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

Sponsor

Status

Second reading (Senate), as of Dec. 8, 2017

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Summary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(b) authorize mandatory roadside screening for alcohol;

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

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

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

Elsewhere

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

Votes

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

Transportation Modernization ActGovernment Orders

October 31st, 2017 / 1:35 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Garnett Genuis Conservative Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to rise to speak to Bill C-49. I will be splitting my time with the member for Yorkton—Melville.

We have before us what is very clearly an omnibus bill. It is a transportation bill that deals with many different pieces of legislation. It is more involved, more complex, and deals with more topics than perhaps the 95 theses. If the government wants indulgence today, it will not get it from members of the opposition.

I will continue to pontificate on this for a bit. We are seeing the government's total unwillingness to take its past commitments with respect to omnibus legislation seriously. It criticized the previous government for covering a range of different topics in the same bill. This was allegedly a big part of its push for changes to the Standing Orders. The Liberals said that the Standing Orders had to be changed because of the big problem of governments bringing forward omnibus bills. They said that a solution had to be found for this.

If the Liberals thought it was such a problem, the simple solution would have been for them to simply not propose omnibus bills. In so many different areas, whether it is Bill C-46, a bill that covers a range of different proposals on the issue of impaired driving, or a transportation bill, or budget bills they have brought forward, there is a real abundance of what clearly are omnibus bills even by their own definition.

The Liberals have said that an omnibus bill is a bill that members might want to vote for parts of it, but oppose other parts of it. Again, there is no credibility. Their policies and platform in the spirit of the season really is ghosted. Nothing is left but a ghost of the commitments the government made with respect to omnibus legislation.

I would like to talk specifically about some of the different pieces of the legislation.

Much of the discussion by members of the government has been about an alleged passenger bill of rights. I am sorry to report to members, but this is more trick than treat. The passenger bill of rights is skeletal at best. It is a framework for legislation that others will be asked to eventually develop, but the House is in no position to evaluate its substance. We are expected to theoretically consider a passenger bill of rights that somebody else might develop without any kind of clarity on its structure or how that would be approached or operationalized in practice. Again, it is more trick than treat even if passengers were expecting something more substantive.

As members of Parliament, we often fly. We could probably all share stories of less than ideal experiences we have had with air travel. It behooves the government to be more clear about what it is talking about when it brings these kind of measures before us. This is the Liberals' idea of being able to check a box for something they want to say they done but really is lacking in meat.

Many provisions in the bill come from a lot of different directions.

I also want to address the issue of joint ventures. If airlines want to propose a joint venture for a route, at present, the proposal is reviewed and ruled on by the competition commissioner, and hat is appropriate. The competition commissioner evaluates the impact of proposals on competition. When a joint venture is in place, that can have a negative impact on competition, because companies work together. Therefore, there is less competition that can be beneficial to consumers.

As a party that believes in the importance of functioning free markets, our caucus is very concerned about ensuring there is as much competition as well. We recognize if we want to get good outcomes for consumers there is a place for regulation. The best way to get to that end is that if we have robust competition, we are going to have good outcomes for consumers. Consumers can drive through the market the kinds of treatments and services they want by choosing between the different available options.

Unfortunately, this omnibus bill makes some changes to the framework in place for joint ventures. It gives authority to the minister instead of to the competition commissioner to make those decisions. In that context, it gives him a fairly wide discretion to make these determinations on the basis of public interest criteria. “The public interest” is the sort of concept that everybody is in favour of, but the devil is often in the details. When the minister has a wide discretion to make a determination on the basis of a concept of public interest, that really gives him the ability to do what he wants with respect to these joint ventures, and he may well be subject to influences and questions which are not in the public interest. We have regularly had concerns raised in this House about ministers who find themselves in conflicts of interest. Therefore, when we have cases of ministers who have been able to circumvent the law with respect to blind trusts, we should legitimately be raising concerns about the minister taking an authority that had previously been exercised through the commissioner.

One other issue that I want to address is with respect to interswitching for rail. The issues that I have addressed in the short space of my speech today again underline the breadth of transportation measures in this bill. That should be concerning to members. In the existing framework, the previous government brought in something that was called “extended” interswitching, which allowed for the use of another company's rail line. That would be done on a cost-plus framework, so the rates would vary depending on the costs that were in place for the company. It was fundamentally a competitive framework, because there was no fixed rate across the board for interswitching, rather there was a cost-plus framework, so it still encouraged some degree of flexibility and competition. However, the long-haul interswitching provisions the government has in place in this bill do not encourage competition. The way in which the rate is structured for that interswitching is based on an average rate, so it is the same rate that would be charged across different companies. It reduces the pressure for competition vis-à-vis different cases of interswitching. Our view is that competition is important, and that facilitating competition in the transportation sector and other sectors is beneficial for consumers. It leads to choice and innovation.

In conclusion, I would like to say that when we asked the minister about this during time allocation earlier, he said that he did not think we should be hearing more opposition speeches because they kept talking about the carbon tax. Since the minister does not want us to talk about the carbon tax, I think we actually have a duty to talk about the carbon tax in this context. Of course, the government does not want to talk about how negatively it is impacting the transportation industry by trying to impose a carbon tax, which is literally a tax on everything. It is trying to compel provinces, in a way that is profoundly disrespectful to provincial jurisdiction, to impose this carbon tax. I had the pleasure of presenting a petition for my constituents on this yesterday. Many of my constituents are very concerned about the negative impacts to the transportation, energy, and other sectors associated with the carbon tax.

To summarize, we have in front of us an omnibus bill. Again, the Liberal government is showing a disregard for its commitments. There are some specific things that I take issue with. The most publicized element, the air passenger bill of rights, is not at all clear. We would be much better off encouraging competition to help consumers have the flexibility to drive improvements in quality and innovation themselves.

The Liberals are in the process of taking choice away from consumers, talking about an air passenger bill of rights that is not clear or defined in any way. Of course, the government is proceeding with other measures that are very harmful for the transportation industry, such as the carbon tax.

On that basis, we oppose this bill.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

October 27th, 2017 / 10 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 third time and passed.

Madam Speaker, I appreciate this opportunity to speak to Bill C-46, an act to amend the Criminal Code, offences relating to conveyances. At the outset, I would like to extend my heartfelt thanks to the members of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights for their thorough review in consideration of this bill. Committee members heard over 45 witnesses and reviewed a significant amount of material on a highly complex topic, and I am grateful to them for their diligence and believe that the bill is stronger because of their efforts.

As I have indicated on previous occasions, the primary objective of this legislation is to save lives, lives that continue to be tragically cut short by irresponsible and reckless decisions to drive after consuming alcohol or drugs. I am continually frustrated and deeply saddened by the stories of families who have lost loved ones as a result of impaired driving. Mothers and fathers should no longer have to endure the anguish and heartache of burying their children following an alcohol- or drug-related traffic collision. Children should no longer be orphaned by a driver's careless decision to drive after consuming alcohol or drugs. This bill aims to reduce deaths resulting from impaired driving.

