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



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


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.


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.


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

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

October 24th, 2017 / 12:30 p.m.
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Mark Warawa Conservative Langley—Aldergrove, BC

Mr. Speaker, I respect the member but I am surprised by the question. No, Canadians do not have to worry about alcohol being made illegal. If somebody is found driving a vehicle and there is an open bottle of alcohol, it can be confiscated by the police. What is being proposed by the Liberals is that people could have 60 joints sitting in that car. They could be smoking away, and each of the people in the car could have a bag of 60 joints in the car, and they are all happy, and the police could not confiscate the marijuana.

What is being proposed by the government is bizarre. Alcohol will remain legal, but people are not to be driving impaired. Bill C-46 is about impaired driving. We are not talking about the legalization of marijuana; we are talking about keeping our streets safe, and Bill C-46 would not do that. The bill does not have mandatory minimum sentences. A fine of $1,000 for killing somebody is not realistic. It is not just; it is not fair; it is not where Canadians are.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

October 24th, 2017 / 12:30 p.m.
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Tracey Ramsey NDP Essex, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House to add to the debate on Bill C-46, an act to amend the Criminal Code regarding offences relating to conveyances and to make consequential amendments to other acts. The title, though, is not really a description of what this bill would do, which is to change the impaired driving laws in Canada to ensure that we deal not only with drug impairment but also increase the sanctions on those who drive while impaired by alcohol. This is a complex subject that the NDP and I are very concerned about.

I agree that this bill is important. To be clear, nothing is more important than protecting the Canadian public. The NDP has been a long-time advocate of improving and ensuring deterrence of impaired driving, whose tragedies we all face in our ridings. This is in no way the only component of this bill. I have many concerns about it and its true effectiveness and would like to outline some of them.

When people speak about impaired driving, they often refer to the victims of these crimes. Without a doubt, the human cost of impaired driving is huge. Every year, hundreds of people are killed and tens of thousands are injured as a result of impaired driving crashes in Canada. This affects our friends, family, neighbours, and colleagues, virtually everyone in our lives. There is perhaps no greater pain than losing a loved one so suddenly under circumstances like impaired driving. The frustrations of the legal system are even more significant on top of the pain and anger from one's loss. I agree that impaired driving has had a long history of causing heartbreak in our country and that changes need to be made to prevent any more tragedies from happening in Canada.

According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving Canada, in 2010, impairment-related crashes resulted in an estimated 1,082 fatalities, 63,821 injuries, and damage to 210,932 vehicles. There are also significant financial and social costs as a result of impaired driving. There was a total of 181,911 crashes, costing an estimated $20.62 billion. This includes the costs of the horrific fatalities, injuries, property damage, traffic delays, hospital costs, and the cost of first responders, such as police officers, firefighters, and ambulance attendants, to say nothing of the psychological impact on our front-line workers. Naturally, the government should want to put forward legislation that prevents people from needlessly suffering. My question is why it does not want to do it right.

The largest problem with this bill centres around the mandatory roadside alcohol and drug testing or screening proposed in section 320.27. This would be the first time in Canada that authority would be given to police to stop someone on a whim. These are very dangerous and murky waters we are wading into here. Currently, under the law, officers must have a reasonable suspicion before they can stop someone. Many civil liberties groups have raised concerns about these proposed changes, stating that the removal of reasonable suspicion would result in disproportionate targeting of racialized Canadians, indigenous people, youth, and other marginalized groups.

I am the proud mother of two young black men, so I am additionally concerned about the uncertainties this bill would create. Carding and unfair racial profiling is an issue in many communities, and many other Canadians must deal with this on a daily basis, so why would the government create a piece of legislation that could potentially worsen this problem? Why would it put our valued police officers in such a precarious position? This issue may also be challenged in the judicial system and be subject to defeat under section 1 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Section 1 “guarantees the rights and freedoms set out in it subject only to such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.”

Random and mandatory breath tests for alcohol screening are also included in this bill, and they too could be challenged under sections 8 and 9 of the charter, which address the rights of individuals to be secure against unreasonable search or seizure and the rights of individuals not to be arbitrarily detained or imprisoned. Therefore, I again must ask the House why the government would create a piece of legislation that could impact the rights of individuals as laid out by the charter. This is incredibly short-sighted.

There is also the problem of how the police are expected to test and screen people for impaired driving from cannabis. The proposed plans are to use roadside oral fluid drug screeners. In Ontario, the pilot projects that use these devices are unreliable, and there is no standard chemical test that states when a person is impaired. Furthermore, the proposed legislation does not name any per se limit. The legal limit that would show impairment is not in the bill. Instead, the government has stated that this shall be prescribed by regulation.

I am reminded of a recent court case last year that shows why it is so important for the government to create legislation that is thorough and well thought out. This case involved a Toronto police officer and three young black men. The officer pulled their car over, despite the absence of any evidence. He said he was relying on a type of sixth sense to suss out usual suspects. These young men were handed four charges, including one of assaulting a police officer. The judge threw out these charges and stated:

...upon seeing this older vehicle being driven by three young, black males Constable Crawford's immediate conclusion despite the lack of any evidence, was that they were up to something.... It was more probable than not that there was no articulable cause for the stop but that the real reason for the stop was racial profiling.

As legislators, it is imperative that we find solutions to problems, but not create more problems. By not creating clear and well-thought-out laws, we leave stranded those who must enforce those laws and those who must abide by them.

The NDP is asking for a more effective piece of legislation that deals with the problem of impaired driving holistically. We need a robust public awareness campaign that educates the public and police about the dangers of driving while impaired from either alcohol or drugs. Through education, we can effectively teach and deter people, thereby avoiding the problem in the first place.

This was a major recommendation of the task force on cannabis legalization and regulation. It stated quite accurately that we need to “develop a national, comprehensive public education strategy to send a clear message to Canadians that cannabis causes impairment and that the best way to avoid driving impaired is to not consume.”

The Canadian Automobile Association helped fund a study by the Ottawa-based Traffic Injury Research Foundation that suggests that legalization would pose “incredible challenges” for managing pot-impaired drivers. The CAA also commissioned a poll that found that almost two-thirds of respondents are worried that our roads will become more dangerous after legalization.

There are a lot of misconceptions out there about marijuana usage in our country, and we certainly have heard a great deal of them in the House today. In the poll I referred to, some people even believed that taking pot made them a better driver. Suffice it to say that there is a great deal of research that challenges and supports these perceptions. However, it is the responsibility of the government to study this issue in more detail, educate the public on the best information available, and ensure that it puts forward legislation that effectively and fairly addresses this problem.

New Democrats want a smart bill that truly works to protect Canadians. Repeatedly, experts and their research show us that education and prevention are truly bigger deterrents than sentences. This is why we believe that the bill must focus more heavily on these issues. Yes, impaired driving is the number one cause of criminal death in Canada. There are lives at stake, and I believe that as legislators we must include effective provisions to stop people from ever making the choice to drive impaired.

I have to say that it is disappointing that the Liberals on the committee defeated five out of six NDP amendments, and the majority of the opposition members' amendments as well, but of course supported all of the government's amendments. I think there was an opportunity at the committee to get the bill right, but it is disappointing that it has now come to the House without that happening.

This issue is too important to put band-aid solutions on it. We must do this correctly, and we must do it intelligently to end the long, heartbreaking history of impaired driving in Canada. Nothing is more devastating than the loss of a loved one, and we must do everything we can to prevent the tragedies that occur on our roads.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

October 24th, 2017 / 12:40 p.m.
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Tracey Ramsey NDP Essex, ON

Mr. Speaker, the member opposite is disregarding the vast amount of evidence that under the current laws in our country, there is racial profiling and carding of black and indigenous drivers, who are randomly stopped. This is an epidemic in our country that needs to be addressed.

To say that our current laws prevent this is patently false. There is so much contrary evidence to that. Certainly in the member's own riding in Toronto, there is incredible evidence showing that carding is happening, that people are being randomly pulled over unlawfully without any reason, but just on a whim.

I do not know how the member can believe that the system is working well for people of colour, because those very people do not feel that the system is being used in the way it should be, but that police officers are using their authority to stop people randomly.

