Evidence of meeting #64 for Justice and Human Rights in the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was impaired.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Mario Harel  President, Director, Gatineau Police Service, Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police
Ed Wood  President, DUID Victim Voices
Superintendent Charles Cox  Co-Chair, Traffic Committee, Chief Superintendent, Highway Safety Division, Ontario Provincial Police, Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police
Gord Jones  Superintendent, Traffic Committee, Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police
Sarah Leamon  Associate Barrister and Solicitor, Acumen Law Corporation
Kyla Lee  Associate Barrister and Solicitor, Acumen Law Corporation
Michael Spratt  Member, Partner, Abergel Goldstein and Partners LLP, Criminal Lawyers' Association
Marc Paris  Executive Director, Drug Free Kids Canada
Arthur Lee  Community Liaison, Students Against Drinking and Driving of Alberta

4:15 p.m.

Liberal

Bill Blair Liberal Scarborough Southwest, ON

Thank you, Superintendent Jones. You remind me of and reinforce for me my very firm belief and confidence that, given the right resources, you'll get the job done.

4:15 p.m.

Supt Gord Jones

Yes, sir.

4:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Housefather

Thank you. Now we're going to go to short snappers, some short questions.

Mr. Liepert, you had one.

September 20th, 2017 / 4:15 p.m.

Conservative

Ron Liepert Conservative Calgary Signal Hill, AB

Yes. I don't know if this question is very short or not, and I'm not sure that this panel is the right one to ask. I didn't realize that the RCMP is coming next week. Is that for sure?

4:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Housefather

Yes.

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

Ron Liepert Conservative Calgary Signal Hill, AB

I'll throw this out there anyway.

I believe I heard correctly earlier this week during the testimony of one of our witnesses—again, these were that witness's statistics and not my own—that 70% of impaired driving fatalities occur in rural Canada, not in urban Canada. Do you know if those statistics are correct? If they are, the other thing I've been told is that rural detachments are under tremendous staffing pressures these days, for a number of reasons that I won't go into.

Do you see this as an issue that may have a greater impact on rural Canada? I believe you represent the larger centres in Canada, not necessarily anywhere that has a municipal police force, if I'm correct.

4:20 p.m.

Supt Gord Jones

I represent Toronto. We're the biggest city in—

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

Ron Liepert Conservative Calgary Signal Hill, AB

Yes, but you're representing the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police. I understand that you would represent any municipal police force.

4:20 p.m.

Supt Gord Jones

Yes.

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

Ron Liepert Conservative Calgary Signal Hill, AB

Okay. Are there any thoughts or comments about the rural situation in Canada?

4:20 p.m.

President, Director, Gatineau Police Service, Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police

Director Mario Harel

We're looking at each other, but.... I'm sorry, but I don't have any constructive comments to make on that.

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

Ron Liepert Conservative Calgary Signal Hill, AB

Okay. I'll wait until the RCMP come in next week. Thank you.

4:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Housefather

Thank you, Mr. Liepert.

Are there any other short questions? If not, I have one, colleagues, if that's okay.

I have a short question for you, Mr. Wood. I want to understand your testimony a bit better.

You're aware, Mr. Wood, that Mothers Against Drunk Driving has stated that they're very disappointed with your recommendations. They say, first, that your assertion that Bill C-46 may make matters worse for drug-impaired driving victims is unfounded, and second, that your proposed alternative, the tandem per se drug-impaired driving legislation, would pose major enforcement problems and would likely be subject to serious legal challenges under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

You spoke about something concrete, though. You said, and I want to get your words absolutely correct, that it was “very, very rare” that there would be a prosecution if you were under the per se limit. Did I get that right? I believe you stated that in Colorado you had spoken to a number of prosecutors and they said that was very rare.

What I don't understand there is that, as Mr. Nicholson rightly said, proposed subsection 320.14(1), in paragraph (a), says this:

Everyone commits an offence who (a) operates a conveyance while the person's ability to operate it is impaired to any degree by alcohol or a drug or by a combination of alcohol and a drug;

It's a totally different offence from the ones that have the per se limit. I'm wondering about this. Have you done any study in Canada or do you have any information about people charged in Canada under this section or under the preceding section that related to this in today's Criminal Code when they were charged? Do you have evidence that such a prosecution very rarely succeeds if they actually do a test and they fall under the limit?

4:20 p.m.

President, DUID Victim Voices

Ed Wood

I have no such evidence in Canada. Does anyone?

4:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Housefather

Well, but you're the one who made the statement that it was “very, very rare”. I didn't—

4:20 p.m.

President, DUID Victim Voices

Ed Wood

[Inaudible—Editor]

4:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Housefather

—make a statement saying that it was very, very frequent, so I was just wondering if you had any evidence that it was very, very rare in Canada as opposed to in Colorado.

4:20 p.m.

President, DUID Victim Voices

Ed Wood

In Colorado, it is very, very rare, and what is rare is the conviction. There are prosecutors who have attempted to prosecute people, but none of them have succeeded, that I have found. I have no data on Canada.

4:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Housefather

That's all I wanted to establish. Thank you very much.

Are there any other comments?

Mr. Cooper.

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

Michael Cooper Conservative St. Albert—Edmonton, AB

Certainly, Mr. Wood, I found your testimony to be very interesting and very concerning. I was wondering if the chiefs of police might be able to explain their position with respect to per se limits for drug-impaired driving in light of some of the testimony brought before the committee by Mr. Wood.

4:20 p.m.

President, Director, Gatineau Police Service, Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police

Director Mario Harel

Well, it was very scientific on how the body reacts and deals with THC. On the disposition in this bill right now, for sure it's clear for us how it works and how we do the proof. Right now, we have the ability.... We sometimes take blood samples for our cases right now for alcohol, and we have drug response as of right now.

Those dispositions are more detailed on the per se limit for THC, which is new, but the procedure is quite similar. The only challenge is in regard to the time limit, the time we have to take those blood samples. That's the challenge we see in all of this.

4:25 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Housefather

Are there any other short questions?

If not, let me thank this panel.

You were all incredibly interesting and very helpful.

Oh, sorry, Mr. Nicholson, did you have....

4:25 p.m.

Conservative

Rob Nicholson Conservative Niagara Falls, ON

No.

4:25 p.m.

Conservative

Michael Cooper Conservative St. Albert—Edmonton, AB

I was just going to ask—

4:25 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Housefather

Mr. Cooper has one more question before I excuse you.