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

Sponsor

Status

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

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Summary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(b) authorize mandatory roadside screening for alcohol;

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

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

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

Elsewhere

All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, provided by the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

Motions in AmendmentCriminal CodeGovernment Orders

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

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

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

Motion No. 1

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

Motion No. 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Motions in AmendmentCriminal CodeGovernment Orders

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

Mark Warawa Conservative Langley—Aldergrove, BC

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

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

Motions in AmendmentCriminal CodeGovernment Orders

October 20th, 2017 / 10:20 a.m.
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Eglinton—Lawrence Ontario

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin by thanking my colleague from Saanich—Gulf Islands for her constructive input.

At the same time, for the reasons that follow, we will be encouraging all members to vote down the amendment and to vote for the bill in its current form.

I also just want to take a moment to address some of the comments that were raised by my hon. colleagues from the Conservative opposition. I would encourage them to read the bill very carefully, because imbedded within some of those questions were, at a minimum, some inaccurate assumptions about mandatory minimum penalties as they apply to the impaired driving regime, as well as whether or not we have the sufficient technology to test for impairment as we usher in a new era with regard to the strict regulation of cannabis. Obviously by doing so and by reflecting on the language of that bill carefully, my hope is that we will elevate debate in this House, in the interest of keeping our roads safe while at the same time safeguarding individual liberties.

It is a pleasure to speak on Bill C-46, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (offences relating to conveyances) and to make consequential amendments to other Acts. The bill will bring about the most important changes addressing alcohol and drug impaired driving since 1969 when Parliament enacted the offence of driving with a blood alcohol concentration exceeding 80 milligrams of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood, and authorized the police to demand a breath sample on an approved instrument.

Today, I will focus my remarks on the proposal in the bill that would authorize a police officer to demand a breath sample from any driver without needing to suspect that the driver had alcohol in their body. In Bill C-46, this is called mandatory alcohol screening, as members have heard. The enforcement tool was pioneered by Australia more than 30 years ago. It has now spread to New Zealand, the European Union, and dozens of other countries.

Since then, mandatory alcohol screening has been widely credited with dramatically reducing rates of impaired driving and saving many thousands of lives, as the member herself acknowledged.

The Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights had considered mandatory alcohol screening when it held hearings on alcohol impaired driving in 2008 and 2009. In its 2009 report entitled, “Ending Alcohol-impaired Driving: A common approach”, the standing committee unanimously recommended that random roadside breath testing be put in place.

During its extensive hearings on Bill C-46, the standing committee heard numerous witnesses on the subject of mandatory alcohol screening. Professor Robert Solomon, who has written many articles on mandatory alcohol screening, as well eminent constitutional scholars like Professor Peter Hogg spoke in favour of mandatory alcohol screening.

Representatives of the Canadian Bar Association, the Canadian Council of Criminal Defence Lawyers, and the Canadian Civil Liberties Association expressed some concerns with mandatory alcohol screening.

The standing committee also heard from Australian experts about how mandatory alcohol screening works in that country, and its effectiveness in reducing deaths and injuries.

I believe it is fair to say that the arguments of opponents to mandatory alcohol screening were based partly on their claim that it is not needed in Canada, as our current system of roadside screening based on suspicion is just as effective and that mandatory alcohol screening would have a disproportionate effect on visible minorities.

With respect to the effectiveness of Canada's current suspicion-based system, it is important not only to look at the reductions in impaired driving that have occurred in Canada over the past 20 or 30 years, but also to consider Canada's alcohol impaired driving laws and how they fare when compared to other countries. The comparison is grim.

As Professor Solomon told the standing committee:

Our current law has left Canada with one of the worst impaired driving records among comparable countries. Consistent with earlier studies, the United States Centers for Disease Control reported that Canada had the highest percentage of alcohol-related crash deaths among 20 high-income countries in 2013. Although Canadians drink considerably less than their counterparts, they're much more likely to die in an alcohol-related crash. For example, Canada’s per capita rate of alcohol-related crash deaths is almost five times that of Germany, even though Canadians consume 33% less alcohol. They drink more, we die more.

The laws in these other countries do a far better job than the laws in Canada of separating drinking from driving. Not coincidentally, 17 of those 19 countries have comprehensive mandatory alcohol screening programs.

These are the words of Professor Solomon, not any parliamentarian, a respected scholar.

Professor Solomon pointed out to the committee that the experience of other countries shows that going from suspicion-based roadside screening to mandatory screening has had a significant effect in reducing impaired driving deaths and injuries. He stated:

The assertion that there is no direct evidence that mandatory alcohol screening is better than selective breath testing, the system we currently have, is simply false. The sharp decreases in fatal crashes that occurred in Queensland, Western Australia, New Zealand, and Ireland occurred after those jurisdictions moved from selective breath testing to mandatory alcohol screening, exactly what would occur in Canada if the mandatory alcohol screening provisions in Bill C-46 were enacted.

Again, those were the words of Professor Solomon.

The standing committee also heard from Dr. Barry Watson of Queensland University of Technology. Dr. Watson explained the evolution of impaired driving legislation in Queensland and the effect of various countermeasures. Queensland introduced breath testing in the late 1960s, as did Canada. Queensland then introduced a program called reduced impaired driving, or RID. The police could randomly pull over other drivers, but could only breath test those they suspected of drinking. This is the system we currently have in Canada.

Finally, Queensland introduced mandatory alcohol screening in 1988. Dr. Watson's evidence strongly supports that mandatory alcohol screening is more effective than suspicion-based alcohol screening. He told the standing committee, “the introduction of random breath testing was associated with a further 18% decline in fatalities over and above what was the case when the sobriety checkpoint program was in place.” We can and must do better than we are, and I submit we should follow the example of these other jurisdictions that have been most successful in reducing the painful toll taken by alcohol-impaired driving. That means adopting mandatory alcohol screening.

More troubling is the concern expressed by several witnesses that mandatory alcohol screening would lead to racial profiling. This is a concern that we all share. We all know that there have been well-documented cases of police forces disproportionately carding or pulling over persons of colour. As my colleague made mention, there are indeed concerning statistics with respect to the overrepresentation of our indigenous and racialized communities in our jails. Let me be clear. Racial profiling is an abuse of police power. It is unacceptable. However, there is nothing in Bill C-46 that condones or promotes racial profiling.

Our government was aware that this criticism had been levelled at the provision authorizing mandatory alcohol screening in a former private member's bill, Bill C-226. Consequently, our government, in Bill C-46, proposed to specify that a police officer can only make a demand as follows:

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....

I pause to emphasize that passage, because it underscores that our government places a great value in ensuring that all law enforcement, and indeed all law state actors, exercise their powers in accordance with the law and the charter.

For further clarity, our government supports the introduction of an amendment to the bill's preamble, which serves as an interpretive aid for our courts. The amendment, which was adopted at committee, stated, “it is important that law enforcement officers...exercise investigative powers in a manner that is consistent with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms”.

Let me take a moment to refer to one last example of how this technology and these standards are working in other jurisdictions. The experience of Ireland supports the opinion of other witnesses who have testified, and other experts. There was an increase of about 10% in charges in the first year after Ireland introduced mandatory alcohol screening, but the number of charges have decreased steadily since then as Irish drivers have become aware of the new law. In fact, the number of charges in Ireland fell by almost 65% in the 10 years following the introduction of mandatory screening.

I believe that our courts will be able to cope with any increase in charges, because many provisions in Bill C-46 would address issues that have been causing delay, particularly with respect to disclosure, proof of blood alcohol concentration, the elimination of the bolus drinking defence, and restriction of the intervening drink defence.

In closing, I want to again thank my colleague from Saanich—Gulf Islands for her remarks. They were thoughtful, careful, and balanced. However, even she conceded that there is a good faith attempt here to strike the balance between the need to keep our roads safe while at the same time respecting an individual's charter rights. I encourage her to support the bill.

Motions in AmendmentCriminal CodeGovernment Orders

October 20th, 2017 / 10:35 a.m.
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Conservative

Rob Nicholson Conservative Niagara Falls, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am glad to have this opportunity to say a few words with respect to Bill C-46, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (offences relating to conveyances) and to make consequential amendments to other Acts.

Some of the areas I am going to address today have already been raised. The parliamentary secretary was just talking about one of these areas because the question was raised by a number of my colleagues. It was about measuring the level of impairment that people have. This is just one of the issues we are going to have to deal with. Part of the problem is the government's intention to ram this legislation through by July 1, 2018. In my opinion, the Liberals are not taking into consideration the increased risks to the health and safety of Canada.

The Liberals may say that this is a wonderful thing on Canada's birthday. What better way to celebrate it, they would argue, than legalizing marijuana and allowing grow-ops in people's homes? However, we heard quite a bit of testimony that there are concerns with respect to the government's pushing through both of these pieces of legislation, Bill C-45 and Bill C-46. They go together.

For instance, the Canadian police services have asked that this legislation be delayed until there is adequate training and resources put in place. The parliamentary secretary said they are going to be up and ready to go and that we do not have to worry about all the tests and everything else, but those on the front line are quite concerned. The Liberal government, in addition, has not taken the necessary steps to put in effective educational campaigns for Canadians, despite statistics that show the increase in fatalities due to drug-impaired driving. There is no greater risk that a person can have, among many things, than to get killed by impaired driving. This is one of the huge problems that this country has faced. Mandatory roadside testing and the vast number of officers who remain insufficiently trained to detect impaired drivers is another issue that is not being addressed by the government.

In addition, the government has refused to mandate the proper storage of cannabis in homes. The growing concern among jurisdictions where marijuana is already legal is that it is drawing more organized crime to operate the grow-ops and produce pot for illicit markets. This is one of the things that people told me when I was justice minister. They said that pot is the currency for guns and harder drugs coming into this country. They said that a lot of criminals do not send cheques anymore; the marijuana grown in Canada is what criminals use to buy illegal drugs and guns that come into Canada. This was completely unaddressed by the government, and I would suggest it has been ignored; it does not even play into this. My concern is that this will increase the possibility of danger that exists when we get illegal drugs and guns into this country.

Police services from across this country were very clear that the government should delay the legalization of marijuana to allow law enforcement services the adequate time they need to handle this new law. There is no chance, in my opinion, that police will be ready; I think they have it right. However, the Liberals are hell-bent on ramming this legislation through. They are not heeding those warnings from law enforcement officials. In my opinion, this puts a greater risk on the health and safety of Canadians.

The National Association of Chiefs of Police estimates that there are at least 2,000 trained officers. In July 2017, the numbers indicated that there are only 600 trained recognition experts here. They are not even close to having the number they need. Susan MacAskill, from Mothers Against Drunk Drivers, reiterated that the Breathalyzer will not detect drugs and that marijuana can be detected through a roadside saliva test. She said that it would cost $17,000 to train one person to be a drug recognition expert, and the government needs to make sure that those resources are in place to allow the training of 1,200 more officers that will be needed by the deadline.

She went on to say, “If every officer can have that (disposable saliva test) in their vehicle it will certainly have a positive impact on road safety.” Unfortunately, the Liberals have not been listening to their own experts. They have been unrealistic on what is taking place.

Again, a couple of my colleagues highlighted how difficult it would be. That is one of the things I point out for my colleague who sits on the justice committee. We heard time and again different amounts, how much marijuana, how long it would be in someone's system, what the combination between that and alcohol would be. Again, it is very problematic and I would urge the government not to push forward with the July 1 deadline.

The provincial premiers have warned the government that they may not be ready with provincial laws and regulations. Their fears are not without reason. After Washington State legalized marijuana, the death toll on its highways doubled and the fatal vehicle crashes on Colorado highways tripled. Equally concerning is that the Liberals have not launched an extensive marijuana and impaired driving education and awareness program as recommended by their own task force. It is easy to say that they ignored it because the Conservatives told them they should do it, but their own task force told them what to do.

The Canadian Automobile Association supports the findings. Jeff Walker, CAA vice-president, is quoted as saying, “It's clear from the report that work needs to start immediately in these areas, and that the actual legalization should not be rushed.” The task force also concluded that youth underestimated the risk of cannabis use. We heard this on a number of occasions, that some young people believed their ability to drive a car would be enhanced by smoking marijuana.

There are problems with the government moving forward on this. The government continuously says that it is concerned about the access to children, yet the age limits in the legislation are completely at odds with that. I ask my colleagues on the other side to consider this. What could be more accessible for young people to get marijuana if their parents have a small grow op in the kitchen? We urged the Liberals to make changes on that, and they did. They said that three foot plants would not be enough so it increased the height of them. How will this help our children?

This will be problematic for the people who have become victimized by impaired driving. We brought forward amendments to increase the penalties for those people who drove while impaired and killed someone. They should have to face up to the consequences of what they have done. Again, the Liberals have ignored that.

Just because the Conservatives have said there will be big problems with that, they will not listen. I understand we are in opposition and they do not have to listen to us. However, they should listen to police forces across the country. They should listen to our provincial counterparts and those who are concerned about impaired driving. They should listen to them for a change. I think Liberals will come to the right conclusion that for the bill should not be pushed forward by July 1of next year.

Motions in AmendmentCriminal CodeGovernment Orders

October 20th, 2017 / 10:50 a.m.
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NDP

Murray Rankin NDP Victoria, BC

Mr. Speaker, nothing could be more important than the bill before the House today, Bill C-46, which deals with changes to the impaired driving laws in Canada to deal with not only drug impairment but increased sanctions on those who drive while impaired by alcohol. The NDP has long stood for improving this through legislation, smarter deterrence to deal with the tragedies taking place on our roadsides every day.

Professor Robert Solomon testified at the justice committee, which I had the honour to sit on during the testimony for most of this. He has long acted for Mothers Against Drunk Driving and put it very well. He said, “It's difficult to see how anyone can credibly make that claim”, the claim that the Criminal Lawyer's Association and others have made that mandatory alcohol testing is not necessary. He says:

...impairment-related crashes kill about 1,000 Canadians a year, injure almost another 60,000 more, a disproportionate percentage of whom are teenagers and young adults....Our current law has left Canada with one of the worst impaired driving records among comparable countries.

The enormity of the problem with which the bill is attempting to grapple is not lost upon us. However, we have great concerns about the mandatory alcohol testing to which Professor Solomon has testified.

The NDP leader, Mr. Jagmeet Singh, has been outspoken during his time in the Ontario legislature about the ability of the police to go after people simply on the basis of their race, be they indigenous, black, or Canadians of other minorities. The discriminatory police practice of carding has been central to his work in the Ontario legislative assembly. Mr. Singh says, “As Prime Minister, I'll enact a Federal Ban on Racial Profiling” to end it once and for all.

I raise this because of the potential of this mandatory alcohol screening that proposed section 320.27 of the bill would implement for the first time in Canada. We heard many witnesses at the committee, and after the break I will go back and talk about this in more detail. As long as the police have the ability to stop someone on a whim, that discretion can and will be abused.

Currently under the law as it exists, one has to have reasonable suspicion before stopping someone. If one no longer has to have that reasonable suspicion, which is what this section at issue would do, then there is the potential, indeed, the certainty that there will be disproportionate targeting of racialized Canadians, indigenous people, youth, and other marginalized groups. That is the nub of the problem and why this is such a difficult bill for the House to deal with.

I am not saying it is not as critical as the member for Niagara Falls has reminded us; it it is. I am not saying that the potential for deaths is not real, because it is there. However, we have to get this balance right. We are not convinced that it has been achieved. We are still studying it and will continue to study it before the vote takes place in the next while.

At the committee, the NDP did manage to get one amendment that would somehow address this issue. That amendment would add the proposed section 31.1 to the bill, which would require that this issue be studied and reported to Parliament within three years of enactment. The committee agreed with that, and I hope the House will accept that final amendment as well. We will see whether the concerns that so many experts have brought to the attention of the committee will prove true in practice.

I had the opportunity at committee to speak to Canada's leading constitutional jurist on this subject. He is the famous Professor Peter Hogg. He indicated that he had done a legal opinion upon which Mothers Against Drunk Driving relied. It basically says that he is in favour of mandatory alcohol testing and of the ability to stop people at random. However, I asked him, “If the evidence were that there were a disproportionate impact on racialized groups and minorities, would that not give you pause in defending this bill under section 1 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms?”

If the evidence showed there would be this abuse, as others have predicted, would that give him pause? Professor Hogg, who of course agreed with mandatory alcohol testing, said that “It would give me pause if that were the case...but I think the pause that I would make would be to look at the administration of the law, so that it does get cleansed of any kind of racial bias or anything like that.”

Thus even a leading jurist who supports the initiative of mandatory alcohol screening is saying that it may be subject to defeat under section 1 of the charter if the evidence shows, as so many experts have said, that it would have this effect of racial profiling, that it would allow the police, on a whim, to stop people simply because of the colour of their skin, their age, or the like.

I will resume after question period, but at this stage, Canadians need to know how difficult this balance would be.

Impaired DrivingPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

October 20th, 2017 / 12:10 p.m.
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Conservative

Mark Warawa Conservative Langley—Aldergrove, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to present two petitions. The first petition relates to impaired driving causing death. Families for Justice is a group of Canadians who have lost a loved one to impaired driving. They believe that Canada's impaired driving laws, and Bill C-46, the legislation that is being debated in this House today, are much too lenient. They want the crime to be called what it is, vehicular homicide, and believe in mandatory sentencing. They also believe that the minimum fine of $1,000 if a driver kills someone while driving impaired is totally insufficient, and are calling upon Parliament to change that. They oppose Bill C-46.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

October 20th, 2017 / 12:25 p.m.
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NDP

Sheila Malcolmson NDP Nanaimo—Ladysmith, BC

Mr. Speaker, regarding Bill C-46 and the concerns raised by NDP leader Jagmeet Singh and many others, we already have a problem in Canada with people of colour being pulled over by police simply because of the colour of their skin. In relation to this bill, the Canadian Civil Liberties Association has highlighted that this could deepen the problem Canada already has with racial profiling and an understandable mistrust of police enforcement.

I would like to hear the member's thoughts about going deeper into that problem, as opposed to acceding to some of the police justice requests to have better resources for better training to deal with the laws we have already in relation to recognizing impaired driving, whether that be from alcohol or marijuana.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

October 20th, 2017 / 12:25 p.m.
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Liberal

John McKay Liberal Scarborough—Guildwood, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am entering this debate from a position of disadvantage in that I do not sit on the justice committee and therefore have not listened to the testimony that came before it. I am therefore dependent on what is going on here this morning and also upon my friend from Scarborough Southwest, the only double-hatted parliamentary secretary in this chamber, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada and to the Minister of Health. He brings to this debate unique expertise, having been the former chief of police in the city of Toronto, and has, in some respects, seen it all. We are fortunate to have his contribution to this debate.

When I did sit on the justice committee, we looked at this issue several times in several different ways. What always stopped us from moving forward on drug-impaired driving was the issue of a test, a test that somehow or other would provide a definitive statement as to whether the individual was or was not impaired. What is being suggested is that a saliva test will be administered, which would give an indication of impairment.

The public good here is obvious, because numerous deaths are caused on our roads by drivers impaired by alcohol, drivers impaired by drugs, and sometimes drivers impaired by both. It is right that this government focus on those levels of impairment, and it is particularly right that this government focus on a test for drug impairment in anticipation of cannabis legislation being the law of the land come this time next year.

Drug-impaired driving is currently a criminal offence. Bill C-46 would create new ways by which to determine impairment. Currently, there is a standardized set of tests that every police officer can give to someone who is suspected of impaired driving by means of drugs. These are sobriety tests. A driver may be asked to walk a straight line, stand on one leg, or demonstrate some form of physical or motor skill to lead the police officer either toward the conclusion that there is some impairment or away from the conclusion that there is some impairment.

If, in fact, the police officer concludes that there is some form of impairment by drugs, he or she is then authorized to take the driver to the station to see whether the driver is in fact impaired. At the station, there is a 12-step protocol to determine whether the person is impaired by drugs. It includes balancing, such as whether the driver can walk a straight line or stand on one leg. They look at pupil size and take the person's blood pressure. These tools have been useful, although time-consuming, in increasing the number of convictions for drug-impaired offences. However, the incidence of drug-impaired driving has gone up quite dramatically. Even though the current use of these tools is effective in securing convictions, it is still not sufficient.

Bill C-46 proposes a better or improved solution. I do not think anyone would say that this is the final solution. A core proposal is providing an oral fluid sample that would be analyzed if a police officer had a reasonable suspicion, which is well understood in criminal law, from observing the suspect. Things like red eyes, muscle tremors, abnormal speech patterns, and of course, simply the smell of cannabis, would precipitate the request for an oral fluid screen that would provide information to the officer as to whether he or she had the grounds to believe that impaired driving had occurred.

The next stage would be that the police officer would be entitled to demand a blood sample from the driver. If the blood sample met the test, there would be a presumption that would set in, the presumption being that impaired driving had occurred. The crown would then be relieved of the burden of proving impairment and the onus would, therefore, shift to the accused. It would be enough to prove that the driver had an illegal level of drugs in his or her body.

It is proposed that this would be framework legislation. It would be setting things up so that when the cannabis law eventually passed, there would be a framework in place. People will observe that the levels at this point have not been set, but there is a proposal as to what the levels might be. The lowest level would be two nanograms to five nanograms of THC per millilitre of blood within two hours of driving. On the hybrid offence, which could either be summary or indictment, it would be over five nanograms of THC per millilitre of blood, again within two hours. Then there is a proposed combined offence for both THC and alcohol. It would be 0.5 milligrams of alcohol combined with 2.5 nanograms of THC per millilitre of blood within two hours of driving.

A number of members have said that it is almost certain that this will be challenged in court, and I agree with them. I can recollect when the 0.8 level for alcohol impairment was first proposed. Prior to that, a determination of drunk driving was made through the tests I outlined earlier, namely, walking a straight line, balance tests, and breath tests. They were always subject to cross-examination and challenge by the accused, but once the 0.8 level was set, after a great deal of litigation, it became the accepted standard and brought much more certainty to the prosecution, and defence, for that matter, of drug-impaired driving.

From time to time, people ask how much cannabis they could consume or how much of any other drug, for that matter, they could consume. The only answer is none.