I am pleased to see that our new leader Jagmeet Singh has handled this issue very well provincially. He has called for a federal ban on carding, which is exactly the direction we need to go. Under Bill C-46, allowing police officers or front-line people to continue to randomly stop people without any just cause will have a disproportionate impact on people of colour, and that is a fact. I am not confident that this legislation would stop that from happening in any way, because it continues to be an epidemic in Canada.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

October 24th, 2017 / 12:45 p.m.
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Karen Vecchio Conservative Elgin—Middlesex—London, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to rise today to speak to Bill C-46, an act to amend the Criminal Code and to make consequential amendments to other acts. I would also like to thank the member for Essex for her very kind words and thoughts. As a mother, I am on the same page on this. I would like to thank her very much for sharing that.

Today we are speaking about safe roads for Canadians and their families. It should be a simple discussion, but we must recognize that with the ramming through of this legislation, our cities and municipalities will not have the proper tools and resources to make sure that safety is our priority.

During the summer, I met with many people to discuss Bill C-45. Many individuals brought forward their concerns about impaired driving due to cannabis, which concerns Bill C-46.

The task force put together many recommendations for the Liberal government to review. First, the chair of the committee indicated that the best solution was to give researchers time to develop proper detection tools. Second, for many users, specifically youth, the potency and impact is greatly unknown and underestimated. Third, there should be increased funding for law enforcement authorities to get ready for the new regime. Fourth, and one of the key points I find extremely important and that was recommended by both the task force and the states of Washington and Colorado, which have legalized marijuana, was the importance of extensive impaired driving campaigns before the legislation.

To begin, I would like speak about the need for proper detection tools. Results were announced indicating that there was a pilot project using a new device to detect the concentration of cannabis in the system. It was reported by officers that the device was easy to use and successfully detected the drug. At this time, there has been no indication of what the next steps will be and how we are going to pay for it.

Second, is it the best test, and will it detect impairment? We have heard other members of Parliament speak about these tests and the equipment necessary. We do not have the silver bullet when it comes to detection devices.

It was also stated that the best method to prevent impaired driving was public education funding for public resources and education. Education is definitely a word everyone will hear more and more throughout my speech.

Another concern is the unknown and underestimated impact of cannabis on youth. Studies show that cannabis has many different effects on people, specifically on the skills that are extremely important when driving. They include loss of motor coordination, problem solving, and thinking; and distorted perception. I believe we all agree that these are important skills that should not be at risk when driving.

Keeping this in mind, we should take into account a few other factors. Statistics posted by the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction state the following:

According to the 2012 Canadian Alcohol and Drug Use Monitoring Survey, 5% of youth aged 15-24 reported driving after using marijuana during the past year, compared to 9.4% after consuming alcohol.

Data from the National Fatality Database revealed that between 2000 and 2010, marijuana was the most common illicit drug present among fatally injured drivers aged 15-24 in Canada.

The 2011 Canadian Alcohol and Drug Use Monitoring Survey revealed that individuals aged 15-24 were more likely to be passengers of an individual who had consumed alcohol or other drugs, rather than to drive impaired themselves. Riding with a driver who has used drugs or alcohol can lead to consequences just as tragic as driving while impaired.

Addressing impaired driving among our youth must be done. CCSA goes on to say:

CCSA has conducted a series of reviews examining effective approaches to preventing drugged driving among youth. Key findings include:

Factual messaging created by youth ensures that information is believable and easily understood by youth.

Empowering youth to plan and create their own prevention initiatives can increase the effectiveness and reach of the message.

Parents, teachers, coaches and so on should talk to youth about impaired driving and discuss implications to encourage youth to think critically before making decisions.

Overall, what we are talking about are awareness campaigns that centre on youth to deter them from driving while impaired, especially under the influence of marijuana. Once again, my focus here is education. The most common drug used first by Canadian youth is marijuana, and among our youth population, we have the second highest use of marijuana in the world. Where is the education regarding the potential effects and the conversation on driving while impaired?

Next, what is available for resources and financial support? Currently, the federal, provincial, and territorial governments have been speaking, but there are no decisions, and there is still one main player missing at the table. The cities and municipalities that will be in charge of keeping our roads safe have not been provided with this tool. They have been left out of these conversations. We still have to talk to them. We need to talk about education. We need to talk about potential detection devices, but currently, all we are doing is talking about reasonable suspicion.

How many officers in Canada are currently qualified? With legalization and predicting increased use, will more officers need to be trained? Where is the training, and what are the current waiting times for training? These are things I have had discussions about in my riding. I have spoken to the chief of police in the city of St. Thomas. We talked a lot about drug recognition officers. What is the cost? What is the delay? We have heard many reports indicating that there are too few officers available and that the education is not available. Right now, because we, as well as other states, are going forward with this, there is a huge delay in getting this done.

According to an article published by the Ottawa Citizen on February 4, 2017, here are the numbers: 2.6% is the proportion of drivers in Canada who admitted driving within two hours of using cannabis in the past year, according to Health Canada's 2012 Canadian alcohol and drug use survey; 632,576 people is how many this represents; 10.4 million is how many trips this represents; 2.04 million is how many Canadian drivers admitted to driving after consuming two or more drinks in the previous hour, which represents 13.3 million trips; 5.5% is the proportion of drivers who tested positive for cannabis use, according to a 2013 study in British Columbia; and 16.6% is the proportion of fatally injured drivers who tested positive for cannabis, according to an examination done between 2000 and 2010. Males are three times as likely as females to drive after using cannabis.

Therefore, this is an issue we must address. We need to provide the proper resources for our police forces to deal with this. Regarding drug recognition experts, there are currently 578 drug recognition experts in Canada, and 160 to 200 new DREs are certified every year. Some existing DREs do not recertify, or they are promoted out of the role. It is hard enough to maintain the current number of DREs, much less increase the number, said one of the people working in the department.

At the same time, training is expensive, and some of it has to be done in the U.S. Opportunities to get field training in the U.S. are being squeezed as demand to train officers increases there. This is a clear challenge that needs to be addressed.

According to the 2017 budget:

Health Canada will support marijuana public education programming and surveillance activities in advance of the Government's plan to legalize cannabis by directing existing funding of $9.6 million over five years, with $1.0 million per year ongoing.

However, Health Canada has just issued a public tender to find a contractor to develop a national marketing plan targeting youth that will focus on education and awareness of the health and safety risks of cannabis. This campaign is going to be targeted at Canadian youth aged 13-18. An important point to note, though, is that this program is going to start running after December 2017, so we are talking about putting in a program less than six months before the legalization of marijuana. There is no exact date when the ads are going to start. Just saying it will be after December 2017 is not good enough.

Why is the government rushing on this issue? Why are we rushing to not keep our roads safe? Why are the Liberals not doing more? Why are they rushing Bill C-45 and Bill C-46, other than because of extreme political views? Why are we not taking the safety of Canadians on our roads as paramount?

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

October 24th, 2017 / 1 p.m.
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Brigitte Sansoucy NDP Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, this bill seeks to clearly set out the offences of and the sentences for people who decide to drive under the influence of marijuana and to update provisions on drunk driving.

We supported this bill at second reading and since then we have been examining it. Unfortunately, impaired driving is the leading cause of criminal deaths in the country. Canada has one of the worst impaired driving records in the OECD.

We need to implement an effective and well funded public awareness campaign. As we have been repeating from the start of today's debate, it is important for the government to quickly implement this public awareness and education campaign.

Earlier today, my colleague from Mount Royal, the chair of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, said that we were here to talk about Bill C-46, not Bill C-45, which deals with the legalization of marijuana. However the government chose to introduce these two bills around the same time, one after the other. We cannot talk about one without talking about the other. It is therefore important to make sure that the awareness and education campaign is done right and that it is launched immediately, well before marijuana is legalized.

The NDP has always stood for sensible measures to prevent impaired driving. We need to focus on powerful deterrents that can actually help prevent tragedies. I just said it, but I want to reiterate that the government needs to launch a robust public awareness campaign before the marijuana legalization bill comes into force.

Bill C-46 does not clearly define the levels of marijuana in saliva that would qualify as impairment. That needs to be made clear. We need an unbiased, science-based strategy for stopping drug-impaired drivers.

