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



In committee (Senate), as of Dec. 14, 2017

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(b) authorize mandatory roadside screening for alcohol;

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

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

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


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


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

Indigenous Peoples and Canada's Justice SystemGovernment Orders

February 14th, 2018 / 8:45 p.m.
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Eglinton—Lawrence Ontario


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

Mr. Speaker, it is a privilege to rise on this day, a day on which the Prime Minister stood in this House to announce that we will introduce legislation to enshrine, finally, the recognition and implementation of the rights of indigenous peoples as the basis for all relations between indigenous peoples and the Government of Canada.

I was also proud to join the Minister of Justice in this take-note debate as she described in detail the hard work and great progress we have made on criminal justice reform. The many examples include Bill C-51, which would strengthen sexual assault laws; Bill C-46, which would strengthen our impaired driving laws; and Bill C-16, which would protect gender expression and identity under the charter. We have also made significant progress in renewing our relationship with indigenous peoples, one that is based on respect and the right to self-govern.

How are we doing this? We are doing it in a number of ways: one, by implementing the RCAP recommendation to create two separate departments, one that is mandated to focus on indigenous-crown relations and the other a department to focus on the provision of indigenous services; two, by embracing the UNDRIP principles; three, by the creation of the working group, which is currently reviewing all federal laws and policies to ensure that Canada is fulfilling its constitutional obligation with indigenous peoples; and four, by creating and enshrining 10 principles which inform our relationship. This is merely a starting point, in a renewed approach, where we are supporting the rebuilding of indigenous governments and nations while, in turn, reducing the use of the courts to resolve conflict.

Ultimately, this work will help assist Canada to overcome the legacy of colonization and achieve true reconciliation with indigenous peoples. This is a historic moment, one for which indigenous peoples have been advocating for many decades. As we move toward the next 150 years of Canada, we envision a country that is more inclusive of first nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples. Making the shift is fundamental to the growth and prosperity of Canada.

In terms of this take-note debate, let me say a few words.

Indigenous peoples are concerned because they do not know if the criminal justice system will treat them fairly, whether they are victim or accused. As the government strives to establish a nation-to-nation relationship with indigenous peoples, we must recognize and resolve these problems.

Let me speak for a few moments about the very well-documented, systemic challenges which currently exist in our criminal justice system. In this regard, the statistics reveal a number of concerning trends.

Indigenous people are more likely than any other Canadian to be victims of crime. Indigenous people are more than twice as likely to be victims of violent crimes than non-indigenous people. Indigenous women are also three times more likely to experience sexual assault.

Over 1,200 indigenous women and girls have gone missing or have been murdered. Sixteen per cent of all women murdered in Canada from 1980 to 2014 were indigenous, although they make up 4% of Canada's female population.

In 2015-16, indigenous adults accounted for 27% of admissions to custody in provincial and territorial institutions, and 28% of admissions to federal institutions. This is about seven times higher than the proportion of indigenous adults in the Canadian adult population. The overrepresentation is more pronounced for indigenous women than it is for indigenous men. In 2014-15, 38% of female admissions to provincial custody and 31% of female admissions to federal custody were indigenous women. Indigenous youth are also overrepresented in our jails. They are only 7.5% of the Canadian youth population, but they account for 35% of admissions to provincial and territorial correctional services.

These statistics are telling, and they call on us to do the important work that is before us now. What is that work?

In light of these trends, we are taking action to improve the experience of indigenous people in the criminal justice system. Specifically, we have taken steps to strengthen programming to improve outcomes for indigenous people when they come in contact with the criminal justice system as both victims and accused.

The 2017 budget set aside approximately $11 million in permanent funding for the indigenous justice program, and the 2016 budget boosted permanent funding for the indigenous courtwork program by $4 million. These programs offer support to reduce recidivism and tackle the root causes of delinquency among indigenous individuals in an effort to reduce their contact with the criminal justice system.

Alongside the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, the Department of Justice has also undertaken two new victim service initiatives to provide direct assistance to families. The first is funding the creation of family information liaison units, a new service to help families access available information about their loved ones from multiple government sources. Second, the department is providing additional funding for indigenous community-based organizations, non-governmental organizations, and victim services to support the delivery of culturally responsive and trauma-informed services for families of missing or murdered indigenous women and girls.

Of course, we know that funding alone is not enough. That is why our government has also been engaging with indigenous people and with all Canadians to assess the problems faced by indigenous people in the criminal justice system. This engagement has taken place through round tables on our indigenous justice program. I have been privileged to participate in that broad national round table engagement process along with the Minister of Justice.

More broadly, under the leadership of the Minister of Justice, our government has also undertaken a review of Canada's criminal justice system to ensure that it is just, compassionate, and fair, and promotes a safe, peaceful, and prosperous society.

What we are hearing is that the challenges facing Canada's indigenous community, including overrepresentation, which I have already alluded to, are top of mind when it comes to this government's agenda, when it comes to consultations and reform.

As our government continues the important work towards reconciliation with indigenous peoples, we have also developed 10 principles respecting Canada's relationship with indigenous peoples, principles which base the relationship between indigenous peoples and the federal government on the right of self-determination, and relationships based on recognition and implementation of rights. The 10 principles are intended to be a starting point for a recognition-based approach to changing federal laws, policies, and operational practices that recognize indigenous peoples.

Lastly, the national inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women and girls was established in December 2015, and work began in September 2016.

The independent commission was tasked with examining the systemic causes behind the violence that indigenous women and girls experience and their vulnerability to violence, as well as the institutional policies and practices put in place as a response to violence, including those that have been effective in reducing violence and increasing safety. The commission was then asked to make recommendations on concrete measures to end this national tragedy and honour and commemorate missing and murdered individuals.

What are the steps moving forward? While the important initiatives I have described are critical to improving the experience of indigenous peoples, our government recognizes that we can and must do better for all Canadians. While it would be inappropriate for me to speak about the specific circumstances around the Stanley case, we must recognize the historic patterns that exclude and victimize indigenous Canadians. Part of our work in understanding and recognizing victimization is to meet with and listen to indigenous Canadians. Listening to Canadians in this way and expressing our empathy does not undermine the operation of the criminal justice system; rather, it will serve to strengthen it. Some of the concerns we have heard this week relate to the jury selection process, and the Minister of Justice has indicated our government's willingness to look at those provisions as part of our overall criminal justice review.

More broadly, our government, led by the Department of Justice, is currently developing an action plan to reduce the overrepresentation of indigenous peoples in the criminal justice system, both as victims and as offenders. The goal of this action plan is to advance federal efforts toward responding to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's calls to action respecting adult and youth indigenous overrepresentation. We will continue to develop the action plan through engagement with indigenous partners and collaboration with provincial and territorial governments.

In conclusion, all Canadians know that we can and must do more to reshape the experience of indigenous Canadians in our criminal justice system. We must do this work in partnership with indigenous peoples, recognizing our role and our efforts to continue on the path of reconciliation.

February 14th, 2018 / 6:10 p.m.
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Dan Albas Conservative Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola, BC

I appreciate that you've talked to the Minister of National Revenue.

I'd like to switch gears now to vaping. The bill gives you the power to schedule and list certain types of products. You've said it's to protect children, and I don't disagree that we need to protect children. What I would say, first of all, is that marijuana is listed as being on there; however, it seems kind of interesting to me that you would say you have to be 18 to buy a vaping product, you can't buy marijuana-flavoured vaping products, yet you can go and buy—under the new regime that you proposed in Bill C-46 and Bill C-45—marijuana. Why have you listed marijuana as one of the flavours that cannot be sold?