If people intend to drive, do not take drugs. It is about that simple. Similarly with alcohol, if people intend to drive, do not take alcohol. They should make some other arrangement to get home. We have a scourge in our society, a serious problem. One of the previous speakers said that in the case of the Germans, they drank a lot more but drove a lot less. We have it exactly reversed.

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October 20th, 2017 / 12:35 p.m.
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Conservative

Michael Cooper Conservative St. Albert—Edmonton, AB

Mr. Speaker, one of the things I was very disappointed about in Bill C-46 was that it would not increase penalties for the most serious impaired driving offence, namely, impaired driving causing death. On this side, we put forward a reasonable common-sense amendment at the justice committee to provide for a five-year mandatory sentence for impaired driving causing death in the face of the fact that individuals convicted of this very serious offence, in some cases, were walking free with nothing more than a $1,500 fine.

Does the hon. member think it is fair and just that individuals accused and convicted of this offence walk away with a $1,500 fine?

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October 20th, 2017 / 12:45 p.m.
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Conservative

Michael Cooper Conservative St. Albert—Edmonton, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is a privilege to rise to speak to Bill C-46, the government's alcohol and drug-impaired driving legislation. I had the opportunity to study Bill C-46 at the justice committee. One thing was very clear, coming out of the justice committee and based upon the evidence from a number of witnesses. Law enforcement is not ready to implement aspects of Bill C-46 related to drug impairment in time for the government's arbitrary and rushed July 1, 2018, timeline to legalize marijuana.

Once Bill C-46 is passed, it will require that some 65,000 police officers across Canada get trained and understand Bill C-46. That will take time and it will be costly. We heard the need for some 2,000 drug recognition experts. At present, only 600 drug recognition experts are in Canada. In answer to a question I posed to Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness officials at the justice committee, it appears that only approximately 100 more drug recognition experts will be trained by July 1, 2018.

There are issues surrounding per se limits for THC, whether these per se limits are appropriate and what the per se limits should be. The government has not addressed that yet. There are nine months until the July 1 rollout. There are serious questions about the correlation between THC levels and drug impairment. On the question of public awareness, the marijuana task force, as part of the public health approach that it took, called upon the government to launch an immediate and sustained public awareness campaign. Where is the campaign? It has not been sustained. It has not been fully rolled out. We are just nine months away.

Therefore, given these and other reasons, no wonder the law enforcement community has called upon the government to delay the legalization of marijuana beyond July 1, 2018. After all, law enforcement will not have the tools, resources, and time to deal with the multiplicity of issues that will arise from legalization. Quite frankly, it is really frustrating that notwithstanding that very resounding message, the government refuses to back down and is moving full steam ahead with legalization, even though law enforcement will not have the tools, will not have the resources, and will not have the time to keep our roads safe.

What will that mean for the health and safety of Canadians?

When legalization occurs, more and more Canadians are going to use marijuana. That is a fact. As a result, there will be more drug-impaired drivers. Without the tools, resources, and training to enforce the laws, including laws that would come onto the books once Bill C-46 is passed, it will mean more injuries, more deaths, and more carnage on our roads. The government will bear partial responsibility for those injuries, those deaths, and the carnage that is sure to ensue.

With respect to part 2 of Bill C-46, which deals with alcohol-impaired driving and makes a number of changes to the Criminal Code respecting alcohol-impaired driving, I congratulate the government for some of the measures it has introduced.

Bill C-46 would eliminate certain defences that have been abused by impaired drivers. It would increase the maximum penalty for impaired driving causing bodily harm from 10 years to 14 years. That is welcome. However, I am disappointed that Bill C-46 does not tackle the most serious offence related to impaired driving, and that is impaired driving causing death.

Bill C-46 does absolutely nothing to strengthen penalties for impaired driving causing death. One might say, if we look at the Criminal Code, the maximum sentence for impaired driving causing death is life behind bars. That sounds pretty good. It sounds appropriate that that should be the maximum penalty. The only difficulty is that very few individuals convicted of impaired driving causing death are sentenced to life behind bars. In fact, I am not aware of a single case. There may be one or two, but I am not aware of one and, if there are any cases, that is a rare exception to the rule. What we see instead are impaired drivers who get behind a 2,000-pound or 3,000-pound weapon and take the life of one or more human beings as a result of their choices to drink and drive, and they get off with a slap on the wrist.

There was a case in Saskatchewan involving a mother and her son who were killed by an impaired driver. The individual responsible got a $4,000 fine and not one day behind bars. There have been cases where individuals have walked free with as little as a $1,500 fine for taking the life of another human being. That is an absolute joke. It is fundamentally unfair and fundamentally unjust. It is why more than 100,000 Canadians have signed a petition calling for Parliament to act. It is why the families of victims who came before the justice committee called upon Parliament to take steps to move forward with mandatory sentences. It is why our previous Conservative government introduced Bill C-73, which would have provided for a six-year mandatory sentence for impaired drivers who kill. It is why I introduced an amendment to Bill C-46 at the justice committee to provide for a mandatory sentence of at least five years, which was the minimum sentence that the victims who appeared before our committee asked for.

Sadly, every single Liberal MP voted against that common-sense amendment. It is one thing to vote against an amendment, but they did not even try. They did not even put forward an alternative. They just shrugged their shoulders and accepted the status quo. The victims and their families deserve better from the government on Bill C-46.

I am hopeful that once the bill is passed through the House, which it inevitably will be given that we have a majority government, that the Senate can get to work to try to fix the bill and help ensure that the victims will finally have some justice.

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October 20th, 2017 / 12:55 p.m.
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Scarborough Southwest Ontario

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, when the national president of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Patricia Hynes-Coates, appeared in committee and was asked about mandatory minimum sentences, this is what she said:

As a mom, as a stepmom, as a victim, I can't support it. There's no evidence to support that this will actually make a difference. We know once we bury our children or bury a loved one, it's too late. We need to focus on deterring it before it actually happens.

I also want to quote Mr. Andrew Murie, who is the CEO of MADD Canada. In earlier testimony with regard to a previous Conservative bill that proposed to bring in six-year mandatory sentences, he said, “penalties that only happen after somebody is dead don't stop drunk drivers from getting behind the wheel. It will have zero effect.” He went on to emphasize that his organization would rather see an emphasis on deterrence, and that is precisely what Bill C-46 has focused on.

I would also remind the member that the mandatory minimums he quoted as applying only to impaired driving causing death were robustly discussed by the justice committee applying to all impaired offences. We know that where the evidence supports an appropriately severe sentence for someone who has taken a life, the courts have all the authority they will require in this legislation to make sure that justice is done.

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October 20th, 2017 / 1 p.m.
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Liberal

Ron McKinnon Liberal Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak today in favour of Bill C-46, an act to amend the Criminal Code (offences relating to conveyances) and to make consequential amendments to other acts.

We have heard moving testimony about this issue, both here in the House and before the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights. Impaired driving impacts us all, and we need to do our part to reduce such preventable deaths and injuries on our roads.

As we have heard already, Bill C-46 proposes many major changes to strengthen the drug-impaired driving laws, as well as a thorough updating of the alcohol-impaired driving provisions. The overarching goal of these changes is to reduce the incidents of impaired driving and to save lives.

One of the main proposals in the bill to achieve this goal is mandatory alcohol screening, a tool used worldwide to deter and detect alcohol-impaired driving. This would authorize an officer to demand a roadside breath sample on an approved screening device without the current requirement of suspicion that the driver has alcohol in his or her system.

Research suggests that up to 50% of drivers with a blood alcohol concentration above the legal limit are not detected through current practices such as check stops and random traffic stops. This is an unacceptable number of drivers who are impaired and are able to drive away after having interacted with the police.

We heard testimony of this sort at the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, including from Dr. Jeff Brubacher, a medical doctor and researcher with the University of British Columbia; and Dr. Douglas Beirness, a subject matter expert on impaired driving with the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction.

Dr. Brubacher said that his study indicated that police officers do not always recognize impairment in drivers in the amount of time they have to interact with the driver, and Dr. Beirness confirmed that police officers vary considerably in their ability to detect alcohol and assign the symptoms of alcohol use. He clarified that this is not because police officers are unable to do their job effectively, but rather that detecting impairment is simply very difficult. It varies from person to person, and some individuals are able to effectively mask their physical symptoms.

Both Dr. Brubacher and Dr. Beirness expressed support of mandatory alcohol screening and asserted their confidence that this measure could help to reduce the number of impaired drivers on our roads.

Mandatory alcohol screening will be a strong deterrent factor for those who drive after drinking. With mandatory alcohol screening, such risky behaviour would be less likely, as every driver would know that he or she could be tested at any time and could not expect to avoid detection by masking or hiding symptoms.

This has proven to be the case in other jurisdictions where mandatory alcohol screening has been implemented. According to MADD Canada, more than 40 countries worldwide authorize mandatory alcohol screening, including several Australian states, New Zealand, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, and Sweden. In fact, mandatory alcohol screening was credited with reducing the number of people being killed on Irish roads by almost one-quarter, 23%, in the 11-month period following its introduction compared to the previous 11-month period.

Many concerns were raised relating to the constitutionality of mandatory alcohol screening, both in the House and at committee. I would like to spend the remainder of my time addressing these concerns. Many of the concerns related to the potential for mandatory alcohol screening to violate sections 8 and 9 of the charter.

Mandatory alcohol screening would only apply to a person who is lawfully stopped pursuant to other laws, such as provincial highway traffic acts. The police currently have the power, both in statute and common law, to stop any driver at any time to determine whether that driver is complying with the rules of the road, including to check for sobriety. This power has been upheld by the Supreme Court of Canada on several occasions.

Furthermore, the information revealed from a breath sample, like the production of a driver's licence, is simply information about whether a driver is complying with one of the conditions imposed in the highly regulated context of driving, including sobriety.

I would also note that a breath sample does not reveal any personal or sensitive information and the taking of the sample is quick and not physically invasive. Furthermore, simply blowing a “fail” on an approved instrument does not in itself constitute an offence. This is just a step that could lead to further testing to determine whether a driver is impaired.

We are all aware that the Minister of Justice tabled a charter statement on May 11, in which she affirmed her confidence that mandatory alcohol screening was compliant with the charter. Many shared the minister's confidence that mandatory alcohol screening would be charter compliant when the bill was studied at committee, including the leading constitutional law expert Dr. Peter Hogg. He expressed an opinion that mandatory alcohol screening would withstand any charter challenges, as it aims to prevent dangerous activities and promote public safety. As such, it was his view that it would be found justifiable under section 1 of the charter, and I agree with this position.

The Privacy Commissioner of Canada, Mr. Daniel Therrien, also testified that after reviewing the charter statement, any concerns he had regarding the proportionality and the necessity of the legislation were satisfied.

Members of the defence bar, as well as civil liberties groups, expressed concern that mandatory alcohol screening would result in an increase in police targeting of visible minorities.

Racial profiling is unacceptable. All law enforcement must exercise their powers in compliance with the charter, including the right to be free of discrimination of any kind. However, as I previously stated, the police already have the power to stop any driver at random to determine their sobriety. Nothing in the mandatory alcohol screening provisions would promote or condone the targeting of racialized individuals. It is restricted to cases where a peace officer is acting “in the course of the lawful exercise of powers.”

There is also nothing in these provisions that alters the current responsibility of police and other law enforcement officials to ensure that the powers of the police are exercised in a fair and equal manner, in accordance with the charter.

At the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, we amended the preamble of the bill to reflect that police powers must be exercised in a manner that is consistent with the charter. While it is implicit that all police must always do this, this will be a further signal that racial profiling will not be tolerated.

At committee, we heard testimony from Dr. Barry Watson and the assistant commissioner of road policing command, Doug Fryer, both from Australia, where mandatory alcohol screening has been in place since the 1980s. Both witnesses testified that mandatory alcohol screening was actually a way to overcome any concerns about racial profiling. This is because police officers in Australia have much less discretion to choose who will be tested when the screening is mandatory.

Mandatory alcohol screening has had a strong track record in saving lives in other jurisdictions. Canada continues to have the highest percentage of alcohol-related deaths among 20 high-income countries. It is incumbent on us to do better and mandatory alcohol screening saves lives. Therefore, I am pleased to support Bill C-46 and its proposal to save lives.

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October 20th, 2017 / 1:15 p.m.
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Conservative

Cathy McLeod Conservative Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

Mr. Speaker, we are debating something that is very important and that really has an impact on the lives of Canadians, namely, impaired driving.

What is concerning to me first is that this is being partnered with Bill C-45. The government's attitude is, let us legalize marijuana and then talk about impaired driving. Clearly, the government members know that when legalization of marijuana occurs, we are going to have more impaired drivers on the road. Although I know it is an important discussion and that we need to have better laws for impaired driving, it is very upsetting and concerning that the bill is being rushed through in partnership with another bill that would increase impairment.

Members of the House come from all sorts of legal backgrounds. We have heard some dry facts, but almost everyone in this House has been touched in his or her life by impaired driving. I just want to put some personal perspective on this before I get into some of the details of the legislation, some areas that could be improved and some areas of concern.

I worked in a rural emergency health centre and clearly remember being on call one night and getting called into the health centre. There had been a single father and his young four-year-old daughter on a motorcycle. He had pulled over to the side of the road to make some adjustments, and then an impaired driver, in this particular case a drug-impaired driver, had struck the motorcycle. The vehicle had careened off the road and struck the motorcycle, killing the dad and leaving the daughter standing on the side of the road. At that point the impaired driver took off, and then, many miles farther on, went into a ditch. I was called in to deal with a deceased young dad and a four-year-old girl who had lost her father and had been left at the side of the road for a long time beside the body of her father before someone had passed by and called an ambulance. This is what we are talking about. This is about young girls losing their fathers. It is about mothers and sons. It is about family members and friends. Everyone is affected by this, so we have to be very serious and careful with this legislation.

This brings me to my first disappointment. The amendment that my colleague suggested was for a mandatory minimum sentence when impaired driving causes death. The member was not calling for life imprisonment or 30 years. The member suggested that an appropriate mandatory minimum sentence would be five years. If we lose a relative because someone chooses to take a substance and drive impaired, causing a death, the member sees a five-year mandatory minimum sentence as being perfectly appropriate. In our system, we also have to remember that this does not mean the individual would spend five years in jail. It means that in perhaps two or three years, that person would resume his life. It is a huge disappointment. It is so wrong, and it fails the sensibilities of so many Canadians who wonder how we could say that a five-year mandatory minimum sentence for impaired driving causing death is appropriate. That really is a failure.

As has been noted, impaired driving causing death is one of the leading criminal causes of death in Canada. These are not statistics that we should be proud of. As we look at other comparable countries, Canada's statistics are not very good. Again, I have to say that we already have statistics that are very concerning, and now we have two partner pieces of legislation that will inevitably increase our concerns in those terms.

There are three specific issues that point to the rushed state of this legislation. By Canada Day in 2018, the Liberal government wants Canadians to be able to celebrate by getting high on marijuana. Perhaps the Liberals believe it will help the fireworks look a little brighter; I do not know.

They are in a rush and have Canada Day as their target, which to me is a bit appalling. In their rush to deal with Bill C-45, the legalization of marijuana, they are rushing Bill C-46 without the proper due diligence in three areas: testing ability and levels, training and resources, and education.

We have talked a lot about testing levels. The presence of something like THC in someone does not actually measure impairment. I have heard the argument that we are just measuring levels, and impairment does not matter. I would argue that with alcohol, we tend to know that .08 is a level that is consistent with impairment in most individuals, whereas with THC, there is a much bigger disconnect. The association of police chiefs agrees with that.

The Canadian Society of Forensic Science, which has been tasked by the federal government, has suggested it is a controversial exercise to set a limit and that “there is not currently substantive and consistent scientific evidence upon which to base [those] limits.” These are the experts who have some concerns about the ability of a roadside device to test limits and to test impairment, which again is a bit of an issue.

The next area of concern is the police officers who will be asked to move forward with this legislation. I think there are about 65,000 police officers in Canada. They will all require training. From everything I understand, the witnesses who testified at committee indicated very clearly that they will not be able to have all our officers trained, nor do they have the resources to do so, by this arbitrary Canada Day 2018 date that has been set by the government.

The other area of particular concern is that everyone agrees on the importance of an education campaign. They talk about $2 million. Where is that campaign? If they are going for 2018, that is not a lot of months. It takes a long time. Anyone in the public health field knows that to penetrate and actually effect change, we need a public health approach that has had time to actually penetrate the consciousness of Canadians. I am not seeing anything. Perhaps I could be challenged on that. I would love to be challenged on that. However, if I am not seeing anything, and I tend to look at what is happening in the area, we can bet that nothing has penetrated the consciousness of the 20-year-olds, the 17-year-olds, the new drivers, and the 22-year-olds in terms of the new regulations and limits. The government is severely lacking in terms of any education or public health campaign.

Tackling impairment in a more robust way is an important thing to do. However, what is the rush? Let us get Bill C-45 right. Let us make sure we get the proper training done. Let us make sure things are in order. If they have to wait another bit of time to get Bill C-45 through, so be it, but what we will be doing is protecting the health and safety of Canadians.

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May 31st, 2017 / 3:50 p.m.
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Liberal

Chris Bittle Liberal St. Catharines, ON

Mr. Speaker, before I begin, I would like to mention that I will be splitting my time with the hon. member for Rivière-des-Mille-Îles.

I will be speaking in favour of Bill C-46, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (offences relating to conveyances) and to make consequential amendments to other acts.

Bill C-46 is a non-partisan proposal to hit back against impaired driving, an issue all too familiar to many citizens in my riding of St. Catharines and throughout Canada.

We all want roads that are clear of drug- and alcohol-impaired drivers, and Bill C-46 would help deliver this. The bill contains a package of reforms that will make it far more difficult to escape detection and avoid conviction. The bill addresses numerous elements found in earlier bills, but it is, in my view, a more comprehensive approach to impaired driving and includes new elements to deal with drug-impaired driving in advance of cannabis legislation.

This comprehensive bill has two parts. The first part addresses drug-impaired driving and will come into force on royal assent. The second part will combine the new drug-impaired driving provisions with other transportation offences, including amendments to the alcohol-impaired driving provisions within a new part of the Criminal Code. This part would come into force 180 days after royal assent.

The proposals in Bill C-46 are aimed at making our streets safer and at the same time are intended to boost efficiency and reduce delays in the criminal justice system, which I, as a lawyer in St. Catharines, saw far too often.

I would like to expand on the provisions that would streamline the procedures surrounding impaired driving, both in and out of court.

I begin by noting trials for the offence of driving over the legal limit for alcohol take up a disproportionate amount of trial time at the provincial and superior court levels. This occurs in part because of defence efforts to raise a reasonable doubt about the validity of the blood alcohol concentration analysis. Bill C-46 proposes to address this in a manner consistent with current science, by setting out that a driver's BAC will be conclusively proven if the police have taken the steps I will now describe.

First, a qualified technician who is a police officer trained to operate an approved instrument must ensure that the approved instrument is not registering any alcohol that is in the room air. This is done by an air blank test. This is important. Otherwise, the court could not be certain that the approved instrument detected only alcohol that was in the driver's breath.

Second, the qualified technician must ensure that the approved instrument is calibrated correctly. Technicians do this by testing a standard alcohol solution that is certified by an analyst to contain a specific concentration of alcohol. If the approved instrument produces a result that is within 10% of the target value, then the approved instrument is correctly calibrated.

Third, the qualified technician must take two breath samples at least 15 minutes apart. If there is agreement between the samples, meaning the results are within 20 milligrams of each other, the agreement requirement is met, and the lower of the two readings will be the reading that forms the basis of any criminal charge for driving while over the legal limit. For an offender with no prior impaired driving convictions, a lower reading typically would avoid a fine above the minimum fine.

If the qualified technician takes these three steps, then the resulting blood alcohol concentration will be conclusively proven. The result is enhanced trial efficiency, given that no court time is taken up by efforts to question the validity of the blood alcohol concentration analysis. This proposed change is based on the best available scientific evidence and ensures trial fairness while preventing time-consuming challenges to reliable testing procedures.

There is another important change proposed in Bill C-46 that works hand in hand with the proof of blood alcohol concentration. This is the proposal to reformulate the offence from driving while over 80 milligrams to the new formulation proposed in Bill C-46, which is having a blood alcohol concentration at or over 80 milligrams of alcohol within two hours of driving.

A number of states in the United States already have such a formulation. It eliminates the bolus drinking defence, also known as the drink-and-dash defence. This defence consists of a driver claiming that they were under 80 milligrams at the time of driving because the alcohol, which they drank quickly and just before driving, was not fully absorbed into the blood. However, by the time they were tested on the approved instrument at the police station, the alcohol was absorbed and the reading on the approved instrument was over 80.

Assuming this pattern of behaviour actually occurred, it is then argued in court that the effects of the alcohol did not make the driver drunk until after the driver was stopped. This is very dangerous behaviour that should not be condoned in law.

The new offence also limits the intervening drink defence by tackling a strategy employed after driving but before testing at the police station. A driver either openly drinks alcohol once the police have stopped him or her, or he or she drinks alcohol that was hidden, for example, in a pocket flask while they are awaiting the police in the police car or at the station. This behaviour typically is aimed at interfering with the police investigation of an impaired driving offence.

The Supreme Court of Canada indicated in 2012 that the bolus drinking defence and the intervening drink defence encourage behaviour that is dangerous or contrary to public policy. Bill C-46 would eliminate the bolus drinking defence and restrict the intervening drink defence to situations in which the post-driving alcohol consumption occurred innocently, meaning that the driver had no reasonable expectation that a demand for a breath sample would be made by the police. An example would be a driver who arrives home and begins drinking at home. There is no reason to expect the police to arrive and make a demand for a breath sample. However, if the police receive a complaint that the driver was driving while drunk and they investigate, which is a rare scenario, the driver could still in that case raise the intervening drink defence.

Another efficiency measure in Bill C-46 is the clarification of the crown's disclosure requirements. The bill clearly and concisely specifies what the prosecution must provide to the defence with respect to a driver's testing on the approved instrument. If the defence wishes to obtain more, it can apply to the court but must show relevance of the information requested. This disclosure provision is intended to ensure that police are not obliged to disclose material, such as historical approved instrument maintenance records, that is irrelevant to the scientific validity of the driver's breath test results.