Under the bill, the police will no longer need to have reasonable grounds to suspect that the person consumed alcohol in order to demand a breath sample. Civil liberties groups and the legal community have expressed concerns over the constitutionality of the proposed measures. In fact, earlier, my colleague from Essex illustrated how this might lead to profiling during arrests, which is problematic.

These civil liberties defence groups also wonder whether marginalized groups will be targeted. That is why, upon reflection, it is important to have experts provide testimony at committee to ensure that Canadians' civil liberties are respected and protected.

The NDP leader, Jagmeet Singh, was outspoken during his time in the Ontario legislature about the ability of the police to go after people simply on the basis of their race, be they aboriginal, black, or Canadians of other minorities.

The discriminatory police practice of carding was central to his work in the Ontario legislative assembly. Mr. Singh says that as Prime Minister, he will enact a federal ban on racial profiling to end it once and for all.

In fact, he said in a Toronto Star interview that he had been stopped more than 11 times because of his appearance. He said:

I've been stopped by police multiple times for no other reason than the colour of my skin. It makes you feel like you don't belong, like there's something wrong with you for just being you.

I find meeting with our constituents to be a very interesting part of our work as MPs. I have been asked how we come to decide how to vote in the House. Of course, the discussions like the one we are having today, as well as the ones with our colleagues, are key. My colleagues' speeches today have been very enlightening.

During caucus discussions, we draw on our personal experiences and our own judgment, but also on the experiences of our colleagues in the House. As such, I would like to talk about my colleague fromVictoria's speech, which was very enlightening for me on this issue. I had the chance to sit on the Special Joint Committee on Physician-Assisted Dying with my colleague from Victoria, and his legal and constitutional expertise was very enlightening for me. The bill before us today, Bill C-46, is also very enlightening.

I would like to read part of a speech he gave, one that I feel is very important.

Currently under the law as it exists, one has to have reasonable suspicion before stopping someone. If one no longer has to have that reasonable suspicion, which is what this section at issue would do, then there is the potential, indeed, the certainty that there will be disproportionate targeting of racialized Canadians, indigenous people, youth, and other marginalized groups. That is the nub of the problem and why this is such a difficult bill for the House to deal with.... However, we have to get this balance right. We are not convinced that it has been achieved. We are still studying it and will continue to study it before the vote takes place in the next while. At the committee, the NDP did manage to get one amendment that would somehow address this issue. That amendment would add the proposed section 31.1 to the bill, which would require that this issue be studied and reported to Parliament within three years of enactment. The committee agreed with that, and I hope the House will accept that final amendment as well. We will see whether the concerns that so many experts have brought to the attention of the committee will prove true in practice.

I want to quote something else he said, because, unlike him, I did not have the privilege of taking part in the deliberations of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights. He said:

We heard from Mothers Against Drunk Driving and other countless witnesses at the justice committee, telling their heartbreaking stories of the loss they had suffered. However, the bill poses serious concerns, particularly in the area of mandatory alcohol screen....What is the concern with mandatory alcohol testing? The new police powers enacted through the legislation would remove the reasonable suspicion requirements for roadside inspection by peace officers that presently exist in the Criminal Code, instead moving to a mandatory system by which, at the discretion of the patrolling officer, motorists must submit to random breath samples without any justification whatsoever, in other words, on a whim.

I was saying earlier that our personal experience can inform our discussions of this type of bill. I often tell the House that before being elected, I worked for the Quebec ministry of agriculture, fisheries and food, was a municipal councillor, and also worked with youth for almost 20 years. In light of my experience with a youth round table and as the director of a community housing organization that served troubled youth, I cannot help but have concerns about the impact of this type of bill, which requires a very balanced approach. I sincerely hope that the only NDP amendment to be retained will remain intact. It is important that we do not target certain groups in society when we address impaired driving. As parliamentarians it is our duty to ensure that each and every citizen is treated fairly and that the laws we pass make that possible.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

October 24th, 2017 / 1:15 p.m.
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Luc Berthold Conservative Mégantic—L'Érable, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would also like to acknowledge the excellent work of my colleague from Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, who is always on point and keeps partisanship to a minimum, although she sometimes gets carried away, which is entirely normal, since that is the game we in the House play. She is very concerned about this issue.

When a member of the House asks a colleague a question, it might be a good idea to stay in Ottawa long enough to hear the answer. I understand why government members are unclear on all of the nuances of parliamentary language and the excellent comments made by people on this side of the House. When people ask us questions, they should take the time to listen to the answer. This is just something I’m throwing out there, because I was a little angry at the lack of respect I just witnessed in the House.

To return to my colleague’s remarks, I would like to know whether what I see as the government’s off-the-cuff attitude as it rushes to push through the marijuana issue might cause problems for the police and addiction workers down the line. I do not think we are ready.

What is my colleague’s opinion concerning Bills C-45 and C-46?

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

October 24th, 2017 / 1:15 p.m.
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Jim Eglinski Conservative Yellowhead, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak again today on Bill C-46, an act to amend the Criminal Code regarding offences relating to conveyances. Shortening the title, we are dealing with impaired driving and a review and updating of the old sections of the Criminal Code. It is impaired driving by alcohol or drugs.

I was a policeman for 35 years and held Breathalyzer operator certificates since 1970. I took part in probably well over 1,000 impaired cases involving alcohol and drugs. My first year, there were about 100, as a rookie. In those days, I could arrest a guy for impaired driving, bring him into the office, do up all the paperwork, and get back on the road within an hour or an hour and a half, except once. This is how bad impaired drivers can be.

I remember a case when I arrested a guy for impaired driving and brought him back to the office. At the time, the policy of the attorney general and the province was not to hold or detain, or remove vehicles from the road. I brought the man in and he blew .26. We had to release him, so I released him. Fifteen minutes later, I saw him driving down the road. I picked him up, brought him back to the office, processed him, and gave him an appearance notice because I could not hold him, and let him go. Twenty minutes later, lo and behold, he drove by me again. This time, I brought him in and arrested him. Impaired driving has always been a very serious part of our society.

Is impaired driving going down, whether it is due to drugs or alcohol? That is debatable. We have to thank groups like MADD for their work, but I do not believe it is going down, and I will provide two specific reasons. One is that the time to process a simple impaired driving case takes anywhere from three to four hours, and closer to four hours. Therefore, the police officer is off the road for four hours in order to do the paperwork. Why does it take that long? It is because of all the different wording in all of the legislation. He has to cross all of his t's and dot all of his i's to get a conviction. All we are doing right now is bringing in more legislation, more work for lawyers, and it is going to complicate it that much more.

The second reason is deterrence. I had the good fortune to find a court book from 1950 for Vancouver Island and impaired drivers were being fined anywhere between $100 and $300 in 1950. The average salary in 1950 was about $1,700. In 1970, the fines were still $100 to $300, but people were earning about $5,700. Today, the minimum fine is $1,000 and people are earning an average of $50,000, though I think it is a bit higher than that. Therefore, there is no deterrent to cause people to think about drinking and driving.

I will comment on what my hon. friend from St. Albert—Edmonton said. He brought up in committee that we need to strengthen some of the legislation. An example was to have a five-year mandatory sentence for someone who drives a vehicle while impaired and kills a person, and the Liberal government said no and voted against it. Right now, the minimum fine under summary conviction is $1,000. If we go to the more serious offence of causing injury or death, it is $500 more. That is ridiculous. It was more effective many years ago than it is today.

I will provide some simple statistics for those in the room. One shot of whisky is equal to 12 ounces of beer or a glass of wine. An average 140-pound woman who has three ounces in an hour would probably have a reading of .11, which would put her at .03 over the limit. Here is one place where I can say men might be just a little better than women. A 140-pound man having three ounces in an hour would have a .09 reading. That is because our dissipation system seems to be a bit better, and I will leave it at that.

Science gives us the ability to calculate the effects of alcohol. I could sit down with any person in this room, and if he or she told me what he or she had to drink I could probably break it down and tell him or her what the reading would be.

Proposed section 254.01 of the Criminal Code, the new one that we are talking about, states:

The Attorney General of Canada may...approve

(a) a device that is designed to ascertain the presence of alcohol in a person’s blood;

(b) equipment that is designed to ascertain the presence of a drug in a person’s body;

(c) an instrument that is designed to receive and make an analysis of a sample of a person’s breath to determine their blood alcohol concentration

Paragraphs (a) and (c) have been in existence since the 1960s. With respect to paragraph (b), we are told that some countries have some form of testing that they believe is correct. We are looking at that and testing it right now. However, it is not definite, for sure. I do not believe we have enough scientific evidence out there. However, we will be going ahead with this law to make marijuana legal.