MarijuanaOral Questions

February 7th, 2018 / 2:40 p.m.
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Regina—Wascana Saskatchewan


Ralph Goodale LiberalMinister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

Mr. Speaker, this is a huge change in Canadian law and it must be approached in a sensible, orderly, practical way. Until Parliament has passed the legislation and enacted a new regime, the old regime remains in effect and that law must be respected.

In the meantime, I think all Canadians understand the government's objectives to do a better job of keeping cannabis out of the hands of our kids, a better job of keeping illegal cash out of the hands of organized crime, and to increase safety on our roads. That is what Bill C-45 and Bill C-46 will accomplish.

National Impaired Driving Prevention WeekPrivate Members' Business

February 2nd, 2018 / 1:40 p.m.
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Richard Cannings NDP South Okanagan—West Kootenay, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to affirm my support for Motion No. 148. I thank the member for Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel for bringing this forward.

There was considerable consensus in the House when we had our initial discussion on this motion back in November. It is truly a positive step.

While it is highly commendable to promote awareness, I wish to use some of my time today to encourage the government to go further. We must do all we can to minimize preventable tragedy and keep our roads safe for Canadians.

Driving is not a constitutional right; it is a privilege, a privilege that must be denied those who act recklessly by driving impaired. We need to give serious consideration to concrete, measurable ways so this behaviour can be deterred and ultimately eliminated. I will revisit this a little later.

Committing to additional awareness campaigns about the perils of drug, alcohol, and distracted driving is a good place to start. We have seen that these initiatives work. Data from Statistics Canada shows that in 2015 the rate of alcohol impaired driving was 201 incidents per 100,000 population. That was the lowest rate since data on impaired driving was first collected in 1986, down 65% and 4% lower than in 2014.

After decades of awareness, it is now widely accepted that alcohol impaired driving is wrong and that it causes considerable harm. However, as we move forward toward the legalization of cannabis, we must acknowledge that many individuals do not believe drug-impaired driving is quite so serious. Anything that impairs reactions and judgment will have detrimental effects on the ability to drive. Impairment is impairment.

Recently, I heard Dr. Robert Solomon interviewed by CBC's Michael Enright about impaired driving. Dr. Solomon, a legal expert who has done considerable research on impaired driving, also testified at the justice committee. He pointed that 16 to 24 year olds represented 13% of the population but accounted for one third of the cannabis users.

Canadian youth are already the leading demographic for rates of impaired driving. The high instance of cannabis use paired with the already high rate of impaired driving warrants our attention. Additionally, perhaps most disconcertingly, the perception that drugs will not impair driving is prevalent among young Canadians.

As the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction says:

The challenge is many youth do not consider driving under the influence of marijuana to be risky, unlike driving under the influence of alcohol. Some youth even believe that using marijuana makes them better drivers, but evidence clearly shows that it impairs driving ability....more awareness campaigns that centre on youth are needed to deter them from driving while impaired, especially after using marijuana.

A national study by the Partnership for a Drug Free Canada provides further evidence to that effect, writing, “Nearly one third (32%) of teens did not consider driving under the influence of cannabis to be as bad as alcohol.”

Further to this point, in an article published in the National Post in 2016, “About half of pot-smoking Canadians who get behind the wheel while high believe the drug doesn’t impair their ability to drive safely — and 20 per cent say nothing would make them stop driving while stoned.”

People can see that an unfortunate number of factors are converging here. We have Canadian youth with already high rates of impaired driving, high cannabis use, and the belief that drugs will not cause impairment. Clearly, this needs to be addressed. Awareness will help but let us not stop there. Let us also consider measures and practices that will deter impaired driving in all forms.

I supported Bill C-46, which, among other measures, would allow police to administer roadside mandatory alcohol screening, MAS, as a way to apprehend all drivers at the stop who were impaired. Dr. Solomon was quite clear in his testimony on this, that testing every driver at a stop instead of relying on subjective discretion saves lives. It increases the likelihood of an impaired driver being apprehended. The practice deters impaired driving since drivers know they will be tested.

While this practice may give some pause, I reiterate that driving is a privilege not a constitutional right.

MAS is used successfully in many European countries as is illustrated by the submission to the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights that Dr. Solomon co-authored. In it he wrote, “When Switzerland enacted MAS in 2005, the percentage of drivers testing positive for alcohol fell from about 25% to 7.6%, and alcohol-related crash deaths dropped by approximately 25%.”

Folks are less likely to engage in a behaviour if they know there is a greater probability of being caught. Dr. Solomon's submission to the committee goes on to say, “A 2013 study reported that MAS prevented an estimated 5,309 crash deaths in four Australian states over a 27-year period and was particularly effective in reducing crash deaths among 17-30 year olds.”

Lives are being saved by this practice. Mandatory alcohol screening is no doubt effective, but we are still debating a suitable equivalent for drug impaired driving. Such a device needs to be reliable, efficient, and ideally inexpensive for police forces. These are the kinds of measures that I believe are necessary in order to go further than awareness campaigns.

I will conclude by reiterating my support for my honourable colleague's motion, but I also want to remind members that we have a long way to go. We have a long way to go in terms of addressing persistent misconceptions around the harmfulness of drug impaired driving, and we have a long way to go to implement effective practices that will save Canadian lives.

Federal Framework on Distracted Driving ActPrivate Members' Business

November 30th, 2017 / 6:05 p.m.
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Kanata—Carleton Ontario


Karen McCrimmon LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to be here today to speak to Bill C-373, an act respecting a federal framework on distracted driving.

Canadians across the country use the road transportation network every day. They travel to work, attend social events, take their kids to school and hockey practice. At the same time, motor vehicle collisions are one of the leading causes of death, injuries, and hospital admissions in Canada. For example, in 2015, 1,858 Canadians were killed and 161,000 Canadians were injured in motor vehicle collisions. In addition to these personal tragedies for families, motor vehicle collisions cost the Canadian economy and the health care system an estimated $36 billion per year.

I am pleased to say that in Canada, road traffic collisions have substantially declined over the past three decades. To illustrate, between 1980 and 2015, the number of road collisions involving an injury or fatality decreased by 36%. This trend has occurred despite significant increases in the number of licensed drivers, in the number of registered vehicles, and the total kilometres driven by Canadians.

Canadians are also more likely to survive a motor vehicle collision. Between 1980 and 2015, the overall number of persons fatally injured decreased by more than 60%. These decreases are the result of several positive changes, such as improved highway and vehicle design. Of significant importance is the dramatic change in public opinion recognizing that collisions are preventable and that drivers must make safer choices, such as using seatbelts and avoiding risks associated with speeding, distractions, and fatigue.

At the same time as these positive trends have been happening, we are also facing new and evolving challenges. For example, driving while impaired by alcohol or drugs is a growing concern, which is being addressed by my hon. colleague, the Minister of Justice, through Bill C-46. Currently before the Senate, the bill would help address the issue of alcohol and drug-impaired driving while protecting the right of the accused to a fair and impartial hearing.

Recent increases in tragic accidents involving distracted driving have garnered the attention of all levels of government and of the Canadian public. Driving a motor vehicle is a complex task that requires the full attention of the driver at all times. Research has shown that drivers who are distracted do not fully scan the environment looking for potential issues, are slow to identify risks, and then they are slow to react appropriately.

In the last five years, a reported 20% of motor vehicle accident fatalities occurred in collisions where one of the drivers had been distracted or inattentive. Over the same period, 33% of reported motor vehicle injuries occurred in collisions where distraction or inattentiveness was found to be a contributing cause of the crash.

The issue of distracted driving is evolving with the pace of technology or faster. For example, smartphones are increasingly popular. Vehicles have also become more sophisticated, providing drivers with real time data from driver assistance programs, other vehicles, and the surrounding infrastructure. In short, life is moving at a faster pace and placing greater demands on our attention, including when we are driving.