Given that the disclosure phase is frequently a bottleneck in the process, these clarifications are expected to result in significant improvements in prosecutorial efficiency. This includes time and resources saved on locating, copying, collating, organizing, or otherwise providing scientifically irrelevant maintenance records to the defence.

I am confident that the proposed changes in Bill C-46 will make the investigation and prosecution of impaired driving crimes a lot simpler. The approved instrument, when used by a qualified technician who first ensures that it is operating correctly, is scientifically reliable. It produces a valid statement of a driver's blood alcohol concentration. Defence will be given full and complete disclosure. Defence will be able to see for itself whether the appropriate steps that are prerequisite to the conclusive proof of blood alcohol concentration were taken.

Through Bill C-46, efficiencies in the criminal justice system for impaired driving matters will be gained not only at the police investigation stage but also at the trial stage. The impaired driving provisions have also been subject to extensive discussions with the provinces and territories and are eagerly awaited by them.

I ask all hon. members to join in voting to pass Bill C-46 at second reading and send it to the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights for review.

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May 31st, 2017 / 4 p.m.
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Liberal

Chris Bittle Liberal St. Catharines, ON

Mr. Speaker, drug-impaired driving is a concern taken very seriously by the government. I have spoken at length with the minister and the parliamentary secretary about this problem.

Bill C-46 is an important piece of the puzzle to go along with Bill C-45, which is the legalization of cannabis. Bill C-46 does deal with impairment by cannabis, and there will be saliva-based testing.

As a member of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, I look forward to hearing the scientific evidence from legal experts, scientists, and so on as to how this roadside screening will work. I am looking forward to hearing that testimony as soon as this place can get the bill to committee.

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May 31st, 2017 / 4 p.m.
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Liberal

Linda Lapointe Liberal Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, QC

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak to a subject that has admittedly attracted a lot of attention in recent days, weeks, and months.

Obviously, the legalization of cannabis, or marijuana, was a hot but sensitive topic during the election campaign, and so it is important to open a dialogue with Quebeckers and Canadians to discuss it.

As a mother of four children, two girls and two boys, aged 17 to 25, I am well aware of the arguments for and against the legalization of cannabis. However, one thing is certain. We need to reconsider our current approach.

As part of its commitment, our government recognizes that the existing approach is not working and seems outdated. The rate of cannabis use among young people is higher in Canada than anywhere else in the world. That is not an enviable record, even though we are, as the Right Hon. Jean Chrétien was fond of saying, “the best country in the world”. I truly believe that.

In 2015, the rate of cannabis use was 21% among young people aged 15 to 19 and 30% among adults aged 20 to 24. In other words, one in three people use cannabis on a regular basis. If we add in the people who use it occasionally, the number only increases. Obviously, our bill addresses a real problem. It will protect our children from drugs and from the underground network that supplies them.

Recently, our government introduced two bills to carry out and complete the legalization of cannabis and the associated regulations. However, many people only want to hear the first term, namely, legalization.

When I talk to people in my riding of Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, very few of them are aware of the second bill, Bill C-46, an Act to amend the Criminal Code (offences relating to conveyances) and to make consequential amendments to other acts.

In other words, this bill seeks to make several amendments to the Criminal Code to address cannabis-impaired driving. The prohibition on cannabis must be lifted safely, everywhere, and in every sector of our society, including on our roads.

Unfortunately, impaired driving is the leading criminal cause of death and injury in Canada. That is why our government is committed to enacting new, more stringent laws, to punish people who drive under the influence of drugs, including cannabis, more severely.

I firmly believe that enacting this bill will deter people from getting behind the wheel when they are under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

The media often tend to say that it is our young people who are more reckless and who drive while impaired. However, I know that my children and their friends do not consider impaired driving, or not having a plan for getting home, to be even remotely cool. In fact, most of the time, young people and those who are not so young already have a plan for getting home. This is an approach that I strongly encourage. There are also many alternatives available now, including drive-home services, taxis, public transit, ride-sharing, parents, and so forth.

This bill has two parts. In part 1, the amendments proposed in Bill C-46 include a new legal limit for drug-related offences and new tools to allow for better detection of impaired drivers.

To make it all possible, the bill provides for the use of roadside screening devices using oral fluid samples. This is a first in Canada when it comes to drug screening. This type of device is already used in a number of countries, including the G7 countries, such as France.

As we speak, the police have few if any ways of immediately determining the blood concentration of THC, the active ingredient in cannabis, for drivers stopped at the roadside.

We must take action, and bill C-46 will enable police officers who legally stop drivers at the side of the road to ask them to provide an oral fluid sample, if they have reasonable suspicions and believe that drugs are present in a driver’s body.

A positive reading would then help establish reasonable grounds to believe that an offence had been committed. This is an important key measure in the legalization and strict regulation of cannabis.

This important bill will allow an officer who has reasonable grounds to believe that an offence has been committed to contact an “evaluating officer”. The “evaluating officer” will then conduct an evaluation of the drug use by taking a blood sample. Next, the bill will create three new offences based on specified levels of a drug in a person’s blood within two hours after driving.

Obviously, the penalties would depend on the drug type and the levels or the combination of drugs and alcohol. These offences will be considered on the basis of the levels of active ingredients in the blood, but will also be harsher and will be “hybrid offences” where a driver has a combination of alcohol and cannabis. For example, a hybrid offence will be punishable by a mandatory fine of $1,000 and the penalty will escalate, including days of imprisonment for repeat offenders.

In part 2, Bill C-46 would reform the entire Criminal Code regime dealing with conveyances and create a new, modern system that is simplified and more coherent, in order to better prevent alcohol- or drug-impaired driving. In other words, this part of the bill provides for mandatory roadside alcohol screening, increases in minimum fines and certain maximum penalties, and a host of measures to simplify and update the existing law.

In conclusion, I have full confidence in Bill C-46, and that the coherent, clear, and sufficiently coercive measures it contains will make our roads safer for everyone. Obviously, to support these measures, our government will undertake a robust public awareness campaign, so that Canadians are well informed about the dangers of driving under the influence of cannabis or other drugs. I am also committed to doing that in my community of Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, to educate people and raise their awareness, to ensure that there is good communication, and to work on prevention with young people and the public as a whole.

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May 31st, 2017 / 4:15 p.m.
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Liberal

Linda Lapointe Liberal Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague.

I am rising today to speak to Bill C-46 because it is very important. I think that people always talk about legalization, but not about regulation. In my opinion, it is very important to provide a framework for this aspect.

We are talking about impairment, but my colleague also mentioned cannabis production. To grow cannabis, people must obtain a licence by following a process that will be similar to the one for the production of a new medication. There are strict regulations and there will be many rules.

I stated earlier that as the mother of four children, I see a lot of young people come to my home. It is very important to me that they know what could happen if they consumed drugs or alcohol and decided to drive.

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May 31st, 2017 / 4:15 p.m.
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Liberal

Yasmin Ratansi Liberal Don Valley East, ON

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge.

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to rise today at second reading of Bill C-46, which deals with driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

In all our ridings, impaired driving upends lives, devastates families, and ravages communities. While the rate of impaired driving has been on the decline since the 1980s in most of Canada, it is still a cause for concern. For example, Saskatchewan has the highest per capita rate of any province, with 575 incidents per 100,000 people in 2015. That rate is more than double in the Yukon and the Northwest Territories.

While the vast majority of impaired driving incidents in Canada involve alcohol, drug-impaired driving has been on the rise since 2009. In 2015, Canadian police reported some 3,000 incidents of people driving while under the influence of drugs. In 2015, there were more than 72,000 impaired driving incidents, including 3,000 drug-impaired driving incidents. In other words, drug-impaired driving is not a new phenomenon, and the measures in place in recent years have not stopped the problem from getting worse.

Drug-impaired driving has been a criminal offence since 1925. Front-line officials across the country have made repeated calls to treat it as a more serious criminal offence, to create accurate and reliable testing tools, and to improve public education on the dangers of driving while impaired. Our approach, through this bill, will do the same.

To begin with, Bill C-46 would amend the Criminal Code to provide police with the authority to use roadside drug screeners. In practice, this is how it would work. A police officer would conduct a traffic stop under his or her authority. The officer could form a reasonable suspicion, which could be determined from several factors, including red eyes, the odour of an impairing substance, or abnormal speech patterns. If there were reasonable grounds to suspect drugs in the body, at that point the police officer would be authorized to demand an oral fluid sample or a standardized field sobriety test. These screeners would detect the presence of a drug in a driver's oral fluid. A positive result on the drug screener would give the officer reasonable grounds to believe that the driver was committing an impaired driving offence, at which point he or she could demand a blood sample or call a drug recognition expert. There is a solid history of both the effectiveness of this test and of jurisprudence in dealing with challenges to it.

With Bill C-46, police would be able to use an oral fluid drug screener that could detect THC, cocaine, and methamphetamine. These devices would be approved by the Attorney General of Canada once they were evaluated and recommended by the Canadian Society of Forensic Science.

Six different Canadian police services, from Halifax to Vancouver to Yellowknife, tested these devices in a pilot project earlier this year to ensure that they worked in a variety of conditions, including cold temperatures. I look forward to the public report on that project, which should be available soon.

The bill would create three new criminal offences so that people who had an illegal level of drugs in their blood, or drugs in combination with alcohol, within two hours of driving could be charged. These offences could be proven by blood samples, which could be taken by police when there were reasonable grounds to believe that a driver was impaired.

Law enforcement officials have highlighted that existing impaired-driving laws are complex and difficult to apply. For example, some offences overlap, and some cases take up a great deal of court time. Bill C-46 would repeal this current regime and replace it with a modernized, simplified, and coherent structure. Police across the country would be able to better understand, apply, and enforce the law and therefore be better able to keep communities safe.

Bill C-46 would also facilitate the detection of impaired drivers by allowing for random roadside breath testing. This is something that already exists in countries such as Australia, New Zealand, and Ireland. Groups like MADD Canada have been calling for it for a long time because of research showing that it results in fewer accidents and saves lives.

Ultimately, Bill C-46 would institute and enhance a legislative framework to detect, prevent, and punish impaired driving. As I said earlier, though, a legislative approach must be accompanied by public education and efforts to combat the persistent misinformation that exists among Canadians on this issue.

I am encouraged that Public Safety Canada has launched and promoted social media campaigns this year targeting youth, parents, and drivers with a message encouraging sober driving and amplifying the message of our partners. The March campaign garnered 11.5 million impressions, meaning the number of times the content was displayed, and over 75,000 engagements, such as likes, comments, and shares, meaning it reached a large audience. I understand that a comprehensive marketing strategy is also under development, including a sustained public education and awareness campaign to combat drug-impaired driving, in collaboration with various partners. This campaign should help address some of the misperceptions that exist about the effects of certain substances on a person's ability to drive.

The changes we are proposing now mean that the government would be providing law enforcement agencies with clearer laws, better technology, better training, and more resources to investigate and prosecute drug-impaired drivers. It would mean tougher penalties to deal appropriately with offenders and better public education and awareness about the dangers of driving while impaired. As a result, Canadians would have safer roadways and safer communities.

I am encouraged by the response to these proposed measures thus far, including from Mothers Against Drunk Driving and others. That is why I urge all members to support this important legislation.

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May 31st, 2017 / 4:25 p.m.
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Scarborough Southwest Ontario

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, to follow up on the question answered by my colleague, I would just point out that Bill C-46, proposed subsection 320.27(2), requires that a police officer, if in possession of an approved screening device, “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,” may make a demand for a test. The stop itself must be lawful.

I offer that suggestion to my friend. The stop is required to be lawful. If the stop was otherwise rendered unlawful—for example, the reason for the stop was something inappropriate, such as discrimination on the basis of race or ethnicity—the stop would be rendered unlawful and the test and its results would be inadmissible under the Constitution.

I would ask the member if she would find that provision, which is new, to be reasonable reassurance of the concerns that have been expressed.

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May 31st, 2017 / 4:30 p.m.
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Liberal

Dan Ruimy Liberal Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge, BC

Mr. Speaker, today I will be speaking in favour of Bill C-46, an act to amend the Criminal Code, regarding offences relating to conveyances, and to make consequential amendments to other acts.

Before I actually get into my speech, I think we all have a story to tell. When I was five, a drunk driver hit my parents. My mom was in the hospital for a year. My dad was gravely injured as well. Our whole family was split up to different multiple homes, and that has had far-reaching consequences throughout my life. Being here today allows me the opportunity to help do the right thing.

Bill C-46 is a non-partisan proposal to hit back hard against impaired driving, an issue all too familiar for many Canadians. We all want our roads to be clear of drug-impaired and alcohol-impaired drivers, and Bill C-46 would help to deliver just that. The bill contains a package of reforms that would make it far more difficult to escape detection and to avoid conviction. Bill C-46 addresses numerous elements found in the earlier bills, but it is, in my view, a more comprehensive approach to impaired driving, and includes new elements to deal with drug-impaired driving in advance of cannabis legislation.

This comprehensive bill has two parts. The first part would address drug-impaired driving and would come into force on royal assent. The second part would combine the new drug-impaired driving provisions with other transportation offences, including amendments to the alcohol-impaired driving provisions within a new part of the Criminal Code. This part would come into force 180 days following royal assent. The proposals in Bill C-46 are aimed at making our streets safer and at the same time are intended to boost efficiency and reduce delays in the criminal justice system.

I would like to expand on those provisions that would streamline the procedures surrounding impaired driving, both in and out of court.

In regard to proving blood alcohol concentration, I begin by noting that trials for the offence of driving over the legal limit for alcohol take up a disproportionate amount of trial time at the provincial court level. This occurs in part because of defence efforts to raise a reasonable doubt about the validity of the blood alcohol concentration. Bill C-46 proposes to address this in a manner consistent with current science by setting out that a driver's BAC, blood alcohol concentration, will be conclusively proven if the police have taken the following steps.

First, the qualified technician, who is a police officer trained to operate an approved instrument, must ensure that the approved instrument is not registering any alcohol that is in the room air. This is done by an air blank test. This is actually quite important; otherwise, the court could not be certain that the approved instrument detected only the alcohol that was in the driver's breath.

Second, qualified technicians must ensure that the approved instrument is calibrated correctly. They do this by testing a standard alcohol solution that is certified by an analyst to contain a specific concentration of alcohol. If the approved instrument produces a result that is within 10% of the target value, then the approved instrument is correctly calibrated.

Third, qualified technicians must take two breath samples at least 15 minutes apart. If there is agreement between the samples, meaning the results are within 20 milligrams, the agreement requirement is met and the lower of the two readings will be the reading that forms the basis of any criminal charge for driving while over the legal limit. For an offender with no prior impaired driving conditions, a lower reading typically would avoid a fine above the minimum fine.

If the qualified technicians take these three steps, the resulting blood alcohol concentration will be conclusively proven. The result is an enhanced trial efficiency, given that no court time is taken up by efforts to question the validity of the blood alcohol concentration analysis. This proposed change is based on the best available scientific evidence and would ensure trial fairness while preventing time-consuming challenges to reliable testing procedures.

There is another important change proposed in Bill C-46 that works hand in hand with the proof of blood alcohol concentration. This is the proposal to reformulate the offence from driving while over 80 to the new formulation proposed in Bill C-46, which is having a blood alcohol concentration at or over 80 milligrams of alcohol within two hours of driving.

A number of states in the U.S.A. already have such a formulation. It eliminates the bolus drinking defence, also known as the “drink and dash defence”. This consists of a driver claiming that they were under 80 at the time of driving because the alcohol, which they drank quickly and just before driving, was not fully absorbed into the blood. However, by the time they were tested on the approved instrument at the police station, the alcohol was absorbed and the reading on the approved instrument was over 80.

Assuming this pattern of behaviour has actually occurred, it is then argued in court that the effects of the alcohol did not make the driver drunk until the driver was stopped. This is very dangerous behaviour that should not be condoned by the law. This is a loophole that allows people to get out of the responsibilities of their actions.

The new offence also limits the “intervening drink defence” by tackling a strategy employed after driving but before testing at the police station. The driver either openly drinks alcohol once the police have stopped him, or they drink alcohol that was hidden, for example, in a pocket flask while they are waiting in the police car or at the station. This behaviour typically is aimed at interfering with the police investigation of an impaired driving offence. Again, if we look around and we look at the science and what has been happening out there, Bill C-46 aims to address these issues.

The Supreme Court of Canada indicated in 2012 that the bolus drinking defence and the intervening drink defence encourage behaviour that is dangerous or contrary to public policy. Bill C-46 would eliminate the bolus drinking defence and restrict the intervening drink defence to situations where the post-driving alcohol consumption occurred innocently, meaning that the driver had no reasonable expectation that a demand for a breath sample would be made by the police.

For example, the driver arrives home and begins drinking at home. There is no reason to expect the police to arrive and make a demand for a breath sample. However, if the police receive a complaint that the driver was driving while drunk and they investigate, in this rare scenario the driver could still raise the intervening drink defence.

Another efficiency measure in Bill C-46 is the clarification of the crown's disclosure requirements. The bill clearly and concisely specifies what the prosecution must provide to the defence with respect to a driver's testing on the approved instrument. If the defence wishes to obtain more, it can apply to the court but must show the relevance of the requested information. This disclosure provision is intended to ensure that police are not obliged to disclose material, such as historical approved instrument maintenance records, which is irrelevant to the scientific validity of the driver's breath test results.

Given that the disclosure phase is frequently a bottleneck in the process, these clarifications are expected to result in significant improvements in prosecutorial efficiency. This includes time and resources saved on locating, copying, collating, organizing, or otherwise providing scientifically irrelevant maintenance record materials to defence.

I am confident that the proposed changes in Bill C-46 will make the investigation and prosecution of impaired driving crimes a lot simpler. The approved instrument, when used by a qualified technician who first ensures that it is operating correctly, is scientifically reliable. It produces a reading that is a valid statement of a driver's blood alcohol concentration. Defence will be given full and complete disclosure of the steps taken to ensure the scientific validity of a driver's blood alcohol concentration result on the approved instrument. Defence will be able to see for itself whether the appropriate steps that are prerequisite to the conclusive proof of blood alcohol concentration were taken and it will ensure that time is not spent addressing irrelevant disclosure applications.

Through Bill C-46, efficiencies in the criminal justice system for impaired driving matters will be gained not only at the police investigation stage but also at the trial stage.

The impaired driving provisions have been the subject of extensive discussions with provinces and territories and are eagerly awaited by them.

I ask that all hon. members join in voting to pass Bill C-46 at second reading and send it to the legislative committee for review.

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May 31st, 2017 / 4:45 p.m.
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Conservative

Rob Nicholson Conservative Niagara Falls, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am almost sorry that we cannot go right to the question period.

That said, it is my responsibility to address a number of the concerns that we in the Conservative Party have with respect to Bill C-46. While the Conservative Party has always been in favour of toughening laws to discourage drinking and driving, this legislation has some flaws that need to be remedied prior to its coming into law.

The first quandary I will address is the fact that the Liberals are ignoring their own task force recommendations to implement extensive marijuana and impaired driving education and awareness programs prior to the legalization of marijuana. Rather than choosing to be measured in its approach, the government is selecting to ram this legislation through. Officials from both Washington State and Colorado have stressed the importance of starting educational campaigns as soon as possible, before legalization, yet the government has no concrete plans in place to speak to this.

The Liberals have created a false deadline for political gain, and in doing so have placed the health and safety of Canadians at risk. The agenda of any government should never supersede the well-being and security of its citizens. For example, the Canadian Automobile Association, the CAA, has requested that the Liberal government implement a government-funded education program warning about the dangers of driving while impaired under the influence of cannabis prior to the legalization of the drug. They have also requested that police forces be given adequate funding to learn how to identify and investigate drug-impaired drivers.

The government has imposed a timeline that is unrealistic. Education is imperative. The National Post printed a story on May 17, 2016, in which it cited that in a State Farm survey, 44% of all Canadians who smoke marijuana believed it made them better drivers. As a matter of fact, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, the former chief of police of Toronto, stated recently in the chamber that 15% of teens believe that smoking marijuana makes them better drivers. His figures may err on the side of caution, but the government is obviously aware that educating drivers is necessary. Why, then, is it that the government is not implementing the required programs in order to keep Canadians safe on our roadways?

A study commissioned by the CAA and conducted by Earnscliffe Strategy Group found this figure to be higher than 15%, and in fact it is was 26% of all drivers between the ages of 18 and 34 believe that driving while high on marijuana made them better drivers. The figures may vary, but the facts are clear. An increasing number of drivers believe that marijuana enhances their capabilities on the road. Jeff Walker, the spokesperson for the CAA, concurs. He said:

There are a lot of misconceptions out there that marijuana doesn’t affect your driving, or even worse, it makes you a better driver.

He then went on to say:

There need to be significant resources devoted to educating the public in the run-up to, and after, marijuana is legalized.

Why is it that the government is ignoring calls to ensure the safety of all Canadians on our roadways by funding and offering an adequate public education program? It is our responsibility as parliamentarians to combat the fallacy that cannabis use while driving is not a hazard to road safety.

The statistics are clear, but the Liberals are more focused on fulfilling an election promise than protecting Canadians. On the Peace Tower is the inscription, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” The Liberals are showing a lack of vision. Again, the Liberals are imposing a deadline in order to fulfill one of their election promises. Rushing such legislation is against all recommendations, including that of the CAA and the Liberals' own task force.

As members know, the Conservative Party has always supported measures that protect Canadians from impaired drivers. Drug-impaired driving is a real concern in Canada. The Department of Justice's own statistics cite a 32% increase in deaths from marijuana-involved traffic accidents in the span of a year.

In Colorado, marijuana-related traffic deaths increased by 154% between 2006 and 2014. This was according to a study done by Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, a collaboration of federal, state, and local drug enforcement agencies.

It is wrong that the Liberals should ram this legislation through without consideration for the well-being of our citizens. Douglas Beirness, a senior researcher with the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse, gave voice to similar concerns when he acknowledged, “We’re getting a picture that people who are using cannabis are dying in greater numbers than ever before.” The government needs to ensure that Canadians understand the risks of impaired driving before moving forward with this legislation. At this point it would seem that the Liberal logic is skewed.

Another consequence to rushing this legislation through is that it does not address the concerns police forces have in respect to detecting drug-impaired drivers. Superintendent Gord Jones of the Toronto Police Service, the co-chair of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police traffic committee stated, “We’re having our challenges. The most pressing one is that we don’t know what the legislation will look like. It makes it hard to train and prepare.”