Impaired driving, under proposed section 254 of the bill refers to any conveyance. Therefore, we will be able to go after anybody riding an electric bike, an electric wheelchair, an ATV, a lawnmower, all the way up to a transport truck. All these people will be subject to the new rules and regulations that we are imposing. Some of them will be able to use legalized marijuana for medical purposes, and others will use legalized marijuana for recreational use.

We all know that marijuana goes through the lungs into the bloodstream, then into the body, and gets stored in the fat cells. The sad part about it, which is different than alcohol, is that alcohol dissipates at about one ounce per hour for an average person. Therefore, it is gone. If one has three drinks in an hour, probably three to four hours later one's body is clear of that alcohol. That is not the case with marijuana. It stays in one's brain tissue and fat cells and can come up anytime one agitates one's body or gets excited. What does marijuana do? It knocks the heck out of our senses: sense of time, moods, movements, thinking, the ability to problem-solve, and memory. If we overindulge in the use of marijuana, then we can go into hallucinations, delusions, and psychosis. However, most people will just experience the former part, which is a form of impairment.

Duke University in New Zealand did a number of tests in the last few years with young people. I am saying this because it has proven that kids using marijuana on a regular basis had an IQ that was eight points less than their counterparts who did not use it. That is already a form of impairment right there.

According to Colorado State University, the tests it has done over the last few years show that the THC level of marijuana has increased over 30% in the past 20 years. It is much stronger than it used to be, which is another form of impairment.

My concern is that marijuana stays in one's body for three to 10 days immediately, and it takes up to three months for it to completely dissipate.

The shocking fact is that Colorado sold $14.6 million worth of marijuana in January of 2015. In the month of January 2016, it sold $36.4 million. That is more than double. To me, if the amount has doubled, so has the amount of impaired driving, which means we need to double the amount of money that we are going to spend on education. The current government has told us that it is going to spend a certain amount. We know that as soon as it becomes legal, the use of marijuana is going to at least double.

The legislation in Bill C-46 has some good intentions, and I do not disagree with it, but it needs to be reviewed with more scrutiny. It needs to be looked at. We need to get rid of a lot of the ambiguous parts that are written in there because it is going to tie up police officers on the road and make it very difficult for us to enforce impaired driving, especially with respect to drugs.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

October 24th, 2017 / 1:30 p.m.
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Kevin Waugh Conservative Saskatoon—Grasswood, SK

Mr. Speaker, once again, I rise to speak about the shortfalls and the negative consequences of Bill C-46.

When I last voiced my concern about the bill back in May, I brought to the attention of the House a devastating tragedy that was suffered by the Van de Vorst family in my city of Saskatoon. Early last year, they lost four members of their family to an impaired driver. It is an unimaginable tragedy. Some say it was the worst accident in the city of Saskatoon's history. Linda and Lou Van de Vorst lost their son, their daughter-in-law, and their two grandchildren when an impaired driver blew through the intersection of Wanuskewin Road and Highway 11. Four members of their family were wiped out on that January night. Two nights ago, the first official roadside memorial sign, with the names of the Van de Vorst family, was put up at this intersection as a reminder.

I am sure all of us have driven through an intersection where we spot flowers, a white cross, and teddy bears from time to time, but this is the first sign with actual names in my province of Saskatchewan. The names are Jordan, Chanda, Kamryn, and Miguire Van de Vorst. I ask members this. Will Linda and Lou Van de Vorst be able to drive that road again, or will they look for an extra-grid road so that they do not have to pass by that sign? The impaired driver was three times over the legal limit. The sentence then for killing all four innocent people was a mere 10 years.

I have another story of Melanie and Allan Kerpan, another family that has suffered a tragic loss. Just a week ago today, the Kerpan family unveiled a sign on Highway 11 that reads “In memory of Danille Brooke Kerpan”. Three years ago this month, their daughter, Danille, was driving on a double-lane highway when a drunk driver going the wrong way—we understand for many kilometres and many minutes—ran into her vehicle, taking her young life. Allan Kerpan came to Ottawa about a year and a half ago and spoke on this.

I mentioned Kerpan's name, because Allan is a very good friend of ours and he is also a former member of Parliament for Blackstrap. The Kerpans' entire family have been outspoken about the changing attitude toward drinking and driving, the need for awareness, and the need for education.

There was a province-wide campaign led by Saskatchewan Government Insurance, or SGI, showing real-life victims of impaired driving crashes. Let us imagine on the television set that one by one these faces disappear. We lose one and then another and then another. It is a 30-second spot on Saskatchewan television.

Again I ask, every time Melanie and Allan Kerpan leave their family farm in Kenaston to go south on Highway 11, as they approach Bladworth, where this accident occurred, will they be reminded now of this tragedy, because of a sign?

Unfortunately, my province of Saskatchewan has one of the highest rates, if not the highest, of impaired driving in this country, as per Statistics Canada 2015, and families suffer as a result. I just talked about two of many families in my province. In 2016 alone, there were 6,377 incidents of impaired driving in our province of Saskatchewan. In my city of Saskatoon, with a population of under 300,000, we had 649 incidents of impaired driving.

This is an unacceptable statistic, which represents serious harm to the lives and the well-being of people not only in my constituency but in our province and certainly our country.

We are left here with Bill C-46, a bill concerning driving under the influence of drugs, notably marijuana. It is a bill with substantial flaws, which the Liberal government refuses to address.

Actually, the motivating force for Bill C-46 would be Bill C-45. The claim that this legislation will keep marijuana out of the hands of children and drive criminals out of the business of profiting from the sale of marijuana is simply ridiculous. I have stated before in this House that this is simply not true. It is fake news, if I could say that. A legal age for consuming alcohol has not stopped underage children and teenagers from consuming alcohol if they want it. Criminals will always be able to profit from a black market for illegal marijuana and will find more desirable targets in underage youth because of this Bill C-46.

We have talked about the burdens on police and the justice system due to this Bill C-46. When we look at statistics from 2015, we see that drug-impaired driving is on the rise nationally, even before marijuana becomes legalized. That should be deeply troubling to all members, combined with the fact that cases of drug-impaired driving take longer to resolve before the courts when compared to drunk driving, and are less likely to result in a guilty finding.

With an increase of people using marijuana or trying it out for the first time, we can only expect that these stats will become much worse after it becomes legalized. The government does not appear to be considering how difficult it will be and how many resources it will need to properly police drug-impaired driving. Unlike drunk driving, which we can predict will peak at times such as Friday and Saturday nights, drug-impaired driving is a problem, I think, which will occur any time of the day, any day of the week. Stats Canada reports:

What this suggests is that drug-impaired driving may be more difficult to combat than alcohol-impaired driving since research has indicated that targeting known peak periods is one of the most effective ways to combat drinking and driving.

The Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, including my own Saskatoon police service, told the federal committee they need more time to properly train officers about the new cannabis laws, and they need more than double the number of police officers who are certified to conduct roadside drug-impaired driving tests. Police have asked the Liberal government to postpone the date for legal pot because there is zero chance they will be ready by July 1.

We also have the issue of growing marijuana plants. That is going to be a major issue. Just last week I had a delegation from the Association of Saskatchewan Realtors wondering about landlords' rights when renting out their property. Do they have any rights? This is an issue on which they have not been consulted.

As I mentioned, this issue is a burden that police face in response to how rushed we are now on this Bill C-46. In my last speech I talked about it. However, I wonder if the Liberal government is even listening to these concerns.

The most important issue is education. We have not even started that. The Liberal government claims it is going to start it in the month of December, which is six or seven months prior to when we legalize pot on July 1. It has not even contacted the Canadian School Boards Association, yet these are the vulnerable people, age 15 and up, whom we are talking about, and they have not been educated on drinking and driving or the effects of marijuana. We are deeply concerned about the lack of education, and that the government has not progressed at all.

