debate on Bill C-46, which would amend the Criminal Code and make other consequential amendments to various other acts.

Like many members in the House this evening, I have been following this legislation with great interest since it was tabled and I know that Canadians are also following it in the media. Before I begin my remarks, I want to say that I have great faith in members of Parliament in all parties to work together on this legislation so that at the end of the day, the Criminal Code is modernized, reflects the advancement of technology, and that our peace officers have the necessary legal framework to keep our streets and communities safe.

Far too many of us know members of our communities who have lost loved ones due to the actions of impaired drivers. Rarely does a week go by in Canada when we do not hear of people who lose their lives due to somebody getting behind the wheel while severely intoxicated or under the influence of mind-altering drugs.

In preparing for this debate, I was contacted by the father of a young lady who tragically lost her life in the fall of 2015 when coming home for Thanksgiving dinner. He asked that we, as members of Parliament, put aside our political differences and work constructively to ensure this legislation is carefully debated and that it moves forward in a timely manner. I was also saddened to hear that even our colleague, the member for Cariboo—Prince George, lost his brother to a drunk driver over 20 years ago. I ask that we keep these families in mind as we prepare to carefully, hopefully in a non-partisan manner, get this legislation to committee. On a personal note, I lost an uncle in the same kind of situation.

As has been said by other members of the Conservative caucus, I will vote in favour of the legislation as currently written so that the necessary stakeholders, which include peace officers, provinces, municipalities, legal scholars, and those who actively work toward the prevention of impaired driving, can present their views and critique the bill's various implications.

As noted by others, this legislation would, for the first time, allow for the use of roadside drug screeners in cases where a peace officer has a reasonable suspicion a driver is under the influence of drugs. It would be naive of us to think that people are not currently driving under the influence of marijuana, methamphetamines, or other substances. We would also be naive to think that the number of those consuming marijuana and then getting behind the wheel will stay the same or even go down after a public education campaign following the legalization of marijuana.

We are about to embark on one of the largest changes in the law in respect of people consuming a substance since the elimination of prohibition. We can look at what other jurisdictions have done to prepare for the full legalization of marijuana, but at best, we only have estimates on what it will mean for Canadian roads and highways. Moreover, we actually do not know what it will cost for the RCMP, various police departments, and municipalities to purchase the necessary roadside oral fluid drug screeners nor the total dollar amount for the necessary training to administer the drug screeners.

In consultation with the Brandon police department and other police officers, they have explained there are significant costs that will be necessary when this legislation is brought into force. I do not want to delve into the specifics of Bill C-45 while we are debating this legislation, but I believe it is important to note that municipalities will probably not see any increased tax revenue from the legalization of marijuana. However, they might get stuck with the tab as they will be the front line on enforcement and regulation. At this time, I would even suggest that the parliamentary budget officer undertake a full review of the up-front costs of implementing Bill C-46 on municipalities and provinces and the potential hidden costs. For instance, many rural communities would not be prepared to provide blood analysis 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

As the bill states, it would authorize the taking of a blood sample from a driver when an officer believes the person is drug impaired. As rural members in the House know, sometimes people have to drive 100 kilometres or more to find a 24-hour health facility. To complicate this even further, people drastically absorb and metabolize THC in many various ways. My colleague from Yellowhead referred to this earlier this evening. We must ensure the legislation provides no loopholes for those who may seek to evade the law. We want to make certain that the Ross Rebagliati defence of second-hand smoke cannot be invoked.

The other issue I want to raise is that I have serious and grave concerns about the mandatory alcohol screening clauses found within the legislation. I am aware that the government has tabled a charter statement from Professor Peter Hogg, and the Minister of Justice has fervently defended his position. However, I want to remind the Minister of Justice that the Supreme Court is the sole arbiter of what is constitutional and what is not.

It was only a few years ago that our previous Conservative government nominated Judge Marc Nadon to the Supreme Court after we were told it was constitutional by two former Supreme Court judges, as well as constitutional experts.

While the Minister of Justice may feel confident in the charter statement, various members of the House of Commons have lingering doubts. I am encouraging the Liberal government to keep a very open mind and be prepared to strike this clause from the legislation if legal experts believe it encroaches on the rights of Canadians under section 8, which provides the right to be secure against unreasonable search or seizure, or under section 9, which is the right to not be arbitrarily detained or imprisoned.

When giving the police such powers, even under the best of intentions, it must be carefully balanced with the rights and freedoms of drivers. While there is case law that has allowed for randomized breath tests, there is zero case law that would allow warrantless mandatory Breathalyzer tests.

While I know the government continues to state that an estimated 50% of people who are stopped and are over the legal limit are able to pass through current detection methods, I believe there must be a better solution to bringing this number down than a police officer who would be able to, on demand, without any reasonable suspicion, perform a breathalyzer test.

The hon. member for Cowichan—Malahat—Langford noted in his speech that even the Supreme Court was not unanimous on the issue of random stops by police officers. As the member stated in his speech, the minority opinion of courts stated there were serious implications with such power. He also went on to say that the decision of a police officer may be based on any whim that may tend to stop young drivers, older cars, and that racial considerations could become a factor. Let us recall that this was a Supreme Court dissenting opinion on random check stops, not mandatory roadside Breathalyzer testing.

On a final note, I am encouraged to see that the provinces, such as the new Pallister government in Manitoba, are already working on updating their laws to prepare for federal legalization of marijuana. As Heather Stefanson, Manitoba's Minister of Justice said, the “proposed cannabis harm prevention act would provide tools to government, enforcement and public health during” the lead-up to the final implementation of legalization.

For the benefit of my colleagues, I would like to put on record exactly what this legislation would do. The legislation would allow for a 24-hour suspension of a driver's licence if a police officer believes the driver is under the influence of a drug and unable to safely operate a motor vehicle. It would require the registrar of motor vehicles to determine if graduated licence drivers who receive a 24-hour suspension should face further consequences. The legislation would create a specific offence for consuming marijuana in or on a vehicle, and that any marijuana must be stored in a secured compartment, for example, the vehicle's trunk, so that it is inaccessible to those in the vehicle.