This bill also aims to reduce the impact of impaired driving on those who suffer traumatic, lifelong injuries caused by another person's irresponsible decision to drive drunk or high. No one should have to endure months or years of painful and costly physical rehabilitation. People should not have to give up their jobs or the pastimes they love due to injuries caused by an impaired driver.

Despite great efforts by governments and advocacy groups to raise awareness of the dangers of impaired driving, we still see far too many headlines about these tragic incidents. There is no excuse for this type of conduct in our society, yet by some estimates, more than 1,000 people lose their lives every year to this entirely preventable crime. Countless more are injured.

In my view, it is my responsibility as the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada to take any and all reasonable measures to increase deterrence and the detection of impaired drivers.

Bill C-46 aims to strengthen the criminal law response to both drug- and alcohol-impaired driving. The elements related to drug-impaired driving will come into force on royal assent to ensure that a robust drug-impaired driving regime is in place well in advance of Canada's legalization. Although it is difficult to predict the impact of cannabis legalization on the rate of impaired driving, information from other jurisdictions that have legalized cannabis suggests that there could be a slight increase. Canada needs to be prepared.

The measures proposed in Bill C-46 would increase the deterrence, detection, and conviction of those who engage in reckless and irresponsible conduct. Specifically, Bill C-46 would authorize police officers to use roadside oral-fluid drug-screening devices to help them determine whether a driver had drugs in his or her body. These are minimally invasive hand-held devices that expediently analyze a sample of oral fluid. If police officers had a reasonable suspicion that a driver had a drug in his or her body, they would be authorized to demand a sample of oral fluid for analysis at the roadside. A positive result on the drug screener would be highly indicative of recent drug consumption and could lead to further investigation, either by a drug recognition evaluation officer or through a blood sample taken by a qualified technician.

In addition to authorizing roadside drug screeners, Bill C-46 would also create three new driving offences of being over the legal limit within two hours of driving. This type of offence is similar to the offence that prohibits driving over the legal limit for alcohol, otherwise known as the over-80 offence. These offences would be proven through a blood sample, which provides the best, most reliable evidence that the drug is active in a person's body. The bill would provide that police officers could demand that a blood sample be provided by a driver when they had reasonable grounds to believe that either a drug-impaired or legal-limit offence had occurred.

These offences would facilitate the prosecution of drug-impaired drivers by setting strict limits for the amount of drugs one could have in one's body while behind the wheel. As I have previously indicated, the actual legal limits would be set by regulation. The proposed drug levels were recently published in part I of the Canada Gazette for public comment.

On that note, three legal drug-limit offences are proposed. There would be a straight summary conviction offence, which reflects our government's precautionary and public safety approach to THC consumption and driving. The draft regulations propose that only cannabis, in particular THC, would fall under this offence at this time. This offence would apply if a driver had between two and five nanograms of THC per millilitre of blood within two hours of driving.

Bill C-46 also proposes two hybrid offences. One of these offences would apply to drivers found with impairing illicit drugs. For example, it would not be permitted for drivers to have any detectable level of cocaine or LSD in their bodies. This same hybrid offence would apply to drivers with levels of legal drugs that are expected to cause some driving impairment. For example, the offence would apply to drivers with five nanograms or more of THC per millilitre of blood. Finally, the third hybrid offence would apply to drivers with a combination of an impairing drug and alcohol, recognizing that combining drugs and alcohol can increase the impairing effects of both substances.

At this time, the draft regulation only proposes levels for alcohol and THC in combination, but in future, other drugs could be added. It is proposed that 2.5 nanograms of THC per millilitre of blood in combination with five millilitres of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood would constitute this offence.

Some witnesses who appeared before the standing committee did not support this proposed approach. They expressed concern that the science with respect to THC, in particular, was not clear enough to justify setting legal limits. However, let me be perfectly clear. One thing that all witnesses agreed on was that THC is an impairing drug.

Our government is aware that unlike alcohol, it is difficult to correlate the blood concentration of THC with impairment. That is why a summary conviction offence was proposed for the two to five nanogram range.

As indicated by the drugs and driving committee in its final report to the government on this issue, setting the legal limit at two nanograms of THC per millilitre of blood would reflect a precautionary and public safety approach, one that would strike the right balance between the science of measuring THC impairment with the real risks associated with driving after consuming THC. By adopting this lower THC level through Bill C-46 and the regulations, our government would be signalling that Canada will not tolerate driving after consuming impairing drugs.

I would like to add that the new per se offences for drug-impaired driving would contain several inherent protections to avoid charging drivers who were not actually impaired. These protections would include the requirement that the officer in question develop reasonable suspicion of drugs in the body of the driver before administering the roadside drug screeners or other roadside sobriety tests. Where the driver failed the drug screening test, this itself would be highly indicative of recent consumption. Ultimately, the officer would have to have reasonable grounds to believe that an impaired driving offence had been committed before arresting the individual and carrying out further testing at the station.

To sum up, the drug levels that are proposed for these new offences are consistent with the approach taken in other jurisdictions, and I am confident that they reflect the best available scientific evidence while at the same time ensuring that we are proceeding in a manner that protects the safety of the public.

I would like to spend my remaining time addressing other elements of Bill C-46 that propose to reform the alcohol-impaired driving regime. This area of the criminal law perplexes even the most seasoned criminal professionals. It has developed in a piecemeal fashion since the first offence was enacted in 1921. It has never been comprehensively reformed, and according to a 1991 report by the former Law Reform Commission, its provisions are “virtually unreadable”.

This state of affairs cannot be permitted to continue, especially in the area of criminal law that is among the most litigated. Bill C-46 proposes to create a clear, simplified, and modernized legislative framework to ensure that the public can better understand the law and also ensure that the police can effectively enforce it.

Another element proposed in Bill C-46 is mandatory alcohol screening. In my view, this proposed reform is the most critical reform respecting alcohol-impaired driving in this bill. Mothers Against Drunk Driving agrees. In May 2017, Andrew Murie, the chief executive officer of MADD, said the following:

Simply put, mandatory screening is one of the single most effective ways Canada can reduce impaired driving. It has been in place in many other countries for years and has helped them to reduce overall road crashes and fatalities.

Mandatory alcohol screening represents a significant change to the Canadian law of impaired driving, but it is a tool that has been used in many other countries, as I said, for several years. It was pioneered by the Australians in the 1970s with great success, and more recently it has been adopted in several European jurisdictions, including Ireland and Scotland.

This proposed element was the subject of much commentary and debate at the standing committee, and I thank all those who presented on this topic for their thoughtful and insightful comments.