The Conservative Party is concerned that our police currently do not have the resources and training they will require to manage the increased threat of impaired driving associated with the legalization of marijuana.

The following excerpt is from the February 4, 2017, edition of the Ottawa Citizen:

Under legislation introduced in 2008 to update impaired driving laws, drivers suspected of drug use have been required to participate in a drug evaluation conducted by a Drug Recognition Expert, or DRE.

These police officers, trained to an international standard, rely on their observations to determine whether a blood or urine test is warranted.

The problem is that there are fewer than 600 trained DRE officers in Canada. An assessment conducted in 2009 estimated that Canada needs between 1,800 and 2,000 and the training system isn’t equipped to pump out trained officers any faster.

It goes on to say:

Cannabis affects tracking, reaction time, visual function, concentration and short-term memory. Signs of cannabis use include poor co-ordination and balance, reduced ability to divide attention, elevated pulse and blood pressure, dilated pupils, the inability to cross the eyes, red eyes and eyelid or body tremors.

The government must address the shortfall in DRE-trained officers if it is to sufficiently test for drug-impaired drivers. I reiterate that the Liberals must have trained DRE officers in place prior to the passage of Bill C-46. They have put the cart before the horse. The order that they are proceeding in is wrong, and the result will be more deaths on Canadian roadways.

Additionally, testing for cannabis is far more bomplicated than testing for alcohol. While the timing of alcohol consumption is readily detected with a breathalyzer, the smelling of cannabis does not necessarily mean it was recently consumed, as drugs absorb at a different rate than alcohol. Chemical traces of cannabis remain in the body longer than alcohol. Whereas breathalyzers are recognized by the courts, there is no such precedent with drug-impaired driving. There will be challenges until there are court decisions.

Let me be clear. When the Conservatives were in government, we supported increased penalties for crimes that put Canadians in danger, such as impaired driving. It is interesting to note that the Liberals opposed legislation that imposed higher maximum penalties. Their approach now simply makes no sense. The Conservatives introduced a private member's bill on impaired driving, as my colleague pointed out, Bill C-226, and the Liberals opposed that legislation.

Bill C-46 raises concerns with regard to law enforcement. Let me be clear. For nine years the Conservatives fought hard to bring in tough impaired driving legislation which the Liberals, as we know, opposed at every opportunity. Now they wish to introduce Bill C-46 to counter their own legislation, Bill C-45, the bill that would legalize the sale and consumption of marijuana. If reasonable suspicion were to remain a criterion, the public would be fully protected, both in terms of their charter rights and freedoms and in regard to their safety on the roads.

Another troubling aspect of Bill C-46 is the fact that it will inevitably cause more court backlogs and delays when individuals would find themselves in the position of having to challenge the legislation.

The Liberals have already created an unnecessary crisis in our legal system by refusing to appoint the required number of judges. It was just pointed out today during question period that they have not. As a result, alleged rapists and murderers are being set free as court cases across the country are being stayed following the Jordan decision. I am guessing that Bill C-46 would further burden the law courts with challenges, worsening the current crisis.

Canadians could lose confidence in their justice system, and unless amendments are made to Bill C-46, disaster will ensure if more and more cases are dismissed. I find it ironic that they would abolish the $200 victim surcharge for murdered victims' families in the name of alleviating financial hardship on the convicted, yet would seek to financially burden citizens who may be forced to challenge this legislation.

The marijuana task force report's advice to the ministers, on page 44, was as follows:

“The Task Force recommends that the federal government invest immediately and work with the provinces and territories to develop a national, comprehensive public education strategy to send a clear message to Canadians that cannabis causes impairment and the best way to avoid driving impaired is to not consume. The strategy should also inform Canadians of the dangers of cannabis-impaired driving, with special emphasis on youth, and the applicable laws and the ability of law enforcement to detect cannabis use.”

The task force went on to recommend that the federal government “invest in research to better link THC levels with impairment and crash risk to support the development of a per se limit; determine whether to establish a per se limit as part of a comprehensive approach to cannabis-impaired driving, acting on findings of the drugs and driving committee; re-examine per se limits, should a reliable correlation between THC levels and impairment be established; support the development of an appropriate roadside drug screening device for detecting THC levels, and invest in these tools; invest in law enforcement capacity, including DRE and SFST training and staffing; and invest in baseline data collection and ongoing surveillance and evaluation in collaboration with provinces and territories.”

The report went on to say, “While it may take time for the necessary research and technology to develop, the task force encourages all governments to implement elements of a comprehensive approach as soon as feasible”.

Thus far, we have not seen any plans to make sure these recommendations are put into effect. Why is that? Could it be that the government simply does not have the money? I find that hard to believe. I think it has the money for everything. The government's own finance department produced a report that says it is not going to be worried about a balanced budget until 2055, so what is the problem with the government spending more money?

The government needs to put the welfare of Canadians first and foremost and before its own political agenda. It is simply wrong that the government would not provide the necessary education, detection tools, deterrent policies, evaluation data, and national coordination between the provinces and territories to inform Canadians on the dangers of drug-impaired driving. This should be part of an overall legislative approach to implementing Bill C-46. The absence of these components, in addition to adding further strain on our already overburdened courts, would make the hasty passage of this bill reckless.

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May 31st, 2017 / 5 p.m.
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Scarborough Southwest Ontario

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member for Niagara Falls for his comments and I want to ask him a few points of clarification.

He read a quote earlier in his speech from the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police. Of course, this was a comment the association made before the introduction of Bill C-46, and I want to share with him the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police's response to Bill C-46, which I have with me today.

The association 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. The CACP has called for such changes in the past, specifically in support of modernizing the driving provisions of the criminal code, supporting mandatory alcohol screening and eliminating common 'loophole' defenses.

I think it might be noteworthy that the CACP was not asking for what the previous government offered for almost a decade, which was bigger sentences, mandatory minimums, and consecutive sentencing. What it was asking for were the tools that were required to keep our communities safe, and those tools included new technologies, legislation to authorize the use of those technologies, the creation of new offences, and training and resources in order to keep our roadways safe.

I submit that the bill provided to us today would do exactly that. As well, I would differentiate it from the private member's bill that was submitted earlier, which was examined quite exhaustively by the public safety committee and found to be so irremediably flawed that it was unredeemable. It was therefore sent back with the committee's strongest recommendation that the passage of that private member's bill would have actually made our courts clogged and our roadways much less safe.

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May 31st, 2017 / 5:05 p.m.
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Conservative

Karen Vecchio Conservative Elgin—Middlesex—London, ON

Mr. Speaker, the member has provided a great deal of information and education on this issue, and I know that as the former justice minister, he has worked very hard to make sure that we are protecting Canadians.

I always return to the fact that we still have impaired driving from drinking, let alone now moving into drugs. We are only 13 months from Bill C-45 being enacted, and we are going to see drug-impaired Canadians out there. We already know that drunk driving has not ceased just because we have fantastic campaigns like MADD. Now we would add another level of issues to this topic.

I believe that when we are looking at cannabis use in Bill C-46, we have to recognize that it impairs people differently. It may be a person who has smoked it daily for the last 20 years or it may be a young teenager who has smoked it for the first time. We have to recognize that because the legislation in Bill C-45 is not tight enough, there are going to be 16-year-olds who are going to have access to cannabis and we have to understand that there are going to be 16-year-olds on the road with cannabis in their system who have just learned to drive in the first place.

I want to hear from this former minister on Bill C-46. What is his recommendation for the level of cannabis in someone's system? I truly believe it should be zero, and I want to hear from him on that. What are some of his recommendations? We know that our law enforcement agencies are going to have a lot on their hands.

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May 31st, 2017 / 6:35 p.m.
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Liberal

Raj Grewal Liberal Brampton East, ON

Madam Speaker, as I rise today to debate Bill C-46 at second reading, I am thinking of the people in my riding who have lost loved ones to impaired driving, as well as those who have been injured and whose lives will never be the same.

Sometimes when debating legislation in the House, we can lose sight of the real human impacts of our decisions. Impaired driving has done a lot of damage in a lot of communities. We are lucky if we do not know someone who has lost a loved one as a result of impaired driving. By making our laws in this area more effective, we can do a lot of good.

Let us talk about the bill. Bill C-46 would provide a new way forward to address impaired driving and would get drivers impaired by alcohol or drugs off our roads. That is something, fundamentally, we can all agree on in this House.

Impaired driving has been an issue for a long time. We know that drug-impaired driving has become a growing problem over the past decade. It is not any specific age group causing the problem. Indeed, this is one of those issues that transcends age, gender, and socio-economic status. What we need are wholesale behavioural changes backed by comprehensive, evidence-based policy and regulation and further public education.

I am proud to stand with a government that is taking action to tackle this issue in an informed and forceful way, as reflected in this bill. I am very proud to know that Bill C-46 is a product of a great deal of legwork by many departments, including the departments of justice, health, and public safety. The Task force on Cannabis Legalization and Regulation has been central to these latest efforts through their engagement with law enforcement and many other partners across the country.

Indeed, I extend my heartfelt thanks to the dedicated women and men on the front lines dealing with the tragedy of impaired driving every day, including the roughly 4,000 officers trained to perform the standardized field sobriety test.

However, we know that more needs to be done. There is a vacuum to be filled, especially in terms of creating drug-impaired driving limits, the tools to detect these violations, and the legal teeth to clamp down on offenders. That is why the Government of Canada began by requesting that the Drugs and Driving Committee of the Canadian Society of Forensic Science assess the validity of oral fluid drug screening technology.

They agreed that the technology reliably detects THC, cocaine, and methamphetamines, these being the drugs most frequently abused by Canadians. However, this is only one piece of the puzzle. The technological tools needed to detect impairing substances must be accompanied by a legal framework that provides for their effective use. That is one important way this bill would create a stronger impaired driving regime. It would authorize law enforcement, at legal roadside stops, to require that a driver provide an oral fluid sample if the officer had a reasonable suspicion that a driver had drugs in his or her body. That could mean redness in the eyes or an odour in the vehicle, for example. The screener, which has a disposable oral fluid collection kit and a reader that analyzes the saliva, would then help the officer check for the presence of particular drugs in the oral fluid.

A positive reading on one of these devices would be information an officer could use to develop reasonable grounds to believe that an offence had been committed. At that point, the driver could be required to either provide a blood sample or to submit to a drug recognition evaluation by an officer to determine whether a criminal offence had been committed.

The bill would create three new criminal offences. It would allow law enforcement to charge those who had a prohibited level of drugs in their blood within two hours of driving. This would be proven by the blood sample. Drivers could also be charged if they had a prohibited level of drugs and alcohol in combination. Importantly, this bill would allow for mandatory alcohol screening. That means officers would be able to require a preliminary breath sample from any driver they stopped in accordance with the law.

Evidence tells us that this is an important tool for detecting impaired drivers and for reducing the rate of impaired driving. This has been demonstrated by studies in other jurisdictions where the system is in place, such as Australia, New Zealand, and several countries in Europe.

Most of the proposed new offences would be punishable by penalties that mirror the existing penalties for alcohol-impaired driving: $1,000 for the first offence; 30 days in prison for the second offence; and 120 days for a third or subsequent offence.

Much will be made in comparing this tough new legislation with our international counterparts. The United Kingdom, for example, introduced legislation last year that created legal limits for drugs and authorized screeners that detect THC and other drugs, which has resulted in more effective enforcement. Other countries, including Australia, France, Germany, and many more, have similar legislation in place and have also found it effective in preventing drug-impaired driving.

For Canada, the other piece of the puzzle will be making sure that misinformation and misperceptions are addressed. We absolutely must educate the public in a comprehensive way. Public Safety Canada has already launched an effective social media campaign to encourage sober driving and to amplify messages from partners, such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving, which does phenomenal work.

To complement this new legislation, a comprehensive public awareness campaign is under development to inform Canadian youth and parents of youth about the risks associated with drug-impaired driving. I am confident that the government will use this opportunity to address misconceptions, correct misinformation, and promote prevention.

This is about safer roads for our communities from coast to coast to coast. Getting impaired drivers off our roads is the number one priority of all parliamentarians. It is encouraging to see the positive response to this legislation thus far and the willingness of so many partners to act together on this crucial issue.

As I said at the outset, real lives have been turned upside down by impaired driving, and of course, real lives have been tragically ended by it. We need to make it stop.

I thank my hon. colleagues for their attention. I look forward to seeing the common-sense provisions in this bill applied on our roads for the benefit of all Canadians.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

May 31st, 2017 / 6:55 p.m.
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Scarborough Southwest Ontario

Liberal

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

Madam Speaker, I wish to thank the member for his support and for his expressions of concern with respect to Bill C-46. It is very helpful in advancing a very important debate about public safety.

I was hoping to tap into the member's experience as a long-standing parliamentarian here in the House, and just ask him if he may have some recollection of this. In 2010, the justice committee as it then existed, unanimously brought forward a report recommending to the House the adoption of what was then termed “random breath testing”. My understanding is that, in 2012, two years later, the then leader of the opposition, now the leader of the member's party, asked the then justice minister and the prime minister of the day why they had not acted.

With the unanimous recommendation in the last Parliament, based on strong evidence that this measure of the implementation of a new random breath testing regime would save lives, does the member have any recollection as to why it was not acted on in that previous Parliament?

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

May 31st, 2017 / 7 p.m.
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Liberal

Lloyd Longfield Liberal Guelph, ON

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to participate in the debate on Bill C-46, legislation that would have a significant positive impact on public safety. We are having a great discussion in the House on this today and I am glad to be a part of it.

In the time that I have available, I want to focus my remarks on the proposed new part of the Criminal Code, part VIII.1, on offences relating to conveyances. It would replace all the existing transportation offence provisions in the Criminal Code with a simplified and modernized part, which I believe will be better understood by all Canadians. Before discussing these changes, I believe it is necessary to understand how the current Criminal Code provisions dealing with transportation offences have developed and why there is a desperate need for modernization.

Driving while intoxicated by alcohol has been an offence since 1921, and driving while under the influence of narcotics became an offence in 1925. There have been countless amendments since then which include: creating the offence of being impaired by alcohol or a drug, in 1951; creating the over 80 offence, in 1969; authorizing demands for roadside screening breath tests, in 1976; enacting the offences of impaired driving causing death and causing bodily harm, in 1985; and in 2008, limiting the so-called two beer defence and strengthening responses to drug-impaired driving.

Unfortunately, these various piecemeal reforms have not always worked well together or kept up with improvements in technology. In particular, the provisions with respect to proving blood alcohol concentration reflect the technology that existed 50 years ago and not the modern electronic breathalyzers.

The current provisions are also very hard to understand, even for practitioners. This has long been the case. Indeed, the Law Reform Commission, in its 1991 report “Recodifying Criminal Procedure” wrote that some of the impaired driving provisions had become virtually unreadable. The current Criminal Code provisions are a minefield of technicalities that make the detection and prosecution of impaired driving cases, particularly with respect to the proving blood alcohol concentration provision, unnecessarily complex.

In the typical trial, the fundamental facts that prove guilt are not in dispute. The person was driving and the person blew over 80, yet impaired and over 80 trials are clogging the courts and are taking too long to conclude, in part because our laws are unnecessarily complex. It is time to clean up the provisions and focus trials on the relevant issues.

Under the new part of the Criminal Code, all of the offences are set out in sections that are easier to read and understand. For example, the provisions would set out the simpliciter offence first, then the offence involving bodily harm, and finally, the offence causing death. Under the new part, a person would not, for example, be charged with dangerous driving causing death while fleeing the police as in the current law. Instead, they could be charged with dangerous driving causing death and with fleeing the police, which are two distinct offences.

The penalties and prohibitions are also grouped so that consequences of the offences are clearly rationalized. There are mandatory minimum penalties and mandatory prohibitions for impaired driving and the refusal offences, but there are no mandatory minimum penalties or prohibitions for the other offences. It gets complicated. The mandatory minimum penalty regime for impaired driving and refusal offences makes sense from a policy perspective.

First, unlike many other offences that can be committed in a number of different ways and capture a broad range of offenders, impaired driving offences always require voluntary consumption of alcohol or an impairing drug and then making the deliberate decision to get behind the wheel, which puts all users of the road at risk.

The minimum penalties are also well tailored, starting with a fine only for a first offence but certain jail time for those who reoffend. This type of certainty provides a clear deterrent effect.

Some offences would not be re-enacted under the new part. Failure to keep watch on a person being towed or towing a water skier at night are summary conviction offences that are rarely charged. Removing them would leave no gaps in the law. If the activity is carried out in a dangerous manner or results in bodily harm or death, the person could be charged with dangerous operation or criminal negligence in the appropriate cases.

Also, sailing with an unsafe vessel or flying an unsafe aircraft are summary conviction offences that are not being re-enacted. Laying a charge for these offences requires the approval of the Attorney General of Canada. This activity is more regulatory in nature, and there are strict laws governing the safety of vessels and aircraft.

The provisions under the investigatory powers of the new part would provide new tools for the police. In particular, mandatory alcohol screening is expected to result in deterring more drinking drivers, and deterring those tempted to do so. Roadside oral fluid drug screening will detect drivers who have consumed cannabis, cocaine or methamphetamines, the impairing drugs that are most prevalent on Canadian roads which have been discussed earlier.

Under “Evidentiary Matters”, the new part addresses directly the most important causes of delay and litigation under the current provisions dealing with proving blood alcohol concentration. These are welcome changes given the significant challenges many jurisdictions are facing in terms of court backlogs. Bill C-46 sets out what has to be done to ensure that a breath test produces accurate results and provides a simple formula for determining blood alcohol concentration where the first test occurs more than two hours after the person has driven.

The new part also sets out what documents are to be disclosed as relevant to determining whether the approved instrument was working properly when the driver's breath was analyzed.

There are also improvements with respect to certificates. An accused who wants to cross-examine the qualified technician or an analyst who filed a certificate would have to explain why their attendance is necessary. This ensures there would be no fishing expeditions.

All of these provisions reflect the advice of the alcohol test committee, an independent committee which has been advising the Government of Canada on breath testing for alcohol for 50 years, and whose expertise has repeatedly been recognized by the courts, including the Supreme Court of Canada.

There are many other changes in the wording of the provisions. It would be tedious to list them all, but suffice it to say we need to clean up this legislation.

I am pleased to recommend to members that Bill C-46 be given second reading and be referred to the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, so the committee can do its great work.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

May 31st, 2017 / 7:15 p.m.
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Conservative

Alain Rayes Conservative Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to speak to the act to amend the Criminal Code (offences relating to conveyances) and to make consequential amendments to other acts. What we are talking about here is enabling police officers to detect impaired drivers.

Before I begin, I want to make one thing clear. I think we all want to support measures that protect Canadians on our roads no matter where they are. However, I am not convinced that the bill before us addresses all of our questions and concerns.

This is an issue that matters a lot to me and that I have done a lot of work on because it ties in with marijuana legalization, which the government wants to implement on July 1, 2018.

First, I want to point out that I supported the bill introduced by my colleague from Bellechasse—Les Etchemins—Lévis, Bill C-46, an act to amend the Criminal Code (offences relating to conveyances) and to make consequential amendments to other acts. This bill also amends the Criminal Records Act so that the offence of impaired driving and the offence of failing or refusing to comply with a demand are no longer exceptions to the offences, rendering null and void the record suspension. My colleague has done an excellent job. However, unfortunately, this was rejected by the government. This bill makes consequential amendments to these laws and others that are directly related to the bill we are debating today.

Second, I also sponsored Bill S-240, introduced by Senator Claude Carignan. This bill sought to implement measures to combat impaired driving. The bill amends the Criminal Code in order to authorize the use of a screening device approved by the government to detect the presence of drugs in the body of a person who was operating a vehicle or who had the care or control of a vehicle. It also authorizes the taking of samples of bodily substances to determine the concentration of drugs in a person's body based on physical coordination tests and the result of the analysis conducted using an approved screening device.

Once again, even though all senators, regardless of their political stripe, and all opposition parties unanimously agreed, the government nevertheless decided to reject all the Senate's hard work. The bill had passed all three stages of the legislative process, but now we have to start from scratch. It will be too late and no one will be ready if the bill to legalize marijuana is rushed through.

Third, I asked about 15 questions and I took part in many of the debates we have had here in the House of Commons.

Fourth, I met with representatives from various businesses that produce drug screening devices in order to learn more about these devices' ability to screen for faculties impaired by drugs.

Fifth, I met with senior officials responsible for training police officers at the École nationale de police du Québec. Unfortunately, I learned that they had not been consulted as part of this process and that they feel unprepared to deal with the consequences of this bill to legalize marijuana.

Sixth, I asked the citizens of my riding for their thoughts on this plan to legalize marijuana, and more specifically the consequences it will have on road safety.

Seventh, I studied the cases of Uruguay, Colorado, and Washington in particular, and I reviewed all of the legislation on the subject from other places in the world.

That is why I can talk about this issue today with a full knowledge of the facts and confirm that Canada is not ready to legalize marijuana, especially not by July 1, 2018. Before any bill to legalize cannabis is passed, the police must have the proper tools to prevent many lives being lost on our roads.

To be frank, I find it hard to understand why the Liberals dragged their feet for so long before introducing a draft bill that they are now saying must urgently be passed before the summer recess. Let us be serious. The legalization of marijuana has been part of the Liberal platform for years. To get elected, the Liberals even told Canadians that they had a plan.

Once elected, it took them two years to introduce a bill in the House because their legislative agenda has been flawed from the start. Ironically, the Senate is not working very hard compared to when other governments were in office. Now, all of a sudden, things have picked up and the Liberals are trying to quickly pass bills without allowing them to be thoroughly studied in committee.

Two bills need to be quickly passed so that everything is in place in time for the next election. That is simply irresponsible, and the Liberals are to blame. In short, this bill is critically important in protecting Canadians from the growing scourge of drug-impaired drivers who get behind the wheel. It becoming increasingly urgent to eradicate this scourge in light of the Liberals' bill to legalize marijuana.