This is why the Minister of Transport wrote to his provincial and territorial counterparts last winter to seek nationally consistent enforcement measures and penalties to combat the rapidly rising rate of accidents involving distracted drivers.

In Canada, as my hon. colleague mentioned, road safety is a shared responsibility among federal, provincial, and territorial jurisdictions, and any actions taken to curb distracted driving cannot be taken in isolation solely by the federal government. Jurisdictions need to work together within their scope of authority to improve road safety in Canada.

Transport Canada is responsible for safety standards for new and imported vehicles, new tires, and child restraints. Justice Canada is responsible for the Criminal Code of Canada in dealing with impaired and dangerous operation of motor vehicles. Provinces and territories are responsible for driver licensing, vehicle registration, and the highway traffic acts, which include laws regarding distracted driving as well as the administration of justice.

To deliver a coordinated approach, the federal government works closely with its provincial and territorial counterparts through the Council of Ministers Responsible for Transportation and Highway Safety and its associated organizations, including the Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators. Collectively, we have developed and implemented a number of road safety initiatives that have contributed to significant reductions in deaths and fatalities.

For example, Canada's newest safety plan is Canada's road safety strategy 2025, “Towards Zero: the safest roads in the world”. It was launched by the Council of Ministers Responsible for Transportation and Highway Safety in January 2016. It builds on previous accomplishments by raising public awareness of road safety issues; improving communication, co-operation, and collaboration among road safety agencies; enhancing enforcement measures; and improving national road safety data quality and collection. The strategy outlines various measures over a 10-year timeframe to support our vision of moving toward zero deaths and injuries. Road safety strategy 2025 contains a number of promising and proven counter-measures related to distracted driving. For example, education and awareness measures are being used to change public attitudes toward distracted driving. Such change has happened before. With alcohol-impaired driving for example, what was once a common and acceptable behaviour has now become far less common and is socially unacceptable, and our roads are safer because of it.

Governments are also working together to identify international best practices to address distracted driving. At the same time, Transport Canada is working with the provinces and territories and other key stakeholders to develop guidelines related to in-vehicle displays. This initiative responds to a Transportation Safety Board Canada recommendation. Transport Canada also co-chairs a federal-provincial-territorial working group on distracted driving with British Columbia. Among the various initiatives that have been taken on by this working group, Transport Canada officials are working every day with their provincial and territorial counterparts to assess the implementation of new vehicle technologies that could mitigate the risks and impacts of distracted driving.

In addition, Transport Canada is leading a working group with provinces and territories to improve statistics related to how frequently mobile devices are involved in distracted-driving collisions. The federal government needs to continue to work closely with the provinces and territories on distracted-driving initiatives. Our best successes have occurred when we have worked collaboratively, working together to support policy development, new programs, and efficient and effective enforcement. These initiatives will help Canada change public attitudes toward distracted driving and ensure that more Canadians will get where they are going safely.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

November 27th, 2017 / 3:15 p.m.
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Bernard Généreux Conservative Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to speak for the vast majority of the people in my riding in presenting a petition signed by over 9,000 members of the Cercles de fermières du Québec from across the province. These people are against the legalization of marijuana, and especially against Bills C-45 and C-46, which are rushed and sloppily drafted.

Given that political, police, and legal authorities say they are not ready to handle this situation, they are calling on the government to impose a moratorium on marijuana legalization until the provincial and territorial governments are properly equipped to oversee the legal sale of marijuana. A survey showed that more than 82% of my constituents are against legalization. Maybe the 40 Liberals across the aisle are not taking the time to—

National Impaired Driving Prevention WeekPrivate Members' Business

November 23rd, 2017 / 5:55 p.m.
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Nick Whalen Liberal St. John's East, NL

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House today to speak to the motion put forward by the hon. member for Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel. With the holiday season almost upon us, our discussion today is very timely. The holidays are a time of year when people get together to celebrate with family and friends, but there is, of course, a cloud to that silver lining: an increased likelihood of impaired driving incidents following the celebrations.

A number of public education awareness campaigns are in full swing this time of year. They encourage Canadians to drive sober or offer drivers alternative ways to get home safely. One of them, as we have heard already, MADD Canada's project red ribbon, is marking its 30th anniversary this year. Together, these efforts have had a powerful and positive impact. According to MADD Canada's estimates, between 1982 and 2010 nearly 36,650 lives were saved in Canada due to reductions in alcohol-related fatal crashes. That is something for which we can all be very thankful.

However, despite the progress we have made as a society, impaired driving remains a very serious problem in our country. People who are in no shape to drive continue to get behind the wheel. Some choose to drive after getting high or having too much to drink, but as this motion suggests, impaired driving is not limited to drugs or alcohol. Motorists who are too tired to drive are also impaired and can cause just as much damage as drivers who are drunk or high. The same can be said for distracted drivers, including those who text behind the wheel.

Impaired drivers of all kinds not only put their own lives at risk but endanger the lives of their passengers and everyone else around them. In fact, impaired driving remains the leading criminal cause of death in Canada—anti-social criminal decisions leaving thousands of Canadians dead or seriously injured each year. What makes this carnage on our roads all the more senseless is how easily these deaths could have been prevented. The risks are well known. The risks have been known for decades. The risks are common sense. Today, we would be hard pressed to find someone who would deny the dangers of drunk driving.

Sadly, it is a somewhat different story when it comes to drugs. Drug-impaired driving is actually on the rise. Almost 3,100 incidents of drug-impaired driving were reported by police last year, 343 more than the previous year. Overall, the rate of drug-impaired driving increased by 11%. According to the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction, 40% of drivers who die in vehicle crashes test positive for drugs. By comparison, 33.3% test positive for alcohol. Figures like these show how crucial it is to get out the message about the risks and consequences of impaired driving, including driving under the influence of cannabis.

As we know, this past spring the Government of Canada introduced Bill C-45. Its overarching goal is to protect the health and safety of Canadians, keep cannabis out of the hands of youth, and prevent criminals from profiting from its production and sale. The bill proposes tough new measures to severely punish anyone who sells or supplies cannabis to young Canadians. That includes two new criminal offences with maximum penalties of 14 years in prison for those who sell or provide cannabis to anyone under the age of 18. These proposed measures complement a public education and awareness campaign informing Canadians, especially Canadian youth, about cannabis and its risks.

Budget 2017 directed an initial investment of $9.6 million for public education and awareness on this topic. The public education campaign has begun and will continue over the next five years, because there is an immediate and continuing need to set the record straight on a number of issues related to cannabis. The funds will also be used to monitor the trends and perceptions of cannabis use among Canadians, especially youth. Too many people are under the delusion that cannabis does no harm, which is completely false. Cannabis presents definite health risks.

Another myth centres on a person's ability to drive after consuming cannabis. We know that young people who test positive for drugs, alcohol, or both continue to be the largest group of drivers killed in motor vehicle crashes. However, when it comes to cannabis, research shows that many Canadians, including youth, do not take the risks seriously. According to an EKOS study conducted for Health Canada last year, 27% of Canadians have driven a vehicle while under the influence of cannabis. More than one-third of Canadians also reported that they had been passengers in vehicles driven by someone under the influence of cannabis. That number jumps to 42% among young adults and 70% among recent cannabis users.

The results of a national study conducted by the Partnership for a Drug Free Canada can help to explain these findings. It found that almost one-third of teens do not consider driving under the influence of cannabis to be as bad as doing so under the influence of alcohol. In addition, just over a quarter of Canadian young adults between the ages of 18 and 24 believe that a driver is either the same or, sadly, better on the road while under the influence of cannabis.

The reality paints a far different and more gruesome picture. Among all drivers killed in motor vehicle crashes in Canada between 2000 and 2010, 16.4% tested positive for cannabis, which is one in six.

