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

May 31st, 2017 / 8:30 p.m.
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François Choquette NDP Drummond, QC

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The article continues as follows:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

May 31st, 2017 / 8:45 p.m.
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Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

May 31st, 2017 / 9:05 p.m.
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Larry Maguire Conservative Brandon—Souris, MB

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

May 31st, 2017 / 9:20 p.m.
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Sylvie Boucher Conservative Beauport—Côte-de-Beaupré—Île d’Orléans—Charlevoix, QC

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

May 31st, 2017 / 9:35 p.m.
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Kevin Waugh Conservative Saskatoon—Grasswood, SK

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

May 31st, 2017 / 9:50 p.m.
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Stephanie Kusie Conservative Calgary Midnapore, AB

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This brings me to my final point.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

May 31st, 2017 / 10 p.m.
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Stephanie Kusie Conservative Calgary Midnapore, AB

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

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

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

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

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

May 29th, 2017 / 3:40 p.m.
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Earl Dreeshen Conservative Red Deer—Mountain View, AB

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

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

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

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

Bill C-46, in its preamble, states:

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

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

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

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

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

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

It states:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

These are the drugs listed in section 5.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

May 29th, 2017 / 3:55 p.m.
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Scarborough Southwest Ontario


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

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

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

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

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

May 29th, 2017 / 4:05 p.m.
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David Anderson Conservative Cypress Hills—Grasslands, SK

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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May 29th, 2017 / 4:25 p.m.
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Scarborough Southwest Ontario


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

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

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

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

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

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

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May 29th, 2017 / 4:30 p.m.
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David Anderson Conservative Cypress Hills—Grasslands, SK

Madam Speaker, when it comes to the terms of limits or whatever, I think we need to take a look at that balance of dealing directly with an issue that has so many negative consequences across Canada. As I mentioned earlier in my speech, there is not one of us who has not suffered from the pain and agony of someone who has been involved in impaired driving situations and accidents. However, on the other hand, we also have the obligation in this country to acknowledge the charter. The Liberals should be the last ones who are refusing to do that. In this case, I believe we need to take the charter into account. That is another question that should be asked.

The minister said that she has no opinion from her Department of Justice. She perhaps should have gone further than that to get a solid opinion. We know that this is going to end up in court. Everyone has known that, right from the minute it was introduced. People are going to try to hold the government to account on this issue. The government should have done more homework on it. It is just one more place where, in my opinion, it did not do its homework before it introduced these two pieces of legislation. I still think that in many ways Bill C-46 is meant to be a cover for the government bringing in a badly prepared Bill C-45 that would legalize cannabis.

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May 29th, 2017 / 4:40 p.m.
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Michael Cooper Conservative St. Albert—Edmonton, AB

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise to speak on Bill C-46.

Bill C-46 is a very large bill. It is a complex bill. It purports to amend many sections of the Criminal Code relating to impaired driving, among other offences. In the 20 minutes that I have, I will not have the opportunity to address all aspects of the bill.

However, let me say at the outset that there are some good aspects, some positive aspects to Bill C-46. At the same time, there are also issues that I believe are a cause for concern. There is no doubt that once this bill is voted on at second reading, it will make its way to committee. After all, it is government legislation and we have a majority government. What is important is that it is carefully studied and reviewed at committee.

There are two main parts to Bill C-46. Part one deals with drug-impaired driving and drug-impaired offences, and part two deals with transportation offences in the Criminal Code and alcohol-impaired driving.

With respect to drug-impaired driving, among the things that Bill C-46 would provide for is to allow law enforcement, upon having a reasonable suspicion that a motorist is drug impaired, to require a motorist to undertake a screening test to determine whether they are in fact drug impaired. It would be an oral saliva test. It would detect THC levels in the individual.

Additionally, the government has put forward recommendations with respect to three new offences related to drug-impaired driving that would relate to levels of THC. There are some issues of concern with respect to the approach that the government is undertaking in terms of measuring impairment by THC levels. After all, there is not necessarily a direct correlation between THC levels and impairment. THC can depend on any number of things, including how THC came into the body. Also, in terms of whether an individual is a regular user of marijuana or an occasional user, that can impact upon THC levels in the body.

We know that THC can remain in the body, sometimes for days, even weeks, following marijuana use. One of the problems with toxicology tests in the case of marijuana, in terms of THC, is that they tell us that someone used marijuana, but they do not necessarily tell us when they used marijuana, much less whether they are impaired. That is a problem.