The provincial government understands that not only do the laws surrounding driving need to be updated, but the Province of Manitoba will soon explicitly prohibit the smoking of marijuana in any enclosed public space or workplace; schools will still be able to enforce disciplinary measures to students using, possessing, or being under the influence of marijuana; and legislation will continue to apply to individuals who use marijuana as a tool to exploit or traffic another person. I applaud Minister Stefanson and the PC caucus for taking the leadership they have on this file.

I ask that our Liberal colleagues across the way work with the opposition not only on Bill C-46, but also on Bill C-45. There is no need to have an arbitrary timeline if it puts unrealistic dates for the full legalization of marijuana. I am equally concerned that the Liberals are not prepared to develop effective educational campaigns to deter Canadians from impaired driving.

If police departments and municipalities say they are not prepared or do not have the necessary resources or training required to manage the increased threat of impaired driving associated with marijuana, we must not move until they are fully equipped to do so.

I plan to host numerous meetings in my constituency over the summer on both Bill C-45 and Bill C-46. The legalization of marijuana and the conversation surrounding its implications should not just happen in this chamber or in committee rooms, but also in community halls, town halls and one-on-one with our constituents.

As I have always said, the legalization of marijuana has never been a top priority for me. I believe there are many more pressing issues. It is our collective responsibility to do all we can to ensure that if the Liberals want to legalize marijuana, they do not do more harm than good.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

May 31st, 2017 / 9:20 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Sylvie Boucher Conservative Beauport—Côte-de-Beaupré—Île d’Orléans—Charlevoix, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise this evening to speak to Bill C-46, regarding driving while under the influence of cannabis or alcohol.

I do not disagree with Bill C-46, quite the contrary. No one here opposes the broader value of protecting drivers and our children. There are still too many deaths caused by drunk drivers, and much remains unknown about cannabis. However, we cannot talk about Bill C-46 without first talking about Bill C-45 on the legalization of cannabis.

With the bill to legalize cannabis, the government is trying to shift the responsibility to the provinces. If we want to give effect to Bill C-45, then we also have to give the provinces a framework that would allow them to adapt to Bill C-46. We need to put structures in place to help our police officers, those who are on the roads, those who have to drive, or those who have to arrest people who are under the influence of alcohol or cannabis.

In my mind, Bill C-46 is full of holes and does not go far enough to establish a strong framework because not everything is defined in Bill C-45. Everything is downloaded, as we say, to the provinces, which must do everything themselves. Unfortunately, they will not have the time to adust because they will have only one year to prepare for the legalization of cannabis and the implementation of Bill C-46 on driving under the influence of alcohol or cannabis.

This leads me to say that there is no mention of prevention in Bill C-45, and yet we will need information and prevention because driving under the influence of cannabis or any other drug is a big unknown. The support of all members of the House is contingent upon having a framework that protects our children, relatives, and friends so that they are not taken from us by irresponsible drivers. We need a coherent law.

Bill C-46 follows Bill C-45. If we want to legalize marijuana, we must ensure that Bill C-46 provides a much stronger framework to help our cities, police officers, and the people who work with the victims of traffic accidents. We do not see this in Bill C-46 or in Bill C-45.

Furthermore, Bill C-45 is a botched bill. The Liberals did not consider the ideas of those who work with people who have are addicted to alcohol or drugs such as cannabis. Everyone in the House knows someone, either a family member or a friend, who abuses cannabis. I believe that Bill C-46 needs to be fleshed out.

Our police officers need a little more support, and I am not just talking about money. Everyone involved needs education.

There have been shock advertising campaigns about drunk driving in Quebec. The ads did not stop people from drinking, but they did make people a little more informed. Now people call a cab or have a designated driver. We should do the same for cannabis.

We cannot talk about Bill C-46 without also talking about Bill C-45, which comes before Bill C-46. I will be voting to send it to committee, but it needs more teeth and it needs to be totally unassailable because Bill C-45 is an empty shell. The government is handing things over to the provinces, and they have to figure out how to deal with it. This is where the bill was drafted, and this is where we need to give it more teeth.

Personally, I think that the coming-into-force date for Bill C-45, 2018, is unrealistic. That is way too soon for the provinces, and it is way too soon considering all the conversations that need to happen with municipalities. How is the government going to make sure that the message in Bill C-46 gets to the municipalities, the provinces, the decision-makers, the organizations, the police officers, and everyone else involved in the day-to-day implementation of this bill? We must never forget that we are here to protect Canadians.

On this side of the House, we want to protect Canadians, and we want to make sure that the bills we pass contain all the necessary provisions, which is not the case with Bill C-45. I think that is what all parliamentarians think of these two bills. If we want to pass Bill C-46, Bill C-45 must have more teeth. Bill C-46 needs to establish structures that will help support and protect our drivers, our children, our parents, and people who work with individuals arrested for impaired driving. We also need to ensure that the right elements are in the right place. We need to ensure that any devices used to detect alcohol or cannabis are very sophisticated. Still today, breathalyzers are not 100% accurate.

I would like Bill C-46 to have more teeth, because it is missing an important element from Bill C-45, that is, ensuring that everyone affected by legalizing cannabis has all the resources needed to ensure that this legislation is rock solid. One year is far to soon for the municipalities and for everyone involved in enforcing this bill.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

May 31st, 2017 / 9:35 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Kevin Waugh Conservative Saskatoon—Grasswood, SK

Mr. Speaker, I am always honoured to rise in this place and represent the constituents of Saskatoon—Grasswood. Today, we are debating the merits and, more important maybe, the lack of merits of Bill C-46. It is an act to amend the Criminal Code and to make consequential amendments to other acts, in other words driving under the influence of drugs, notably marijuana. This is a topic unto its own and cannot be discussed without reference to the accompanying legislation, Bill C-45, which seeks to make the use of cannabis legal in Canada. Both pieces of legislation actually go hand in hand. In fact, if it were not for the introduction of Bill C-45, we would have no need really for Bill C-46, but here we are tonight debating this.

We have talked for many hours in the House about the bill, and I should note tonight that the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, during her introduction of Bill C-46, made a reference. She made a reference to a Saskatoon family, the Van de Vorst family. I am going to give some background on the members of this family. They suffered a devastating loss of four family members at the hands of an impaired driver.

