Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
I wish a happy new year to everyone around the table. I'm happy to be back, and I hope today to be able to clarify some of the questions and some of the issues that folks had with my private member's bill. I'm here today first to walk through and resolve some of those questions and then to give you additional information as well.
I'm not sure the clerk has been able to get a translation yet, so I won't table it at this moment, but I want to give each member the opportunity to know that this morning we put out press releases from our office notifying Canadians that the FCM, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, has given its unequivocal support for this private member's bill. This was an unsolicited support, and we're very pleased to do that.
There may be people contacting you, because we informed the media that today was the day we would be bringing this again to committee. This press release may be available later on in the meeting, if they're able to make the translations available.
Today I'm here to clarify some of the issues people had around the table when I was here in the last part of last year. There were questions on some of the aspects of the private member's bill.
I'd be the first person in this room to admit, as a new member of Parliament, that there are opportunities wherein we don't get everything right. I've been working quite a bit with my colleagues from the government side, and two amendments will be or have been brought forward to this committee that I think address many of the concerns committee members had.
It is my hope to address questions that came from the NDP today. There were questions that Libby Davies brought to me regarding the way crystal meth is dealt with in this country. With this bill she had hoped to see that there would be funding attached.
Of course, as all of you are aware, a private member's bill does not have an opportunity to include funding for any type of treatment or any type of measure to combat crystal meth. But I want to assure you that I believe this private member's bill is set in place and walks lockstep with the national drug strategy. Of that national drug strategy and the money that was allocated for it, two-thirds of the funding is dedicated to prevention and treatment options. That, I believe, along with this private member's bill, this legislation, will address her concerns about those issues.
I also wanted to address the concerns she had with respect to a report she quoted from; it's from the City of Vancouver. I guess the impression may have been left for committee members that there seemed from this report not to be a necessity to advocate for stricter regulations.
I want to just read recommendation 27 from that report, which she quoted from. It says in recommendation 27:
That the City of Vancouver advocate for stricter regulation of precursor chemicals that are necessary for the manufacturing of large quantities of methamphetamine and for increased capacity by the federal and provincial governments to enforce these regulations
I think it's important for all of us to hear and understand that not only are the FCM and other organizations and communities across this country calling for this type of regulation, but the City of Vancouver is walking lockstep with this initiative as well.
I'm not sure people in this room have had the opportunity to see the particular document that was put forward by the federal-provincial-territorial ministers responsible for justice. It's their methamphetamine report. The methamphetamine report basically endorses this private member's bill. I'll read a little bit from my notes about what is being called for.
This report called for amendments to the CDSA to establish new offences for the possession of class A precursors for the purpose of producing methamphetamine: prohibiting the production and trafficking of class A precursors; prohibiting the possession of equipment, chemicals, and other materials for the purpose of the production of methamphetamine; and prohibiting the sale of equipment, chemicals, and other material for the purpose of producing methamphetamine.
This bill fulfills these recommendations, and I really urge the committee, if they haven't had the opportunity, to take a look at this report, because it clearly demonstrates the necessity for this type of legislation that's been moved forward with this private member's bill.
This committee has also had the opportunity to hear witnesses from the Office of Controlled Substances at Health Canada. Ms. Bouchard was here and she testified on December 13, 2007:
If we were to find a person in possession of those substances, and that person were not authorized to possess them, meaning they did not have a licence allowing their possession of those substances, it would not be an offence at the level of the act or statute but a violation of a regulation requiring that the person be in possession of a licence.
There was some discussion in this committee if these regulations did what this private member's bill is calling for, and what she clarifies here in her statement was:
However, the penalties associated with those offences are not very high. They're related to section 46 of the CDSA act and are for a maximum of up to two years. So they are very low penalties, but they are violations of a regulation.
There were questions. I'm hoping that today we're going to be able to resolve many of the questions people had with regard to the private member's bill in terms of its effectiveness, in terms of its ability to truly combat the harmful effects of crystal meth in our communities.
All of us have seen the news reports, we've heard the stories of people who have been drastically affected by crystal meth, and I think everyone around this table does not want to see this harm continued.
I don't know if any of you had the opportunity, but I believe on January 9 of this past year CTV brought forward a story that outlined the story of a lady from Saskatchewan who felt she had to sue her crystal meth dealer. She was successful in that, but when she was questioned as to why she felt she needed to do that, she said the federal and provincial governments had let them down on this issue. “With the criminal justice system there wasn't much of an investigation, so me and my family were frustrated. We found a different way to hold them responsible, through the civil justice system.”
I think it's important for us to step up to the plate, to do what the provincial ministers are asking us to do, what the City of Vancouver has asked us to do and what the FCM would hope we would do.
I thank you for this opportunity. I'm hoping that as we move through today we will have this opportunity to have additional clarity on this issue, and we can work together and combat this horrible drug in our communities.