It is a problem in the case of the recommended offences that the government has put forward, because it is possible that an individual could have relatively low levels of THC but be impaired to get behind the wheel. In other cases, individuals with higher THC levels might not be impaired, perhaps because they are a regular user of marijuana, again, having regard for the fact that THC can stay in the body for an extended period of time.

It really is a concern that the science is not there. It is not in place to undertake, in all circumstances, a fully accurate assessment when it comes to whether someone behind the wheel is in fact drug impaired.

More broadly on the issue of drug impairment and what impact legalization is going to have on the safety of our roads, let me say what is clear. With legalization, more and more Canadians are going to use marijuana. I do not think anyone disputes that reality. As a result, more and more individuals are going to be on the road who are drug impaired. The consequence of that is that there are going to be more injuries, more deaths, and more carnage on our roads.

One need only look at, for example, the state of Colorado, which, a few years back, legalized marijuana. In the first year following the legalization of marijuana in the state of Colorado, motor vehicle deaths attributable to drug impairment increased by a staggering 62%. In the years since, we have seen an increase overall, a noticeable increase in deaths and injuries attributable to drug impairment in the state of Colorado. That is exactly what we have to look forward to in Canada, courtesy of the government's legalization legislation.

In the face of those kinds of statistics and evidence from nearby jurisdictions, what is the government's plan to deal with issues like keeping our roads safe? It is nice and well to introduce a bill, as flawed as it is in so many respects and with as many unanswered questions as there are, but it is quite another thing to say, once the bill is passed and becomes law, as it almost certainly will, what we are actually going to do when it comes to enforcement and keeping our roads safe.

The answer is that the government does not have a plan. There is no plan to train police officers. There is no plan in terms of assisting municipalities with getting roadside screening devices. As I understand it, there is even some question as to whether there is a ready, usable, reliable roadside screening device that could be utilized today. Notwithstanding that, all we get from the government is a rushed, fixed, arbitrary timeline of July 1, 2018, to move forward with marijuana legalization.

With so many unanswered questions, there seems to be only one plausible explanation for why the government would be moving forward with the July 1, 2018, timeline. I guess it is so that the government can say that it actually kept one promise from the 2015 election campaign. Imagine that. We have a government that is putting politics ahead of public health and public safety. That really is an abdication of leadership by the government and all Canadians should be concerned.

I want to turn to the second part of Bill C-46, which deals with alcohol-impaired driving. There are some good aspects to the second part of Bill C-46. Among the changes brought forward by Bill C-46 is to strengthen some penalties for alcohol-impaired driving. Among the changes would be to increase the maximum penalty for individuals who drive impaired and cause death, from a maximum term of imprisonment of 14 years, up to life behind bars.

I commend the government for moving forward with that change. It sends the right message that when one chooses to drink and then drive, it is more than just a bad choice. It is a serious crime with serious consequences that can result, and far too often has resulted, in the loss of lives. In that regard, it is perfectly appropriate to say that individuals who commit such a crime need to be held, must be held, to the fullest extent of the law with a penalty of as long as life behind bars.

One of the biggest changes in Bill C-46 is in respect to mandatory alcohol screening. This is a major change. I know there are differences of opinion, including in my own caucus, on this issue, but whatever one's view of mandatory alcohol screening is, one must recognize that this constitutes a significant shift in the law. It really changes the relationship between an individual and law enforcement. Arguably, it reverses the presumption from the presumption of innocence to the presumption of guilt. While my mind is open to mandatory alcohol screening, I believe that caution is required, having regard for the significant infringement on individual liberty that mandatory alcohol screening will mean.

At present, law enforcement can require a breath sample when the officer has a reasonable suspicion that the individual has alcohol in his or her system. There are some who would argue that mandatory alcohol screening, which would do away with the requirement of a reasonable suspicion, is really not that big of a change. They would note, and rightly so, that driving is not a right; it is a privilege. It is a highly regulated activity. In that regard, a police officer can stop a vehicle, at random, to ask for the driver's registration or proof of insurance, or to assess their sobriety.

What Bill C-46 would do is replace the requirement of reasonable suspicion with saying, effectively, that a police officer could require a breath sample from a motorist at any time, anywhere, under any circumstances, absent even the slightest level of suspicion.

I would submit that what we are talking about is a fairly significant infringement on an individual's liberty. It is something far more significant than a police officer merely stopping a vehicle on the road, asking for the vehicle registration, and in the course of conversing with the individual motorist, determining that the person seems to or may have alcohol in their system, and consequently requesting that the individual undertake a breath sample.