The date was January 3, 2016. Many in my city of Saskatoon call this the worst accident in the history of Saskatoon. I wonder tonight if the Minister of Justice knows or appreciates the devastation that this family has gone through in the last year and a half. I do, because this past February I phoned the Van de Vorst family. The family has been on the front page of my newspaper in Saskatoon for the last year and a half. It was one of the toughest phone calls I have had to make. I made the phone call because I knew the mom, Linda. The father, Louis, I did not know. They lost their son Jordan along with their daughter-in-law and two grandchildren.

I felt that as a member of Parliament I needed to make the call and I did. It was not in my riding. They live in the northern part of the riding. It could be Saskatoon—University or it could be Carlton Trail—Eagle Creek. I had to make that call and I made the call this past February. It was 13 months after the accident on January 3, 2016. They were shaken because the person charged was moved to a healing lodge less than a year after killing four members of their family.

I and the Van de Vorst family sat around the kitchen table. I was there at 10 o'clock on a Saturday morning. There was a phone call to the house while I was at the kitchen table with Linda and Louis. I said, “Go ahead, answer the phone”. She answered the phone. There was nobody on the end of the phone line. She said, “Hello,” but there was no answer so she hung up. We went on talking about the case. They had lost four family members. About half an hour later the doorbell rang. Unknown to Linda, a man had been driving around their neighbourhood for the last year trying to get up the courage to knock on the door or phone the family to say, “On January 3, 2016, I saw your son, I saw your daughter-in-law, and I saw your grandchildren having so much fun at a hockey rink outside in Saskatoon”.

This man spent 13 months driving around their house. It took him 13 months to ring the doorbell. He did not know the family. I just happened to be there. This was not staged. Linda went out to the porch and talked to this man for half an hour. They wept. This man had pictures of her family because they were at a skating rink that day, January 3, 2016, and less than 12 hours later all four members of that family were killed because the person charged with their deaths was three times over the limit of alcohol. This was one of the most emotional mornings I have ever had.

This person did not know the family, but he spent 13 months driving around that house, getting enough courage to ring the doorbell to say, “I care.” This is what the communities in this country are going to experience with the bill. There are going to be other families. I just happened to be at this household at this time.

In the province of Saskatchewan, believe me, we have a horrific record of accidents due to alcohol. Because of this accident that occurred in 2016, there are tougher impaired driving laws in Saskatchewan. As I said earlier, we cannot discuss one bill without bringing the other bill, the driving force, into the discussion.

Let us go back to the expert task force and its objectives in studying this issue. I keep hearing the same refrain in reference to this legislation: it will be “keeping marijuana out of the hands of children” and it will “keep profits out of the hands of criminals”. Do we really believe that?

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

May 31st, 2017 / 9:50 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Stephanie Kusie Conservative Calgary Midnapore, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to deliver my first speech in the House of Commons. I am honoured to use this opportunity to address Bill C-46, which deals with offences and procedures related to impaired driving for both cannabis and alcohol.

The Minister of Justice tabled this legislation proposing that it would help address the problem of impaired driving, which we all agree is a serious issue, especially given the Liberals' misguided decision to legalize marijuana. However, in my opinion, they missed the mark.

I stand before the House tonight to express my views and the views of my constituents of Calgary Midnapore regarding this bill.

While the Liberals have proposed some good suggestions, this bill is riddled with flaws and inconsistencies. As is, the bill is poorly structured. It fails to consider the significant issues that matter to Canadians, the issues that we ought to consider in an effort to keep Canadians safe.

In discussing the bill, we need to consider some very relevant details. Impaired driving remains one of the most frequent and deadly criminal offences. In fact, it is among the leading criminal causes of death right here in Canada. Each year, roughly 1,500 Canadians are killed by impaired driving and another 63,000 are injured in impairment-related crashes. This is no small matter.

The Liberal government's marijuana task force made a couple of key recommendations. It recommended extensive impaired driving education and awareness campaigns before the drug's legalization. Canada and our legal system are experiencing a changing political landscape. We must be careful not to make policy changes before we carefully consider any implied consequences.

Let us look to our neighbours in the south for the consequences which they have faced. The Globe and Mail reported that two states in the U.S. that have introduced recreational marijuana sales have seen a significant increase in the proportion of fatal accidents. This sets a very dangerous precedent we should be careful not to follow.

The task force also indicated research shows that youth underestimate the risks of cannabis abuse. Young Canadians are the future of our country. We do not want them causing harm to other Canadians. We certainly do not want them causing harm to themselves, and we certainly need to ensure the lives of young Canadians, or any Canadians for that matter, are not being put at risk.

Let me be clear. As a Conservative, I strongly condemn impaired driving of any kind. Impaired driving caused by alcohol consumption or drug use has no place on the streets of our country. I do not want that anywhere my young son and his friends play, and I do not want that in any of the neighbourhoods of Calgary Midnapore.

The Conservative Party supports measures that protect Canadians from impaired drivers. Mandatory fines and higher maximum penalties send a strong message that Canadians will not tolerate impaired driving. We need to be tough on crime. I support measures that deter and reduce incidences of impaired driving, but I cannot support the bill in its current form. The bill has multiple glaring flaws which must be addressed before we can even consider passing it through the House.

First, the bill compromises the safety of every single Canadian who uses a vehicle to commute. As I have stated, impaired driving is the leading criminal cause of death and injury in Canada. Marijuana-impaired driving is yet another red flag about this legislation. Recreational marijuana use is illegal today, but we know the Liberals' agenda to legalize marijuana. I suspect that the Liberals are recklessly trying to rush through this legislation in order to make it easier to pass their legislation legalizing recreational marijuana. This is a dangerous precedent to be setting. Thousands of lives will be at risk if we allow this to pass. The safety of our citizens is my top concern. Let us please put safety ahead of recreation.

Second, this bill would do nothing to help deter impaired driving. As we know, not only do strong penalties deter criminal activity, but they also limit the potential for criminals to reoffend. However, the bill would actually give first-time offenders a break by reducing wait times to get their keys back and drive once again.