It is clear that a large percentage of Canadians downplay or even flat out disbelieve the fact that cannabis impairs your ability to drive safely. That is one reason why Bill C-46 is such an important piece of legislation as a complement to Bill C-45.

Bill C-46 would strengthen Canada's laws to enforce a strict approach for those who drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs, including cannabis. Among other provisions, it would create new criminal offences for drug-impaired driving, and authorize new tools to allow police to detect drivers who have drugs in their system.

In September, the government announced up to $274.5 million in funding to support the provisions of the bill. Up to $161 million of that funding is earmarked for building law enforcement capacity across the country. It will help law enforcement and border officials detect and deter drug-impaired driving, and enforce the cannabis legislation and regulations. That includes training additional front-line officers in how to recognize the signs and symptoms of drug-impaired driving, and providing them with access to drug screening devices. It also includes funding to raise public awareness about the dangers of drug-impaired driving.

As announced last month, the Government of Canada is joining forces with Young Drivers of Canada to spread that important message. The project will involve the airing of public service announcements over the next year. Public Safety Canada and Young Drivers of Canada will also work together to share material through Facebook, Twitter, and other social media channels.

I think all of us in this House can agree that impaired driving is a serious problem in Canada. Awareness weeks like the one proposed by my colleague are another tool that we can use to foster good habits, recognize the dangers of impairment, and even to recognize impairment itself, because there seems to be some misconception about that, and to have safer roads and save lives.

I will be supporting this motion and I encourage my colleagues in the House to do the same.

National Impaired Driving Prevention WeekPrivate Members' Business

November 23rd, 2017 / 5:45 p.m.
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Murray Rankin NDP Victoria, BC

Madam Speaker, I rise today to offer my support and congratulations to the member for Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel for bringing this important initiative before the House of Commons. We will be supporting it enthusiastically.

I understand as well that the motion touches on issues that are quite personal for the member and his family, and I join with the member for Brandon—Souris in expressing my sympathy and solidarity with my colleague.

It is certainly my aim to support all measures that reduce the number of impaired driving accidents in Canada and by doing so, spare families the considerable pain and needless difficulties my hon. colleague and his family endured. Frankly, I would be quite surprised if any of my colleagues in the House would not support the motion. I would hope that despite our political differences, we are all united in our desire for the safety of Canadians.

With respect to criminal justice matters, the NDP supports preventative measures. If we can eliminate behaviours, such as impaired driving that precipitates such terrible outcomes, we can save lives and alleviate the heavy burden on our justice system as well.

Furthermore, I would suggest that awareness campaigns target young people before they are old enough to drive. We must instill in young Canadians the knowledge that impaired driving is extremely dangerous and can have dire consequences. We must teach our youth that it is selfish, reckless, anti-social, and immoral to take these risks with the lives of other Canadians. The sooner Canadians of all ages fully understand the devastating impacts of all forms of impaired driving the faster we can reduce the number of these senseless deaths and injuries.

We have seen that awareness campaigns work. Rates of drinking and driving have gone down significantly since such campaigns were launched. According to Stats Canada data, in 2015, the rate of impaired driving was 201 incidents per 100,000 population. That was the lowest rate since data on impaired driving was first collected in 1986, 4% lower than in 2014. Clearly, we are moving in the right direction.

However, in spite of a decline in impaired driving rates over the past 30 years, impaired driving remains one of the most frequent criminal offences and is among the leading criminal causes of death in Canada.

We have made significant strides forward, but alcohol-impaired driving remains a serious issue in our country. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that Canada had the highest percentage of alcohol-related crash deaths among the 20 high-income countries of the OECD in 2013. This reckless behaviour is unacceptable, given our knowledge about its detrimental effects. One death or serious injury caused by alcohol-impaired driving is one too many.

I had the opportunity, as a member of justice committee, to hear testimony from experts, like Dr. Robert Solomon, during its consideration of Bill C-46. The bill would allow police to administer what are called “mandatory alcohol screening” measures as a way to apprehend all drivers at the stop who are impaired. The bill would allow officers to test every driver at a stop, instead of relying on their subjective discretion, as is currently the case. More people are going to get caught and more people are going to be frightened about being caught. We hope as a result the level of deaths and injuries will go down.

The evidence is unassailable if we look at the European countries. As Dr. Solomon pointed out, this kind of testing will lead to less carnage and mayhem on our roads and highways. He said that when Switzerland enacted mandatory alcohol screening in 2005, the percentage of drivers testing positive for alcohol fell from about 25% to 7.6%. Alcohol-related crash deaths dropped by approximately 25%.

Therefore, along with adopting these sorts of effective practices, we must certainly continue our education campaigns and commitment to support police officers in their work to eliminate alcohol-impaired driving from coast to coast to coast.

I also now want to talk about the misinformation that exists around drug-impaired driving, particularly among Canadian youth. This is very troubling. We all talk about the dangers of impaired driving as if everyone knows it and it is well acknowledged, but there is a lack of awareness about drug-impaired driving among young Canadians, who are still the leading demographic for impaired driving.

It is imperative we take the necessary precautions to ensure Canadians have accurate information. In order to ensure safety, we have to address the misconceptions among young people and some parents that driving stoned, driving under the influence of cannabis, is somehow safer than driving under the influence of alcohol. An alarming percentage of youth actually do not think drugs impair their ability to drive, which of course is categorically false.

A document published by the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse and Addiction addresses this persistent misconception head on. Here is what it says:

The challenge is many youth do not consider driving under the influence of marijuana to be risky, unlike driving under the influence of alcohol. Some youth even believe that using marijuana makes them better drivers, but evidence clearly shows that it impairs driving ability.... [M]ore awareness campaigns that centre on youth are needed to deter them from driving while impaired, especially after using marijuana.

The idea that somehow driving stoned is going make someone a better driver is out there and it is a very dangerous idea, so one hopes the government will take the necessary educational measures to increase awareness of this problem.

Nearly one-third of teens do not consider driving under the influence of cannabis to be as bad as driving under the influence of alcohol. That comes from a national study by Partnership for a Drug-Free Canada.

Nearly 25% of parents of teenagers did not consider driving while high on cannabis to be as bad as drinking and driving.

I hope that, by dedicating the third week of March as national impaired driving prevention week, we can reach primarily young people. The timing coincides nicely with spring break in most provinces, and a little reminder about impaired driving at that time is obviously a good thing.

In addition to discussions around alcohol and drug impairment, I understand that Bill C-373 has been brought forward to address distracted driving. According to researchers Robertson, Bowman, and Charles: “In some provinces, distracted driving has reportedly been the cause of even more car accidents than impaired driving.”

With the exception of Nunavut, all provinces and territories currently have their own laws on distracted driving. Ultimately, it is up to the provincial jurisdiction to determine how we are going to implement these laws.

I wish to reiterate, in conclusion, that the NDP is entirely supportive of measures that prevent tragedies that result from impaired driving. If we can educate Canadians about the extreme dangers of all forms of impaired driving, we can reduce the number of people who are doing this and avoid future tragedies for Canadians.

National Impaired Driving Prevention WeekPrivate Members' Business

November 23rd, 2017 / 5:35 p.m.
See context


Larry Maguire Conservative Brandon—Souris, MB

Madam Speaker, every day across Canada we know individuals who get behind the wheel of a car and make that dreadful decision of driving while impaired. I would be willing to suggest that there is not a single member in this House who has not been either directly or indirectly impacted by an incident of impaired driving.

I know the member for Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel has been an advocate for ways to reduce impaired driving since his own daughter was severely injured in an accident involving an impaired driver. I am so glad to see her here with us in the chamber today in the gallery. I applaud the member for all that he has done to raise awareness, and for introducing a private member's motion that would proclaim the third week of March, each and every year, to be designated national impaired driving prevention week.