Under the current law, police officers at the roadside must have a reasonable suspicion that a driver has alcohol in his or her body before they can demand a preliminary breath sample. Although this is a low threshold, the standing committee heard from witnesses who confirmed that a driver is often able to conceal visible signs of impairment from the police and thereby pass through a traffic stop undetected. The number of impaired drivers who can escape detection is simply astounding. In my view, this significantly undermines the detection and enforcement efforts of police as well as the public messaging with respect to impaired driving. If more than 50% of impaired drivers are able to escape detection following a traffic stop, a new approach is absolutely needed.

The chief concern raised by witnesses with respect to mandatory alcohol screening was that it would lead to racial profiling. While I strongly condemn racial profiling, I am confident that mandatory alcohol screening would neither facilitate nor encourage this conduct. In fact, Bill C-46 would guard against this in a number of ways.

First, the bill is clear that mandatory alcohol screening would only be authorized following a lawful stop. The Supreme Court of Canada has determined that police are authorized to stop any driver at any time to ascertain whether they are complying with the rules of the road, including whether they have a licence and insurance. These stops are authorized in both common law and provincial highway traffic laws. If an officer was acting within this authorization, he or she would be authorized to demand a preliminary breath sample.

Second, mandatory alcohol screening is most effective when all drivers know that they can be tested. Under our approach, drivers would know that they could be tested at any time and at any place to ensure that they were not drinking and driving under the influence of alcohol.

Finally, the standing committee amended the preamble of the bill to reflect the expectation that all investigative powers, including mandatory alcohol screening, must be exercised in a manner that is consistent with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. While this is implicit in all our legislation, given the concern expressed with respect to the potential impact of mandatory alcohol screening, I understand the motivation behind this amendment.

I would now like to discuss two more key changes proposed in the bill, in particular the proposed changes to the “over 80” offence. Currently this offence is committed if the driver has in excess of the allowable blood alcohol concentration while driving. The proposals in Bill C-46 would change this time frame so that it would be an offence to be over the legal limit within two hours of driving.

The purpose of this revised formulation is to eliminate the risky behaviour associated with bolus drinking, sometimes referred to as drinking and dashing. This is when a driver consumes a significant amount of alcohol immediately before or even during driving in an attempt to get home before the alcohol is fully absorbed. This proposed formulation of within two hours also has the benefit of limiting what is known as the intervening drink defence. This can occur when a driver consumes alcohol after being stopped by the police but before a breath sample. This has the result of frustrating the breath-testing process, and this is unacceptable.

Some witnesses raised concerns that this could criminalize people who have done nothing wrong, who have simply had a few drinks after arriving home after a long week. I would like to clarify that the bill provides for this scenario by proposing an exception to the offence. It is intended not to apply to cases of innocent intervening drinking.

Furthermore, in situations where a driver's breath is tested outside of the two-hour window of the offence, a legislative formula is proposed to calculate what the blood alcohol concentration would have been at the time of the offence. I would like to thank the standing committee for its amendment to this provision, which clarifies that before a judge can resort to the formula, there must be at least 20 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood in the driver's body.

The final element that I wish to discuss aims to end what some have referred to as the “disclosure wars”. Bill C-46 aims to clarify that the maintenance records of the approved instruments are not relevant in determining whether or not the results of the breath tests are accurate. It is enough that the crown disclose the test results, any error messages, and the results of the calibration or system-blank checks.

Bill C-46 proposes many other changes aimed at improving the law of alcohol-impaired driving. A legislative backgrounder to Bill C-46 and the accompanying charter statements outline many of the key proposals, including the rationale and the charter considerations. If members have not yet done so, I would encourage them to review these documents.

I am immensely proud of the reforms proposed in Bill C-46. I am confident that they will reduce deaths and injuries. I am also grateful to all the witnesses who presented their views on the bill before the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights. In my view, the bill is stronger for their input.

In closing, I urge all members to vote for public safety and support Bill C-46. We must all work together to eliminate impaired driving and all of its tragic consequences.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

October 27th, 2017 / 10:20 a.m.
See context

Liberal

Jody Wilson-Raybould Liberal Vancouver Granville, BC

Madam Speaker, I would like to thank my hon. friend across the way for his substantive work in this area. I have enjoyed the opportunity to work with him.

I have had the opportunity to meet with several members of Families for Justice. I would like to acknowledge the significant loss they have suffered and recognize that the intent of Bill C-46 is to ensure we do everything we can to promote safe and responsible driving.

In terms of the question around mandatory sentencing with respect to this particular piece of legislation, it has been found that the mandatory sentences are not the deterrents. As proven and supported by Mothers Against Drunk Driving, the deterrence in Bill C-46 is the mandatory alcohol screening. At the justice committee, national Mothers Against Drunk Driving president, Patricia Hynes-Coates, said the following with respect to mandatory minimum sentences:

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.

That is where mandatory alcohol screening comes into place.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

October 27th, 2017 / 10:25 a.m.
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Conservative

Rob Nicholson Conservative Niagara Falls, ON

Madam Speaker, there are a number of sections of this bill that make sense. I will not repeat the comments with respect to making sure that there at least is a penalty that people who kill somebody when driving drunk can and should pay. That being said, the minister, on a number of occasions during her speech, and in the comments, said we would like to do something to reduce impaired driving, yet she admitted that legalization could increase impaired driving. Would that not, in and of itself, give the minister pause that this is overall going to be a bad idea, if the minister is even acknowledging at this point that we will probably have more impaired driving on the roads? Did the Liberals take that into consideration when they brought forward these two bills, Bill C-45 and Bill C-46?

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

October 27th, 2017 / 10:25 a.m.
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Liberal

Jody Wilson-Raybould Liberal Vancouver Granville, BC

Madam Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for the question and his ongoing work in this regard. Of course, we took into account the reality and the impact of bringing in Bill C-45, the cannabis act, and its companion piece, Bill C-46, to ensure that we have the toughest impaired driving rules throughout the world. Impaired driving on drugs and alcohol is an offence right now. We are working to ensure that we have the best scientific evidence and the necessary oral fluid screeners to detect that at the roadside. We are committed to ensuring we do everything we can to improve that process, which Bill C-46 significantly does, and to detect more individuals who are behind the wheels of their car while impaired by drugs or alcohol. This is a real opportunity to significantly strengthen our impaired driving laws in Canada.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

October 27th, 2017 / 10:25 a.m.
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Liberal

Lloyd Longfield Liberal Guelph, ON

Madam Speaker, I thank the minister for bringing this to the House today. My question builds on some of the questions from my colleagues across the way, which were similar to questions asked during the debate on Bill C-45. My question to the minister is with respect to the timing of Bill C-46 and Bill C-45. I want to know how they work together, as well as the strategy of having Bill C-46 in place before Bill C-45 to ensure we have safe communities, safe people, safe roads. What is the importance of the legislation in the way it is now being presented to the House moving forward? Could the minister comment on that, please?