In the case of mandatory screening, we are talking about a mandatory bodily sample, absent even the slightest level of suspicion. Whether that is a good thing or a bad thing, a needed thing or not, it is a big change.

It is something that certainly would contravene section 8 of the charter, the right against unreasonable search and seizure. It is quite possible and I know the Minister of Justice has said that the Department of Justice lawyers have advised her that it would be upheld under section 1 of the charter. Professor Hogg, an esteemed constitutional expert, has given his opinion to suggest so similarly, but nonetheless, we are talking about a breach of charter rights, sections 8 and 9. Whether it is saved under section 1, that is a matter to be litigated, but it highlights the fact that we are talking about a breach of charter rights.

The question becomes whether it is justified, having regard for the seriousness of impaired driving and the, frankly, too many Canadians who have lost their lives on the road as a result of an impaired driver. We see the statistics, which are in some ways encouraging. Over the last 30 years, the number of people getting behind the wheel when impaired and causing injuries or death is being reduced. The numbers are going down, but nonetheless Canada's level of injury and death as a result of impaired driving is well above most other countries in the western world. It is a concern and as a result, there is a legitimate debate and reason to have a serious look at mandatory alcohol screening.

In terms of determining whether or not mandatory alcohol screening is justified, having regard for the charter rights of Canadians, one must look at the powers that law enforcement presently have and assess whether law enforcement officers are using all of the powers that they have. What is, for example, reasonable suspicion? Reasonable suspicion is not a reasonable suspicion that an individual is over the Criminal Code limit of 0.08. Reasonable suspicion is not a reasonable suspicion that an individual is impaired. Reasonable suspicion is a reasonable suspicion that an individual has alcohol in their system. That is an incredibly low threshold.

To that end, police officers, in order to establish reasonable suspicion, can do any number of things upon lawfully stopping a vehicle. Factors such as red eyes, the smell of alcohol on a motorist's breath, an admission of alcohol use, all of those things and other factors would go toward establishing reasonable suspicion. They do not require a mandatory alcohol test.

I know there have been some statistics brought forward that say mandatory alcohol screening will reduce impaired driving, the number of deaths and injuries, but also at the same time point to the fact that according to some statistics about 50% of the time law enforcement does not detect an impaired driver by simply talking and interacting with the motorist.

Those are issues that need to be addressed. They need to be fleshed out. It is why I support the bill in principle and support sending it to committee for further study and further review. While there are some good aspects to the bill, there are also many unanswered questions that need to be answered, and frankly, it probably requires many amendments to get the bill right.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

May 29th, 2017 / 4:55 p.m.
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Scarborough Southwest Ontario


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

Madam Speaker, I would like to thank the member for St. Albert—Edmonton for his support in principle of Bill C-46. I, like him, am looking forward to the bill's coming before the justice committee to listen to some experts.

I want to respond to one of the concerns the member raised. I want to assure him that the legislation as proposed only authorizes the minister to approve a device. I want to reassure him that approval is based on a recommendation from the Canadian Society of Forensic Science, which has a drugs and driving committee. It looks at the best available science and at all of the devices, and they are put through the most rigorous testing standards before they are recommended by the committee to the minister.

The legislation as proposed only authorizes the minister to approve a device, but that approval is dependent entirely on the recommendation of the Canadian Society of Forensic Science and based on the best available advice and science. I wanted to provide the member with that assurance and I hope that allays some of his concerns.

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May 29th, 2017 / 5:05 p.m.
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Robert Aubin NDP Trois-Rivières, QC

Madam Speaker, I wish to inform the House that I will be sharing my time with my colleague from Windsor West. I think we need to hear from as many people as possible so we can get to the bottom of a bill that seems pretty poorly put together to me, thanks.

Notwithstanding the arguments I am about to lay out against this bill, I will be voting in favour of it at second reading. I will do so not because I think it is any good, but because I really need the answers that I hope to get from the expert witnesses who appear before the committee. Then I will be able to have the conversation with voters in my riding, many of whom have questions not just about marijuana legalization, but about its effects on driving.

Bills C-46 and C-45 were introduced together. At the time, I thought it made perfect sense to introduce a bill to legalize marijuana together with a bill detailing how these measures will be handled and consequences for things like impaired driving.

Unfortunately, when I started reading the two bills, I quickly became disillusioned. After 18 months of work, the Liberal committee came up with some real gems to include in Bill C-45, like saying that marijuana would not be sold to people under the age of 18. It seems to me that it did not take 18 months of work to come up with that. That is, however, the first recommendation.