In conclusion, there are many glaring shortcomings that are present in Bill C-46, which need to be addressed in order to improve the safety and well-being of my constituents and others in this country.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

October 24th, 2017 / 1:45 p.m.
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Larry Maguire Conservative Brandon—Souris, MB

Mr. Speaker, over the course of the summer, I took on the task of holding five town halls on the government's legislation to not only legalize recreational marijuana, but also on Bill C-46, which we are debating in the House today. I threw open the doors and invited constituents who cared to attend, so everybody would have a full understanding of what was being proposed in both pieces of legislation. It was from those five meetings that I got a better understanding of the concerns of not only everyday residents, but also from community leaders such as mayors, reeves, and councillors.

Listening to one's constituents should not only happen during town halls, it is a practice that every elected official should subscribe. If truth be told, not many members of the government hosted a no-holds barred public meetings on either Bill C-45 or Bill C-46.

I would argue that legalizing recreational marijuana is one of the largest changes to the Controlled Substances Act in my lifetime. However, not many government MPs took the opportunity to meet with their constituents in an open door forum. If they did, they would have quickly become aware that not only was the Liberal government's political deadline of July 1, 2018, to implement legal recreational marijuana usage untenable, it would unnecessarily raise the risk of bodily harm and injury on our roads and highways.

At a recent Council of the Federation meeting, Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister requested an extension of the Liberal government's deadline of July 1, 2018. for marijuana legalization. In response to Premier Pallister's request, the premiers established an official working group on marijuana, co-chaired by Manitoba justice minister Heather Stefanson. Since then, it has been closely following the debate in the House and in committee meetings that were held on this legislation.

As was stated by many expert witnesses at committee or quoted in the news, it is simply unfathomable to expect that police departments and the RCMP will be prepared for the July 1 deadline as currently set out.

I would like to quote Director Mario Harel, the president of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, who stated at committee on Wednesday, September 20:

The question many in policing have is what level of readiness the government, and more importantly, our communities, expect law enforcement to deliver. We can be ready at some level July 2018, but are we delivering on the public safety objectives Canadians would expect of us?

That question gets to the very heart of the concerns that many members of Parliament, including backbench Liberal MPs, have publicly voiced.

We know the science surrounding the impairment of one's ability to drive after consuming cannabis varies widely from one individual to another. We know that one's level of impairment can be impacted by how long an individual has either legally or illegally consumed cannabis. For instance, if one has been consuming cannabis on a daily basis for 20 years, that person's mind and body will be impacted differently than someone who consumes it on a monthly basis. Let me give the House a specific example.

During one of my town halls, a constituent stated that she had taken medical marijuana for years. She consumes cannabis in an edible form for her chronic pain. She said, not only in our public meeting but also publicly in the local newspaper, that it would be more dangerous for her to drive while not under the influence of medical marijuana. While I am not a medical expert, nor proclaim to understand the precise impacts of one's cognitive functions, driving under the impairment of marijuana is just as dangerous as driving under the impairment of alcohol or other prescription drugs.

While this is my belief, it was quite a shock to hear that some individuals who had consumed marijuana for years, if not in some cases for decades, pushed back on this premise. They pushed back because they felt that under no circumstances was public safety at risk because of their consumption of cannabis while driving a vehicle. This is a huge concern and I am quite certain that if a Conservative member of Parliament is being told this, it begs the question, What other long-term beliefs are held by Canadians who have long consumed marijuana?

In respect to the legislation, beyond a shadow of doubt, as it is currently written, it will be challenged almost immediately when brought into force. The reason I am so confident in saying this is that unfortunately Canadians will be caught and charged for driving under impairment of cannabis. It is safe to suggest that criminal defence attorneys will be looking at every available avenue to lessen the client's charge. There is empirical evidence to suggest this is exactly what will happen.

We know that the current drinking and driving laws are some of the most heavily litigated areas of criminal law. In respect to determining the exact nanograms of THC per ml of blood, it was good to hear even Liberal MPs, such as the member for Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam, ask about the objectively determined standards for marijuana that the police could measure against.

What was disconcerting was that the Minister of Justice did not respond directly to her colleague's question. She noted that the government had set up a drug impaired driving committee, but neglected to answer his question of setting the benchmarks to determine impairment.

Now, I am not the only one who is asking these questions. The Canadian Bar Association recommends that the federal government base any measurement of blood drug concentration on proven scientific evidence that links the concentration of THC to impairment. According to the briefing to the Minister of Justice, it outlined the difficulties of introducing specific blood drug concentrations of setting an objective standard for penalizing a person and then linking the findings to impairment. It even goes as far as saying that legislating specific blood drug concentration levels is problematic.

While the Canadian Bar Association is probably well aware of the legal quagmire that will soon engulf our nation's courtrooms, it is wise to take a moment and reflect on whether the government is rushing ahead without the scientific data to back up its legislation.

We all want our roads and highways to be safe from those who make the callous decision to get behind the wheel after one too many beers, and soon to be one too many tokes. With that in mind, it is troubling to hear from legal experts and marijuana users that the Liberal government's legislation may not hold up under heavy scrutiny of a well-funded legal defence team.

The other aspect of concern is that the costs associated will be borne by the provinces and municipalities regarding Bill C-46. This was one of the most concerning matters raised by other levels of government.

Earlier this summer, I wrote the parliamentary budget officer requesting a costing analysis for implementing the Liberal government's legislation to legalize marijuana. I received a response from the PBO last month, describing both a lack of transparency by the Liberal government and an intention to offload costs onto provinces.

According to the PBO's letter, Justice Canada responded to its requests for information by stating that the estimated costs of marijuana legalization were a cabinet confidence. Similar responses were provided to the PBO by Public Safety Canada and Health Canada. In response to my letter, the PBO wrote:

This clearly indicates that the federal government does have access to some cost estimates of Bills C-45 and C-46, but without that information it would be difficult for the Office of the PBO to provide a reasonable cost analysis.

I requested an in-depth costing analysis for several areas of concern for my constituents, including the cost of education campaigns and workplace health and safety regulations. We know the Prime Minister has thrown out the idea of sharing any federal excise tax equally with the provinces, but even that was not enough to calm the nerves of the premiers and their respective finance ministers.

May there be no illusion of any member in the House that with the passage of Bill C-45 and Bill C-46, the policing, legal costs, and court delays will go down. The fallacy purported by some well-meaning but ill-advised commentators about how police resources will now miraculously be shifted from cracking down on simple pot possessions to much more serious matters is but a dream.

First, as with anything the government regulates, legislates, and oversees, there will be no cost savings when equipment, training, bureaucracy, and simple paperwork are all accounted for. Second, as the provinces have announced, the government will make the purchase of legal recreational marijuana so restrictive that the neighbourhood pot dealer just gave a loud round of applause as his business will prevail in the near future.

The issue of legalizing marijuana for recreational purposes, while also updating the Criminal Code so police officers have the necessary tools and legal framework to keep our streets and highways safe, are not necessarily bound by one another.

Under no circumstances should the legalization of recreational marijuana be pushed forward without at least some time after Bill C-46 is brought into force. Not only should Bill C-46 be allowed to be tested, prodded, and probed, but the federal government has the responsibility to fund the vast majority of upfront costs of doing so. The provinces and municipalities should not be taken for granted and their cause of concern on the timelines proposed in the Liberal legislation should be heeded.

As I have stated on many occasions, the Liberal government should wade carefully into the full legislation of recreational marijuana. It needs to move beyond its politically motivated deadline, disclose the true cost of marijuana legalization, and provide municipalities and provinces with the resources they need to ensure safety for all Canadians.

Until that time, the legislation should not move forward. I encourage the Liberals to listen to the myriad of voices that echo similar apprehensions.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

October 24th, 2017 / 3:20 p.m.
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Scarborough Southwest Ontario


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

Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin by commending the member for Brandon—Souris for the effort he put into going to his constituents. I am aware that he conducted several town halls and constituent consultations which were very helpful. I also want to offer my personal thanks for sharing the results of those consultations. I am very grateful for the effort the member made and I commend and thank him for that.

With respect to the remarks he made on Bill C-46, I believe he would agree with me that we currently have a problem with road safety inasmuch as Canada has the highest rate of cannabis use in the world, and evidence and research have told us that many people do not understand the risks that using cannabis or other drugs can have when they operate motor vehicles.