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

October 27th, 2017 / 10:30 a.m.
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Liberal

Jody Wilson-Raybould Liberal Vancouver Granville, BC

Madam Speaker, I believe that this question speaks to the previous question of the hon. member across the way in terms of the objectives of Bill C-45, and Bill C-46, the cannabis act, and also wanting to improve the impaired driving laws in this country. What we are trying to combat is that the status quo simply is not working with respect to ensuring we do everything we can to keep cannabis out of the hands of kids and the proceeds out of the hands of criminals, as well as to keep individuals out of the driving seats of their car while they have been consuming alcohol or drugs. The objective of both of these pieces of legislation is to ensure that we move away from the status quo and put in place significant laws and regulations. There is no question that the Government of Canada is tackling these important issues and ensuring the safety of Canadians.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

October 27th, 2017 / 10:30 a.m.
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Conservative

Rob Nicholson Conservative Niagara Falls, ON

Madam Speaker, I rise today 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 will address a couple of things with respect to the bill, and one is the timetable for this bill and Bill C-45.

The government is making a mistake, quite frankly, first for even bringing in the marijuana bill and then pushing it forward to try to get it in by Canada Day of next year. Even though I have heard the minister say that the government will try to push through this bill in conjunction with Bill C-45, the whole thing is a mistake.

We heard considerable testimony from different groups that they thought this was being jammed through too quickly. The Canadian police services asked that the legislation be delayed so they would have the ability to train and put resources in place.

I suggest that the government has not done enough to put effective educational campaigns in place, despite statistics showing significant increases in fatalities due to drug-impaired driving. We have a problem already with drug-impaired driving. The Liberals tell us that by legalizing this, they somehow have come up with some solutions to this, but it is the exact opposite.

Mandatory roadside testing, in addition to the large number of officers who still do not have sufficient training to adequately detect drug-impaired driving through drug-recognition training, is another part of this, as well the refusal of the government to mandate proper storage restrictions of cannabis plants in homes. The government, in its excitement, was pleased to announce that everyone would be able to have a small grow-op in the kitchen. We were very much against this, for the reasons I stated at committee and before this. How can we make it any more accessible and easier for kids if the plants are in the kitchen?

I thought I received some good news a couple of weeks ago when a woman in my office, Cheri, said that I would be interested to know that the Liberals had made some changes about grow-ops in kitchens. I thought that was wonderful and that the Liberals had listened to us. However, the government said that the three feet was not high enough, that the plants would have to grow taller than that. Therefore, after getting criticism about this, the Liberals did the exact opposite. They would let people have four-, five-, or 10-foot plants. I guess there would be more joints available the higher these things grew. This is a huge mistake, one that we will hear about in the future if the bill passes.

Canadian police services from across the country have called on the government to delay the legislation beyond 2018 to allow law enforcement time to properly manage the threat of increased drug-impaired driving and the association that this would take place with the legalization of marijuana. The Canadian police services stated that there was zero chance they would be ready by July 2018.

Why are the Liberals so intent on not listening to Canada's law enforcement? They have imposed this deadline, again, with little regard to the health and safety of Canadians.

During the recent meetings our committees had, the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police warned that it needed more time to train officers under the proposed new law and more than double the number of police officers certified to conduct roadside drug-impaired testing. It also called for more time to implement public education. If we look around, officials in Washington State and Colorado have stressed the importance of implementing educational campaigns on drug-impaired driving as soon as possible and long before legalization.

The government's timetable is just too tight. The Liberals say that they will get Bill C-46 in before Bill C-45. However, with the timetable they have insisted upon for Bill C-45, we will not be ready.

The Liberals have not taken the advice of members of the police association or Canadian premiers who have voiced their concerns. The provincial governments need more time to get their rules and regulations in place.

The minister mentioned MADD Canada. It has also called for the government to ensure the legislative framework is in place under the Motor Vehicle Act, giving police the powers to lay drug-impaired charges. Currently, the standard breathalyser will not detect drugs, This was one of the things we heard.

My colleagues mentioned how challenging it was to exactly measure the level of THC and thus measure the level of impairment. It is further complicated now that we are encouraging people to smoke marijuana, especially in combination with alcohol. This is going to become more complicated. In the hearings and testimony on Bill C-46, it became very clear how difficult this would be. We heard different experts say that THC could be in a person's system for days afterwards. The THC level spikes with the first couple of joints and then it goes down. How quickly it goes down is the question and what happens when marijuana is used in combination with alcohol.

Again, we need to have people who are expert in this area. The police services have said that they need at least 2,000 experts to do this. I will quote Ms. MacAskill from Mothers Against Drunk Driving. She said, about the disposable saliva test, “If every officer can have that in their vehicle it will certainly have a positive impact on road safety.”

Unfortunately, the government is not in a position to guarantee that those drug experts will be in place. It has not made the necessary provisions to make this happen. Again, the Liberals are focused on getting this through. Somehow it will be a wonderful that on the next Canada Day, everyone will be smoking a joint. However, this has been a huge mistake.

As well, I have to mention the penalties. The Conservative party is very clear that a $1,000 fine for a person who kills because of drunk driving is unacceptable. Quite frankly, it sends the wrong message. My colleague talked about mothers for justice. They were very clear that it was not enough to say a person was arrested. We want to send a very clear message that if a person is drunk, starts to drive and kills people, that there are serious consequences, not just a $1,000 or $1,500 fine with a slap on the wrist. Our job is to ensure people get the message that they have to take responsibility for the crimes they commit. When we were in government, that message was consistent. There has to be serious consequences for people who commit serious crimes and victimize others.

Statistics show that impaired driving due to drugs is on the rise. This is why we need to have nationwide public education. We know, having looked at Washington State, what will happen in our country. Fatal crashes among drivers who test positive for marijuana went up from 8% in 2013 to 17% in 2014. In Colorado, between 2005 and 2014, the number of drivers in fatal crashes who tested positive for marijuana, without other drugs in their system, went from 3.4% to 12%. It multiplied four times when marijuana was legalized in that state.

Dr. Mark Ware, co-chair of Ottawa's marijuana task force, stated, “Canada should immediately boost spending on intensive public education and research into the impacts of marijuana and not wait until 2018.” I would go beyond that and say not to be forced into putting this in place by next Canada Day.

Dr. Ware told a drug policy conference in Ottawa that a bill to overhaul Canada's marijuana laws was the first step in what he predicted would be an unbelievably deep and tangled web with the provinces, territories, and the municipalities, which would be responsible for much of this scheme.

Here is what is going to happen when this legislation gets enacted. The federal Liberals will blame the provinces when this thing becomes a complete national mess. They will say that they legalized it but it is the responsibility of the provinces. They will point the finger and claim that it is not them who have made the mess. Once they get this off their hands, it will be up to the provinces, or they will say that the police services are screwing this up, that they are not doing enough. That is what is so unfortunate about this.

The government has been warned about the implications of legalizing marijuana and the required safeguards that should be in place. The Canadian Automobile Association has made the case that a public education campaign has to be put in place.