We know very well that there are several studies showing that marijuana use has an impact on the development of the brain of regular users. A number of experts say that we should prohibit marijuana use until a person is at least 21 years old, or even 25. In their bill, the Liberals say that the provinces will be free to set the legal age as they see fit.

We will be in a mess if some provinces decide to set the legal age at 25 years, others at 21, and others at 18. How does this correlate with driver’s licences? In Quebec, when a person is given a temporary driver’s licence, there is zero tolerance for alcohol. That is because a person is given a licence at the age of 16, and that takes them to the age of 18 when they play by the same rules as everyone else, with demerit points.

If Quebec, or another province, or several provinces together decided to set the legal age for using marijuana at 21 or 25 years of age, how would this be harmonized with driver’s licences? How would zero tolerance be harmonized, and to what extent should it be considered? These are all questions for which there are no answers, because in both the first and second bill there has been virtually no consultation with the provinces, with aboriginal groups, or with the municipalities.

After 18 months, the second conclusion in the report is that the THC level in the marijuana that will be sold has not established. A corollary to this is that the level of THC at which a person would be considered to be driving under the influence has not yet been established. We are being told that regulations will follow. Once again, they are kicking the can down the road, saying we do not have an answer and so we will put that off until later, hoping to perhaps find an answer some day. These are all considerations that do not offer any reassurance for people who are trying first to get their heads around the marijuana legislation so they can then see how it will be enforced.

There is also nothing about the profits generated by this new state enterprise. Will they be reinvested in health care? The Liberals seem to have said in the past that health transfers, which have already been cut and allocated, included all that and there was no new money to give the provinces, although most of the responsibilities under the bills that we are discussing fall in the provinces’ court.

I would also like to make a connection with the survey released this morning. First off, the survey results show that 50% of Quebeckers are opposed to legalizing marijuana.

It is almost the reverse in the rest of Canada, where about the same percentage of people agree with legalizing marijuana. What I understand from the 50% of Quebecers who are saying no to legalization is that the measures the Liberals are proposing in their Bill C-45 and Bill C-46 are not giving Quebeckers any reassurance. I have mentioned a few of those measures, relating to driving, but there are many others.

In addition, many rental housing owners are wondering how they are going to manage their contracts with their tenants when the tenants are allowed to grow and smoke pot at home, because that would be legal.

A lot of questions arise in some very broad areas, and Bill C-45 is entirely silent on them. Obviously, the purpose of Bill C-46 is different.

As a result, 54% of Quebeckers are opposed to legalizing marijuana, to be on the safe side. If there were answers to their questions, those percentages might change. That is why I am going to put so much effort into trying to get answers in committee. The members of my party will be proposing quite a few amendments, so that Canadians, wherever they are, can finally get answers to their questions and feel reassured about their concerns.

Also, and I am now coming back to Bill C-46, in the same survey, 65% of Quebeckers and 60% of Canadians reported that the link to road accidents was their primary concern.

Personal use of marijuana to relax, as weekend recreation, when someone wants to trade their bottle of wine for a joint, seems to be relatively accepted and acceptable. However, when it comes to impaired driving, we have a serious problem.

The problem is not resolved in Bill C-45, because this legislation provides no tools. First, the level of THC is not defined, and evidently there are no precise measurement instruments for determining, beyond a reasonable doubt, that a person drove while impaired.

I am going to refer to another statistic, but this one relates more to alcohol. The leading cause of death in criminal cases is impaired driving causing death. This is our primary source of criminal mortality in Canada. Out of all the OECD countries, we have one of the worst records. If we add other substances that may be difficult to measure, along with mixtures of those substances that we are even less able to measure, this becomes a big problem. This is something of great concern to all Quebeckers and Canadians who think about this issue and who, like me, do not find answers to their questions in these bills.

I have the feeling that we are putting the cart before the horse. During the Conservative era just before the Liberal government, the Conservatives were all about minimum sentences, criminalization, and longer sentences, but they were not able to show that these measures had a direct impact on the crime rate. Nevertheless, a lot of Liberals seem to be following in their footsteps when they say, and this is in Bill C-46, that if someone were convicted of impaired driving, the penalty might be raised from 14 years, as is currently the case in the Criminal Code, to life in prison.

Here they are legislating about the consequences of a problem that they are not able to identify. It seems to me that there is a serious problem.

I will be voting for the bill, not because I believe it to be sound, but because I want to get clarification.