Every jurisdiction that has legalized marijuana has experienced an increase in the number of accidents and impaired drivers. Here is what the Canadian Police Association told the Senate Special Committee on Illegal Drugs:

Driving while intoxicated by drugs impairs judgment and motor coordination. In one study involving aircraft, ten licensed pilots were given one marijuana joint containing 19 mg of THC, a relatively small amount [for users, or so I am told]. Twenty-four hours after smoking the joint, they were tested in a flight simulator. All ten of the pilots made errors in landing, and one missed the runway completely.

The report also said that, according to a recent opinion poll about drug-impaired driving, 58% of Canadian drivers did not know if their province or territory had any administrative laws on drug-impaired driving. The clearly demonstrates the need to sort out the drug-impaired driving issue before cannabis is legalized. Unfortunately, I doubt that can happen given the Liberal government's unrealistic and irresponsible timelines. for things to happen that fast, the Liberals will have to rush the process, which will jeopardize Canadians' health and safety. That is extremely unfortunate.

I would like to share a few quotes that I compiled about impaired driving because I want to give everyone a real sense of just how big an issue this is even though the Liberals are trying to downplay it.

According to Washington State toxicology lab manager Brian Capron , since the state legalized marijuana, over a third of impaired drivers tested positive for the drug. They test over 13,000 drivers every year.

According to Dr. Chris Rumball of the Nanaimo Regional General Hospital, the Prime Minister's plan to legalize marijuana should take into account sobering U.S. experiences. In Washington State, fatal crashes among drivers who tested positive for marijuana doubled from 8% in 2013, before legalization, to 17% in 2014 after legalization. In Colorado, the number tripled from 3.4% to 12.1%.

“The number of car accidents in Colorado increased because of marijuana usage,” said Kevin Sabet, former advisor to Barack Obama on drug policy.

According to the Quebec police, “Canadian police forces are worried about drug-impaired driving [in the wake of Ottawa's announcement that it intends to legalize marijuana]. Police are concerned about trivializing consumption [and] an increase in drivers under the influence of drugs.”

I also have this quote from Annie Gauthier, CAA Québec's spokesperson. “We must continue to collect data, put technology in place and establish guidelines that will enable police officers to properly control and deal with this new situation in order to prevent it from spiralling out of control.”

I have many more similar quotes and I could go on at length.

In closing, every effort to make our roads safer is critical. I sincerely hope that the Liberals will allow sufficient time for a thorough study of the bill in committee. The Liberals' irresponsible marijuana legalization proposal aside, there is still the issue of impaired driving that needs to be addressed as soon as possible, whether or not legalization is about to happen.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

May 31st, 2017 / 7:25 p.m.
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Scarborough Southwest Ontario

Liberal

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

Madam Speaker, the member quoted a number of unnamed police organizations. I was curious about a number of things and I would like to inquire about them.

First, since we have introduced Bill C-46, I want to share with the member a fact with which he may not be familiar. The Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police traffic committee has put out the following statement in response to Bill C-46. It says:

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. The CACP has called for such changes in the past, specifically in support of modernizing the driving provisions of the criminal code, supporting mandatory alcohol screening and eliminating common ‘loophole’ defenses.

I have looked back at some of the data over the past decade. For over a decade, Canada has had the highest rates of cannabis use. It is estimated that over 3.5 million Canadians have used cannabis. Therefore, driving under the influence of cannabis has been a significant issue.

I wonder if the member opposite might offer some insight as to why his government did nothing about that for a decade.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

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

Steven Blaney Conservative Bellechasse—Les Etchemins—Lévis, QC

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

May 31st, 2017 / 7:40 p.m.
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Scarborough Southwest Ontario

Liberal

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

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

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

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

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

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

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

Jenny Kwan NDP Vancouver East, BC

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There are the outstanding questions.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

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

Alice Wong Conservative Richmond Centre, BC

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

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

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

Recently, the CBC reported:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

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

François Choquette NDP Drummond, QC

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The article continues as follows:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

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

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

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

Larry Maguire Conservative Brandon—Souris, MB

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

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

Kevin Waugh Conservative Saskatoon—Grasswood, SK

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

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

Stephanie Kusie Conservative Calgary Midnapore, AB

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This brings me to my final point.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

May 31st, 2017 / 10 p.m.
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Conservative

Stephanie Kusie Conservative Calgary Midnapore, AB

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

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

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

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

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

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

Earl Dreeshen Conservative Red Deer—Mountain View, AB

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

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

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

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

Bill C-46, in its preamble, states:

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

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

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

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

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

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

It states:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

These are the drugs listed in section 5.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

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

Liberal

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

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

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

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

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

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

David Anderson Conservative Cypress Hills—Grasslands, SK

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

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

Liberal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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May 29th, 2017 / 4:30 p.m.
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Conservative

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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Conservative

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

Liberal

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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NDP

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.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

May 29th, 2017 / 5:20 p.m.
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NDP

Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

Madam Speaker, I am glad to join the debate today on Bill C-46, an act to amend the Criminal Code (offences relating to conveyances) and to make consequential amendments to other Acts. This deals with the decriminalizing and legalization of marijuana in our society.

The issue facing us today is rather ironic for me. Legalization of marijuana is comparable in many respects to a bill I brought before the House of Commons on single-event sports betting. It was about the legalization of something that the public wanted, and the cost of the criminality element to it was very robust. I still get the comparisons to this issue from people who are lobbying to legalize single-event sports betting activities in Canada. My bill was defeated by the Liberals, primarily the Prime Minister and his cabinet.

Therefore, when this passes, people will be able to legally consume cannabis, but they still will be unable to bet on single-event sports. That is around a $10 billion a year of loss that goes to primarily organized crime. Those funds could have been diverted to health care, education, as well gaming addiction and other things related to it.

I say this now because I have seen some of this work develop and specifically why this did not even get moved to a committee. There clearly was a design by the Prime Minister, his cabinet, and his parliamentary cabal to keep that from going to committee for their own purposes, and there are some very debatable reasons for that.

However, I want to focus on this bill. It would move to the legalization of a consumable product, being a drug, which has consequential, sociological, and social elements that will frame our society around the use of it. In particular, we are talking about drug-impaired driving. Since 1925, it has been illegal to have drugs in one's system and to drive a motorized vehicle. Driving while under the influence of alcohol is the largest killer of Canadians under a criminal offence for murder, and we have not yet found the proper repertoire of responses to it.

Listening to the debate today, the Liberals have not really participated much. This is a common thing that happens here. I would invite all those viewing to visit an independent site called “openparliament.ca”. People can actually track their members' participation. Many members just sit here and do not participate on a regular basis. People can even look at the volume of what they have chosen to intervene on and what they have chosen not to intervene on.

I have listened with intent to some of the concerns raised by the Conservatives. They relate to some of the practical problems we have with the identification of those who are intoxicated or under the influence of a drug while driving. There is the difficulty that science has right now. There is the expansion of police powers, which are very much challenged under the environment of some of the issues we have had such as racial profiling and a number of different civil liberty issues that have taken place, not only with regard to the police, but also with regard to other different types of services provided by public institutions, which are paid for by all.

One of the concerns raised by the Conservatives was the cost of this, which is legitimate to raise. However, it is rather unfortunate that it has been a discussion point in this. It is to the embarrassment and shame of the government. It should have put this to rest immediately.

When we consider the cost in terms of human death related to this and the mere fact of the gross amounts of profit that the government gets from alcohol sales and consumption, and now of drug consumption, it is nothing short of shameful for the Liberals to come into this debate and not do that appropriately by taking care of those costs and ending that right away. If not, I know as a former councillor and many others also know that they will offload these issues onto an inappropriate tax base to deal with them.

For a law created from a federal standpoint, there should be no debate whatsoever about those costs. We should be getting on with it given the fact that we have such human tragedy associated with this, but we are debating whether it costs $20 a swab or 2¢ a Breathalyzer. It is absolutely shameful that we would change laws and have that debate when the government is receiving significant revenue from current sales of alcohol and other types of prohibited substances, and now drug sales. It is absolutely shameful. It is a black mark on the government for taking this process forward, and it becomes a distraction of what is so important, which is the change to our society with this new drug being legalized in our country. It is extremely unfortunate.

The Liberals always have money for their friends. They always have money for their pet projects. They always have money for the shiny objects they find to chase after, but they never have money when it really counts. It is a scapegoat to have the provinces or the municipalities to have to pick up the slack. They are are clear that it is okay; it is all right. I would tell the councillors, the mayors, the provincial representatives, and the premiers that it is all on them, because the decision rests right here. The buck stops right here in terms of the potential from revenue source and the amount of money that is already capitalized by the federal government's taxation of those products that are currently legal that have some conditions on them.

We have serious issues to deal with. For example, what are the levels of drug influence? Then we have a positive in this bill, which I like, which is making the penalties for drinking and driving under the influence of alcohol stronger. It is interesting because, given the severity of alcohol and drinking and driving under the influence, the Liberals have only just matched other transportation-related death issues. They did not choose to take it to a higher level. They did not choose to do anything else with it. They chose to put it in line where it should have been from day one.

Gone are the days, and they should have never existed, when we passively allowed being under the influence. It was “Oh, it was just a few drinks and it was just an occasion.” No, the serious consequences of that should have always been the case. There was a cultural shift, just like we are going to have a cultural shift with this.

With that, we have to look at the consultations that have taken place. What I worry about and why I talked about the levels and the cost related to this is that it relates to regulations being in place, not legislation, to allow unelected people to set even the lowest and the highest level of bars for the testing, the failing of the testing, and the consequences of the testing. Why would we kick the buck there? I have no idea. It does not make any sense in terms of responsibility.

I represent a border community, and the consultation elements have not been there. The Minister of Public Safety has no answers for consultation with the United States, for example. They have not consulted with the municipalities. For example, if a truck driver happens to be around people who are smoking marijuana and gets it on his or her clothes and in the cab, what is going to be the cost of crossing the border and having the detection in the United States go off?

What is the cost for just-in-time delivery trucks for the auto sector? What is the cost for agricultural trucks? What is the cost of putting all that on our roads to create delays of other goods and services?

There is no answer, which is rather unfortunate because it was all ready to be done, had they simply asked.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

May 29th, 2017 / 5:35 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Mark Warawa Conservative Langley—Aldergrove, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is a real honour to speak on this important issue of impaired driving.

In a previous life, before being elected federally, I was an employee with the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia. One of my responsibilities was to try to make our streets safer. After every fatal accident in my area, I had to write a report on the causes, on why somebody died. It was often very simple issues, such as not wearing a seatbelt or there was impairment involved.

I would work with the local police and the RCMP. These were very sad stories, which were very traumatic for the families and very traumatic for the police officers and first responders from the fire department or with the ambulance service who were involved. It was very traumatic. The RCMP and police forces across Canada are recognizing the impact this has on first responders and the PTSD they are experiencing, too.

It is not a simple issue. It is a very complex issue when people drive impaired. Impairment can be caused by many things. It could be caused by a lack of sleep. It can be caused by forms of dementia or a loss of cognitive skills. It can be caused by prescription drugs. However, the focus of tonight's debate has to do with the use of drugs and alcohol, and legislative changes.

For the last three and a half years, I have been honoured to present petitions in the House. I have received hundreds of thousands of petitions from across Canada from an organization called Families for Justice.

A woman who lives in my riding of Langley—Aldergrove is Markita Kaulius. Markita and Victor lost their daughter Kassandra. I forget if she was just coming from a baseball game or going to a baseball game, but she was very engaged with the community. She was a beautiful young woman. Her life was tragically lost when, as she was driving through an intersection on a green light, somebody who was badly impaired from the use of alcohol blew the light and T-boned Kassandra and killed her. I forget the speeds that were involved, but it was a severe crash. The impaired driver ran from the scene and hid. He was caught, charged, and convicted.

As happens so often in Canada in the justice system, the person receives a sentence that will never bring the lost loved one back. There is no justice, in that sense. We cannot bring their loved one back. While the sentence may be conditional sentencing, house arrest, or just months, the family, for the rest of their lives, is going to have to deal with the loss of not being able to see that daughter graduate, get married, or have children. I am thinking of Kassandra, but to lose any loved one prematurely because they were killed by an impaired driver is a travesty. It happens way too often in this country.

Families for Justice has been presenting these petitions, with thousands of signatures, saying to Parliament, “Please, change the laws.” After presenting petitions time and time again and week after week in the last Parliament, the government introduced the impaired driving act. Unfortunately, it was at the end of the Parliament. To get legislation through, normally it takes two years. Since there were not two years left, it was not going to get through.

Families for Justice contacted all of the political leaders. It contacted the Conservative leader, the Liberal leader, and the NDP leader, and asked if they would support the legislation, the impaired driving act. To the Prime Minister's credit, he responded to Families for Justice, for Cassandra Kolias, and said he would support legislation like that. Sadly, we should call that what it is, vehicular homicide. If a person kills someone using a car, a 2,000-pound or 3,000-pound weapon, while impaired, the individual choosing to become intoxicated through a drug or a drink, driving a vehicle knowing that he or she is putting the community at risk, and then kills someone, there should be a consequence much more serious than a few months in jail. It asked for mandatory minimum sentencing and for calling it what it is: vehicular homicide.

The impaired driving act, as I said, at the end of the last Parliament had mandatory minimum sentencing. It did not call it vehicular homicide, but Families for Justice continued asking for it. It has a letter, which is a public document, from the Prime Minister, saying that he would support that type of legislation. The closest thing to it that has been received by Parliament was Bill C-226. Unfortunately, the government, which dominates the justice committee, all too often getting orders from the Prime Minister's Office on whether to support something or not, was directed not to support Bill C-226.

The government has introduced legislation that we are dealing with today, Bill C-46, which uniquely and not strangely, is tied at the hip with Bill C-45. Bill C-45 would make it legal for young drivers 18 years and older to smoke a joint, or a number of joints, and to possess 30 grams legally. The Canadian Medical Association is saying that it is dangerous, we should not do that, and that people should be at least 21. At age 25 and older, developing minds will not be affected as severely. It is recommending 25 as the ideal legal age, but would agree with 21. The government ignored the scientific evidence and has gone ahead with the age of 18. Has the government introduced legislation to protect our communities and keep our roads safer? No, it has not. We know from other jurisdictions that it will make our roads less safe with impaired drivers.

We have a problem with alcohol impairment, but we have some tools to indicate whether someone is impaired through blood alcohol testing and Breathalyzers. We have devices that test. Whether it is .05 or .08, we know if somebody is impaired. The government has suggested that it is going to pass this new legislation not within a two-year period, but within a one-year period. Why is that? Why would a government want to ram through, speed through, rush through legislation to have it in place by July 1 of next year? It is because it is the marijuana legislation, the one promise it will keep. Its flagship legislation in this Parliament is to legalize marijuana that will allow someone to smoke a bunch of joints. Someone can have 60 joints in his or her pocket, the car, or whatever, all totally legal if the person is age 18 or older. Someone cannot smoke 60 joints, so maybe he or she will be giving them to friends in the car and they will have a big party while driving. It is extremely dangerous.

The government then introduced Bill C-46, the impaired driving legislation, that would keep our roads safe.

Bill C-45 would legalize up to four marijuana plants to be grown in homes. However, are four plants four plants? No. We know through medical marijuana usage that four plants is 12 plants because they grow. There are crops. With a new seed, there are four plants, and when it is halfway grown, it will be another four. Mature plants that are producing will have another four plants. We know how the legislation works: four plants are 12 plants. There will be plants growing in homes where there are children. Does that protect our children? No. Does easy access to recreational marijuana being grown in homes make us safer? No. How about 18-year-olds with developing minds being able to smoke and drive? It creates a disaster scenario.

I think back to the letter that the Prime Minister sent to the Families for Justice saying that he would support this. Support what? Mandatory minimums. The Liberals believe that the courts needed some guidance. Courts need discretion to provide appropriate sentencing if someone is convicted of an impaired driving offence. We are now introducing even more impaired drivers, I believe, so the courts need guidance.

The government has said that it is going to increase the maximum. If someone is killed, the driver would get 14 years to life imprisonment. Let us look at how often people are being sentenced to 14 years. It is almost never. I would argue that we are not seeing that ever, so by increasing the maximum sentencing from 14 years to life, does that make our roads safer? It does not. These are horrendous crimes against society, taking the lives of Canadians, driving while impaired. Families for Justice is saying it should be called vehicular homicide and that there should be mandatory minimum sentences.

We know from the rulings of the Supreme Court on mandatory minimums that if people kill someone, they would receive at least five years. That is what was being asked for. If there were additional victims, there would be consecutive sentencing, a minimum sentence on top of a minimum sentence. There would not be any freebies. If they kill multiple people, they get multiple consequences. That is what Canadians believe is justice. My point is that we cannot bring back someone who has been lost, and there is tragedy and grief that comes to a family and anyone associated with that crash.

I want to share a little research that I did. We have a government that sadly, I believe, is a government of smoke and mirrors. The letter that the Prime Minister sent is another broken promise to a family who trusted him and hoped he would keep his word to provide the legislation that he promised. That is now a broken promise. Liberals are going to provide smoke-and-mirror legislation to legalize marijuana. One can have lots of marijuana from age 18 and on, but if they drive, they are going to pay the consequences. What kind of consequences will there be? If they kill someone, the maximum goes up to life. We know, through what is happening in the courts right now, there is a very minor consequence for killing someone.

This is a tragedy. How often is this happening in Canada? Impaired driving causing death is the number one criminal offence in Canada. We keep asking the government about how many times. How many times has the Ethics Commissioner met with the Prime Minister? He will not answer that. How many times are people being killed by an impaired driver every year in Canada? Is it a dozen? How serious is this problem? It is the number one criminal cause of death. That is not what I asked. I asked how many times. On average, 1,200 people die every year in Canada from impaired driving.

That means that three or four people die every day. Today, there will be three or four people killed by an impaired driver, and that is with alcohol. We will now add drugs, new drugged-up drivers, because of the legislation that the Liberals are introducing. It is a very serious problem.

I looked at this very interesting document, a report from the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development. The Liberals have said they are back and that sunny days are here. Canadians are realizing that sunny days are not sunny days. Communities have to be sustainable, and the commissioner said this about previous Liberal governments.

The 1998 report said the Liberal government “is failing to meet its policy commitments”. In 1999, the report said there is “additional evidence of the gap between the [Liberal] government's intentions and its domestic actions. We are paying the price in terms of our health and our legacy for our children and grandchildren.” Does that sound familiar?

In 2000, it was that the government “continues to have difficulty turning...commitment into action”. In 2001, “the continued upward trend in Canada's emissions [demonstrates that] the government” has not transformed “its promises into results”. In 2002, the federal government's “sustainable development deficit” continues to grow. In 2003, it said there is gap between what the Liberal government said it will do and what it actually is doing. Good intentions are not enough. In 2004, why is the progress so slow? After all, the mandates and commitments are there. In 2005, it was that bold announcements are made and then often forgotten as soon as the confetti hits the ground. The federal government seems to have trouble crossing the finish line.

That was the Chrétien Liberal government, the Paul Martin government, and here we are with another Liberal government. The Liberals are back, involved with controversy, concerns with the Ethics Commissioner, investigations, and smoke and mirrors. We are now talking about smoke and mirrors regarding the safety of our communities.

If legislation would be introduced to protect our communities, a reasonable person would say that if we are to have any enforcement, we have to have people trained. Remember the Phoenix system where people were not trained? It is a system where the Liberals will legalize marijuana for use and they will not have any approved devices to test and confirm impairment. They do for alcohol, but the new drug impairment testing has no approved devices and no new people are being trained.

A previous speaker talked about new costs to municipal governments. I was elected in 1990 until 2004, and I served on a municipal council. The Chrétien and Martin years were extremely difficult for those in municipal government because the Liberals kept downloading more and more. They would make announcement and they would download those costs on to local governments. The tradition is that the cost of infrastructure would be one-third, one-third, one-third. The local governments could plan for that, but not under the Liberal government. They would download those costs.

In the cloudy days that we see ahead there are impaired drivers and no new devices to determine whether they are impaired. There will be legal challenges on charges of impairment, and if we do not have an approved device, likely the government will not be successful. We do not have training. With regard to the police, the drug recognition experts, who will pay for the new officers, the training, the devices that are yet to exist?

One would think that the government would wait until the science is ready to support that with devices. The search for this device is not something new. Experts have been looking for this for the last 15 years. They cannot find a device that can be used to confirm impairment, and yet the government is moving ahead.

I will support it going to committee because at committee we will see how poorly planned this legislation is and how it will hurt Canadians. I wish the government was not doing this and had thought it through more carefully. It is a poorly hatched plan, and it likely will not be supported by a large number of members in this House in the future. However, at this point, we will support it going to committee.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

May 29th, 2017 / 5:55 p.m.
See context

Scarborough Southwest Ontario

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, I have a couple of points of clarification. Perhaps I have not done a good enough job of explaining to the member that the government's actual proposal with respect to Bill C-45 is to legalize, regulate, and restrict cannabis in order to keep it out of the hands of our kids, to take the profits away from organized crime, and to create a safer, healthier, and more socially responsibly environment for all Canadians. For some reason, he did not catch that last part, and I wanted to share that with him.

There have been a number of comments with respect to waiting. I take the member for Langley—Aldergrove's point. He appears to be quite adept at waiting.

The measures that are proposed under Bill C-46 have been introduced in other jurisdictions. For example, in Ireland there was a 23% reduction in impaired deaths as a result of the measures we are now proposing to enact here in Canada. In New Zealand, it was up to 54%, and in New South Wales, Australia, it was 48%.

I have spent many years being responsible for road safety and the safety of my communities, and in my experience tough talk does not keep people safe. What does keep people safe is the absolute certainty that they will get caught. The measures that are proposed in this legislation will do precisely that. Introducing a new measure to ensure that everyone who is legally stopped by a police officer roadside must submit to an alcohol-screening breath test has been proven in many jurisdictions to save lives, so I am confident that although tough talk has not worked for over a decade, the smart action that is proposed in this legislation will do just that.

With respect to the member's concerns about the technology and the devices, his information is a little out of date. In the United Kingdom, oral testing is being used in a jurisdiction with very similar laws to those being proposed here, and the positive results of those tests are used to demand a blood sample, exactly as our legislation proposes. Also, those devices have been in use in Australia since 2009 and have resulted in criminal charges in that jurisdiction.