Third, the wording of the bill is incredibly unclear. Bill C-46 would enable law enforcement officers to conduct impairment tests using roadside oral fluid drug screeners, if they reasonably suspected that drivers had drugs in their body. How do we define reasonable? Is it the way someone drives, the smell of his or her breath, or his or her ability to articulate words? The government has failed to define what is and what is not reasonable. This leaves ambiguity for impaired drivers who can evade unsuspecting officers, and for officers to unlawfully violate the rights of law-abiding drivers.

This brings me to my final point.

In its current form, Bill C-46 is an infringement on the rights of Canadians. The bill would implement mandatory alcohol screening. This is a fundamental violation of our Charter of Rights and Freedoms: innocent until proven guilty; the presumption of innocence. Mandatory alcohol screening shifts the burden of proof away from the crown, and toward the individual. This part of the legislation would likely face a charter challenge. Even if not, it is a very invasive practice of the state on an individual without justified reason. We, as representatives of our constituents, need to be awfully sure no legislation that the House passes is an infringement on the rights of Canadians. I fear the government has overlooked this fundamental freedom.

The House must consider three additional factors before proceeding with Bill C-46. I recommend a more cautious and evidence-based approach.

First, let us make the right decisions instead of making fast decisions. The Liberals want to rush these drug bills through Parliament by July 2018. This hurried timeline is unrealistic and puts the health and safety of Canadians at risk. Law enforcement has not been provided the resources or training required to deal with the increased threat of impaired driving associated with the legalization of marijuana.

Second, let us do a better job of consulting with the relevant stakeholders. Jeff Walker, the vice-president of the Canadian Automobile Association, said that legalization of marijuana should not be rushed and that educational campaigns and greater funding for law enforcement should be the immediate priorities.

I also want to point out that former Liberal minister of justice and health, the Hon. Anne McLellan who chaired the Liberal government's marijuana task force, said that the best solution was to give researchers additional time to develop proper detection tools. Let us listen to the experts.

Third, more education is crucial. My colleagues and I are concerned that the government has not developed effective campaigns to inform Canadians how dangerous it is to drive while under the influence of marijuana. Organizations such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving have done an excellent job of helping Canadians understand the risks of drunk driving. However, Canadians must better understand the dangers of all types of impaired driving. This education needs to happen before legalizing marijuana.

The Liberal government has done little to deal with this. Instead, the Liberals propose high mandatory fines and maximum penalties for Canadians who may not fully understand the risks of driving under the influence of marijuana. If we can ensure the safety of Canadians by proactively educating instead of retroactively penalizing, then we can save the lives of Canadians. That is the avenue we have to focus on first.

It is for these reasons I cannot support Bill C-46.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

May 31st, 2017 / 10 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Stephanie Kusie Conservative Calgary Midnapore, AB

Mr. Speaker, as my previous colleague indicated, one certainly cannot reference Bill C-46 without giving thought to Bill C-45. I served as a diplomat for many years in many developing nations, including Latin American nations and particularly El Salvador, where I worked tirelessly for years fighting against narcotics, which of course is one of the major tenets of the western world.

I am also concerned that again we are not listening to experts in regard to Bill C-46. We have also seen this recently in the evaluation of moving the NEB out of Calgary, where we are moving away from the expert base. It is very important that we listen to experts in both of these regards.

Finally, I go back to my point about education, which is very important. The lack of education we see in regard to impaired driving is just the tip of the iceberg. We also need to think of the education that will be required in the workplaces should Bill C-45 be implemented. I think of the oil fields, the oil sands, the industrial heartland of Alberta. These things are very important.

On many fronts I am very concerned about Bill C-46.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

May 29th, 2017 / 3:40 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Earl Dreeshen Conservative Red Deer—Mountain View, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to be able to resume the remarks I started on May 19 on this very important discussion relating to Bill C-46, an act to amend the Criminal Code, offences relating to conveyances, and to make consequential amendments to other acts.

I had closed by thanking our amazing interim leader, the member for Sturgeon River—Parkland, for her service to our Conservative Party and indeed to our country, for her commitment to those who are disadvantaged in the world, and for standing up for those Canadians whose voices had been so long ignored. Many of those voices came from families whose loved ones had been taken from them because of the actions of impaired drivers.

This legislation before us today speaks to some of the issues that we, as Conservatives, have been championing for years. We know that dangerous driving and impaired driving injures or kills thousands of Canadians every year, and that all Canadians recognize that these actions are unacceptable at all times and in all circumstances.

As the Liberals prepare to roll out their new legislation on marijuana and its associated government-sponsored distribution and sales, it is even more important that law enforcement officers become better equipped to detect instances of alcohol- and drug-impaired driving, and that laws relating to the proof of blood alcohol concentration and drug-impaired indicators be clean and concise.

Bill C-46, in its preamble, states:

it is important to deter persons from consuming alcohol or drugs after driving in circumstances where they have a reasonable expectation that they would be required to provide a sample of breath or blood;

This provision and the bill's potential remedies need much clarification, as specific metrics of time-lapse, observable consumption, and proof that a person would be planning to continue driving would need both legal and scientific scrutiny.

As Conservatives, we have always worked hard to deter the commission of offences relating to the operation of conveyances, particularly dangerous driving and impaired driving. Along with our provincial partners, we have made laws that have promoted the safe operation of motor vehicles. Proposed changes to weaken consequences for such behaviour, such as reducing the current waiting times for offenders before which they may drive using ignition interlock devices, although an effective tool in itself to preventing recidivism, will minimize the seriousness of the offence and will be counter-effective.

Part 1 of the bill amends the portion of the Criminal Code that deals with offences and procedures related to drug-impaired driving. The three main amendments contain new criminal offences for driving with a blood drug concentration that is higher than the permitted concentration, address the authorization of the Governor in Council to arbitrarily establish its rate of permitting concentration, and gives authorization to peace officers to demand that a driver provide a sample of bodily substance for analysis by drug-screening equipment.

Part 1 brings up some interesting points, because determining at what point one is drug impaired is important. Giving the government authority to establish the concentration in law seems reasonable, and determining a procedure for peace officers to obtain evidence for conviction is a critical part of law enforcement.

Proposed subsection 254(2) of the act, before paragraph (a), is replaced by the following, the topic being “Testing for presence of alcohol or a drug”.