Far too often we hear in the news about another incident or fatality because a driver made the dreadful decision of thinking that he or she was still capable of operating a vehicle or would not get caught. In preparing for this motion, it was heart-wrenching to read about what the member for Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel went through as his daughter was recovering, as well as listening to his presentation here in the chamber this evening. If passing this motion saves one life, then it is worth setting in stone a full week solely for the purpose of highlighting impaired driving.

I understand that through the good work of schools, police departments, governments, and organizations, such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving, individuals are being bombarded with respect to the consequences of getting behind the wheel after one too many beers or being high on prescription drugs or illegal substances. Police departments, such as the one in the city of Brandon, are constantly setting up check stops to look for those who think they can evade the law and put others at risk.

Many may be surprised to know this, but impaired driving in rural areas is far more overrepresented than those living in large urban centres. The reason is that in places like Ottawa and Toronto, or even in smaller communities like Red Deer or North Bay, there are available means of public transportation. This statistic of having more incidences of impaired driving in rural Canada should lead to a larger discussion on how we can make sure that impaired drivers stay off the roads and highways. Technology and innovations, such as Uber or Lyft, could in fact bridge that gap of having available ways to get home. Another program that has worked quite successfully is Operation Red Nose. For years, the volunteers of this very worthwhile program have driven thousands of people home from Christmas or New Year's parties, while also raising funds for many worthwhile causes.

The worst thing about discussing the topic of driving while impaired is that there are still some people out there in society who are more than willing to continue to do it, yet they do not think about the others who may get hurt because of their terrible life decision. Driving while impaired is one of the most selfish decisions that anyone can make.

There are some serious concerns out there that Canadians are not getting the message. According to a recent study, despite years of public messaging about the dangers of drinking and driving, Canada rates the worst among 19 wealthy countries for the percentage of roadway deaths linked to alcohol impairment. Last year, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention did a study of various countries and found that while fewer people were dying from car crashes, the proportion of deaths linked to alcohol impairment was 34%, which is higher than any other country that it surveyed.

I am also pleased that the member has put forward in his motion that drugs, fatigue, and distraction would also be part of a prevention week.

Psychoactive prescription drugs can also contribute to impaired driving. Not every prescription drug out there will have the same effect on one's body and mind. In many circumstances it will impact drivers in varying degrees based on the length of time they have taken the prescription drug or the dosage. While alcohol and illegal substances are now at the forefront of any discussion involving impaired driving, we can never forget that more Canadians take prescription drugs than ever before in our history.

While there are particular stories involving prescription drugs that have made the news, such as the recent incident involving a famous golfer, it is imperative for all of us to shine a light on the inadequate amount of information available to everyday Canadians about the consequences of prescription drugs and their impact on one's motor skills. We also know there are countless instances of people being under the influence of drugs such as marijuana, cocaine, ecstasy, and crystal meth, which impact their body and brain just as badly, if not worse, than alcohol. According to the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse and Addiction, the percentage of Canadian drivers fatally injured in vehicle crashes and testing positive for drugs now exceeds that of drivers testing positive for alcohol.

As parliamentarians, we must be fully seized with the unintended consequences of legalizing recreational marijuana. I have spoken at great length about my trepidations of rushing the July 1, 2018 deadline. While I am fully supportive of this private member's motion, I wonder if we should at this moment in time heed the advice of police chiefs, mayors, and provincial governments, who all say they will not be prepared by this date. Across Canada, police departments are scrambling to train and certify their officers as drug recognition experts so they can identify and charge those who are impaired.

If we at this time can reflect on the real life consequences of what will happen once marijuana is legalized for recreational purposes, all partisanship aside, it would be inappropriate to rush ahead until at least the training and equipment are acquired by our law enforcement agencies.

It is truly astounding that regardless of how many times people are reminded and taught about the dangers of driving while impaired, the numbers are not coming down as quickly as we would like. According to MADD Canada, over a thousand Canadians are dying in impairment-related crashes. While there have been great strides in bringing this number down, there is still much more to do.

We must never forget that only 50 years ago, impaired driving was in many instances a tolerated behaviour. Many of us have heard stories of someone being caught behind the wheel being impaired, yet sometimes being allowed by the police officer to drive home while the officer followed them to make sure they made it. Now in Canada, our drunk driving laws are some of the most heavily litigated in our judicial system, and massive amounts of resources are being applied to keep our roadways safe.

I know that bars, pubs, and restaurants are all doing their part in serving responsibly. I know that organizations are working diligently around the clock to lobby for stricter laws and new laws to deter reckless behaviour. The most powerful antidote to fix this problem is for friends and loved ones to step up to the plate and ensure that nobody operates a motor vehicle while impaired. Education and awareness must continue. I know there are many members in this House who have worked diligently on Bill C-46. I also know that police and RCMP officers are doing everything in their power to enforce the law and keep dangerous drivers from hurting others.

No person or family deserves to go through what the member for Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel has gone through. I too know first-hand what it means to be directly impacted by an impaired driver. One incident is too many. We should never tolerate, under any circumstance, driving while impaired as socially acceptable. With that I will finish my remarks, and once again thank my hon. colleague for all his work throughout the years and for bringing this debate to the floor of the House of Commons.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 22nd, 2017 / 4:25 p.m.
See context


Dave Van Kesteren Conservative Chatham-Kent—Leamington, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to say that I respect the member's office, and I thank him for his service for years as a police chief. He knows that I have three sons who serve in the police department, and as such, I have had much contact with the police force.

My colleague has passed me some information. I am not going to read that. The truth of the matter is that my eyesight is not good enough.

I do know that there is not a consensus among police chiefs. When we talk about Bill C-46 being the act to strengthen the Criminal Code in respect of driving, those steps are necessary and police chiefs would certainly agree with that, but I also know that police chiefs, police officers, and those involved in law enforcement have repeatedly said that at the very least, they are not prepared for this, and they do not have the tools or what is required to enforce this new legislation.

Municipalities would need a host of new equipment and much more money. These things have not been provided. That is a small point, but the member must also acknowledge that this is not a complete picture of what the police chiefs have been saying.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 22nd, 2017 / 4:20 p.m.
See context

Scarborough Southwest Ontario


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

Mr. Speaker, I would like to acknowledge the remarks made by my colleague from Chatham-Kent—Leamington, and I want to bring some clarification to one of the remarks he made. I listened very carefully, and he said that police chiefs, in the plural, but unnamed, did not support the effort or believe that we were going to bring forward adequate measures to deal with impaired driving.

I want to quote the testimony of Chief Mario Harel, the elected president of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, who appeared before the justice committee on Bill C-46. He said:

We certainly commend the government for its commitment to consultation of stakeholders and the public. We commend the efforts of ministers, all parliamentarians, and public servants at Public Safety, Justice, and Health Canada who are dedicated to bringing forward the best legislation possible. All share with us the desire to do this right, knowing that the world is watching.

The government has put forward strong legislation not only focused on impairment by drugs but also addressing ongoing issues related to alcohol impairment.

He went on to say:

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 provision of the Criminal Code, supporting mandatory alcohol screening, and eliminating common loophole defences. Tough new impairment driving penalties introduced in this legislation are strongly supported by the CACP.

This, of course, includes all the chiefs in Canada. Finally, he said:

We also acknowledge funding announced recently to support law enforcement for cannabis and drug-impaired driving. The government has been listening.

In light of this testimony from the head of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, would the member like to comment on his earlier remark with respect to an unnamed chief offering some other opinion?

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 22nd, 2017 / 3:35 p.m.
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Vancouver Granville B.C.


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

moved that Bill C-45, An Act respecting cannabis and to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, the Criminal Code and other Acts, be read the third time and passed.

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise to speak to Bill C-45.