This will complicate our judicial system. It was made very clear that there would be charter challenges. I understand that whenever new legislation is put in, there is always the possibility that people will challenge it. Nonetheless, there will be a lot of cases that will compound the challenge this will have on the courts. We have raised this with the government on many occasions. We have told it to ensure enough judges are appointed. This has been a slow process, and not enough judges will not help the situation. When these cases are before the courts and there are delays, et cetera, it will not help things if the Government of Canada does not move forward as expeditiously as possible in appointing judges.

The other thing we have to worry about is not just people smoking marijuana, but people who will turn marijuana into edibles. The Liberals will again say the that provinces are to blame if this is the case. I understand that, but we all have a responsibility. When this gets turned into an edible product and children have access to that product, it will be a serious problem. I appreciate that not all children will go after the pot plants in the kitchen and nor should they, but edibles will be another danger to young people and a danger that the government does not seem to take with the seriousness it should take.

I do like some sections in the legislation. The minister talked about one section that refers to marijuana tests being taken about two hours afterwards. Among other things, this will go after those individuals who will try to avoid an impaired driving charge by having a couple of drinks after the accident, using the excuse they needed those drinks to calm down. We all know that this is a way of avoiding or complicating an impaired driving charge. I actually agree with that section.

However, when my colleague from St. Albert—Edmonton came forward with a group of reasonable amendments to ensure people would live up to their responsibilities when they finally were convicted of impaired driving and impaired driving which resulted in somebody being killed, those penalties were completely rejected by the Liberals on committee. When somebody kills a child and receives a $1,500 fine, the whole justice system is compromised. It decreases people's confidence in the criminal justice system when people are not given penalties that are commiserate with the crimes they have committed.

My Liberal colleagues do not want to put these tough penalties in the bill because they believe they will not stop people from committing these crimes. However, I think it does send a message to people that there are serious consequences for what they are doing. Yes, there are people who say that they had better be careful because there are serious consequences for their impaired driving.

I appreciate that Bill C-45 and Bill C-46 go together and that the latter bill complements the first, but my colleagues and I want the government to reconsider everything about this, its implementation and the whole question of legalizing marijuana and what it will do to our children. I promise that if the government implements this and the Liberals start to run away from it and say, “I don't know, you better talk to the education department, or the police, or the provinces”, we will hold them accountable for everything, the complete mess this will create. We will not let them off the hook by pointing to someone else.

I have appreciated the opportunity to make comments on this. I know the government has not listened to us up to this point, but I hope it will in the future.

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October 27th, 2017 / 12:10 p.m.
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NDP

Matthew Dubé NDP Beloeil—Chambly, QC

Madam Speaker, I would like to pick up where I left off at the beginning of question period. I was talking about educating the public. At the risk of repeating myself, for those who are just tuning in, we can all see that the Liberals failed to really work with the provinces to ensure they have the planning time and resources they need to implement public education programs. These programs are so important to make sure people are educated about both marijuana use and, as we have been discussing, impaired driving.

I will move on to something else for now, but before I do, I think it is very important to emphasize something. Despite some of the comments I heard in this morning's debate that practically insinuated the opposite, all members in the House, across party lines, agree that impaired driving, whether involving drugs or alcohol, is a scourge. We want to eradicate it. There is no doubt about that.

As is the case with illness, these tragedies do not discriminate. Everyone here, across party lines, has been affected, or knows someone who has been affected, by the horrible consequences of someone making the tragic mistake of driving while impaired. It is important to acknowledge that, because we might not agree on how to go about, on the one hand, dealing with the new reality of legalized marijuana, and on the other hand, keeping our roads safe.

One of the big issues with the bill is this notion of mandatory stops and testing. This came up during the public safety committee hearings on a private member's bill that was tabled by a Conservative member, which sought to do something quite similar. Nothing in life is random, particularly, and unfortunately, in some of the work that is done in policing.

If we call for random mandatory testing, the odds increase exponentially for things like profiling, people of a specific socio-economic background being targeted. The New Democrats cannot accept that. I know my party's leader, Jagmeet Singh, considers this extremely important. It was central to the work he did in his leadership campaign, but also the work he now wants to do as leader of the New Democratic Party. He has said, much more eloquently than I can say in this place, that as a person of colour, he has been a victim of this.

When we put laws in place to ensure public safety, it always needs to be done in a way that ensures we will not be unfairly discriminating against certain segments of the population. I am not pulling this out of a hat. This was shared with the public safety committee by experts, although not on the specific line of study of this bill, even though that comment was raised by different members of civil society, notably the Canadian Civil Liberties Association and others. It was raised when other bills were tabled, both private members' bills and Conservative government bills that were discussed in the previous Parliament.

When we take this approach, we have to ensure we do not increase the risk of a problem that, let us face it, already exists, which is the problem of racial profiling. The is one of our concerns.

Another concern we have has to do with the THC levels that must be detected in a driver's blood before the driver can be charged with an offence. The bill barely mentions this, which is very troubling. How can police determine if an offence has been committed, or a crime in this case, if the law does not specify the precise quantity of THC that must be detected in the blood? That is extremely troubling.

In the United States, the various states that have legalized marijuana each take a different approach. Colorado and Washington state, for instance, have set a blood THC limit that must be detected before a driver can be charged with a traffic or criminal offence. Oregon, which has also legalized marijuana, decided to be more flexible and use the same test used for suspected alcohol-impaired drivers, that is, a test based on visual markers.

The lack of a fixed THC limit is compounded by the lack of police training. This is not to insult our men and women in uniform. It is something they themselves have said. This is yet another example of how the Liberals' planning fell short. Although we support the legalization plan in principle, we would have thought it was obvious that the consultation with police should have been much more thorough. The Liberals should have realized that police officers would need additional training, for example, to recognize the symptoms of marijuana impairment in drivers or to make proper use of roadside screening devices. They should have sat down with police to set a blood THC limit, something this bill does not cover. These are things they could have done in collaboration with police.

To go back to a question asked earlier by a Conservative MP, this also seems to be a case of too many players involved. There are the municipal police forces in some big cities, the Sûreté du Québec and the Ontario Provincial Police, some cities' own police services, and of course the RCMP, which serves outlying regions in the other provinces.

I am not questioning the hierarchy or the division of powers within Canada's different police forces, but there seem to be a lot of players at the table. There are many voices that still need to be heard, and these people think there is a lot of work left to be done, something that has not happened so far.

The importance of that training was brought up in committee. Also, the importance of training police officers to recognize the symptoms and use these technologies goes in two directions. First, it is obviously essential for public safety so they can do their jobs properly. It goes without saying they need to properly identify people who are driving under the influence. However, they must also know who is not driving under the influence, who has not reached the legal limit of what they are allowed to either drink or smoke, depending on which substance they are dealing with. It is not only a question of public safety; it is also a question of protecting and ensuring the rights of Canadians, which police officers are willing to do, but require the proper training to do that, as the representatives of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police mentioned.