It states:

(2) If a peace officer has reasonable grounds to suspect that a person has alcohol or a drug in their body and that the person has, within the preceding three hours, operated a motor vehicle or vessel, operated or assisted in the operation of an aircraft or railway equipment or had the care or control of a motor vehicle, a vessel, an aircraft or railway equipment, the peace officer may, by demand, require...[compliance]

Many of these provisions are part of standard workplace rules, and as such are expected to be adhered to.

How would peace officers make such determinations with the general public? No logs are required, no travel plans are prepared, so what evidence-seeking process would they use to assure conviction with this three-hour window that would not be challenged when cases come to court?

The other part of this discussion has to do with the definition of drug impairment. When one reads a prescription bottle, there are many drugs taken by people where it states specifically, “Not to be taken when handling heavy equipment. Do not drive. May cause drowsiness”. Drivers who are on such medication when stopped by police would unlikely know that a drug sample reading would be calculated.

One can calculate, based on the weight of a person, the time since the last drink or the amount consumed what a blood alcohol reading should be. One also expects that marijuana consumption readings would depend on product concentration and no doubt other factors. How will these tests differentiate the potential impairment of any one or any combination of prescription drugs, marijuana or alcohol? These are questions on part 1 that need to have answers when the legislation is studied at committee.

Part 2 would repeal provisions of the Criminal Code and would replace them with provisions in a new part of the Criminal Code.

First, it would all repeal and replace all transportation offences with what has been described as a more modern and simplified structure.

Second, it would authorize mandatory alcohol screening at the roadsides where police would have, according to this legislation, already made a lawful stop under provincial or common law.

The third part would be to propose increasing certain minimum fines and certain minimum penalties or maximum penalties. These particularly relate to penalties for injury or death due to impaired driving. Having stiffer penalties is something of which I have personally been in favour. I have delivered many petitions in the House on this matter. Of course, I, like many others, have had many heart-wrenching discussions with constituents, friends and families over the years with this situation.

The fourth part is to create a process to facilitate investigation and proof of blood-alcohol concentration. These processes I hope will be expanded to have logical blood-drug concentrations as I had mentioned before.

The fifth part is to attempt through law to eliminate and restrict offences that encourage risk-taking behaviour and to clarify crown disclosure requirements.

Finally, as I alluded to earlier and had expressed my reservations, is the removal of the current waiting period before which the offender may drive when using an ignition interlock device.

The contradiction I see here is that on one hand, it is being said that a severe penalty will be enforced, one such penalty, the time period between when an offence occurs when the privilege of driving with an ignition interlock device is granted, has been reduced to zero for first time offenders. The first time caught does not mean the first time offending. This deterrent should remain, in my opinion.

One of the provision of the bill relating to investigative matters, section 320.27(2), speaks of mandatory alcohol screening. It says that if the peace officer has in his or her possession an approved screening device, the peace officer may take the breath sample. Section 320.28(1a), the provision relating to blood samples and how they can be used to determine blood alcohol concentration is discussed.

As we move along in the legislation, we see where samples of other bodily substances, such as saliva or urine, can be demanded in order to determine drug concentration that could ascertain the presence in the person's body of one or more of the drugs set out in subsection 5, which I will get to in a moment, which relates back to one of my earlier points about what drugs are what, and how would the general public know about the effects of any particular drugs.

These are the drugs listed in section 5.

First, is a depressant. The depressants are a broad class of drugs, intended to lower neurotransmission levels and decreasing stimulation in various areas of the brain. They are contrasted by stimulants, which intend to energize the body. Xanax is a commonly abused example.

The second is an inhalant. Inhalants are various household and industrial chemicals whose vapours are breathed in so as to intoxicate the user in ways not originally intended by the manufacturer. Examples include shoe polish, glues and things of that nature.

The third is a dissociative anaesthetic. Dissociative anaesthetics are hallucinogens that cause one to feel removed or dissociated from the world around them. When abused, they cause people to enter dream like states or trances.

The fourth, and again critical in the situations we speak of, is cannabis, which is a tall plant commonly abused as a drug in various forms. Its primary effect is a state of relaxation produced in users, but it can also lead to schizophrenic effects resulting from brain networks being “disorchestrated”, according to researchers at Bristol University in the U.K.

Fifth is a stimulant. Stimulants are a broad class of drugs intended to invigorate the body, increasing activity and energy. They are contrasted by depressants which are intended to slow the body down. Cocaine is one of the most famous examples of a stimulant.

Sixth is a hallucinogen. Drugs under this class are intended to produce hallucinations and other changes in emotion and consciousness. Psychedelics and dissociatives are the most common forms of hallucinogens. LSD is the most common abused hallucinogenic.

Finally, is a narcotic analgesic. Narcotic analgesics, commonly referred to as opiates, are drugs that affect the opioid system which controls pain, reward, and addictive behaviours. Their most common use is for pain relief.

Are our police forces prepared for this type of roadside analysis? I know that my local police officers, as well as our municipalities and provincial regulators, have a concern about the downloading of the costs associated with enforcement of marijuana legislation. The vagueness of some of the provisions in the bill causes further concern for them as well.

Will the enforcement regulation be accompanied with funding? Will training and equipment be provided for officers? Who will cover the costs when officers are off learning about these new procedures? Will issues like mandatory alcohol screening withstand a charter challenge as it is a very invasive practice of the state on an individual without reason?

To this, I remind the government, as I had mentioned in my earlier discussion on this matter, all governments depend on their departmental legal teams to ensure that legislation is charter compliant. The same lawyers who our government depended on to ensure charter compliance are advising the current Liberal government. I leave that for the members opposite to ponder.

If one thinks that does not happen with regularity, I also would remind everyone that less than two weeks ago the Alberta Court of Appeal struck down a portion of its provincial impaired driving laws as it pertained to the immediate suspension of a driver's licence by ruling in favour of a constitutional challenge to strike down the law.

Our courts exist to grant justice to those who have been wronged. Delays and charter challenges will only benefit the perpetrators and career criminals, while the victims are dragged through a long and painful process.

As I close my remarks today, I continue to stand for those whose lives have been affected by the actions of impaired drivers. I remember the countless loved ones torn away from their families because of irresponsible people getting behind the wheel when they were clearly impaired. As Conservatives, we will remain steadfast in our commitment to families that have been unfortunately affected by impaired driving.