We have relied on the advice of the drugs and driving committee of the Canadian Society of Forensic Science with respect to which devices should be approved. We have tested two of those devices in Canadian conditions. They work exceptionally well, and we are very confident going forward.

Now is the time to act. The country has waited a decade for action and did not get it. Now we are prepared to provide the right response, the tools, the technology, and the training.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

May 29th, 2017 / 6:10 p.m.
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Conservative

Ted Falk Conservative Provencher, MB

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak to Bill C-46. Just as clarification for folks watching on television, this is not the bill to legalize marijuana, but the bill to deal with offences related to the conveyance, and also to deal with offences and procedures related to impaired driving for both cannabis and alcohol.

It is important to note at the outset that the Conservatives support measures that protect Canadians from impaired drivers. Impaired driving has needlessly taken away too many lives far too early. Unfortunately impaired driving remains one of the most frequent criminal offences and it is among the leading criminal causes of death in Canada. The legalization of marijuana must be considered with this reality in mind.

Let me be very clear. I do not support the legalization of marijuana. The Conservative Party has adopted a much more measured, responsible approach to keep minor marijuana possession illegal but to make it a ticketable offence. This is a position that has long been adopted by the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police. However, if Liberal backbenchers are willing to support the Prime Minister's dangerous proposal, which sadly appears to be the case, we have a moral responsibility to soberly consider the consequences of legalizing marijuana in so many areas of Canadian life, including on the safety of motorists on our roadways.

As I said, we on this side of the House always have supported measures that protect Canadians from impaired drivers. The mandatory fines and higher maximum penalties send a strong message that Canadians will not tolerate impaired driving. Indeed, this is the type of common-sense legislation the Conservatives regularly brought forward when we were in government and the Liberals opposed. I am pleased to see that on this issue the Liberals seem to have come around somewhat, but we also know there are many factors to take into consideration other than just penalties, and those concerns must also be addressed.

For one thing, the Liberal government has indicated that it plans to rush both Bill C-45, the legalization of marijuana, and Bill C-46, this legislation, through Parliament by July 2018. This is a hurried and unrealistic legislative timeline that puts the health and safety of Canadians at great risk, given the immensity of the task and the volume of the questions that have been left unanswered. One such challenge lies with law enforcement.

While I certainly have confidence in our law enforcement officers, as is to be expected with such radical change, police do not currently have the resources or the training required to manage the increased threat of impaired driving associated with the legalization of marijuana. Moving forward with this legislation prior to properly resourcing and training police in a classic “cart before the horse” scenario but with profoundly dangerous and deadly consequences is reckless.

The chair of the Liberals' marijuana task force has said that the best solution for the issue of impaired driving is to give researchers additional time to develop proper detection tools, yet time is something the Liberals seem unwilling to give. Addressing these issues must be a priority of the Liberal government long before legalization, and adequate time is needed to get it right.

The marijuana task force report highlights a number of the complications that exist when it comes to cannabis-impaired driving. “It is clear that cannabis impairs psychomotor skills and judgment”, it reads, before launching into a list of considerations when it comes into actual testing for impairment.

Here are several of the points raised.

While scientists agree that THC, or the tetrahydrocannabinol, impairs driving performance, the level of THC in bodily fluids cannot be used to reliably indicate the degree of impairment or crash risk. Whereas evidence was gathered over many years to arrive at an established metric for alcohol intoxication, the blood alcohol concentration levels, these types of data do not exist for cannabis. In contrast to alcohol, THC can remain in the brain and body of chronic heavy users of cannabis for prolonged periods of time, sometimes several days or even weeks, far beyond the period of acute impairment, potentially contributing to a level of chronic impairment. Some heavy, regular users of cannabis, including those who use cannabis for medical purposes, may not show any obvious signs of impairment even with significant THC concentrations in their blood. Conversely, infrequent users with the same or lower THC concentrations may demonstrate more significant impairment. There is a significant combination effect when cannabis is consumed with alcohol, leading to a greater level of intoxication and motor control problems than when either substance is consumed individually.

Other challenges exist, including the need to account for the rapid and sharp decline of THC levels in the blood in the hours following consumption through smoking. With edibles, the decline is more gradual. When these complications are coupled with the fact that there is still really no reliable testing device for marijuana impairment, it becomes clear that the July 2018 timeline is pushing the limit. Even with an effective testing device, the task force report noted that there was little agreement among experts on what the limit for THC should be.

With this bill, there are more questions than answers. This does not mean that we cannot find answers; it just means that we need more time to research. The report suggested additional research in these areas: to better link the THC levels impairment; to develop effective and reliable roadside testing tools to detect THC levels and help law enforcement enforce the rules that are put in place; and to hire and train more drug recognition experts and officers able to conduct standardized field sobriety tests.

Second, as the minister of youth, the Prime Minister should understand that adolescence is a critical time for brain development. Research shows that the brain is not fully developed until around age 25, so youth are especially vulnerable to the effects of cannabis on brain development and function. This is because the THC in cannabis affects the biological system in the brain that directs its development.

Health Canada has noted several negative effects of using cannabis, including how:

The THC in cannabis can impair your ability to drive safely and operate equipment. It can also increase the risk of falls and other accidents.

This is because THC can affect one's coordination, reaction time, ability to pay attention, decision-making abilities, and the ability to judge distances.

Health Canada also says:

Impairment can last for more than 24 hours after cannabis use, well after other effects may have faded. People who use cannabis regularly may have trouble with certain skills needed to drive safely for weeks after their last use.

The consequences for driving are obvious and the potential harm this can cause to young Canadians is alarming. Taking the time we need to consider the long-term impact on young Canadians is so much more important than a self-imposed deadline.

Third, public education plays a significant role in ensuring that Canadians do not get behind the wheel when they are impaired. However, we know that even the most effective public education campaign does not achieve success over night. The Liberals have yet to take proper steps to develop effective educational campaigns to deter Canadians from impaired driving. Without a doubt, the government must ensure that Canadians fully understand the risks of impaired driving before moving forward with legislation.

When the Prime Minister expressed his intention to push these new laws through Parliament by July of next year, his main concern was not with the safety of motorists on our roads, but instead about the symbolic optics for him and his party. This should not be the focus of the Liberal government with so much at stake for public health and safety.

While doing some reading on this issue, I came across several articles that I thought would be helpful contributions to this discussion.

In a 2015 Globe and Mail article, data was presented detailing how four emergency rooms in British Columbia surveyed 1,097 drivers and found that cannabis was the most common recreational drug, after alcohol, used among injured drivers; 7.3% were found to have consumed marijuana in the hours preceding their crashes; and 12.6% still showed traces of the drug from earlier use.

Another article shared on the Mothers Against Drunk Driving website, originally in the December 9, 2015, edition of The Province, tells the story of a constable from the Abbotsford police reviewing the report from a Saturday night's roadside counter attack effort aimed at combatting impaired driving. This overnight report included four driving suspensions for drivers impaired by marijuana while there were no mentions of drivers impaired by alcohol. The constable even shared about what he called “a 'Cheech & Chong' scenario, where the windows come down and the billowing smoke comes out of the car.”

In the article, Andrew Murie, CEO of MADD, stated, “There’s this impression out there by young people, especially, that they’re safer (driving) stoned than drunk...If you’re high on pot, your skills to drive a motor vehicle are deteriorated and you’re at risk of being in a crash.”

It is precisely this sort of myth that must be tackled before marijuana becomes not only more accessible to Canadians, including young people, but more acceptable in a recreational context. It must also be considered in the legislation. Time is what is required, time to study this, time to hear from the experts and get the proper research and data we need. I urge the Liberals to take the appropriate amount of time to engage with Canadians in a public education campaign and to abandon their reckless rush on this legislation.

Numerous voices have sent these same messages to the Liberals. In fact, their own marijuana task force recommended extensive marijuana and impaired driving education and awareness campaigns before the drug's legalization, noting in its report, “Public opinion research shows that youth and some adults do not understand the risks of cannabis use.” Worse yet, youth underestimate the risks of cannabis use.

The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health points out that cannabis affects a person's ability to drive by impairing depth perception, attention span, and concentration, slowing reaction time, decreasing muscle strength, and hand steadiness. Do Canadians, and Canadian youth in particular, know these essential facts? The Canadian Automobile Association concurs on the need for public education and adds “It’s clear from the report that work needs to start immediately in these areas, and that the actual legalization should not be rushed”.

In the states of Washington and Colorado, public education campaigns did not begin until two years after legalization. The task force report noted, “Officials from both states strongly advised starting educational campaigns as soon as possible.”

As a Globe and Mail article highlights, both states have “seen significant increases in the proportion of fatal accidents involving drivers who tested positive for the drug.” It goes on to say, “the percentage of those accidents in which the drivers tested positive for marijuana increased considerably.”

Colorado saw about 10% of drivers involved in fatal accidents test positive for the drug in 2010. In 2014, a year after recreational marijuana sales were legalized, that percentage nearly doubled. A similar doubling occurred in Washington in the same period from about 6% to 12%. Without a proper public education campaign, this legislation will lead to the same tragic mistakes seen in these two jurisdictions.

The task force also identified a need for immediate investment and to work with the provinces and territories to develop a national, comprehensive public education strategy to send a clear message to Canadians that cannabis caused impairment and the best way to avoid driving impaired was not to consume. The strategy is also to inform Canadians about the dangers of cannabis-impaired driving, with special emphasis on youth and the applicable laws and the ability of law enforcement to detect cannabis use.

Much can be learned from the way public education has changed the way Canadians look at drinking and driving. Although we still have far too many tragic incidents, there is a better understanding of the consequences of alcohol-impaired driving today than there has been historically.

If legalization proceeds without taking into account the lessons learned from drunk driving prevention education, including the amount of time it took for public education campaigns to yield meaningful results, it will be a fatal mistake.

I want to reiterate that I have many serious concerns about the legalization of marijuana. If the Liberals are going to move forward with this legislation, it is incumbent upon all of us to lay the proper groundwork for the protection of the Canadian motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians who share our roads.

We must also ensure that young people understand the risks inherent in marijuana usage so that we can avoid needless loss of life based on myths that suggest that marijuana causes somewhat less impairment than alcohol. These assertions must be countered with the truth for the safety of everyone. The Liberals must abandon their politically motivated, rushed timeline to allow more time to prepare for the consequences of marijuana legalization and to ensure that Canadians are protected from impaired drivers.

This legislation is being rushed to committee. It is being rushed through the House. The debate has been curtailed. As Conservatives, the right thing to do is to support it, because we know that the Liberals are going to push it through anyway. We need to get it to committee. We need to study it thoroughly. We need to bring in expert testimony. We need to consider the effects cannabis could have on our youth. We need to consider whether the age limit is correct as is currently prescribed in the legislation.

The medical community has indicated very clearly that the brain is developing until the age of 25 and that the early use of marijuana does irreparable damage to the brain. The medical community strongly suggests that we not legalize marijuana prior to the age of 21, yet the Liberal government has recklessly proceeded with legislation that would legalize it at the age of 18.

The Liberals have said that they want to keep marijuana out of the hands of children and youth. I would suggest that it currently is not as abundantly found in homes as it would be once this legislation was passed. People would be allowed to have four mature marijuana plants up to 100 centimetres. I do not know if that is 100 centimetres in height or length or what, but if it is actually 100 centimetres in height, they would start growing horizontally, and that would create other problems. We know that four mature marijuana plants also means that there would be non-mature marijuana plants growing in the same household that would reach maturity at different stages. As we heard in earlier testimony, that could mean upwards of 12 marijuana plants per household in Canada. Law enforcement would not make a huge effort to ensure that those limits were maintained. That is going to be problematic.

The good thing is that the Liberals are being somewhat proactive with Bill C-46 by at least trying to address the concerns with respect to impaired driving from both cannabis and alcohol.

Something that has not been mentioned, at least I have not heard it mentioned, is what the impact will be on employers. I own a construction company that deals with heavy equipment. What burden will this place on employers to properly test that their employees are not coming to work stoned and under the influence of marijuana? When I am looking at machines that operate 150,000 to 200,000 pounds of payload, and I have a guy operating that equipment who is under the influence of cannabis that I cannot properly detect, that is going to put not only him but many others at grave risk.

There are lots of things in this legislation that need to be carefully examined. I am hopeful that the Liberals will allow for proper time at committee to examine this legislation carefully and to bring in expert testimony. Contrary to what I have seen at committee in the past, I am hopeful that the Liberals will allow for meaningful amendments to be considered and passed.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

May 19th, 2017 / 10:05 a.m.
See context

Vancouver Granville B.C.

Liberal

Jody Wilson-Raybould LiberalMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

moved that Bill C-46, an act to amend the Criminal Code (offences relating to conveyances) and to make consequential amendments to other Acts, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Madam Speaker, it is my privilege and honour 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

I introduce the bill with the ultimate goal of reducing the significant number of deaths and injuries caused by impaired driving, a crime that continues to claim innocent lives and wreak havoc and devastation on Canadian families. No law is adequate comfort for devastating loss, but I want to stress that this proposed legislation was drafted with all victims of impaired driving in mind.

This includes the three Neville-Lake children and their grandfather killed on a Sunday afternoon on their way home from a sleepover in Vaughan, Ontario. This includes the entire Van de Vorst family, a family of four killed by an impaired driver as they crossed an intersection in rural Saskatchewan. This includes the thousands of people injured because someone else chose to get behind the wheel while impaired.

Every year, drivers impaired by drugs and alcohol cause devastation on our roads and highways. Impaired driving continues to be the leading criminal cause of death and injury in Canada. This is completely unacceptable.

That is why I am proud to have proposed legislation to enact an impaired driving regime that would be among the strongest in the world. It would ensure as much as possible that no one has to live through tragedies like those I have just mentioned. Before I discuss the specific proposals in the legislation, I would like to comment briefly on the structure of the bill, as it takes a unique approach.

Part 1 of the bill proposes new tools to detect drug-impaired drivers at the roadside. It would also create three new driving offences of being over a legal drug limit. I will come back to these proposals in a moment. This part of the bill would come into force upon royal assent to ensure that a more robust drug-impaired driving regime is in place before the legalization and regulation of cannabis.

Part 2 of the bill would repeal all of the transportation-related provisions in the Criminal Code and replace them with a clear, coherent structure. Over time, the Criminal Code provisions have become too complex and difficult to understand. Part 2 also proposes substantial reforms to strengthen the law of alcohol-impaired driving and address existing challenges with detection, enforcement, and prosecution.

Given the substantial reforms in part 2, a longer coming into force date of six months is proposed to ensure that provinces and territories, key stakeholders responsible for the administration of justice, have adequate time to prepare. Over all, the bill proposes to strengthen the criminal law approach to both drug-impaired and alcohol-impaired driving. I would like to spend a few moments outlining key proposals to tackle drug-impaired driving.

The bill would authorize police officers for the first time to use roadside drug screeners in situations where they have reasonable suspicion a driver has drugs in his or her body. A positive reading on such a device would not, on its own, lead to a criminal charge. Instead, it would offer to assist an officer in forming the reasonable grounds necessary to take further investigative steps.

The bill also builds on the existing drug-impaired driving offence by proposing new offences for being over a legal drug limit. This offence structure will be familiar to many, as it is similar to the offence that prohibits driving over the legal limit for alcohol, otherwise known as the “over 80” offence.

Although the proposed offences would apply to several impairing drugs, including cocaine and methamphetamines, I intend to focus on the proposed levels of THC. The legal limits would be set by regulation and proven through blood analysis. The bill would authorize the taking of a blood sample from a driver when an officer has reasonable grounds to believe that either a drug-impaired or legal limit offence has occurred.

These proposed drug offences have been developed in recognition of the differences between alcohol and THC, in particular, the difference in the way that they are absorbed, metabolized, and eliminated by the human body.

This bill takes a precautionary approach by establishing a low level, fine only drug offence for THC that would prohibit having between two and five nanograms of THC per millilitre of blood within two hours of driving. Additionally, Bill C-46 proposes a hybrid offence for a higher level of THC where a driver has five nanograms or more of THC per millilitre of blood.

Finally, I am proposing an offence of low levels of THC in combination with low levels of alcohol. This new offence would convey to Canadians that combining THC and alcohol intensifies impairment. I am proposing that the low level THC offence of between two and five nanograms be punishable by way of a maximum fine of $1,000. The higher drug offence of having five nanograms of THC in the body or more and the combination offence of having a mixture of THC and alcohol in the blood would have escalating penalties that mirror the existing impaired driving penalties: a $1,000 fine for the first offence, 30 days' imprisonment for the second offence, and 120 days' imprisonment for a third or subsequent offence.

It is important to note that drug-impaired driving has been an offence in Canada since 1925. However, our government is committed to strengthening these existing measures before strictly regulating and legalizing cannabis.

The proposed drug levels to be prescribed by regulation are based on the advice of the drugs and driving committee of the Canadian Society of Forensic Science, which has been working tirelessly on a volunteer basis to consolidate existing science on drug-impaired driving and setting legal limits.

In developing this approach, we were mindful of other jurisdictions. In the United Kingdom, where cannabis remains illegal, the legal limit is two nanograms of THC per millilitre of blood. In Colorado and Washington where cannabis is legalized, the legal limit is five nanograms. The approach in Bill C-46 to drug-impaired driving would be among the toughest in the world, particularly in jurisdictions where cannabis is legal.

I would now like to turn to the proposals in Bill C-46 which aim to strengthen our approach to alcohol-impaired driving.

One of the key elements is an important new tool known as mandatory alcohol screening. This would permit the police to demand a preliminary breath sample from a driver who is already subject to a legal traffic stop.

Most people will know that police already have the power to stop vehicles under provincial and common law in order to check, for example, for a vehicle's fitness or driver's licensing. These stops have been upheld by the Supreme Court of Canada on three different occasions, in Dedman v. The Queen from 1985, R. v. Hufsky from 1988, and R. v. Ladouceur from 1990.

After having made a lawful traffic stop, mandatory alcohol screening would simply permit a police officer to demand a preliminary breath sample. Under current law, a police officer must have reasonable suspicion before the officer can demand a breath sample, but research shows that up to as many as 50% of drivers who are over the legal limit are able to escape detection by police.

While a new proposal for Canada, mandatory alcohol screening is already law in Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, and many European countries. It has led to a significant reduction in the number of deaths and injuries related to impaired driving. I am expecting that it will have the same effect in Canada. The reason is simple. Mandatory alcohol screening will change the mindset of drivers. No longer will drivers be able to convince themselves they can evade police detection of their alcohol consumption if stopped.

As Andrew Murie, the chief executive officer of Mothers Against Drunk Driving Canada, has said, mandatory alcohol screening “is going to make the biggest impact. It will drive down the number of deaths and injuries. People will know that they can't play around with officers.”

Ireland presents one of the most compelling examples. In the four years following the enactment of mandatory alcohol screening, fatalities on Irish roads decreased by 40%, and total charges for impaired driving diminished at a similar rate. In short, drivers quit thinking they could beat the system and simply gave up on driving while impaired.

In the face of such compelling evidence, I feel I have an obligation to all Canadians to propose this approach for Canada.

I would like to move on to discuss some of the proposed changes to the existing over 80 offence. One of the most significant changes proposed in this offence relates to the time frame. Currently, the offence is committed while driving. The proposals in Bill C-46 would stretch the time frame so that it would be an offence to be over the legal limit within two hours of driving. This is a common formulation used in many states in the U.S. Its primary purpose is to eliminate risky behaviour associated with bolus drinking, sometimes referred to as drinking and dashing.

Members may be surprised to learn that some people drink, or claim to drink, a significant amount of alcohol immediately before driving in the hopes of arriving at their destination before the alcohol fully absorbs and therefore before they are over the legal limit. The proposed formulation of “within two hours” would capture this reprehensible conduct. It also has the benefit of eliminating what is known as the intervening drink defence. This arises when a driver takes a drink of alcohol after being stopped by the police but before providing a breath sample primarily to frustrate the investigative process.

I understand there are many concerns that the proposed offences would criminalize people who have done nothing wrong. I share this concern, and that is why the bill proposes an exception that is intended to apply in cases of innocent intervening drinking. This could apply in cases where a driver consumes alcohol after driving but has no reason to expect he or she would be asked to provide a breath sample. If the results of the driver's breath test are consistent with the individual having a blood alcohol concentration under the legal limit at the time of driving, the offence would not be made out and the driver would not be convicted. I feel very strongly that this proposed offence structure would reduce the incentive of people to mix alcohol and driving.

Finally, Bill C-46 also proposes a formula to calculate blood alcohol concentration at the time of the offence where the driver's breath is tested outside of the two-hour period. The formula would be the concentration at the time of testing, plus five milligrams per complete half hour. This is a very conservative dissipation rate for alcohol and so would not be unfair to the driver. It is supported by the alcohol test committee of the Canadian Society of Forensic Science and would eliminate the need to call an expert toxicologist at trial.

I would now like to discuss some of the proposals in Bill C-46 which would strengthen the law, while also creating much needed court efficiencies. Impaired driving is one of the most litigated offences in the Criminal Code and takes up a disproportionate amount of time in courts. This is all the more important since the Supreme Court of Canada's decision in R. v. Jordan last July.

One proposal is to limit crown disclosure obligations to scientifically relevant information about breathalyzers and blood alcohol concentration without unfairly limiting access to relevant disclosure. Another is to simplify proof of blood alcohol concentration by setting out in the code what the crown must specifically prove.

I would like to turn briefly to the penalties proposed in the bill. The mandatory minimum penalties for impaired driving would not change where there is no death or injury. Those are a $1,000 fine for the first offence, 30 days' imprisonment for a second offence, and 120 days' imprisonment for the third or subsequent offence. While the minimums would not change, the bill proposes to raise the mandatory fines for first-time offenders with high blood alcohol concentrations and for refusing a breath test.

I want to be clear that I have carefully reviewed the mandatory minimum penalties for impaired driving. I am confident that they are charter compliant and necessary. The mandatory terms of imprisonment for repeat drunk drivers have been shown to serve a deterrent function. A first-time impaired driver leaves the criminal justice system knowing that if he or she reoffends, the next stop is jail. This has a real, psychological impact.

The bill would also increase the maximum sentences for these offences from 18 months to two years for a summary conviction, and from five years to 10 years for more serious indictable offences. The maximum for dangerous driving causing death would be raised to life, as is already the case in impaired driving causing death.