The issue of training also extends to the technology used. When we hear the experts and look at different jurisdictions throughout the world, the jury is still out as to the efficacy of certain tools that can be used, particularly when it comes to marijuana, to measure someone's physical state after consuming marijuana. One great example of that, as we heard in committee and as has been mentioned in other platforms over the course of the debate, both here in the House and throughout civil society, is the issue of how long traces of marijuana can be found in someone's system. Traces of THC can still be found in someone's blood for days, even weeks in some cases.

It is difficult for me to fathom a situation where someone might use marijuana recreationally, in what will then be a legal and appropriate way in the privacy of their own home, make the responsible decision to save lives and not go behind the wheel. Then a couple of days later, while driving into work, could potentially be found as having a false positive, even though he or she is no longer under the influence and is at 100% of his or her mental faculties and physical abilities to drive a vehicle without putting anyone's life in danger. That is extremely problematic, particularly when we connect that with some of the issues and concerns we have with regard to certain types of profiling that might happen with these random mandatory tests. We are extremely concerned about that.

I heard the Minister of Justice talk about that this morning, when she said that there would be rigorous evaluation of the various technologies and that law enforcement would be properly informed and would participate in the process. The problem is that this is all happening very quickly, without the necessary consultations, and we are very concerned about how effective these technologies will be to ensure that the tests are viable.

For example, after a person provides an oral fluid sample, he or she could go to the police station and have to provide a blood sample. We are then talking about several types of tests, which shows a certain inefficiency and uncertainty relative to the samples taken for determining a driver's state and the levels of various substances in the person's blood. A number of experts have raised this serious concern, which the bill does nothing to address.

As I said, this is directly connected to our concerns about profiling. If someone who had allegedly consumed a substance long before being stopped, according to the proposed criteria, this individual could be be caught and suffer some serious lifelong consequences, even if he or she is a responsible citizen. This person could end up with a criminal record and could even go to prison. This could even lead to some very complicated legal proceedings that will have an impact on the legal system.

In Quebec, with the Jordan case and the shortage of judges, a number of violence and murder cases were thrown out because of delays in the legal system. We could draw a link between this reality and the challenges that could arise from this bill. We have to take that into account.

The Conservatives are talking a lot about mandatory minimum sentencing, a public policy that failed under their watch here in Canada, as well as elsewhere in the world. Judges are appointed to use their judgment on a case-by-case basis. Taking that discretion away from them is not one of the values we promote in our justice system and it is not something we want to promote as legislators. Mandatory minimum sentencing goes completely against those principles.

I mention that because the Conservatives keep bringing up this argument and, if I understand correctly, it is one of the reasons why they are opposed to Bill C-46. Meanwhile, a bill on random breath testing was introduced by a Conservative MP. The Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security heard not only from legal experts, but also from psychologists, who explained to us the way of thinking of those who make the reckless decision to get behind the wheel when impaired, something that often proves to have tragic consequences.

Those experts shared something extremely interesting with us. They explained to us that the key thing we needed to look at as parliamentarians when it came to this issue was dissuading people. After all, that has to be the objective. If we are not dissuading people, then we already are dealing with the tragic consequences of driving under the influence. If we do not want to live with those kinds of consequences, then we need to dissuade people in the first place.

The argument is that punishment is one way of doing it. However, these experts told us that the magnitude of the punishment was not the disincentive to driving under the influence. The true disincentive was the likelihood of getting caught. That requires resources to the communities, to policing, and to education. This would allow us to teach fellow citizens that getting behind the wheel under the influence would not only be putting their own lives in danger, but they would be putting the lives of others in danger as well. This point is extremely important. Dissuasion and prevention are the objectives here. We do not want to see any more lives lost because of driving under the influence.

That is why we must invest in education. That is why we must ensure that our police have the resources they need to make arrests over the holidays, for example. Not every police force is able to do that because it takes human and financial resources. The numbers speak for themselves. We could work with organizations, such as Operation Red Nose, and support them. We know that, by putting these measures in place, we can reduce this alarming statistic, the scourge on our society that is impaired driving.

Let me conclude by saying that we will oppose Bill C-46 for the reasons I explained, because of the risks of profiling, because we feel these technologies are unreliable in measuring the level of THC in someone's blood, and because of the lack of a clear number of what the level of THC in someone's blood has to be in order to consider it a criminal offence.

However, let me be clear. That does not take away from the fact that no matter which party we may be in, we all agree that this is an alarming situation that needs to be dealt with.

We think that the government needs to focus on education and on giving the police the resources they need to eliminate this problem once and for all. I think everyone can agree on that.

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October 27th, 2017 / 12:30 p.m.
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NDP

Anne Minh-Thu Quach NDP Salaberry—Suroît, QC

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague from Beloeil—Chambly for bringing to light so many of the shortcomings in Bill C-46, which the Liberals are trying to ram through before July 1, 2018. They are putting the cart before the horse.

Of the many shortcomings he listed, one really touches a nerve with me: the lack of resources for prevention. We know that young people between the ages of 16 and 25 consume more marijuana than any other drug. We know that drug-related traffic accidents often involve young people between the ages of 16 and 25. The Liberals have, on many occasions, refused to invest more in prevention. Youth advocacy groups are calling for more prevention, and people on the front lines who work with youth want more money for prevention because there is not enough. Every time the Liberals talk about legalizing marijuana, young people figure that if the government wants to legalize it, it must not be bad for them, what could be the harm, it is already legal, they can use it and nobody is going to stop them. There are consequences to using marijuana, however, and young people need to be aware of them. If the government does not invest money in prevention, that is a problem.

Even though we are in the midst of an opioid crisis, the Liberals said they would spend $2 million on prevention campaigns targeting all drugs. By comparison, Colorado spent $4 million on prevention in 2015 alone.

What are my colleague's thoughts on this subject in particular?

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October 27th, 2017 / 12:30 p.m.
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NDP

Matthew Dubé NDP Beloeil—Chambly, QC

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for her question. I also take this opportunity to congratulate her on her work on this issue. She has had the opportunity to ask the government a number of questions in the House of Commons on this very topic. However, the responses have been less than convincing, not only in terms of figures, as I mentioned in my speech, but also regarding taxation.

After all, the government could have committed to dedicating a certain percentage of the proceeds to education and prevention. It could have discussed and negotiated with the provinces to ensure that they do the same on their end. I know that the various ministries involved in the Quebec government have talked about the importance of education and prevention, and have spoken out about this shortcoming regarding legalization more broadly.

This is directly related to Bill C-46, because anything we do to try to tackle the scourge of impaired driving must include education and prevention; I want to reiterate that. After all, we do not want to be left only to deal with the consequences; rather, we want to prevent them altogether.