I remember being part of a discussion with MADD Canada. I and the Hon. Peter MacKay had opportunities to meet with various individuals. We talked about the devastation that this type of activity had on families. A good friend of mine is Darren Keeler. His son Colton was killed by a drunk driver. I know it was devastating to him and his family.

Brad and Krista Howe are the parents of five children who were killed by an impaired driver in 2010 in my riding. I know Krista's mother, Sandra Green, had so much to do with our office and with the justice department, trying to ensure we were there to help strengthen laws.

I also want to take this time to speak about those who encourage underage drug use in our schools and our communities. As a former teacher, I know and have seen first-hand the devastation of drug dependency on our young people.

It has always been a concern of mine as we see fantastic young people get caught up in situations and see how their lives are affected by those who troll and try to push them into activities that unfortunately in so many ways devastate them. It is important we all consider this. Certainly the Liberal government must go hard after drug pushers who prey on our children.

I am well aware that drug-impaired driving is also a serious concern for Canadians. With the Liberal government's normalization of marijuana, this issue will rear its ugly head time and time again. At a time when marijuana will soon be accessible to a wider clientele, the bill cannot afford to be vague or poorly drafted. It is up to us as parliamentarians to do right by the people we represent.

As Conservatives, we take pride in our record and our common-sense smart on crime agenda. We are also proud of our record on helping those with addiction problems. We cannot abandon our most vulnerable. We need to give them hope, but not enable them with their addictions.

I am confident that after the exciting events of this past weekend, with Her Majesty's loyal leader of the opposition now at the helm, Canadians can be assured that the Conservatives will continue to work hard to protect their families and their loved ones.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

May 29th, 2017 / 3:55 p.m.
See context

Scarborough Southwest Ontario

Liberal

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

Madam Speaker, I am very pleased with the member's remarks and analysis of Bill C-46 and his indication that he supports the bill going forward to committee. I would like some clarification on some of the concerns he expressed.

In 2009, the justice committee submitted a report to the government of the day strongly recommending the implementation of what at the time was random breath testing. In this bill it is referred to in a slightly different way as mandatory breath testing. It was the unanimous recommendation of that committee.

I wonder if the member opposite could recall why that recommendation was not acted on for now these eight years that have passed, when it was clearly a measure that demonstrably saved lives. In other jurisdictions such as Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand and other jurisdictions, where this measure has been implemented, there has been as much as a 48% reduction in impaired deaths. Now that our government has brought forward the legislation, for which I am very grateful for the support of the member opposite, I wonder why this was not acted on previously.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

May 29th, 2017 / 4:05 p.m.
See context

Conservative

David Anderson Conservative Cypress Hills—Grasslands, SK

Madam Speaker, I look forward to the opportunity today to be able to speak to this bill. I want to acknowledge the great job that my colleague just did on this, particularly in mentioning at the end that drug usage by Canadian teens is actually decreasing.

My colleague across the way, the parliamentary secretary, talked about the fact that because 35% of the students across this country can access marijuana, the solution obviously is to give access to 100%, to find the other 65% and see if we cannot give them that same access. We do not think that is the proper solution.

What we are here to do today is to take a look at one bill and a second piece of legislation as well that is involved with it, which I do not think either Canadians or the Liberals are ready to handle. We have heard words this afternoon from one of my colleagues about how this seems to be done pell-mell, and my other colleague talked about how this looks like a bit of a smokescreen. That describes what we are seeing here, both in Bill C-45, which is the cannabis legalization bill, and in Bill C-46, the impaired driving bill. Both of these bills are tied together, and Canadians need to be paying attention, because that tie is much tighter than most Canadians would first realize.

I want to talk first about legalization and the current government's fixation on it through Bill C-45, and then talk about Bill C-46 and what the Liberals see as some solutions to problems that they would create by bringing in Bill C-45.

Bill C-45 is entitled “An Act respecting cannabis and to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, the Criminal Code and other acts”. Its summary talks about the objectives being “to prevent young persons from accessing cannabis”—which is a bit of a surprise, given the direction that this legislation goes—“to protect public health and public safety by establishing strict product safety and product quality requirements and to deter criminal activity”. It talks about the act having the power to establish cannabis as a legalized product, basically, and then to try to deal with criminal prohibition, such as the unlawful sale or distribution of it. In addition, it would “[enable] the Minister to authorize the possession, production, distribution, sale, importation and exportation of cannabis”—so the Liberals want to be the drug czars over this product—and then it would “[authorize] persons to possess, sell or distribute cannabis if they are authorized”, and there are a number of other things that the bill would prohibit and provide.

It is a fairly ambitious bill in terms of legalizing cannabis, giving the government authority over cannabis so that it is going to be able to manage cannabis across this country well. I guess we will see whether that happens.

Out of the approval and legalization of cannabis then comes a major concern, which is the operation of motor vehicles while under the influence of cannabis or, as Bill C-46 includes, a number of other drugs. To respond to that challenge that would come out of Bill C-45, the Liberals have recently introduced Bill C-46, which deals directly with offences and procedures that are related to impaired driving, both for alcohol and for cannabis and a number of other drugs.

Bill C-46 is a fairly lengthy bill. It is 78 pages long. It proposes to introduce a new impaired driving regime that would be considerably more complicated than the present laws. It includes new and higher mandatory fines. It includes changes in how and where testing can be done. It changes the timelines on testing, and it sets maximum penalties for impaired driving crimes. It also introduces a new element of mandatory alcohol screening at the roadside, which is expected to become a civil rights concern or issue in this country.

Clearly, our party supports measures that protect Canadians from impaired drivers. I doubt that there is a person in this House who has not been impacted by the stupid and tragic results that come from impaired driving and the incredible human cost that is paid for that. Mandatory fines, maximum penalties, and those kinds of things do send a strong message that Canadians will not tolerate impaired driving, but I am very concerned that the Liberals want to rush these two drug bills through Parliament by July 2018. The Liberals do not seem to be prepared to deal with the consequences of what would come from passing these two bills. I believe this hurried timeline is unrealistic. It puts the health and safety of Canadians at risk.