Would the member agree with me that there is an urgency, that Parliament has the responsibility to act, that by bringing this legislation forward, by ensuring law enforcement has access to the training, tools, technologies, and authorities it will need to keep our roadways safe, we have an opportunity to move forward and make our roads safer, and that the provisions contained within Bill C-46 have the potential to save very many Canadian lives?

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

October 24th, 2017 / 3:25 p.m.
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Christine Moore NDP Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to speak to this important bill, which deals with impaired driving. Impaired driving is a major problem on our roads and a very serious issue that we must consider.

That is why the NDP chose to support Bill C-46 at second reading, even though we still have some unanswered questions. Personally, I must admit that I have not yet decided what my final vote will be after report stage and third reading.

Second reading is often the step where members decide whether the underlying principle of the bill is important. This bill deals with impaired driving. It seeks to do more to prevent impaired driving and to go after those who choose to drive while under the influence. There is no doubt that the underlying principle of this bill is important. At third reading and report stage, members must determine whether the bill really supports that principle. Right now, I have my doubts, and I will explain why by talking about the medical concept of drug tolerance.

For instance, when one drinks alcohol, one's body becomes habituated, but it does not develop a tolerance. We cannot say, for example, that if someone does not drink alcohol and then starts drinking every day, he will be able to drink 40 times more without any effect because he is habituated.

Alcohol does not produce a tolerance effect; the same dose will always have the same effect. For example, we can expect someone who drinks three beers to present certain symptoms, and we can expect someone who drinks five or six alcoholic beverages to display other symptoms. The clinical picture is pretty clear. There can be small variations from one person to the next, but they are minor.

Some drugs, however, can produce a tolerance effect. This means that the body becomes habituated and that larger and larger doses are needed to produce the same effect. Morphine and fentanyl patches are good examples of these types of drugs. A cancer patient will be given a certain dose, a fentanyl patch, and this should relieve the symptoms. However, as the illness progresses and the patient takes the drug over a longer period of time, the body becomes habituated and the patient needs larger and larger doses to obtain the same relief.

A test was conducted on a cancer patient. He was given fentanyl patches until he felt relief. If he was still in pain, he was given a larger dose. Eventually, he was able to tolerate 140 fentanyl patches. I can assure the House that if anyone here were given a dose that size, he or she would die on the spot. That is an example of the tolerance effect.

That is why it is difficult to establish a dose of medication or any other substance that produces a tolerance effect because the results change depending on the person, the dose, the time and the causes. It is extremely difficult to establish dosage limits to determine at what point a person will be impaired or at what point it would be dangerous to increase the dose, because the tolerance effect changes for the patient during treatment.

Marijuana appears to have somewhat of a tolerance effect, which means that its effect will be completely different depending on the person.

So, even if you set serum level limits, a person who took a legal dose may be completely unaffected, while another person who took the same dose may be totally dysfunctional and impaired. Some people could take a quarter of the legal dose and be extremely dangerous on the road. So, if we set an arbitrary limit, we might not be able to convict drivers who did not exceed the legal dose but who are still impaired and in no condition to drive. We also risk convicting drivers who are not impaired because their body has developed a tolerance.

By establishing a serum level limit, I think this bill will cause problems with cases that go to court. I spoke with a few defence attorneys, and they told me that no scientific studies have been able to establish a specific dose that can determine whether a person is impaired.

In my opinion, if we want to prove that a person is impaired, we might have to consider other avenues with respect to drugs such as marijuana that produce a tolerance effect. For example, we could use the same tests and tools police officers use to detect the presence of drugs. That is a good test. If we suspect that a person has used marijuana, we could administer the test and determine if we are correct.

In this case, the level does not matter. We would merely have to detect the presence of drugs, which we could prove, then we could administer standardized tests like the ones used for drunk drivers. For example, we could ask the person to walk a straight line or recite the alphabet backwards. There are a number of similar tests that we could use to prove that the person is impaired.

If we relied more heavily on these tests, which, incidentally, can be filmed using body cameras, we would be able to prove that a person is impaired because he or she does not have the cognitive or physical ability to perform certain tasks that a person who is not impaired could. This might be an option that would carry more weight in court.

That is why I question this bill, because it appears obvious that we cannot pass a bill without knowing whether the cases that make it to court will lead to accusations and convictions. There is no point in passing a law if we are going to get clobbered in court. We are in a situation where cannabis is legal and we do not have the tools we need to get convictions when someone is caught driving under the influence.

These questions are the reason I still do not know how I am going to vote in the end. We cannot ignore the fact that THC effects individuals differently. We must also consider the fact that people are already using marijuana for medicinal purposes and that regardless of whether or not legalization occurs, we still do not know how to determine whether a medicinal marijuana user is impaired. It is clear that blood levels are not a reliable measure. We need to consider other tools that would more effectively help determine if a person is impaired and would give crown prosecutors a better chance of getting convictions.

We have a lot of work to do to get a better grasp of this issue and I think we need to base our decisions on science, as with anything else. So far, the science is telling us that there is no blood test that can determine with 100% accuracy that a person is impaired by marijuana since there are too many interindividual variations. We have to find another way to determine whether a person is impaired.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

October 24th, 2017 / 3:40 p.m.
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Larry Miller Conservative Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise today in the House to speak to Bill C-46. I want to commend my colleague for her great speech and her responses to the questions she received.

As everyone knows, Bill C-46, an act to amend the Criminal Code (offences relating to conveyances), is a piece of legislation I have quite a number of concerns about.

I would like to echo a comment I have been hearing from a number of my constituents in Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound. It is that the government's arbitrary and self-imposed deadline for marijuana legalization needs to be abandoned. Many find it reckless on the government's part to be moving at such a rapid speed on a very sensitive issue. There are many unanswered questions when it comes to the legalization of marijuana, many of which deal with the topic at hand in Bill C-46, impaired driving.

I want to point out that if a person is impaired and is going to drive, it does not matter whether it is alcohol or whatever. A lot of people think that someone who is impaired must have been drinking. No. The use of marijuana or any other drug impairs a person. Anyone impaired like that should not be driving. These concerns, of course, are valid.

Canadians are looking south of the border at states like Colorado and are seeing an immense increase in the number of traffic deaths attributed to the use of marijuana. I would like to present the House with some statistics from Colorado on marijuana-related traffic deaths.

Marijuana-related traffic deaths have increased 48%, in the three-year average, since Colorado legalized recreational marijuana. In the year following legalization, marijuana-related traffic deaths increased 62%, from 71 to 115 persons.

In 2009, before legalization, marijuana-related traffic deaths in Colorado involving operators testing positive for marijuana represented 10% of all traffic fatalities. By 2015, after legalization, that number had doubled to 21%. There has been a 67% increase in the number of operators testing positive for marijuana involved in fatal accidents since recreational marijuana was legalized in 2013.

Therefore, we can see that Canadians have a legitimate reason to be concerned about how the legalization of marijuana will affect impaired driving in Canada. Canadians understand how important it is for the government to take its time and leave no stone unturned when it comes to ensuring that we are prepared as much as possible for when legalization becomes a reality.

We all know that the government promised to legalize marijuana. Whether one agrees with it or not, the government said that. However, I think it is obvious, from all the experts and from the observations made by members in this House, that the government is not ready.

Sometimes we have goals that we hope can happen at a certain time. Sometimes we have to just sit back and say that the right thing to do is delay it a bit and do it right. That is where I am coming from. This includes ensuring that police have the right tools and other resources to do their jobs and the proper training to identify the presence of marijuana use at the roadside. This should also be complemented by a public awareness campaign to educate Canadians about the dangers of marijuana use and driving.

The key question is about readiness, as I said. Will police agencies be ready when the time comes? Police themselves say that the answer is no. The July 1, 2018, deadline is way too soon. No number of legislative initiatives like Bill C-46 will be able to prepare the police for when marijuana becomes legal in July next year. The Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights heard this loud and clear when the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police appeared during its study of the legislation.

Here is what Mario Harel, president of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, had to say about the readiness of police forces across Canada in terms of resources and training.

He said:

While funding has been announced, details regarding how the funding will be allocated through the provinces and into the municipal police services' hands remain unclear. We need that to meet the training and implementation objectives. We clearly require many more officers trained in standard field sobriety testing and as drug recognition experts. Quite frankly, the capacity currently is not there to deliver the amount of training required.