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October 27th, 2017 / 12:35 p.m.
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NDP

Matthew Dubé NDP Beloeil—Chambly, QC

Madam Speaker, I want to thank my colleague for his great work on this file, at committee in particular. It is a complicated issue. The question he asks and the comments he makes are very interesting and important. I will admit that even I have sometimes heard contradictory information with respect to what level of THC is required in the blood to be in a state of impairment and, as is the case with this bill, to lead to impaired driving. I think that is certainly a huge challenge. As my colleague mentioned, the fact that the government does not have the answer to that is extremely concerning.

The issue here, and I will speak as the NDP's public safety critic, goes back to the work that policemen do. If we, as legislators, are grappling with these issues, and if the government does not seem to have the answers, then obviously police officers will need more than that. They want that fact-based information as well. My colleague mentioned about young people needing credible information. Certainly, police officers, when doing the work prescribed to them by a bill like Bill C-46, would also need that kind of credible information. The government does not have it right now. Therefore, I think it has a lot of homework to do before we can get this right.

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October 27th, 2017 / 12:35 p.m.
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Conservative

Marilyn Gladu Conservative Sarnia—Lambton, ON

Madam Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles.

Certainly, I am pleased to rise in the 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, also known as the impaired driving legislation. As we know, this bill is the accompanying legislation to Bill C-45 on the legalization of marijuana, which I studied at the health committee with my hon. colleague from Vancouver Kingsway.

This particular bill, Bill C-46, seeks to create new and higher mandatory fines and maximum penalties for impaired driving, as well as to authorize mandatory roadside screening for alcohol. I am in favour of taking a strong stance against impaired driving, but there is so much wrong with this bill that I am not sure I can cover all of it in just 10 minutes. However, I will try.

First of all, as I have said and will continue to say many times in the House, there are only 246 days left until the government can meet its arbitrary deadline for the legalization of marijuana. The provinces, police, and municipalities have made it clear that they are not ready. When this legislation passes the House, which will take some time, it then needs to go to the Senate. If the Senate amends it, it will come back to the House. When it is finalized, the provinces can have certainty about their legislation, which they need to line up with this legislation. When the provinces are finished with their legislation, the municipalities can then line up their legislation with the provincial legislation that in turn lines up with the federal legislation. It is at the municipal level that many concerns have been expressed about this bill, because it is the local police who will have to address the drug-impaired driving issue.

We already have a big problem with impaired driving. Right now, 16% of traffic fatalities are related to alcohol-impaired driving, and 24% to drug-impaired driving, of which the most frequent kind of drug involved is marijuana, and then there is another 18% involving a combination of the two. If we look at other jurisdictions that have legalized marijuana, all of them have seen an increase in drug-impaired driving. In Washington state, fatalities from drug-impaired driving, in this case from marijuana, doubled. In Colorado, it increased by 32%. There will be a lot more of these impaired cases to deal with. With that in mind, it is extremely troubling that there is no test for impairment.

The Liberal government always talks about being fact and evidence-based and taking a science-based approach. Well, here is what the science can do. Today, it can detect THC in the saliva and in the blood, but there is no research or correlation indicating whether that is related to impairment. There are a number of factors at play. For example, someone taking a huge dose of medicinal marijuana on a long-term basis might always have THC show up, but may be so used to it that they are not impaired. Other people who may have experienced second-hand smoke, for example, may have THC show up in their blood, but are also not impaired. By coming before the science we need to test for marijuana impairment, this legislation is just irresponsible.

As for the drug recognition training needed by police officers, the police have said they will probably need about 2,000 of these officers across the country. Right now, we have 600. To train 1,400 people will not just take a day. This training requires multiple sessions, and a lot of those sessions happen in the United States. We can appreciate that the U.S. training sessions are all booked up because of the many states that are legalizing marijuana. For that reason, I find it really hard to believe that in the next 246 days we will have trained 1,400 police officers to the level they need to do the job.

Municipalities testified at the health committee about the lack of resources and lack of understanding of the rural reality on the part of the Liberal government. One municipality testified that they had nine RCMP officers in total to cover everyone in a very widely spaced riding. If someone is impaired or suspected of being impaired by marijuana, that RCMP agent has to accompany that person to the next jurisdiction where the only available blood testing is available, and stay with them until the results are known. They consider this to be a huge burden on their resources. Of course, that has not been taken into account.

Every one of the places that has legalized marijuana has strongly advised Canada that public awareness and education is needed before legalization. That was not disputed by anyone. We know that Colorado spent about $10 million for a population of five million, and Washington state spent $7 million for a population of seven million.

In Canada the government has pledged $9.8 million over five years for a population north of 30 million. It is completely inadequate. The program has not been created or even started to roll out. There are 246 days left, and the public education awareness RFP bids just came in on October 16. It was key advice by everyone we heard from that we need to have that in place before legalization. Thus, we would think that the government would act responsibly to protect public safety and say that when it gets everything in place, it will legalize marijuana. Rather, it is rushing ahead toward the arbitrary date of July 1, 2018.

One of the other topics of discussion in this bill that I find a little hypocritical is the mandatory and random testing. To give members some history of my background, I was a director of engineering and construction in the petrochemical industry. In the United States there is mandatory medical screening of prospective employees before they are hired for a job and the right to randomly test at any time. When I was with Dow Chemical, I had an office in Midland, Michigan, and was subject to random tests because that is the law of the land there.

There is a real concern at nuclear, chemical, or petrochemical plants about this, because they do not want to have people who are high on marijuana operating their facilities. As the employer has the whole liability, it ought to have the ability to do something.

In Anne McLellan's report on marijuana and how the government should move forward with legalization, there was a section included on this concern after hearing testimony from employers across the country. There were only a couple of lines in their report with recommendations, but the Liberal government refused to adopt them.

I think it is quite hypocritical for the government to say that we need mandatory testing because it is dangerous to drive a car, and not say the same thing about operating a nuclear plant, a chemical plant, or driving a huge train. I am the co-chair of the parliamentary rail caucus, and we had the railway association here this week. The association was extremely concerned that it has not been allowed to implement any kind of random testing.

There are some promising precedents. There was a TTC case in which the courts did allow the employers to start random testing because of the prevalence of drug use. There was another case recently by Suncor that also allowed random testing.

I think we have to be consistent in our approach. If it is okay to do roadside mandatory testing or random testing, then it should be done as well, assuming there is a test that can show impairment. I have already talked about the fact we do not have one currently.

When we think about drug-impaired driving, the message has not gotten out there, especially to young people. In the 18 to 35 year old demographic, 40% of people are consuming cannabis. They do not recognize it is harmful to them and do not understand that 30% of consumers under the age of 25 will experience schizophrenia, psychotic disorders, depression, or anxiety, all of which are lifetime conditions. As well, they do not understand that it is hazardous to get behind the wheel of a car when smoking marijuana.

I am hugely concern about this bill for that reason. I urge the government to do the right thing to protect the Canadian public. Do it right. Quit rushing, and wait until the test exists.