I want to talk today about this legislation and about some of the other concerns around it. Likely the bills will pass on second reading and go to committee, so I am going to raise a number of questions that need to be asked at committee in order for any responsible legislator to continue to support either bill.

The first question is why the government moved forward with this legislation when there is clearly no consensus on this issue. This afternoon we have heard different statistics back and forth across the House and some very different results. There is no agreement among Canadians on this issue. Polls show an almost schizophrenic understanding of it. One of the latest ones actually demonstrates that a strong majority apparently believe that this will not prevent drug use. Half see this as a gateway drug. A majority believe that this will not lessen crime and that the drunken or impaired driving enforcement will not be effective. Half think the proposed limit for possession and plants is too high. A strong majority believe that the age limit needs to be raised, and two-thirds agree that the health risks are not understood, yet we are told that a majority of Canadians support the legislation. Past surveys have similar confusing statistics and results.

This is all at a time when we are told that teen education drug prevention programs are working and teen usage is declining. The Liberals then come forward with a bill to make cannabis legal in this country. There is a clear conclusion that Canadians are conflicted about this issue.

Another question that has not been answered by the government is what the actual impact on people is, especially young people. We have seen some unexpected results from a couple of states in the United States that have legalized cannabis. What work has the government done on this issue, especially when its own task force identified this as probably one of the most important issues the government will face if it comes forward with this legislation?

Medical evidence indicates that marijuana impacts brain development up to age 25, and we believe it affects brain function after that. The government seems to think that age 18 is okay. The public disagrees. All polls show that. How is the government going to address seriously the issue of young people being exposed to this drug prior to when they should be?

Another question is how allowing possession and growing plants at one's home would achieve the goal, as the legislation says, of preventing young people from accessing cannabis. With increased public awareness, and as people were allowed to grow it at home, what would the impact on young people be? As my colleague mentioned earlier, would people be allowed to smoke this in a vehicle, and if they were, how would that impact children or people in the car with them? The same thing would apply at home.

There are questions about the overall health impact and the impact on the public, especially with respect to the use of vehicles.

The task force report indicates that research shows that youth, in particular, underestimate the risks of cannabis use, and so do others. I would ask if the government has done any homework on overall health impacts. It certainly seems that it has not done that and cannot answer that question.

There are other ongoing questions on the role of medical marijuana and what many people see as the present abuse of it as well. How has it become so simple to access this program, and how does it give us any assurance that future legislation will deal with the real issues around marijuana and other drugs mentioned in the legislation?

Questions arise also about the perception of a very small group of people who are being chosen by the government and stand to become extremely wealthy through this issue.

What about the public education component that was so important to the task force? Officials in both Washington and Colorado have stressed the importance of starting education campaigns as early as possible before legalization The Liberal government's task force recommended extensive marijuana impaired-driving education awareness campaigns before the drug's legalization. Where is that campaign? We have seen nothing of it.

On the issue of driving and education, the Canadian Automobile Association has said that the government needs to launch a public education campaign and provide greater funding to law enforcement authorities to get ready for the new regime. CAA vice-president Jeff Walker said, “It’s clear from the report that work needs to start immediately in these areas, and that the actual legalization should not be rushed”.

Where do we see this education campaign, and since we do not, what will be the cost of it when we do? There are other costs involved as well. We will talk about those a little later. When it comes to the testing being proposed, there is going to be a massive increase in costs to do the testing. I am wondering if the government has any answers as to how that is going to be paid for. Are the Liberals going to stick the provinces with the bill? Is the federal government going to make the commitment necessary to do this in a fashion that will work?

Driver safety is an issue, a big issue, and it brings us to Bill C-46. Two states have introduced recreational marijuana sales, and both have seen significant increases in the proportion of fatal accidents involving drivers who tested positive for the drug. That is in a report in The Globe and Mail. I am concerned that the Liberal government is not taking the proper steps to develop effective education campaigns or to put in place adequate roadside capacity to deter Canadians from driving impaired.

The reality is that impaired driving remains one of the most frequent criminal offences and is among the leading criminal causes of death in Canada. The expectation, probably the reality, from the United States, is that it is only going to increase. Anne McLellan, chair of the task force, said the best solution is to give researchers additional time to not only do the educational campaign but to develop proper detection tools. It is clear that the government needs to ensure that Canadians understand the risks of impaired driving before moving forward with this legislation.

As I mentioned, all of this costs money for education and new legal regimes, especially with the increased participation of the medical profession. What will be the cost to the court system with the increased traffic that will be going through the courts? The government has not been quick to fill vacancies in the court to speed up processing through our court system. Will police have the resources and training required to face the increased threat of impaired driving associated with the legalization of marijuana, and what will be the cost to Canadian taxpayers for this radical change in policy? Canadians do not have answers to any of those questions right now. Testing for impairment is a huge issue. It is probably the major concern of Canadians on this issue.

Part 1 of Bill C-46 would amend the provisions of the Criminal Code that deal with offences and procedures related to drug-impaired driving. Among other things, it would enact new criminal offences for driving with a blood concentration equal to or higher than the permitted concentration. It would authorize the Governor in Council to establish blood drug concentrations and would authorize police to demand that a driver provide a sample of a bodily substance for analysis.

Part 2 would repeal the provisions of the Criminal Code and would repeal and replace transportation offences with a different structure. It would authorize mandatory alcohol screening at the roadside and would increase certain minimum fines and certain maximum penalties. It would do a few other things, such as facilitate investigation and proof of blood alcohol concentration. It would take out some of the defences that encourage risk-taking behaviour and would permit earlier enrolment in the provincial ignition interlock program.

The problem is that the Liberals have brought forward some good initiatives, but this is not actually primarily about alcohol impairment. In many ways, it is being used, as my colleague said earlier, as a smokescreen or a mask to allow the government to divert attention from its inability to test drug impairment. The problem is that as it begins to do that, it will be moving aggressively to restrict the civil liberties of Canadians.

There is no clear way to measure drug impairment. There is no way to measure marijuana, in particular. There are no reliable roadside drug screening devices available to police officers. That is why we see in the legislation that police officers will be allowed to do a breath test, and if that is not good enough to be considered an offence, it has to lead to further testing. It is a very big concern.