On October 13, I introduced two pieces of important legislation in the House of Commons. First, Bill C-45 proposes a framework for legalizing, strictly regulating, and restricting access to cannabis in Canada. The second complementary piece of legislation, Bill C-46, proposes new and stronger laws to more seriously tackle alcohol and drug-impaired driving, including cannabis. I am proud to note that Bill C-46 has been passed by the House and is being studied in the other place.

I am pleased to speak again today about Bill C-45 and discuss some of the amendments that were carried during the Standing Committee on Health's extensive study of the bill. I would like to thank all committee members for their considerable amount of work on this file. The committee reviewed 115 briefs and heard from nearly 100 different witnesses, who provided their invaluable perspectives on a wide array of issues, ranging from law enforcement to public health.

Groups represented at committee included the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, the Criminal Lawyers' Association, the Métis National Council, the Canadian Medical Association, the Canadian Public Health Association, and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities. Officials from Colorado and Washington state also provided testimony on their states' experience in the legalization of cannabis.

After hearing from the witnesses, several amendments were proposed at clause-by-clause consideration of the bill. I will speak to some of these worthwhile amendments in a moment, but first I would like to remind members what Bill C-45 is all about.

Bill C-45 would create a legal framework whereby adults would be able to access legal cannabis through an appropriate retail framework sourced from a well-regulated industry or grown in limited amounts at home. Under the proposed legislation, the federal, provincial, and territorial governments will all share in responsibility for overseeing the new system. The federal government will oversee the production and manufacturing components of the cannabis framework and set industry-wide rules and standards.

To that end, our fall economic statement of 2017 has earmarked $526 million of funding to license, inspect, and enforce all aspects of the proposed cannabis act. Provincial and territorial governments will in turn be responsible for the distribution and sale components of the framework.

Beyond the legislative framework outlining the rules for production, retail sale, distribution, and possession, cannabis will remain a strictly prohibited substance.

Division 1 of part 1 of the proposed act clearly sets out that many of the offences that currently apply to cannabis under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act will continue to exist under the proposed cannabis act. This is very much in keeping with the recommendations contained in the final report of the task force on cannabis legalization and regulation.

In its report, the task force recommended that criminal offences should be maintained for illicit production, trafficking, possession for the purposes of trafficking, possession for the purposes of export, and import/export.

I will now speak to the amendments adopted by the committee. Let me begin by saying that our government supports all the amendments adopted by the Standing Committee on Health. At this time, I would like to speak about five specific amendments that were adopted during clause-by-clause consideration of Bill C-45.

First, the height restriction for cannabis plants permitted to be grown at home was eliminated. The 100-centimetre height restriction was intended to balance the interest to allow personal cultivation while safeguarding against the known risks associated with large plants, including the risk of diversion outside of the licit regime. The height restriction, indeed the proposal to allow even limited personal cultivation, attracted significant commentary both before the health committee and in the general public.

We understand the complexities leading to the task force's recommendation of a 100-centimetre height limit and accept the health committee's conclusion after it listened to several witnesses about the problems that such a limit might realistically create.

Our government agrees that this issue is best addressed outside of the criminal law. Should they wish, provinces and territories. relying on their own legislative powers. could address plant heights and if legislative authority exists or is extended to municipalities, they could do so as well.

Second, the addition of the good Samaritan provision will exempt individuals from criminal charges for simple possession if they call medical services or law enforcement following a life threatening medical emergency involving a psychoactive substance. Evidence demonstrates that individuals experiencing or witnessing an overdose or an acute medical condition are often afraid to call emergency assistance due to the fear of prosecution. A good Samaritan clause in the proposed cannabis act will help to ensure that individuals contact and co-operate with emergency services in the context of a medical emergency, knowing that they will not face prosecution for minor possession offences.

Third, the amendments to the Non-smokers' Health Act, provides flexibility to prohibit the smoking or vaping of tobacco or cannabis in specific outdoor areas or spaces by regulation in federal workplaces to protect people from exposure to tobacco or cannabis smoke. This aligns with the recommendation by the Canadian Cancer Society.

Fourth, courts will have the discretion of imposing a fine of up to $200 for an accused convicted of a ticketable offence rather than imposing a fixed fine in the amount of $200. This will ensure that the courts can consider a range of factors in setting the fine, including the ability of the accused to pay the fine.

Finally, an amendment was adopted to require a review of the proposed cannabis act three years after its coming into force and to table a report in Parliament on the results of this review.

Given the transformative nature of the proposed legislation, it is important that our government clearly communicates to Parliament and to the Canadian public the impact the legislation will have on achieving our objectives of protecting youth and reducing the role of organized crime. This will enable us as parliamentarians to determine whether future changes to the legislation are necessary to help ensure the protection of public health and safety.

I will now speak to the significant discussion that has occurred in relation to the treatment of young persons under the proposed cannabis act.

On the one hand, the Standing Committee on Health heard from witnesses, including criminal defence lawyers and the Canadian Nurses Association, who argued that youth possession of cannabis should not be subject to criminal penalties, because making it a criminal offence for a youth to possess five grams of cannabis would not deter them from possessing. It would only serve to perpetuate the disproportionate enforcement of laws on young, marginalized, and racialized members of our society.

On the other hand, others, including opposition members, have called for a zero tolerance in relation to the possession of cannabis by youth. Our government is mindful of the concerns raised in relation to the exemption of young persons from criminal prosecution for possession or sharing of up to five grams of cannabis and the suggestion that this decision is sending the wrong message to youth.

As I discussed at my appearance before the committee, our government has drafted Bill C-45 to specifically ensure that there are no legal means for a young person to purchase or acquire cannabis. Young persons should not have access to any amount of cannabis.

At the same time, criminalizing youth for possessing or sharing very small amounts of cannabis recognizes the negative impacts that exposure to the criminal justice system can have on our young people, particularly marginalized young persons.

Our focus aligns with what the majority of respondents conveyed to the task force; that criminal sanctions should be focused on adults who provide cannabis to youth, not on the youth themselves. This does not mean that our government sees youth possession or consumption of cannabis as acceptable. Our government has given much thought as to how we will keep cannabis out of the hands of youth and discourage them from using cannabis at all.

Our government has been encouraging the provinces and territories to create administrative offences that would prohibit youth from possessing any amounts of cannabis without exposing them to the criminal justice system. Police would be given authority to seize cannabis from youth with small amounts. Provinces and territories use this measured approach for alcohol and tobacco possession by young persons, and it has proven to be successful. We were pleased to hear that Ontario, Quebec, and Alberta have already announced their plans to create just such prohibitions, and we expect other jurisdictions to follow suit.

This approach is complemented by the other significant protections for youth in Bill C-45. The proposed act creates new offences for those adults who either sell or distribute cannabis to youth, or who use a young person to commit a cannabis-related offence. It protects young people from promotional enticements to use cannabis, prohibits cannabis product packaging or labelling that are appealing to youth, and prohibits the sale of cannabis through self-service displays or vending machines.

In addition to these legislative mechanisms, I would also like to remind members that our government will be undertaking a broad public education campaign to inform Canadians of all ages about the proposed legislation, including penalties for providing cannabis to youth and the risks involved with consuming cannabis. This public education campaign will focus on helping young Canadians make the best choices about their future and to understand the risks and consequences of using cannabis. This public education and awareness campaign has already begun, and it will continue to be an ongoing priority. To that end, last month our government announced $36.4 million over five years in funding for public education and awareness. This is in addition to the $9.6 million over five years toward a comprehensive public education and awareness campaign, and surveillance activities that we announced in budget 2017.