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October 27th, 2017 / 12:50 p.m.
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Conservative

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

Madam Speaker, I rise today 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.

Where do I begin? How can I explain to the House just how bad this bill really is? When I read it, it raised a lot of questions and provided very few answers. You would think that it was written by the Minister of Finance or someone at Morneau Shepell. There are so many questions and very few answers.

The Liberals are in the habit of making promises that are long on enthusiasm, but short on details. This bill is no exception. It is sorely lacking in detail and logic. The question that comes to my mind is the following: did the minister really take the time to read this bill before introducing it? No one in the House is questioning the ability of the minister or her officials, but something is not right here.

If the minister had introduced this as a draft and told us that the bill was still in development and that she wanted our ideas for creating a balanced and credible bill, I would have said that is a good idea and we could work together. However, that is not what happened.

This Liberal government is not at all interested in hearing the opposition's amendments or ideas. Madam Speaker, you can see how these Liberal ministers rarely answer the most basic questions. Their speeches are nothing but platitudes and empty promises.

They talk about helping the middle class, and meanwhile they are increasing taxes on the middle class and taking credits away from the most vulnerable. They give millions of dollars to a terrorist, but they cannot find a couple thousand dollars to clear the snow from the National Holocaust Memorial in the winter. They are pushing drug legislation, knowing that the provinces will have to foot the bill.

The Liberals are no strangers to offloading the costs onto the provinces. Not too long ago, they reduced federal health care funding for the provinces. They eliminated this funding to balance the federal budget. At the time, the federal government provided about 50% funding to the provinces, but the Liberals reduced that to 14%. Only after a public outcry and the resulting Romanow report were they forced to reverse their decision. At the time, they bragged that their Minister of Finance was the best financial manager in the G7. However, it does not take much management know-how to send the bill to the provinces. The same thing is happening with Bill C-45 on the legalization of marijuana.

The bill we are debating today is missing a number of details, and the government needs to more seriously reconsider this bill. Two years ago, we said that the Prime Minister was simply not ready to govern this country. Two years later, we have ample proof that he is still not ready. Sure, he has some nice, hip coloured socks and is known around the world as the selfie wonder, but those two things are not enough to govern our country.

The Prime Minister's entourage also seems to suffer from memory loss. For example, his Minister of Finance forgot that he was the owner of a villa in France worth millions of dollars. The member for Peterborough—Kawartha forgot where she was born. Then there is the former Minister of Defence, who forgot what role he actually played in Kandahar. These examples are only the tip of the iceberg. Two years ago, the Prime Minister announced that his government would run a deficit of just $10 billion. Now look where we are. The Prime Minister forgot his promise too, because his government is spending money like there is no tomorrow while our country's debt continues to mount.

The bill before us today is another example of the Liberals' thoughtlessness and lack of preparation. First of all, the bill they propose is far from complete. Again, the bill raises questions the government makes no attempt to answer. When I read it, I wondered how the minister could possibly have thought it was a good idea to proceed with the bill in its current form.

We heard testimony from over 70 witnesses, and I can assure the House that their comments are in no way reflected in this bill. For example, its proposed minimum fines for impaired driving causing death or bodily harm are utterly pathetic. This bill also fails to strike the right balance between civil rights and public safety.

The rights we enjoy as Canadian citizens come with a duty to act responsibly. A driver's licence is a privilege, not a right. We need to send a clear message that taking a life by driving while impaired is an extremely serious crime.

For many years now, all levels of government and groups like Mothers Against Drunk Driving have been working hard to educate the public on the consequences of impaired driving.

However, today, we have a government that wants to hastily pass a bill without seriously considering the safety of Canadians. That makes no sense.

Obviously, the Liberals have always been more concerned about the rights of criminals than about those of law-abiding citizens. Just recently, this Liberal government gave a terrorist $10 million. Did the courts order the government to make that payment? They did not, but the government paid it without any hesitation. Did the terrorist expect to receive any money? I doubt it, but what I can say for sure is that the message the Prime Minister's government is sending is that crime pays. That is what people will remember, and that is shameful. Did the Prime Minister think carefully before making that decision?

This bill seems reasonable at first glance, but it does not provide any clear information about how the police will enforce it. The bill does not provide any explanation as to how police will be able to effectively determine whether or not a driver is on drugs. Obviously, this bill is a half-baked measure.

For alcohol, we have the technology to determine blood alcohol content and whether a driver's BAC is over the limit. Police officers can administer that roadside test on the spot. Detecting drug impairment is not so easy. Marijuana can be detected in a person's blood, but the technology cannot tell us when the drug was consumed.

It is even harder to determine when the drug was consumed in the case of chronic users. If someone smokes a joint every hour or two, there is no way to tell exactly when he or she consumed it. It is impossible. These two examples make it clear that the proposal before us today makes absolutely no sense.

When the committee discussed Bill C-45 on marijuana legalization, the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness told us that marijuana sales grossed over $7 billion a year for organized crime and that Bill C-46 would cut into that market and legally redirect a big share of the revenue into government coffers.

That would explain why the government wants to rush through Bill C-45 and Bill C-46. It does not really care about the details or what this will cost the provinces. What matters most to this government is finding a new source of revenue, that's it, that's all.

Let us be honest. The government cannot control its spending, and it is gradually starting to run this country in the same way certain third-world countries are run. What will happen to our economy if it continues to govern our country like this?

A few days ago, the Minister of Finance presented the update of economic and fiscal projections. Once again, there is no plan to return to a balanced budget. We are not running a third-world country here. We are parliamentarians in a G7 country, one of the largest countries in the world. If the Liberal government is presenting deficit budgets when we have a strong economy, what would its budgets look like if a recession were to hit?

The economy is cyclical; what goes up must come down. What do the government and the Prime Minister plan to do when the economy slows down? Does he ever think about that? Maybe he thinks that an economic downturn will not happen as long as he is in power, either by magic or through the power of his socks and his selfies. No problem.

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October 27th, 2017 / 12:55 p.m.
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Conservative

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

Yes, Madam Speaker, it is a fantasy land. That is an appropriate expression.

Seriously, maybe the Prime Minister thinks that this will be someone else's problem, but he owes it to Canadians to govern with diligence and discipline. So far, we are not convinced that the Prime Minister understands the importance of his role. We know that he likes to take photos and deliver platitudes to the United Nations, but for the rest we are in the dark.

Bill C-46 introduces an imbalance between civil rights and public safety. As Canadians, we have rights, but those rights come with responsibilities. As I have said, having a driver's licence is a privilege, not a right. That is clear.

The Liberals are in a hurry to get Bill C-45 and Bill C-46 passed because they need money. It becomes crystal clear when we consider the fact that our police forces have repeatedly said that they do not have enough time and resources to enforce the law. They need to hire experts, acquire new technologies, and train their officers. It is impossible to bring this legislation into force properly before July 2018. The police knows it, we know it, and even the Liberals know it.