My colleague from Mégantic—L'Érable talked in his speech about the fact that screening devices are really not that effective. The Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse and Addiction is concerned about that. It said:

Although the accuracy of oral fluid screening devices has been improving, they are not perfect. Some drivers who have used drugs will test negative and there remains a small probability that some drug-free drivers will test positive. When a driver who has used drugs is missed by the screening procedure, it has implications for road safety;

Is the technology there to meet the goals of the Liberal policies? Conservatives are not sure about that.

I should mention that this is not just about alcohol and cannabis. There are a number of other drugs covered as well, which will make the testing regime even more complicated. This is a big challenge. It is not just about alcohol or cannabis but is also about six other types of drugs. It is interesting that the legislation, while complicated, does not seem to be able to deal with these issues.

Marijuana can be tested through breath, saliva, blood, urine, or hair. Officers can detain suspects on the basis of smelling marijuana or noticing physical signs of impairment, at which point they can ask offenders to provide saliva samples. That is fine, except that it is most likely to be used at DUI checkpoints. It is faster and less invasive than a blood test, but there are all kinds of problems, such as that edibles, injections, pills, etc., may not produce results as reliably.

The presence of vapours may not correspond to actual impairment, as very small doses still register, and strong doses that were inhaled longer ago do not register. Blood testing generally registers the presence of THC for up to 12 hours, depending on the dosage, but again, there are problems. It is invasive. There is the question of the civil rights of Canadians. It requires more specialized equipment and sterilization, and test results may not correspond, again, to actual impairment.

Urine and hair tests register marijuana use over a much longer period of time, which poses similar problems, in addition to other privacy issues. There are a lot of issues. They can provide false positives, so even if we prove that a person has used marijuana, we cannot actually easily prove that the person was impaired at the time of the search.

My colleague mentioned earlier the time of testing. There are provisions in the bill for testing two hours after someone has been drinking or taking drugs. Police would have to prove that someone was behind the wheel. I can see a pile of complications from doing that as well.

The government's response to this challenge was to introduce a new section of the Criminal Code that would remove the need for an officer to have reasonable grounds to demand a breath sample. There is a provision in Bill C-46, and the minister talked about this, for mandatory alcohol screening. This part of the legislation would face a court challenge probably immediately, I would say. It is an invasive practice of the state on an individual, and it would specifically be done without reasonable grounds. There are a lot of questions around that section. Proposed subsection 320.27(2) reads:

If a peace officer has in his or her possession an approved screening device, the peace officer may, in the course of the lawful exercise of powers under an Act of Parliament or an Act of a provincial legislature or arising at common law, by demand, require the person who is operating a motor vehicle to immediately provide the samples of breath that, in the peace officer’s opinion, are necessary to enable a proper analysis to be made by means of that device...

It does not mention that the government has said that this is only to happen at a lawful stop, but there is nothing in here about it having to be a lawful stop. We have asked the government for more information to confirm that. It has not done that. Canadians need to be concerned about this, in my opinion. Is it done at a lawful stop? Is it done at an officer's discretion? The one thing that is clear is that it has taken out reasonable grounds, reasonable suspicion, as something that has to be in place before the testing can be done. Reasonable grounds are mentioned all over the rest of the bill, but I would argue that this section would basically render that useless.

The government has indicated that this will be used only as part of a lawful stop, but as I mentioned, when we asked about that, the Liberals were not able to clarify that. The minister talked about how she has her legal opinion that this will fit within the charter rights. It is pretty clear, from listening and looking up anything the defence lawyers and the Canadian Civil Liberties Association have said that this will be challenged very quickly. The Canadian Civil Liberties Association has been a proponent of medical marijuana. It opposes invasive searches.

When we go online, there are people such as Sean May, an attorney specializing in DUIs, who has said that these cases are often difficult to prosecute due to problems with evidence, false positives, and other factors.

Another defence lawyer questioned that data and called giving police unfettered power to demand a breath test dangerous. He said, “It allows for police abuse. Now, police for whatever reason they want, can make you do a breathalyzer. If you talk back to them or they feel you're disrespecting them, they have the power to do that. I don't know there is a lot of solid research linking impairment to the level of drugs in a person's system”. Unlike the breathalyzer, an officer must have a reasonable suspicion the driver has consumed drugs before asking for a sample.

A number of lawyers have come forward and said that this is not charter-proof. This will be challenged immediately. The U.S. based National Institute on Drug Abuse has suggested that there is no adequate way to measure THC levels or determine just how drugged a person is in a roadside test, so we will face all kinds of problems with that.

Just to wrap up, there are many questions about the bill. The main concerns focus primarily on the removal of reasonable grounds, the reasonable suspicion provisions, which have protected Canadians for decades. The minister claims to have a charter opinion on the issue, but it is certain to end up in court. It should be worrying Canadians. This entire framework is colossally complicated.

There are a ton of questions that remain unanswered, not just on Bill C-46 but also on Bill C-45. The government has not answered questions on education costs, health impacts, and a number of other issues, and especially on law enforcement, including the important issue of impaired driving.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

May 29th, 2017 / 4:25 p.m.
See context

Scarborough Southwest Ontario

Liberal

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

Madam Speaker, I have a couple of questions, if I may. First, I want to point out to the member opposite that in Bill C-46, proposed subsection 320.27(2) says that “the peace officer may, in the course of the lawful exercise of powers under an Act of Parliament or an Act of a provincial legislature or arising at common law....” That is the definition of a lawful arrest. That may be of some use to the member.

I want to reference a statement made by the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police on behalf of its traffic committee, in which it said,

The government has put forward strong legislation not only focused on impairment by drugs, but also addressing on-going issues related to alcohol impairment. Steps that have been introduced to reform the entire impaired driving scheme are seen as much needed and very positive.

It goes on to say, “The CACP has called for such changes in the past”—and, as I have already mentioned, several years went by with no action—“specifically in support of modernizing the driving provisions of the criminal code, supporting mandatory alcohol screening and eliminating common' loophole' defenses.”

The people who are tasked with keeping our roadways safe and enforcing these laws have been asking for these changes for very many years now. They have come out very strongly in saying that this is exactly what they have asked for and are in support of. I wonder if that allays some of the members concerns.