The impaired driving causing bodily harm offence would also be amended. Currently, it can only be prosecuted by indictment. The bill proposes to hybridize it to allow the crown, in appropriate cases, to proceed summarily, such as for minor injuries.

The bill would also respond to calls to shorten the time an offender must wait before driving within the Criminal Code's driving prohibition period, where the driver uses an ignition interlock device under a provincial program. Allowing this earlier access has been shown to reduce recidivism and save lives.

Since the introduction of this bill last month, there has been a lot of commentary regarding the constitutionality of some of the proposals, with particular attention being paid to mandatory alcohol screening. I am confident that all the proposals in Bill C-46 will withstand charter scrutiny, as explained in the charter statement I was pleased to introduce on May 11.

In conclusion, it is my hope and expectation that the combined effects of the many reforms proposed in Bill C-46 will be enormously effective in deterring drug and alcohol impaired driving. No more Canadian families should have to suffer the devastation caused by impaired driving.

I ask all members to consider the benefits in terms of the effectiveness and efficiency this major reform to the criminal law would achieve. I ask all members to join me in supporting Bill C-46.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

May 19th, 2017 / 10:20 a.m.
See context

Liberal

Jody Wilson-Raybould Liberal Vancouver Granville, BC

Madam Speaker, I very much appreciate my hon. colleague taking the opportunity to sit down and engage with my officials and staff and would offer that to any other hon. members in the House.

I was pleased to table the charter statement, as I said, earlier this month. I want to acknowledge that the concern about racial profiling in terms of stops has been brought to my attention many times since the introduction of Bill C-46, and I will say a number of things.

A law enforcement officer, as the member quite rightly pointed out, would have to lawfully stop someone on the roadside. However, I want to distinguish the issue of racial profiling, which is an important one that needs to be addressed, from the objectives of this particular piece of legislation. The objectives of Bill C-46 are to keep our roads safe. That is not to say that in the exercise of the duties of law enforcement officers they will not continue to benefit from training and oversight in terms of fairness and appropriateness in the application of the law. We are very mindful of this, and we will certainly continue to have discussions on the important issue the member brought up.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

May 19th, 2017 / 10:25 a.m.
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Liberal

Jody Wilson-Raybould Liberal Vancouver Granville, BC

Madam Speaker, as I noted in my remarks, part 1, on drug-impaired driving, will come into force upon royal assent. In terms of alcohol-impaired driving, the proposed changes will have a delayed coming into force. We will continue to work with municipalities, provinces, and territories on the application of the reforms proposed in Bill C-46.

I have been working very closely with the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness in testing the devices on the roadside in various municipalities across the country. He and I want to and will ensure that the necessary resources are in place to provide the appropriate training and necessary tools for police officers to comply with the legislation.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

May 19th, 2017 / 10:30 a.m.
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Conservative

Luc Berthold Conservative Mégantic—L'Érable, QC

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to talk about Bill C-46, which was introduced in the House on April 13.

I think a little context is in order. This bill is one component of the government's plan to legalize marijuana. Changes to the rules for drivers are called for because of concerns about more drug-impaired drivers getting behind the wheel once marijuana is legal.

Before I talk about the bill specifically, I would like to share my concerns and some general observations about the government's overarching plan to legalize marijuana.

I just want to point out that I am not a legal expert, so I did not look at Bill C-46 through that lens. I looked at it as a resident of the riding of Mégantic—L'Érable who is concerned about the negative repercussions of legal marijuana. Normalizing drug use is sure to have an impact on our roads.

The two arguments the government has given to justify legalizing marijuana and making it more accessible to Canadians consist in keeping it out of the hands of youth and keeping profits from the sale of marijuana out of the hands of criminals. Those are the two main arguments we kept hearing during the last election campaign. They were also reiterated when that bill was introduced, which was at the same time as this one was introduced. That was a big day, a day on which we had to respond to a whole series of measures. It seemed as though the government was in a hurry to introduce everything at the same time.

I cannot help but question not the government's intentions, but the statements it made when this legislation was announced. Is it any wonder that we on this side of the House are worried?

I spoke with some students at a high school in my riding about plans to legalize marijuana, and even they are worried. At least two-thirds of them are opposed to legalizing marijuana. It is important to remember that. One of my colleagues also had the opportunity to meet with some young people in his riding who oppose it too. What worries me is keeping our kids safe, of course, as well as keeping our roads and workplaces safe.

I believe this is all about normalizing marijuana and if we do that it will have an impact on society as a whole. The marijuana legalization bill and Bill C-46 have one thing in common: there is not a single word on how much it will cost the other levels of government or where their responsibilities lie in implementing these measures.

What will it cost the municipalities to increase monitoring or to train their police officers to be able to detect drug impaired driving? What will it cost the provinces in terms of the application of justice? How will these new laws and new rules be enforced? What will it cost the federal government? We have no answer. We are told that this will take money out of the hands of organized crime, but there is no word on government revenues or how those will be used.

These are legitimate questions that came to my mind when the marijuana legalization process was announced. This process was announced and launched even though the majority of public health stakeholders are opposed to normalizing and legalizing marijuana, including the Canadian Medical Association and the Canadian Psychiatric Association.

This bill does not have unanimous support in our ridings, and its intention has even less. When we ask people, those living in rural ridings like mine are firmly opposed to the government's plan to legalize marijuana.

Again, it would no longer be illegal for youth 12 and over to possess a small quantity of marijuana.

Youth 18 years of age and over would be able to legally possess a certain quantity of marijuana and to consume it. People will even be able to grow it in their homes. How is the government going to decide who will have access to it? It is not the same as buying cigarettes at a corner store. If there are cannabis plants all over the place, in every residence, will the parents, neighbours, uncles, or aunts have to oversee access to the drug? We do not know. These are grey areas.

This only makes us more concerned about who is going to have access to marijuana and then make the bad decision, after consuming it, to drive their car, motorcycle, or even their bicycle under the influence of drugs.

The other myth I want to dispel before addressing Bill C-46 is the argument that this will no longer be a revenue stream for organized crime because the government will be pocketing the profits instead. The term “organized crime” is made up of two words: “organized” and “crime”. I can tell you right now that the criminal element has organized to profit even more. That is the most worrisome aspect, because if the criminal world is preparing to make even more profits and not with marijuana, then with what? Will it be with other things?

We have already taken alcohol out of the hands of organized crime. Did organized crime cease to exist? It is still there, and it gave up on alcohol to focus on drugs. What is next? That is what worries me the most, and we have no answer to that question.

Bill C-46 was introduced because the government realized that it had to take action. The government also realized, in light of its promise to legalize and normalize marijuana, that it had to find a way to ensure that this law does not cause even more deaths on our roads, whether it be from alcohol- or drug-impaired driving. The government also used Bill C-46 to add some amendments regarding drunk driving. The government had to act because it knew it would be causing an even bigger problem on our roads. That is what the government did with Bill C-46.

Bill C-46 has two parts. Part 1 amends the provisions of the Criminal Code that deal with offences and procedures relating to drug-impaired driving; enacts new criminal offences for driving with a blood drug concentration that is equal to or higher than the permitted concentration; authorizes the government to establish blood drug concentrations; and authorizes 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 is more general, but it also makes a number of amendments, which are likely designed to improve the current situation. We will surely have the opportunity to talk about this in committee. A very active committee that is familiar with legal issues will ask excellent questions. I am sure that, if the government is aware of the situation and is acting in good faith, the suggestions made by the official opposition have a good chance of being incorporated into the next iteration of the bill.

The way we see it, this bill is not quite perfect. We have some questions. Will all of this stand up to court challenges? A law with strict provisions is all well and good, but if it does not hold up in court, that could create even bigger problems. Once this bill is passed and brought into force, the other bill on marijuana legalization will be too.

What we really want to avoid is having these new measures and penalties end up in court and finding ourselves in an unfortunate legal void. Think of the Jordan decision, which is causing serious problems now. I will talk more about that a bit later.

Part 2 repeals the transportation-related offences and replaces them with a structure that is supposedly modern, simpler, and coherent. It authorizes mandatory roadside screening for alcohol once a police officer has stopped a driver. It increases certain minimum fines and certain maximum penalties. It also facilitates detection of blood alcohol concentration and the ensuing investigation. Lastly, it eliminates or limits defences that promote risky conduct and that frustrate the enforcement of drunk driving laws. There are also other measures.

At first glace, these measures are designed to discourage people from getting behind the wheel while drunk or high. I am sure all members on this side of the House agree that we must put an end to this scourge that causes hundreds of deaths every year in this country.

Unfortunately, as I mentioned earlier, the government's coming marijuana legislation will probably create more opportunities for people to drive while impaired not by alcohol but by marijuana.

Let me share some reactions from those in the know. The Canadian Automobile Association issued some comments on marijuana legalization and the impaired driving regulations:

CAA believes three issues need to be addressed for an effective drugs driving regime: clear law, tools for law enforcement and public education. Today’s announcement deals with the law but leaves questions around funding and public education.

The vice president of public affairs at CAA National said, “We’re still waiting for the details on additional funding to make the legislation enforceable. This needs to happen sooner rather than later.”

This article came out on April 13, 2017, and we still have no answers to CAA's very legitimate questions. The article goes on:

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.

Here is another passage, for information:

CAA polling has found almost two thirds of Canadians (63 per cent) are concerned that roads will become more dangerous with the legalization of marijuana, and that 26 per cent of Canadians between the ages of 18 and 34 believe a driver is either the same or better on the road under the influence of marijuana.

While 26% of young Canadians do not believe that marijuana negatively affects their driving, the government is saying that it will invest $2 million a year to educate them. There is a serious problem here. If the government really wants the opposition parties' support, it needs to present us with a clear plan to promote public awareness immediately, so that we will know what Canadians can expect on July 1, 2018, the deadline that has been set for legalizing marijuana. The government must not wait until then to announce prevention and awareness programs. We need to know this now, because Canadians are worried.

Here is one last quotation regarding CAA's concerns. According to Jeff Walker, “...law enforcement is not sufficiently equipped to enforce the law and the cost to train them is high.”

The other reaction I would like to highlight comes from the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction, and it specifically concerns the screening devices mentioned in Bill C-46:

At present, there is a limited number of drugs that can be accurately detected by oral fluid screening devices: cannabis, cocaine, methamphetamine and opioids.

...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 [and for all Canadians].

Is the technology ready for the implementation of Bill C-46? That is a question from the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction.

I have other sources. On April 28, 2017, the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police also commented on impaired driving: “A primary concern of policing in Canada is impaired driving. This is an issue today. It will become an even greater issue with legalization.”

The Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police went on to say:

Will adequate and ongoing funding be provided in advance of the stated goal of legalization ... [as I mentioned earlier] to train officers and drug recognition evaluators (DREs), purchase and maintain [oral fluid] devices, increase forensic laboratory capacity to process bodily fluids and sustain our ability to enforce this legislation?

Are the per se limits supported by scientific evidence and will they stand up to potential challenges within our judicial system [so we do not find ourselves once more with a legal void that would allow criminals to take to the road, because henceforth they will be criminals]?

Will the provinces/territories be introducing complimentary enforcement regimes to discourage drug impaired driving...

These are very legitimate questions. I believe that we should listen to these people. Some of these people enforce the law and some are automobile experts. In short, these are comments and questions that we will surely have an opportunity to address, and I hope that the government will have answers when we study this bill in committee.

However, Bill C-46 will not do any good if the courts cannot enforce the law. I am referring to the Jordan decision. Here are a few statistics. In nine months, no fewer than 134 accused whose cases have been taking too long to filter through the Quebec court system were released before being tried, not at their own request, but at the request of the crown. Another 59 accused were released after their defence filed a request with the crown. That means 193 people did not stand trial. According to Annick Murphy, the director of criminal and penal prosecutions in Quebec, the majority of the cases that were dropped had to do with impaired driving. We are talking about 100 out of 193 cases. These 100 people got behind the wheel and endangered their own lives and the lives of others. All that because the government is taking too long to appoint judges in Quebec and to stop the Jordan decision from unfairly favouring criminals.

The government could do something about this, but unfortunately it is not doing so. Instead, it is going to ask the Quebec justice system to deal with more cases. The government is going to ask the Quebec justice system to do even more, when it does not even have the resources to deal with the cases currently before its courts. That is worrisome.

The director of criminal and penal prosecutions for Quebec stated the following: “We are certainly prioritizing cases...involving crimes against persons, which we see as the most serious.”

I understand that all crimes against the person are serious, but we need to talk to victims who have lost a loved one in a car accident because someone was driving while impaired, and not just once, but perhaps for the second or third time. We need to ask those victims whether impaired driving is a serious crime. Personally, I see it as a very serious crime, and we cannot pretend that being impaired is not a serious factor. We would be making the problem worse.

In closing, I still do not trust this government's process for legalizing marijuana. The measures presented might seem fine at first glance, but they do include any means or budget to promote prevention, to train police officers, or to support prevention among young people. We will support this bill so that it can be sent to committee for further study. I would hope that the government will find some way to properly enforce this legislation once it passes.

Public SafetyOral Questions

May 19th, 2017 / noon
See context

Scarborough Southwest Ontario

Liberal

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

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague from Brossard—Saint-Lambert for her question and her efforts in supporting this cause.

We are proud to have introduced Bill C-46, which will make Canada a world leader in the fight against alcohol- and drug-impaired driving. The proposed legislation will reform the entire impaired-driving regime in the Criminal Code. It will strengthen existing drug- and alcohol-impaired driving laws by creating new offences and by making the law more efficient to enforce, simpler, and more coherent for all Canadians.

For this year's national safe driving week, I encourage all members of this House to work with our government—

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

May 19th, 2017 / 12:25 p.m.
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NDP

Alistair MacGregor NDP Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, BC

Madam Speaker, I would like to thank the Minister of Justice for introducing this bill in conjunction with Bill C-45, the cannabis act.

It is good that this bill was brought forward for debate in the House before Bill C-45, as robust laws against drug-impaired driving should be well in place before legislation occurs. The last thing we need with the legalization of cannabis is for people to start using the drug, thinking it is safe to drive a motor vehicle. In conjunction with this bill, a clear message needs to be sent to Canadians on the dangers of impaired driving.

In 2015, police reported 72,039 impaired driving incidents, representing a rate of 201 incidents per 100,000 of population. This is the lowest rate since data was collected on impaired driving in 1986. It represents a 65% drop, and 4% lower than what was reported in 2014.

In the same year, police reported 122 incidents causing death and 596 incidents causing bodily harm. That compares to 1986, when there were 196 and 1,581 of these incidents respectively. When the size of the population in those years is taken into consideration, these figures correspond to rate decreases of 55% and 73% respectively.

Over the past 30 years, all provinces have seen substantial decreases in their impaired driving rates. This is a good thing. However, it should be known that impaired driving is still one of the leading causes of criminal death in Canada. With one of the worst impaired driving records in the OECD, we certainly need a public awareness campaign that is effective and well-funded.

When this bill receives royal assent, part 1 will come into force immediately. It makes amendments to the current sections of the Criminal Code, from section 253 through to section 259, mostly to update them for drug-impaired driving. Drug-impaired driving has been a criminal offence since 1925, but in the wake of big changes coming to our drug laws, we they are in sore need of an update.

We need to keep drivers off the roads if they are impaired by drug use. We need to ensure that the drivers being stopped are actually impaired. The proposed plans are to use roadside oral screeners that are approved by the drugs and driving committee. These screener purport to be able to check THC in the body, which may or may not be directly connected to impairment.

Police officers could only demand that someone be subjected to these tests if they had a reasonable suspicion to believe the driver was impaired. This could be due to the driver weaving or swerving on the road. The driver might exhibit symptoms such as red eyes or smell strongly of marijuana.

The test takes about 10 minutes to administer and will give a reading of whether THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, is in the body. The bill does not have clear limits on how much marijuana in saliva qualifies as impairment. It is very important we have a science-backed initiative that stops impaired drivers in their tracks.

The government has offered some recommendations for new penalties for the amounts of THC in the body. The first offence is a summary conviction for drivers with low levels of drugs in their body. The current proposed limit, which will be set by regulation, would be two nanograms of THC. The second offence for higher amounts would come in with a per se limit of five nanograms. The third offence would be for having high levels of drugs and alcohol in the body.

It is clear that drivers who test positive for both agents have greater odds of making an error than drivers positive for either alcohol or cannabis alone.

Part 2 of the bill will come into force 180 days after it receives royal assent, and it will completely rewrite the Criminal Code on impaired driving and include updates to drug-impaired driving that I just mentioned. Part 1, would amend the existing sections of the Code to provide for a transition period for provincial governments and police services. However, after 180 days, part 2 would effectively repeal everything from section 249 to section 261 and add an entirely new series of sections after section 320.1. Of note, there are significant changes to the penalties for impaired driving.

The penalty for dangerous driving causing death will be increased to life imprisonment, which is up from the current 14 year penalty. Strong penalties are imperative when it comes to impaired driving, because the taking of someone's life while driving impaired is the result of a conscious decision and it must be treated with the same severity as a homicide.

Our approach in the NDP has not just been about more penalties for this offence. We want to seek ways to educate and deter the behaviour in the first place. For that reason, we will be looking for the government to take the lead on a public awareness campaign that promotes deterrence before anyone gets behind the wheel. The statistics show that a decline has been occurring in alcohol-related incidents, so this has been working in previous efforts.

One of the major changes to this legislation comes from the removal of the need for reasonable suspicion to administer an approved screening device.

Currently, the police need reasonable grounds for suspicion to demand a breath sample, as per subsection 254(2). Police can develop a reasonable suspicion by seeing a car swerving, by the smell on a driver, or if a driver has admitted to having drink or has slurred speech. These allow the police to form a reasonable suspicion to demand a breath sample. It is currently a very important part of our laws. The section to be amended does have some constitutional considerations.

The government has stated that an estimated 50% of people who are stopped and are over the legal limit are able to pass through current detection methods. It is indeed one of the reasons it has given for removing the need to have reasonable suspicion to check for a breath sample.

Many civil liberties groups have raised concerns about this change. They are concerned that certain visible minority groups could be disproportionately targeted, and concerns about this are justified. We need look no further than the experience of police street checks in Toronto, known as carding. While black residents in Toronto made up just 8.3% of the population, they accounted for 25% of the cards the police wrote from 2008 to mid-2011.

What would happen if we applied these statistics to random breath tests? Say that visible minorities made up 8.3% of the driving population that was pulled over in a lawful traffic stop, but they accounted for 25% of the demanded breath samples by police. This underlines some of the dangers we can face when we allow police to have that discretionary power, and it is a point that needs to be examined in detail.

Random and mandatory breath tests for alcohol screening could be challenged under section 8 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which provides the right to be secure against unreasonable search or seizure. It could also be challenged under section 9, which is the right not to be arbitrarily detained or imprisoned.

The government has assured the House that the invasion of privacy would be minimal in the case of a roadside test in which police officers already have the right to demand several types of information from drivers. The Department of Justice has said:

The information revealed from a breath sample is, like the production of a drivers licence, simply information about whether a driver is complying with one of the conditions imposed in the highly regulated context of driving.

Warrantless roadside breathalyzer tests raise constitutional concerns. They can only be saved by section 1 of the charter by weighing the infringement against the public good served by fighting drunk driving and by the officer's assurance that he or she has reasonable grounds to suspect a crime has occurred. Many in the legal community have noted that if the law is changed to remove this constitutional safeguard, the reasonable grounds for suspicion, then it can no longer be saved by section 1.

Section 1 provides for reasonable limits to the rights in the charter only if they can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.

For a section 1 analysis, the Oakes case of the Supreme Court provides a good backdrop. It states that the measures adopted must be carefully designed to achieve the objective in question. They must not be arbitrary, unfair or based on irrational considerations. In short, they must be rationally connected to the objective. The means, even if rationally connected to the objective in this first sense, should impair as little as possible the right or freedom in question.

In the Ladouceur decision, the Supreme Court wrestled with the issue of random stops of civilian vehicles by police. The minority opinion stated there were serious implications with such a power. It stated that the decision of a police officer may be based on any whim, that some may tend to stop younger drivers, older cars, and so on, and racial considerations could be a factor. It is indeed a thorny issue and it is not easily settled after a few hours of debate.

One of the great constitutional experts of Canada, Professor Peter Hogg, has mentioned in the past that random breath testing would infringe charter rights, but the benefit of public safety from reducing crashes and deaths would be so strong that it would be upheld in court. It would, in other words, be a reasonable limit on constitutional rights and freedoms. He wrote at the time, “The invasion of the driver's privacy is minor and transitory and not much different from existing obligations to provide evidence of licensing, ownership, and insurance.”

It should be noted that Professor Hogg was referring to random stops, such as a checkpoint. This is a scenario where every driver passing through is subject to random breath testing, so there is no room for discriminatory practice. With the way Bill C-46 is written, it would allow for a police officer to have all of the control in deciding when to pull out an approved testing device that is on his or her person and make a demand for a breath sample.

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

A former Liberal health minister stated in the past, “We want to make sure that areas are not unnecessarily excessively focused on and that's why I think that we need to make sure that the legislation is properly drafted with appropriate constraints and guidelines for the police.”

We need to bring civil liberties experts to the justice committee so that we can study this in-depth. Canadians have rights and freedoms that need to be protected, so to take them away must be met with the utmost scrutiny. I do look forward to getting this legislation to committee to do just that.

We also need Canadians to be aware that drug-impaired driving is a dangerous act and is illegal. This campaign must increase the knowledge that there is a range of health, social, and legal consequences. Drug-impaired drivers are a danger to themselves and to others on the road. The use of cannabis before driving can cause slower reaction times which increase the risk of being involved in a crash that could result in injury or death. Attempts to compensate may be at the expense of vehicle control, including reaction time, reflecting deficits in the ability to allocate attention. Social strategies need to be developed, like designated driver programs when there may be alcohol or cannabis present.

The incidence of driving after cannabis use, particularly among young Canadians, may be attributable in part to the fact that they do not necessarily perceive their driving ability to be adversely affected. After alcohol, cannabis is one of the most commonly detected substances among drivers arrested for impaired driving. We have to create a culture that does not accept the use of cannabis and the operation of a motor vehicle.