I will now turn to the implementation and timing of Bill C-45. Much has been conveyed about the timing of the implementation of the proposed cannabis act, with the suggestion being made that provinces and territories will not be ready, or that law enforcement will not be ready. Several witnesses at committee, however, rightfully pointed out that we need to act now. The Canadian Public Health Association responded to claims that we are not ready for legalization by advising the committee of the following:

Unfortunately, we don't have the luxury of time, as Canadians are already consuming cannabis at record levels. The individual and societal harms associated with cannabis use are already being felt every day. The proposed legislation and eventual regulation is our best attempt to minimize those harms and protect the well-being of all Canadians.

Witnesses at committee further pointed out that there is always a perception that more time is needed, but that any delays would contribute to confusion among the population.

Our government agrees that we need to act now, and we have been working closely with provinces and territories on many fronts, including through a federal-provincial-territorial senior officials working group. The working group has been kept apprised of developments on this file over the last year through meetings via teleconference every three weeks, as well as in-person meetings. Most recently, a meeting took place here in Ottawa on October 17 and 18.

Since the introduction of Bill C-45, several federal-provincial-territorial issue-specific working groups have also been established to collaborate more closely on a range of complex issues, including drug-impaired driving, ticketable offences, taxation, and public education.

Our government recognizes that providing support to provinces and territories for this work is critical. That is why we have committed, for instance, up to $81 million specifically to the provinces and territories to train front-line officers to recognize the signs and symptoms of impaired driving, build law enforcement capacity across the country, and provide access to drug screening devices.

Our government is encouraged by the tremendous amount of work that has already been carried out in the provinces and territories. Many jurisdictions committed to and have completed public consultations on how cannabis legalization should be implemented.

Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, and Alberta have released proposed legislation and frameworks describing how they will approach recreational cannabis, and Manitoba has enacted the Cannabis Harm Prevention Act. Clearly, many provinces are moving forward in anticipation of the July 2018 time frame.

Recognizing that some provinces and territories may not have systems in place by the summer of 2018, our government is proposing to facilitate interim access to a regulated quality controlled supply from a federally licensed producer via online ordering, with secure home delivery through mail or courier.

Our government's intention is to offset the broader costs associated with implementing this new system by collecting licensing and other fees, as well as through revenues generated through taxation, as is the case with the tobacco and alcohol industry. Discussions with provinces and territories around the proposed taxation plan have already begun and will continue. As part of our consultations on this matter, we welcome the feedback of all Canadians to ensure that we achieve the goal of keeping prices low enough to put criminals out of business while helping to offset the costs of education, administration, and enforcement.

In conclusion, I would like to reiterate that Canada's current approach to cannabis continues to contribute to the profits of organized crime, risks to public health and safety, and exposes thousands of Canadians to criminal records for minor cannabis offences each year. Most Canadians no longer believe that simple possession of small amounts of cannabis should be subjected to harsh criminal sanctions. I would like to conclude by encouraging all members of this House to support Bill C-45, as amended by the Standing Committee on Health.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

November 21st, 2017 / 7:10 p.m.
See context


Murray Rankin NDP Victoria, BC

Mr. Speaker, I want to rise and indicate from the outset that I oppose this bill for three main reasons that I would like to articulate.

First, the sentencing called for is excessive. Although the crime and its consequences are indeed serious, we reserve 25-year prison sentences for those convicted of first degree murder, not for theft of the kind referred to in this bill.

Second, the Criminal Code already addresses mischief that causes actual danger to life, where if this kind of claim is proven the result is already a life prison sentence.

Third, harsher penalties simply do not serve as a deterrent for those who may commit this type of crime. Instead of handing down harsher sentences, which ultimately will not reduce the instances of theft or vandalism, the NDP believes that resources should be focused on crime prevention to pre-emptively deal with the serious issue that this bill would purport to address.

I want to say at the outset that I agree entirely with the sponsor of this bill, the hon. member for North Okanagan—Shuswap, that tampering with life-saving equipment is a very serious offence. Stealing or vandalizing that equipment can have far more severe consequences than simply stealing merchandise from a store would suggest. I understand my hon. colleague's point in highlighting the issue specific to this kind of theft or vandalism.

We are mindful of the examples in British Columbia this past season, where a water pump and hoses were stolen from the Harrop Creek wildfire, northeast of Nelson. It caused a serious impact on the effectiveness of firefighting activities, posing a safety risk not just to the first responders but to the general public at large.

There was another example of vandalism destroying communications equipment near Creston, B.C. There it was radio equipment that was destroyed in a radio communications tower. Once again, that crime put the safety of firefighting personnel at risk.

However, other measures can be taken to address the theft and vandalism of firefighting equipment. We support preventative measures that can be used to curtail this very disruptive, dangerous behaviour. Focusing on prevention allows us to minimize harm and reduce the burden on our crowded court system.

Instead of relying on punitive action to address crimes that have already been committed, the more effective remedy is to reduce those incidents in the first place. We believe in working with first responders to fix the problem with increased surveillance of vulnerable areas and educating the public, particularly young people, about the harmful repercussions of tampering with equipment.

Reducing the instances of criminal behaviour is a far more worthwhile endeavour than throwing the book at someone once a tragedy has already occurred. If I may be a little colloquial, focusing solely on punishment is a little like locking the barn door after the horse has already escaped.

Before I return to the matter of discussing our reasons for opposition, I would like to take a moment to make a very important clarification. Impeding first responders from doing their job is incredibly serious. It has costly consequences. I would not want to the hon. member to confuse our opposition to the bill with a lack of support for first responders and the incredibly difficult work they do. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

Before I hear any rhetoric about being “tough on crime” or accusations of who is not “tough on crime”, we are committed to policies and practices that work, not to sound bites.

Again, we are not disputing the seriousness of the crime at issue. We are simply in disagreement on the best way to deal with the problem. We know that first responders are the first line of defence against disaster. Whether they are firefighters fighting wildfires burning out of control or paramedics waging a war in the opioid crisis, we are here to assist them and bring forward policies that will help make their lives easier.

In British Columbia this past summer, as the member pointed out, we had what Premier John Horgan called the worst wildfire season since the 1950s. These are costly disasters for the natural environment, the wildlife that depends on the environment, and of course human life, safety, and property. Families lose their homes and the tragedy is obvious for all to see.

These wildfires are costing us millions of dollars and are devastating. More than 870 fires sparked across B.C. since April 1, scorching 5,090 square kilometres, and $211.7 million was spent on fire suppression efforts. We in British Columbia are looking to the federal government to do its share to help with financial reparation.

I will return to the specific provisions of Bill C-365, first with respect to excessive sentencing for theft and an unnecessary amendment. I understand the incredible emotional and financial toll these disasters have taken on Canadians. However, I have practised and taught law and when dealing with criminal matters, we always have to be measured, well-reasoned, and proportionate in our response.

Amendments to the Criminal Code must be undertaken with clear heads and a commitment to determine the best course of action to correct the specific problem sought to be addressed. Section 334 of the Criminal Code already punishes theft, including imprisonment for a term of up to 10 years in certain contexts. With regard to theft, therefore, the code is clear. I do not think it is necessary to include firefighting equipment in the list of things to be stolen.

That leads to the second point, where I consider the amendment somewhat redundant. If there is a case where one can prove irrefutably that tampering resulted in danger to the life of another individual, we already have “Mischief” under section 430. Where damages occur to property, or the like, or there is interference with people in the lawful use of their property, there can again be serious consequences, including imprisonment for life. We already have the tools to do the job.

Finally, there is no consensus that harsher penalties will serve as effective deterrents to those who may commit crimes. I will quote from an article written by Professors Doob, Webster, and Gartner in 2014. They stated, “At this point, we think it is fair to say that we know of no reputable criminologist who has looked carefully at the overall body of research literature on 'deterrence through sentencing' who believes that crime rates will be reduced, through deterrence, by raising the severity of sentences handed down in criminal courts.”