Furthermore, police forces across Canada, including the RCMP, are still in the process of determining the best way forward when it comes to screening devices for roadside tests. Again, I will cite the testimony of Mr. Harel:

Standards for oral fluid drug screening devices are being developed.

He said, “being developed.” They are not there yet. Mr. Harel continued:

Devices are yet to be screened against standards approved by the Attorney General of Canada and made available to law enforcement to allow for implementation and training.

We can see that there is still a lot of work to be done to ensure that our police forces have the tools and training they need to be ready to keep our roads safe from impaired drivers.

It is also vitally important that drug screening devices respect the rights and freedoms of Canadians. This leads me to another aspect of the bill that I have a great deal of concern about, and that is mandatory alcohol screening. Proposed subsection 320.27(2) of Bill C-46 would go further than current Canadian law and would allow a police officer with an approved screening device to demand that a driver provide a sample, whether a breath test or another kind of sample, without any grounds whatsoever.

Recently, the House rejected Bill C-226, which created the same type of conditions. In Bill C-226, this was known as random breath testing. Bill C-46 would essentially recreate this practice. I had a great deal of concern about random breath testing with Bill C-226, and that concern remains with Bill C-46.

The Canadian Bar Association said this about the reincarnation of random breath testing:

The revised title does not change its essence and it remains a random test that can be administered without any grounds. Police now must have a reasonable suspicion that the person has alcohol in their system before making a demand, and even that is a low threshold.

Under Bill C-46, there would not even be a need for an officer to have any suspicion of the presence of alcohol. He or she could simply demand that a sample be provided. This runs counter to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and could very well make this bill unconstitutional.

This provision could potentially create difficult conditions for some minority groups. I have heard of a number of cases where first nations groups and African Americans, of course, south of the border, have been forced to provide samples without reasonable grounds. These types of provisions only encourage an increase in these types of situations.

We can all go back a number of years, to a remote northern native community in The Pas, Manitoba, I believe. I have a lot of respect for police, and most policemen and policewomen have the highest integrity, but in this community, there were a couple of officers who had a disdain for native people in some ways. They would pick up intoxicated natives and take them to the edge of town, and it was only after someone froze to death in a snowbank that the issue was brought out. The reason I mention this case is that if we allowed random breath testing, it would open the door for abuse like that, where the wrong kind of officer or officers could target communities. That is the last thing we want. Again, it goes against the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Therefore, I stand with the Canadian Bar Association when it recommends that this section be deleted from the bill altogether.

With that, I will conclude my remarks by stating that I strongly encourage the government to slow down and re-evaluate this bill. Slowing down and doing it right is not a bad thing. It is not about saving face or whatever. It should just do the right thing. We want to make sure that police have the tools and training they need and that we are protecting the rights and freedoms of Canadians. With that, I am glad to take questions.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

October 24th, 2017 / 4:45 p.m.
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Eglinton—Lawrence Ontario


Marco Mendicino LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, I will be speaking against Bill S-230. I want to acknowledge that the bill is well intentioned and its sponsor in the chamber, the hon. member for Richmond—Arthabaska, is to be applauded for the aim of the bill, which is to address drug-impaired driving. Similarly, the sponsor of Bill S-230 in the other place, the senator from Mille Isles, must be recognized for having had the same laudable aim when he initiated this bill.

Our government understands the significant impact that impaired driving, including drug-impaired driving, has on the safety of our roads and highways. We are firmly committed to strengthening appropriate laws and enforcement measures to deter and punish serious offenders on the road. That is why, while we support the intentions behind the Senate public bill, our government has brought forth its own comprehensive regime to drug-impaired driving, which as we know, is reflected in Bill C-46. It is part of our approach and consistent with the work we are doing with regard to strengthening the strict regulation and legalization of cannabis.

The issues to be resolved in developing a comprehensive strategy to combat drug-impaired driving are complex and too difficult to address through amendments to this non-government Senate public bill. Bill C-46, on the other hand, fully addresses the concerns we have with Bill S-230. Bill C-46 would create one of the toughest regimes against drug and alcohol-impaired driving in the world. It would improve the detection and prosecution of drug-impaired drivers and build on existing measures by authorizing the police to use new tools to better detect drugs in drivers and by creating new driving offences for being over the legal limit for certain impairing drugs. Police would also be able to demand an oral fluid sample at the roadside if they suspect a driver has a drug in the body. This will be similar to the current method of testing for alcohol at the roadside with an approved screening device.

In this light, the Senate public bill's proposals are flawed and would be highly problematic for a number of reasons. Bill S-230 proposes to authorize police to demand from a driver an oral fluid sample on a drug screener at the roadside. The officer, following a lawful stop, first must reasonably suspect that there is a drug in the driver's body. Of course, the Criminal Code already authorizes police to demand a breath sample from a driver on an alcohol screener at the roadside if the officer suspects that there is alcohol in the driver's body.

It is easy, therefore, to understand the interest in a similar screening device for drugs. However, the reason why the alcohol screener is so very useful is precisely because we have the crime of “driving with a breath alcohol concentration exceeding 80 milligrams of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood”. A fail on the alcohol screener leads to further police investigation of a possible over-80 offence. However, unlike our government's Bill C-46, Bill S-230 proposes no similar legal limit for any drug. Therefore, the only charge available to police would be driving while impaired by a drug, which requires strong evidence of actual impairment. An oral fluid drug screener does not provide any evidence of impairment, but only the presence of a drug. For this reason, I believe the bill's usefulness is minimal.

To explain further, an oral fluid drug screener proposed by Bill S-230 could only be used, among other factors, to help police develop the reasonable grounds to believe that a drug-impaired driving crime has occurred. The drug screener result could not be used, as it is in the U.K., for example, to further investigate a drug legal limit offence because, until C-46 is adopted, there is no drug legal limit offence in Canada.

In the U.K., drug screeners are very helpful in investigating the legal limit offences for THC, the active chemical in cannabis, and for cocaine. These are the two drugs that are most prevalent in drivers and that are screened by the U.K. drug screeners. In contrast, under Bill S-230, a drug screener could only be used in Canada as an investigative tool in an investigation into driving while impaired by a drug.

Despite the fact that Parliament had enacted the offence of driving while intoxicated by a narcotic in 1925 and the offence of driving while impaired by a drug in 1951, drug-impaired driving investigations remained a huge challenge for police until 2008. This challenge of investigating a drug-impaired driving offence was not unique to Canada. In the 1980s, in the United States, a series of tests was developed that helped to show impairment. This knowledge was used to develop a standardized field sobriety test for screening at the roadside plus a drug-recognition evaluation, or what we commonly refer to as a DRE, which is a broader series of tests that is conducted at the police station.

In the early 1990s, some officers from British Columbia were trained in SFST and DRE and commenced using these tests on those suspected drug-impaired drivers who were willing to participate on a voluntary basis. In time, many drug-impaired drivers simply declined to participate.

In 1999, the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights recommended that experts consider what tools might be used by police to better investigate drug-impaired driving, and SFST and DRE were put forward. After several unsuccessful attempts, Parliament in 2008 enacted authority for police to demand that SFST tests be performed by a driver at the roadside. Before making the demand, the police officer must have reasonable grounds to suspect there are drugs or alcohol in the driver's body.

The 2008 legislation also authorized the police to demand the DRE series of tests at the police station if the officer at the roadside had reasonable grounds to believe that the driver was impaired by a drug. This belief is based on observations at the roadside, including the driver's performance of the standardized tests.

The DRE testing is conducted by a specially trained officer called an “evaluating officer”. It includes tests of the driver's balance and ability to perform divided attention tasks, and physical measurements of pulse, eye reaction to light, and muscle tone. If the evaluating officer at the police station identifies a drug as causing impairment, that officer may demand a bodily sample of urine, saliva, or blood to confirm or eliminate the possibility of the presence of a drug.

At best, under Bill S-230, a drug screener might help police form the necessary grounds to make a DRE demand. This would be a tool that could be used at the roadside, with or without SFST. Again, the police would be investigating a driving while impaired by a drug charge. This contrasts with Bill C-46 and experiences in the U.K., where drug screeners are very helpful in investigating the legal limit offences for THC and cocaine.