Impaired driving is one of the most litigated sections of the Criminal Code. This stress on our justice system needs to be seen in the context of the Jordan decision. One of the benefits of removing the criminalization of cannabis eventually when we get to it is that judges and the justice system would have more time to deal with more serious offences.

It is unfortunate that the Liberals have refused to move on decriminalization of marijuana as an interim measure, because we believe the current laws unfairly target youth and racialize Canadians for simple possession.

There is a crisis in our justice system as we speak. The government is trying to move ahead, but we believe that this interim measure could have been a very effective one. We certainly need to see more crown prosecutors, judges, more courtrooms and support staff to run an effective justice system that Canadians can have confidence in.

I want to talk a bit about the difficulty in checking for impairment, because when it comes to checking for impairment from cannabis, it looks like there is still a lot of work to be done.

The detection and assessment of cannabis use among drivers is considerably more complex than for alcohol, and we do not want to be arresting people who are not actually impaired. There are drug recognition experts in Canada that undergo training to ensure they can see impairment. Unfortunately, we only have about 600 of these officers, and we will probably need at least 2,000 new trained officers to meet the demand to combat this problem. It is unclear how much THC it takes to impair a driver, according to the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction.

The Canadian Bar Association's official periodical, CBA National, published an article last month titled “Will the new roadside testing rules pass a Charter challenge?” The article noted that the science behind saliva tests for THC remains far from perfect and that Canadians may be subjected to questionable scientific schemes and subjective police arbiters on impairment, which will put their liberty at stake.

Peak levels of THC depend on how it enters the body. It is different for when a person ingests it or inhales it, so these can mean varying times on when a person is impaired and how long it lasts.

There is also the question of people who smoke marijuana maybe once a week or once a month versus habitual users who may have the THC stay in their body for far longer. In other words, regular users of marijuana are continually drug affected, so the regular users of marijuana must realize that THC is generally more detectable in their systems than in the bodies of periodic or episodic users of marijuana.

The Criminal Defence Lawyers Association of Manitoba has stated that the saliva test does not really tell us a lot, because the effects of marijuana can stay in the system for up to 30 days, which is far longer than alcohol.

This legislation measures marijuana by using nanograms in the blood, which is an imperfect measure because users metabolize the drug differently. One person may be substantially impaired after a relatively small amount of marijuana, while someone else may be only moderately impaired after the same dose. The Canadian Medical Association has states, “A clear and reliable process for identifying, testing and imposing consequences on individuals who use marijuana and drive absolutely needs to be in place nationally prior to legalization.”

The national coordinator of the DRE program in the RCMP has stated that toxicology tests indicate that a drug has been consumed, but unlike a breathalyzer, they do not indicate how long ago the drug was consumed. The devices are also very expensive, so we want to ensure that they do what we need them to do. There is also the cost. It has been reported that the saliva tests can cost between $20 and $40, compared to the few cents a breathalyzer test costs. Obviously, in rolling out this legislation, the government is going to have to budget adequate resources not only for officers but also for sampling devices, to ensure we have confidence in the system and the law is being upheld.

As I move on to my conclusion, I want to note that there was a recent Nanos survey conducted between April 29 and May 5, which reached 1,000 Canadians and was considered accurate within 3.1% 19 times out of 20. It found that only 44% of respondents supported or somewhat supported the proposals contained in Bill C-46, while 55% were opposed or somewhat opposed. I only mention this to the government to highlight that it clearly has some work to do in convincing Canadians that these increased police powers are needed.

We know that countries like Australia, New Zealand, and Ireland which have instituted measures such as mandatory alcohol testing and random breath testing have all seen a substantial reduction in alcohol-related accidents and deaths, so this is definitely something Parliament will need to consider with the bill.

The NDP supports any bill in principle that is aimed at stopping impaired driving, but we need to focus on smart deterrents to actually prevent these tragedies. We need a robust public awareness campaign before legalization comes into effect. With it being the leading cause of criminal death in Canada, and the fact that we have one of the worst impaired driving records in the OECD, these campaigns are very important.

I will want to know how this public campaign will be rolled out. I worry about the reliability of machines checking for impairment from THC. I am very interested in hearing from civil liberties groups and the legal community on removing the reasonable suspicion requirement for breath samples. There are still many questions that we have, and I look forward to getting this legislation to committee.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

May 19th, 2017 / 12:45 p.m.
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Scarborough Southwest Ontario

Liberal

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

Madam Speaker, I would like to commend the member for Cowichan—Malahat—Langford for his very thoughtful review of Bill C-46 and the issues that need consideration as we move forward with this legislation, particularly in committee. I also want to say how much I look forward to working with the member opposite on those issues in committee, because the issues that he raises and that we are very well aware of are important for all Canadians.

In response to a number of the issues raised, the member quoted a recent public opinion poll. I would agree with the member that sometimes the responsibility of leaders within Parliament is to turn heads, not really to count heads. We do have a responsibility to make sure that Canadians understand the seriousness of this offence and how new legislation, as proposed, and the new authorities and requirements on drivers that would be imposed by this legislation can actually make a difference.

The member opposite referenced the Oakes decision, in which four steps were taken, including whether or not the changes that were proposed were a sufficiently important objective in order to justify minor infringements of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The member for Outremont, in 2012, said that random breath testing “will not only save provincial governments money, but will save at least 200 lives per year.” Given that statement, which I agree with, does the member believe that this is a sufficiently important objective in order to meet the constitutional requirement under section 1 that this be a sufficiently important objective?

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

May 19th, 2017 / 12:55 p.m.
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Scarborough Southwest Ontario

Liberal

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

Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to have the opportunity to rise in the House to join in the second reading debate on Bill C-46, an act to amend the Criminal Code (offences relating to conveyances) and to make consequential amendments to other acts.

I am proud to speak in support of this proposed legislation. If passed, our government is convinced that Bill C-46 will reduce the number of deaths and injuries caused by impaired drivers. Our roads and highways will be safer for our efforts.

The bill proposes to address both alcohol- and drug-impaired driving, but I intend to focus my remarks primarily on the elements that address drug-impaired driving.

Before I outline the proposals in Bill C-46, I would like to emphasize that driving while impaired by a drug is currently a criminal offence in Canada, and has been since 1925. Members should rest assured that if someone drives while impaired by drugs today, he or she will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Bill C-46 seeks to build on the existing offence by authorizing new tools and by creating new offences to make Canada one of the world's leaders in the fight against impaired driving.

To enforce the existing offence of driving while impaired by drugs, the Criminal Code currently authorizes the police to conduct standardized field sobriety tests at the roadside. These tests can include asking a driver to walk a straight line, balance on one leg, and a number of other tests of physical and motor skills. The Criminal Code also authorizes more sophisticated drug recognition evaluations at the police station, by highly trained drug recognition evaluators, once the police officer has reasonable grounds to believe, based on roadside tests or otherwise, that the driver is impaired.

The drug recognition evaluation consists of a 12-step protocol to determine whether the driver is impaired by a drug. It includes testing such things as balance, pupil size, and blood pressure. These tools have been effective since their legislative introduction in 2008 and have led to an increase in the detection of drug-impaired drivers across our country, yet despite these measures, drug-impaired driving on our roads continues to increase. Clearly, more needs to be done in advance of our proposed legislation and the strict regulation of cannabis.

My colleagues have also mentioned the need for training more drug recognition experts. Our government has, on many occasions, re-emphasized its commitment to ensuring that a drug recognition training program is available and acceptable to all Canadian police services so that we can make sure there are adequately trained experts to conduct these tests.

I am pleased to outline the proposals in Bill C-46 that aim to address drug-impaired driving by building on the existing legal framework and by proposing new tools and offences to create a strong impaired-driving regime.

Bill C-46 proposes to provide law enforcement with the authority to demand that a driver provide an oral fluid sample at the roadside to be analyzed by a roadside oral fluid drug screener if an officer has a reasonable suspicion that a driver has drugs in his or her body. Reasonable suspicion is a well-understood standard in criminal law and can be developed through a number of observations, including such things as red eyes, muscle termors, abnormal speech patterns, and of course, the smell of cannabis.

These oral fluid drug screeners would detect the presence of a drug in a driver's oral fluid, and they would provide the officers with information that could be used to develop reasonable and probable grounds to believe that an impaired-driving offence had occurred. Once officers had reasonable and probable grounds to believe that the offence had occurred, they would then have the authority to demand a sample of blood from the driver, and as well, to bring them before a drug recognition expert for evaluation.

The oral fluid drug screener would detect THC, cocaine, and methamphetamine. In the future, more drugs will be able to be detected by these oral fluid drug screeners as the technology evolves.

Madam Speaker, I forgot to mentioned earlier that I will be splitting my time with the member for Oakville North—Burlington.

In addition to authorizing these additional tools for police, the bill proposes three new criminal offences for being over the prescribed legal drug limit within two hours of driving. These offences would be proven through a blood sample and would relieve the crown of the burden of proving that the driver was impaired. It would be enough to prove that the driver had an illegal level of drugs in his or her blood.

The first offence would be a straight summary conviction offence. The second and third offences would be hybrid offences: the second one would apply to drugs alone, while the third would apply to drugs when used in combination with alcohol.

Members may have noticed that although the proposed offences are in the bill, the actual prohibited drug levels are not. This is because the drug levels are to be set by regulation, which comes into force at the same time, or close to the same time, as the proposed offences.

Setting the prohibited levels in the regulations is the responsibility of the Minister of Justice, who has the ability to revise the regulations more quickly and efficiently in response to scientific developments. This is the approach currently taken in setting prohibited drug levels in the United Kingdom, and I believe it is the wisest course of action.

Other impairing drugs would be included in the regulations, but I would like to focus on the proposed levels for tetrahydrocannabinol, the primary impairing component of cannabis. For the straight summary conviction offence, the proposed level for THC would be between two and five nanograms of THC per millilitre of blood. The proposed penalty for this offence is a maximum fine of $1,000 and a discretionary prohibition on driving for up to one year.

The proposed level of THC for the drug-alone hybrid offence would be over five nanograms of THC per millilitre of blood, and for the hybrid offence addressing drugs when used in combination with alcohol, the proposed levels would be 2.5 nanograms of THC per millilitre of blood in combination with 50 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood.

The penalties for these two new hybrid offences would be the same as for alcohol-impaired driving, and they would include a mandatory minimum penalty of $1,000 on a first offence, 30 days' imprisonment on a second offence, and 120 days' imprisonment on a third or subsequent offence.

One final element of the proposed offences I would like to address concerns the time frame in which the proposed legal limit offence could be committed. Members may have noticed that the offence is worded to capture drivers with a prohibited level of drug in their blood within two hours of driving, and not at the time of driving.

This proposed formulation reflects a number of significant policy goals. First, unlike with alcohol, it is not possible to determine or back-calculate from a blood sample what a driver's blood drug concentration would have been at the time of driving. This is why the within-two-hours framework is necessary. It further addresses the concern of people trying to obstruct the testing process by consuming drugs after driving and then claiming that this post-driving consumption was responsible for the illegal drug level.

I would like to conclude my remarks by addressing a few of the more common questions I have heard over the past few weeks concerning this bill since its introduction.

People have been asking, “How much can I smoke before I can drive, and how long after I smoke do I need to wait before it is safe to drive?” I understand these questions, because for years, we have been able to provide general guidance to drivers with respect to alcohol consumption.

There is a significant scientific consensus that consuming cannabis impairs the ability to drive. The proposed prescribed THC levels are based on the advice of the Drugs and Driving Committee of the Canadian Society of Forensic Science. This committee provides scientific advice to the Minister of Justice on issues related to drug-impaired driving.

Let me be perfectly clear. The safest approach for people who choose to consume cannabis is to not mix their consumption with driving. Driving is a privilege, not a right. If Canadians choose to consume cannabis, they must do so in a socially responsible way by not risking the lives of their fellow Canadians, to say nothing of their own.

I would also take this opportunity to point out what was already referenced by the member in his speech regarding the remarks of eminently respected constitutional scholar Prof. Peter Hogg, in which he articulates his belief that the measures proposed in this legislation are constitutionally valid, constitutional validity being determined under section 1 of the charter as a reasonable suspicion and passing the elements of the Oakes test.

Finally, I wish to strongly support the proposals in Bill C-46. I would like to encourage all members to support this bill and work towards the common goal of reducing deaths and injuries on our roads and highways as quickly as possible.

I spent more than four decades of my adult life dealing with this critical issue. I have seen far too many people lose their lives, far too injuries, and far too much trauma and tragedy in our communities for this to continue to persist. We have a responsibility to act, and I believe that the provisions of Bill C-46 are the right steps forward.

I encourage all members of this House to support this bill.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

May 19th, 2017 / 1:10 p.m.
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Liberal

Bill Blair Liberal Scarborough Southwest, ON

Madam Speaker, as the member for Barrie—Innisfil has suggested, I did travel across the country. I have had the opportunity to meet with municipal officials, public health officials, and police chiefs across the country. I have spoken very extensively to the drugs and driving committee, for example, of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police and the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police. I have heard their concerns with respect to the impact that supporting this important legislation will have on their resources.

I must also say that they overwhelmingly support the provisions and the clarification that Bill C-46 offers with respect to impaired driving, which is, as we all know, one of the most litigated pieces of law within the Criminal Code and in creating jurisprudence.

Many questions they asked were about the impact this will have on their resources. One of those impacts is that they will need to have sufficient training and have access to the technology that will now be required. My government has assured them, and I have assured them, from coast to coast, that we are committed to ensuring that all police services have the legislation, the training, the technology, and the resources that they will require to keep our roadways safe.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

May 19th, 2017 / 1:10 p.m.
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Liberal

Pam Damoff Liberal Oakville North—Burlington, ON

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak to Bill C-46, legislation that I know is important to the residents and law enforcement officers in Oakville North—Burlington and across Canada.

Impaired driving is a serious crime that kills and injures thousands of Canadians every year. In 2015, there were more than 72,000 impaired-driving incidents reported by the police, including almost 3,000 drug-impaired driving incidents. Impaired driving is the leading criminal cause of death and injury in Canada, and drug-impaired driving is increasing in frequency. Bill C-46 aims to address this serious issue and proposes to create new and stronger laws to punish more severely those who drive while impaired by drugs or alcohol. When I met with Halton police chief Stephen Tanner, we discussed the need for law enforcement to have more tools to better deal with impaired driving.

Today I would like to focus my remarks on the penalties proposed in Bill C-46. The bill would overhaul the penalty provisions to ensure there is coherence and rationality. The proposals include some higher maximum penalties, hybridization of bodily harm offences, and some new mandatory minimum fines. No new or higher mandatory minimum penalties of imprisonment are being proposed.

Bill C-46 would raise the maximum penalties for impaired driving where there is no death or injury. In cases in which the prosecution proceeds by the less serious summary conviction procedure, the maximum period of imprisonment would be increased from the current 18 months to two years less a day. When the prosecution chooses to proceed by the more serious indictable procedure, the maximum period of imprisonment would increase from the current five years to 10 years. This new 10-year maximum would permit the prosecution, in appropriate circumstances, to make a dangerous a offender application. These changes send a clear message concerning the seriousness of impaired driving.

The dangerous driving causing death offence currently has a 14-year maximum period of imprisonment. Bill C-46 would raise this to a maximum of life imprisonment, which is currently the maximum penalty for all other similar offences resulting in death. With the increase of the dangerous driving causing death maximum penalty, there would no longer be a need for the prosecution to pursue separate offences in order to allow for a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.

Bill C-46 proposes changes that would merge the offence of impaired driving causing bodily harm with the offence of dangerous driving causing bodily harm.

Currently, the offence is a straight indictable offence, which means that the prosecution must treat all cases the same, even those involving less serious bodily harm, such as a broken arm.

Bill C-46 proposes a maximum penalty on a summary conviction procedure of two years less a day, and on indictment it would increase from 10 years of imprisonment to 14 years. This is important, given that the vast majority of alcohol-impaired driving sentences are in cases that involve no death or injury. This change would therefore give the prosecution greater flexibility, and this additional discretion may promote efficiencies in our criminal justice system by reducing the time to process cases involving minor or no injuries.

Under Bill C-46, the existing mandatory minimum fine of $1,000 for alcohol- and drug-impaired driving offences would apply to a number of hybrid offences, including driving while impaired by alcohol or a drug, driving while over a drug's legal limit, and driving with a drug-plus-alcohol blood concentration in excess of the legal limits.

Bill C-46 would also create a new mandatory minimum fine of $1,500 for a first offence of driving with a blood alcohol concentration over 120 milligrams. In addition, it would create a new mandatory minimum fine of $2,000 for driving with a blood alcohol concentration over 160 milligrams. The higher mandatory minimum fine penalties for a first offence will reflect the increased crash risk that is associated with higher blood alcohol concentrations.

Bill C-46 would also create a new mandatory minimum fine of $2,000 for a first offence of refusing a valid police demand for a breath sample, a blood sample, a urine sample, an oral fluid sample, a standard field sobriety test, or testing in a drug evaluation. This is important to ensure compliance with demands. Otherwise, first-offence drivers with a higher blood alcohol concentration could simply refuse to give a sample in order to evade the higher mandatory minimum fines.

For repeat offenders, having a high blood alcohol concentration would be an aggravating factor to be considered upon sentencing. The mandatory minimum penalty for a second offence would remain as it currently stands in the Criminal Code at 30 days' imprisonment, and for each subsequent offence it would remain at 120 days' imprisonment.

Bill C-46 does not propose any new or higher mandatory minimum penalties of imprisonment for the Criminal Code's transportation offences, including drug-impaired driving and alcohol-impaired driving. With respect to impaired driving causing death cases, I understand that provincial courts already typically impose or uphold penalties that are well above the existing mandatory minimum penalties and are in the range of at least three to four years, if not higher.

Bill C-46 does not propose a mandatory minimum penalty that exceeds the current sentencing range, because this is not necessary to ensure appropriate sentences and does not work as a deterrent. Indeed, the organization Mothers Against Drunk Driving Canada, which is based in my community of Oakville, is opposed to mandatory minimum penalties for these offences, citing charter concerns in certain circumstances, but also pointing out that mandatory minimums can have a downward pull on sentences. The organization explained that they become an inappropriate cap where longer sentences might be appropriate. The better route is to leave sentencing discretion to the trial and appellate courts.

I had the pleasure of meeting with MADD Canada's CEO, Andrew Murie, recently in my riding. In addition to his comments on mandatory minimums, he expressed his organization's confidence in our justice department and commented that he was pleased with the consultations that had taken place with his organization on this subject. He also expressed his thanks to our government, noting that we have such a deep understanding of the issue and are prepared to take a comprehensive approach to addressing it.

I will now turn to the subject of prohibitions and ignition interlock devices. Currently, where there is no injury or death on a first offence, the sentencing court must impose a mandatory minimum prohibition against driving anywhere in Canada for a period of one year. On a second offence, the penalty is a period of two years, and for a subsequent offence, the minimum driving prohibition is for a period of three years.

Bill C-46 also reduces the current waiting period before which the offender may drive when using an ignition interlock device. On a first offence, the waiting period to use an ignition interlock device would be reduced from the current three months to no waiting time. On a second offence, the waiting period to use an ignition interlock device would be reduced from the current six months to three months, and on a subsequent offence, the waiting period to use an ignition interlock device would be reduced from the current 12 months to six months. These amendments would reflect the fact that ignition interlock device programs help to prevent recidivism.

Currently, the Criminal Code has a provision by which an impaired driving offender may be given a conditional discharge on the condition that he or she attend a program of curative treatment. This curative treatment discharge provision has not yet been proclaimed into force in Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia, and Newfoundland and Labrador. Bill C-46 would replace this provision with one that allows the defence to apply, with the consent of the prosecution, for a delay of the sentencing hearing in order for the offender to attend a provincially approved treatment program. If the offender successfully completes the program, the sentencing court would not be obliged to impose the mandatory minimum penalty or the mandatory period of prohibition against driving anywhere in Canada.

I am pleased to support Bill C-46. I respectfully ask my colleagues on all sides of the House to support this important piece of legislation that would make our communities safer for everyone

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

May 19th, 2017 / 1:25 p.m.
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Louis-Hébert Québec

Liberal

Joël Lightbound LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health

Madam Speaker, I thank the member for her excellent speech.

Just as alcohol impaired driving is illegal, so is drug impaired driving. However, over the past few years, there has been greater awareness regarding drunk driving. When Canadians go out and plan to have a drink, they know they need to have a designated driver or take a taxi to get home. There is not the same level of awareness when it comes to drugs.

Bill C-46 gives police officers the tools to test drivers. It also sends a very clear message that we have a zero tolerance policy when it comes to drug impaired driving.

In the member's opinion, just how much would public awareness be raised as a result of giving police officers additional tools and setting penalties that would enable prosecutors to properly prosecute drug-impaired drivers?

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

May 19th, 2017 / 1:25 p.m.
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Conservative

Earl Dreeshen Conservative Red Deer—Mountain View, AB

Madam Speaker, it is certainly a pleasure for me to rise today to contribute to this important debate on Bill C-46.

I think everyone recognizes this is companion legislation, with the attempt to give cover for the Liberals' legislation regarding government-sponsored cannabis distributions and sales.

I was proud of our previous government's record on reducing crime and standing up for the right of victims. So many of us have presented petitions on behalf of families whose lives have been devastated by the actions of those people who choose to drink and drive. Now we are adding people to that, those who feel we have normalized the use of marijuana. When I come back to my discussion, I will talk about that.

As someone who has taught school for 34 years, I have seen the carnage and the issues young people have to deal with when it comes to drugs and alcohol. I feel like we should be able to contribute to that and talk about it.

As we move forward with the legislation at committee, we will try to ensure that there is some clarity for law enforcement officers and municipal and provincial governments and that the legal system has the manpower and the resources to deal with it.

There have been talks about whether there is clarity when it comes to charter compliance. Sometimes governments depend a lot on departments to say that something is charter compliant, only to find out later that maybe they did not quite have right. We can think about yesterday when the Alberta Court of Appeal struck down a portion of its provincial impaired driving laws, which deal with the immediate suspension of a driver's licence. It ruled in favour of a constitutional challenge to strike down the law.

These are the sorts of things taking place and we have to consider the,.

I want to thank our fantastic interim leader, the member Sturgeon River—Parkland, since it is my last opportunity to say this.