An Economist article also cited a review by Steven Durlauf of the University of Wisconsin and Daniel Nagin at Carnegie Mellon University, who found little evidence that criminals responded to harsher sentencing, and much stronger evidence that increasing the certainty of punishment deterred crime. We heard that loud and clear in the testimony at committee on Bill C-46 with respect to driving under the influence of alcohol or cannabis. They said in the summary of their article that “This matters for policy, as it suggests that locking vast numbers of people in jail is not only expensive, but useless as a deterrent.” That is what the literature shows.

In conclusion, there are already measures in place in our Criminal Code to ensure that truly reckless, life-endangering mischief is handled in the appropriate way. We have to work collaboratively with first responders to ensure that the public is aware of the harmful results of tampering with firefighting equipment. Awareness campaigns have had a powerful influence on the scourge of drunk driving. They may well be relevant in this context as well.

While all forms of vandalism are certainly to be discouraged, there is a difference here that must be communicated. We have to work with our first responders. I think it would be far more productive, therefore, to discuss ways in which we could provide better support to them than simply creating another offence. Once the damage is done, it is done. There is no going back to undo the harm caused. If harsher sentences with regard to theft are there, these do not necessarily deter would-be criminals. These are not the most effective way of addressing a very significant concern raised by this bill.

Let us do the hard work of truly supporting our first responders and helping them implement measures that would reduce these incidents in the first place.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 21st, 2017 / 4 p.m.
See context


Colin Fraser Liberal West Nova, NS

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to speak in support of Bill C-45 at report stage debate. This historic legislation represents a positive first step in the complex process of legalizing, strictly regulating, and restricting access to cannabis.

Since the introduction of the bill, it has been emphasized that the approach proposed by the bill is grounded in the basis of public health and public safety, including the goal of keeping cannabis away from young people.

Consistent with the commitments to protect the well-being of Canadians, our government introduced companion legislation, Bill C-46, which targets those who drive while impaired by drugs. This distinct piece of proposed legislation would strengthen the criminal law response to drug-impaired driving and help to increase the safety of our public streets and roads.

In its consideration of Bill C-45, the Standing Committee on Health heard from the Ontario Public Health Association that “impaired driving is a leading criminal cause of death and injury on our roadways, and cannabinoids are among the most common psychoactive substances found in deceased and injured drivers in Canada.”

Despite having made progress in deterring and reducing the amount of alcohol-impaired driving over the past decades, statistics indicate that drug-impaired driving is actually increasing.

I am fortunate enough to be a member of the Standing Committee of Justice and Human Rights. We studied the companion legislation to Bill C-45, that being Bill C-46. It is obvious that there is a problem on our roads today with drug-impaired driving, and the problem under the current system keeps getting worse.

According to Statistics Canada, of the more than 72,000 police-reported impaired driving incidents in 2015, almost 3,000 of those were related to drugs. This may not seem like a large proportion, but when we consider that this is double the amount of drug-impaired driving incidents since just 2009, the upward trend becomes very worrisome.

According to a recent publication by the Canadian Drug Policy Coalition, 20% of cannabis users self-report as having driven at least once within two hours of using cannabis.

Another recent study based on the Victoria healthy youth survey in British Columbia indicates that 64% of males and 33% of females who were heavy users of cannabis reported that they drove while drug impaired.

The Ontario student drug use and health survey of 2015 reported that the percentage of drivers in grades 10 to 12 who reported driving after consuming cannabis was higher than those who reported driving after consuming alcohol. This survey further indicated that an estimated 29,500 adolescent drivers in Ontario alone drove within one hour after consuming cannabis within the previous year.

I think I can speak for all of us when I say that I find this to be very troubling. The fact that driving while impaired by drugs is currently a criminal offence punishable by a mandatory minimum fine of $1,000 on a first offence does not seem to be a sufficient deterrent for an increasing number of drivers.

However, the penalty is not the whole answer anyway. What is clear to me and what the preponderance of the evidence demonstrates is that it is the fear of getting caught that acts as the real deterrent to impaired driving.

Given the current statistics on cannabis consumption before driving, I am fully supportive of the government's approach to strengthen the criminal law framework addressing drug-impaired driving. The proposals on impaired driving would authorize a new tool for police officers to better detect drivers with drugs in their body. These devices would determine whether a driver had certain drugs in his or her oral fluid, including THC, which is the impairing compound in cannabis.

The presence of THC in oral fluid is a strong indicator that cannabis was recently consumed and therefore provides useful information to a police officer who is conducting a roadside investigation. Again, what is essential here is that people will know they will be much more likely to get caught if they drive while impaired by cannabis. This will act as a real deterrent and keep our roads safer.

While reviewing Bill C-45, health committee members heard from the public safety minister who recognized “Essential to this new regime is engagement with and support for police and border officers to ensure that they have the tools they need to enforce the law.”

To this end, the government recently announced an investment of $274 million to support law enforcement and border efforts to detect and deter drug-impaired driving and for enforcement of the proposed cannabis legalization and regulation scheme.

Provinces and territories will be able to access up to $81 million over the next five years for new law enforcement training and to build capacity and enforce new and stronger laws related to drug-impaired driving.

The impaired driving bill also proposes new legal limit offences for drugs and driving. Once these offences are enacted, the crown would no longer have to prove that a driver was impaired by a drug if an analysis of their blood showed that they had a prohibited level of drugs in their body. This legal efficiency would provide a much more timely way to prosecute and punish those who choose to mix impairing drugs with driving activity.

I am pleased to note that one of the proposed offences prohibits certain levels of alcohol and THC which, as I indicated earlier, is a particularly impairing combination of substances. This proposed offence would send a strong message against driving after mixing cannabis with alcohol.

In my view, the proposals to address drug-impaired driving are a positive reflection of the government's broader approach to cannabis legalization in that they represent a cautious, public safety-driven response with the ultimate goal of public protection.

To reiterate the remarks of the Minister of Public Safety to the health committee:

...cannabis impaired driving is happening on our streets right now. The faster we get the right tools, the funding, the training, and the legislative and regulatory authorities in place, the safer Canadians will be. Legislative delay does not make the problem go away or get better.

At committee, amendments were adopted to require a review of both Bill C-45 and Bill C-46 three years after coming into force and to table reports before Parliament on the results of these reviews. This would allow the government to clearly communicate the impacts of the new legislation and to determine whether future changes are necessary.

I am pleased to recognize the substantial efforts of the government to fulfill two of its key platform commitments to legalize cannabis and also, importantly, to create new and stronger laws to apprehend and actually deter those who would otherwise drive while under the influence.

In conclusion, it is critical to underscore the objectives of Bill C-45, which is designed to legalize, strictly regulate, and restrict access to cannabis. With the highest usage of young people using cannabis in the developed world, it is clear the current system is not working. We must make it harder for young people to access cannabis, take business away from criminals, and put public health and safety front and centre. That is what Bill C-45 does and that is why all members should support this important legislation.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 21st, 2017 / 4 p.m.
See context


Richard Cannings NDP South Okanagan—West Kootenay, BC

Mr. Speaker, that is an excellent question. It is precisely my concern with roadside testing for marijuana, which we heard all about in Bill C-46. The justice committee heard testimony from expert witnesses who said, as the member said, that the level of THC in the blood being measured with roadside tests had absolutely nothing to do with impairment. The amount of THC goes up in the blood, but it is only when it is out of the blood and in the brain that it actually impairs people. Therefore, these tests have no relation with impairment, and that is a real difficulty.

We have to find a different way for measuring impairment with THC than with alcohol. As he said, with alcohol, it is very different. The amount of alcohol in someone's blood is highly correlated with the amount of impairment, but it does not work that way with marijuana. As I mentioned in my speech, groups will be fighting Bill C-46 in court over just this issue. People will be charged for being impaired when they are not impaired at all.