No one here will be surprised that drug-impaired driving is a growing problem in Canada. This trend is confirmed in the Juristat report entitled “Impaired driving in Canada, 2015” from the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, published in December 2016. The number of charges for drug-impaired driving has increased fourfold or almost in the few years since the adoption in 2008 of new tools under the Code to help police investigate drug impaired driving.

As cannabis reform draws nearer, drug-impaired driving is a growing concern for Canadians. According to what I have been told, surveys show that the idea that cannabis does not affect driving is particularly widespread among young drivers. Young drivers may compare the effects that alcohol and cannabis have on their driving.

However, it is important to know that the human body absorbs, distributes and eliminates the two substances in very different ways. They also do not have the same effects.

We have a project that is being successfully completed on the government side. Bill C-46 looks very constructively at how we can use these new devices, like the oral fluid drug screeners, in the field. We are using the bill and the robustness of the regime it proposes to ensure that we keep our roads safe and, at the same time, reduce access to cannabis by our children.

As I have indicated, having drug screener legislation without drug legal limit legislation does not take us very far. Therefore, I intend to vote against Bill S-230. I support our government's far more comprehensive approach in Bill C-46 and encourage all members in the chamber to do the same.

Motions in AmendmentCriminal CodeGovernment Orders

October 20th, 2017 / 10:05 a.m.
See context


Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

, seconded by the member for La Pointe-de-l'Île, moved:

Motion No. 1

That Bill C-46 be amended by deleting Clause 15.

Motion No. 2

That Bill C-46, in Clause 31.1, be amended by replacing line 11 on page 41 with the following:

“ed by this Act that includes an evaluation of whether the provisions have resulted in differential impacts on particular groups likely to be targeted based on prohibited grounds of discrimination, and prepare a report setting out”

She said: Mr. Speaker, it is an honour for me to rise today to speak to my amendments to Bill C-46, an act to amend the Criminal Code and to make consequential amendments to other acts.

That is a very benign title. It does not tell us what we are debating. We are debating a bill that would deal with, I think all of us in the House can agree, the critical issue of doing whatever we can to reduce the loss of life and accidents, which are so damaging to society, caused by people who drink and drive or drive under the influence of other intoxicants. The bill deals with substance abuse and getting behind the wheel of a car.

We all know the statistics, but they are absolutely devastating to imagine, as Mothers Against Drunk Driving, a group I support, points out. Mothers Against Drunk Driving's estimate is that in Canada, every day, on average, four people are killed in automobile crashes. If we had the kind of attention and immediate review of auto crashes and people killed in auto crashes that we do for people travelling on public transit, such as airplanes, we would be made aware on a daily basis that our publicly accepted system of transport is lethal.

Our society is built around the car. Our transportation networks are built around the car. We do not seem to mind the idea that our everyday method of getting from A to B involves a significant risk of death. We take it as something that is just one of those risks we live with. A car is very powerful, and potentially a killing machine.

In 2012, 2,546 Canadians died in automobile crashes, but to the point of today's bill, 58.8% of those crashes involved a driver who had had at least some measurable intoxicant in his or her system.

In 2015, beyond those accidents that involve fatalities, a total of over 72,000 impaired driving incidents happened across Canada. What is interesting is that the statistics reflect that this is a significant improvement, with 65% fewer incidents than in 1986. Therefore, the measures we are taking make a difference, as does the awareness that drinking and driving is not acceptable. Blood alcohol levels and roadside screening make a difference.

There is no question that we want to support measures that would ensure that Canadians who have had any measurable intoxicants do not get behind the wheel of a car, that their friends stop them, that the guy at the bar stops them, and that their own concern that they will be hit with serious penalties and jail time will stop them.

Now I will go to the bill and the reasons I have submitted the amendments. I support Bill C-46. Unlike some of the experts I will mention, I will vote for Bill C-46 even unamended, but here at report stage, I want to raise the concerns again. There are significant concerns from the Criminal Lawyers' Association and civil liberties associations that the bill would go too far and would end up being challenged in the courts. That is because it involves, without the proper constraints, random breath testing, as opposed to selective breath testing.

I have gone through the evidence very carefully. It is clear that there are a lot of statistics that say that when this jurisdiction or that jurisdiction brought in random breath testing, drunk driving incidence went down. The people who study this say that we do not actually have good numbers that compare the results of selective breath testing and random breath testing to conclude that we could not have gotten the same result with selective breath testing.

What is the difference? If we have selective breath testing, we set up a roadside check, stop every driver, and look at every driver at a stationary vehicle check. We have seen roadside testing set up in different locations, particularly on evenings when people are more likely to have been out having something to drink or ingesting substances that are intoxicants before driving. The roadside testing is very effective. Selective testing is effective.

This law would go further, and this is where the various legal societies I have mentioned are concerned. Let me quote from the brief of the Criminal Lawyers' Association submitted to the committee back in September. It states:

We are also deeply concerned by the new random breath-testing regime. Increasing police powers do not come without societal costs. The experience of ‘carding’ or ‘street checks’ is instructive on how the exercise of police authority can disproportionately affect visible minorities.

Bill C-46 amounts to carding while in a car. It will inevitably disproportionately be employed against minority or marginalized communities.

A policy expert with the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction, Doug Beirness, was even more blunt. He stated:

...there is nothing truly random about random breath testing. The term random is used in place of more accurate and contentious descriptors, such as arbitrary or capricious.

The Canadian Civil Liberties Association went on to say, “a full review of the evidence”, over 23 studies, “does not provide convincing evidence that implementing [random breath testing] will necessarily have a greater impact on drinking and driving than Canada's current [selective breath-testing] system.”

My concerns are twofold. We should never pass legislation in this House that has a good public purpose, and I do not think any of us for one second will deny the importance of the public purpose, that has a significant risk of being derailed in the courts. Looking at the evidence put before the justice committee, I think this bill has a significant risk of being derailed in the courts. Likewise, we should do whatever we can to moderate the impacts of increased police powers and the risks of randomness.

I have been wondering if I should share this story with my colleagues in Parliament, and I think I will. More than 40 years ago, when I was living in a small village on Cape Breton Island, we had very limited RCMP protection. There was one detachment. My brother is younger than I am, and in those days, he had long hair. It was unusual in this particular community to have long hair. Every single time he went anywhere, he was pulled over by the RCMP. As I said, we had very limited RCMP protection, and it was very hard to get the RCMP when we were, for instance, in the middle of a store robbery, which also occurred in my family's business.

I love the RCMP. The members are wonderful, but I know for a fact that there is such a thing as selectively pulling people over, over and over again, and never finding anything. It is a form of harassment. For marginalized communities within Canada, I am very concerned about discriminatory and preferential random searches of particular marginalized groups. We know this happens. If we look at the statistics of who is in our prisons, overwhelmingly it is people of colour and indigenous people. It is not reflective of society as a whole. We know this about carding and urban police forces.

It is clear to me that there is going to be an increased problem for marginalized communities and a sense of being harassed. Therefore, I commend to members my second amendment, which is that when this process is reported back to Parliament, and this is my amendment to clause 31.1, there be an evaluation of whether the provisions have resulted in differential impacts on particular groups likely to be targeted based on prohibited grounds of discrimination and that a report set that out for us.

This will be a test for us as a society. I have no doubt that this bill will pass unamended. I am making an effort here, because I would like us to think about what happens when random breath testing is not random. As much as the societal purpose is overwhelmingly in the right direction, to get people who are drinking or intoxicated off the roads and to not let them get behind the wheel of a car, in this case, we should think twice and make the bill constitutional before we pass it.

Motions in AmendmentCriminal CodeGovernment Orders

October 20th, 2017 / 10:15 a.m.
See context


Mark Warawa Conservative Langley—Aldergrove, BC

Mr. Speaker, I was honoured to sit on the justice committee on Bill C-46. However, I was quite shocked at the position of members across the way from the Liberal Party that they believed the current mandatory minimum sentencing of $1,000 fine for driving impaired and killing somebody was quite satisfactory. Unfortunately, the Liberal members did not want to increase that. We heard from a number of Canadian groups who believe this is blatantly unjust, particularly family members who have lost a loved one, to say that a minimum sentence of $1,000 fine for killing someone is just.

I would ask the member representing the Green Party of Canada if she feels those mandatory minimums for killing somebody while driving drunk are satisfactory.