Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure today to speak on Bill C-7, the controlled drugs and substances bill. I would like to discuss for a few moments the rationale for this legislation, in effect why Canada needs this bill and why the government is appealing to members of this House to support it.
The current situation the world faces regarding illicit drugs is unsettling. The problem of addiction and those who profit by addiction troubles the nation. It troubles my constituents and speaking as one who is elected to represent those same constituents, it troubles me. The bill is a major contribution to effective law enforcement and prosecution of offenders as it consolidates, enhances and modernizes current drug legislation.
It is true in many communities that there has been some decline in drug abuse among the general population, but there are also some distressing trends. Some abusers are taking much more potent drugs and the results are very harmful. Others are using drugs in very dangerous combinations.
There has been continuing inclination by youngsters to adopt the dangerous practice of taking anabolic steroids to try to build up their bodies. Unfortunately, prompted by constant and uncritical coverage in the media, uninformed people have come to abuse the drug without thinking of the consequences and equally unfortunately dealers have responded to this new demand.
Abuse has now spread to gymnasiums and high schools, putting at risk the health of young men and women. As is common in drug dealing, the anabolic steroids may be adulterated, raising the risk even higher.
The bill is designed to provide the government with improved means to prosecute people who deal illegally in anabolic steroids. It furnishes a framework to target purveyors of poison, the drug dealers who are the instruments of destruction of too many young citizens.
Despite a gradual decline in the abuse of most drugs, there are several alarming trends emerging on the horizon. Many drugs which are abused today are extremely potent with more potentially damaging consequences. Abusers are consuming drugs by much more dangerous means and they are using drugs in more dangerous combinations.
There is a growing frustration among law enforcement officials, community leaders from across the nation and Canadians in general. They are calling on provincial governments and the Government of Canada to assign a higher priority to dealing with drug abuse and its costly impact. Demands are being made for more severe sentences, a streamlining of the judicial system and assignment of the proceeds of drug crimes to help finance education and enforcement programs.
Court delays and complexities of administering the law have only helped to fuel the public's growing concern. Some law enforcement agencies have declared that the costs of enforcing the law against drug dealers have become high.
The government recognizes that these concerns require deliberate and sustained action, including combating the evil of addiction on three fronts: education and prevention, treatment and rehabilitation, and enforcement and control.
Bill C-7 corrects the deficiencies of existing drug control legislation. It encompasses all listed substances and declares them illegal for other than legitimate medical, scientific or industrial use.
In conjunction with the proceeds of crime legislation adopted in 1988 and proclaimed on January 1, 1989, the bill will empower the courts with the right to confiscate all property and capital accumulated as a result of or used in the commission of drug related crimes. This will provide police forces and the judiciary with the tools they need in a manner consistent with the charter of rights.
With the bill Canada will fulfil its international obligations found under the 1961 single convention on narcotic drugs, the 1971 convention of psychotropic substances and an international treaty governing the trade of illicit drugs.
The proposed bill can become an effective instrument in enforcing the law and controlling the import, export, production, sale, distribution and possession of illegal drugs. The bill seeks to update, enhance and consolidate a section of the Food and Drug Act and the Narcotic Control Act, both passed long ago in the sixties.
While the whims and wants of society have become more and more sophisticated since that time, unfortunately so has the network of drug producers and dealers.
The bill is designed to correct certain anomalies and shortcomings in our current law. In so doing it will enable law enforcement agencies to deal more effectively with a cunning, determined and resourceful adversary, the dealer in illicit drugs.
The new main provisions of the bill include controls on the import and export of precursor chemicals used by drug manufacturers. These chemicals include substances, usually not themselves psychoactive, which criminals can change easily into illicit drugs.
The bill also provides for provisions to control the production, sale, distribution, import and export of androgenic-anabolic steroids; provisions to control the possession, production, distribution, sale, import and export of designer drugs developed by dealers for the purpose of evading current laws; provisions to search, seize and have forfeited property used or intended for the purpose of committing drug offences, also known as offence related property including fortified drug houses.
The bill also includes a complete scheme for obtaining search and seizure warrants; the expansion of offences concepts relating to trafficking and production; the enhancement of control over disposal of controlled substances including forfeiture; new provisions to control the possession, production, distribution, sale, import and export of designer drugs; provisions which will facilitate Canada's commitments under the international conventions; and treatment by the courts of drug dealing in and around schools and other public places frequented by children and dealing drugs to minors as aggravating factors at the time of sentencing.
The principal purposes of the bill are to provide one comprehensive act for the drug control policy of the government and to provide for the enforcement and control aspects of Canada's drug strategy.
I will review briefly the seven principal parts of the bill as well as the introduction. Part I sets out the offences and punishment commensurate with breaking the proposed new law. The particular offences may include possession, trafficking, importing and exporting, production, possession of property obtained as a result of certain offences, and the laundering of proceeds obtained as a result of certain offences.
Part I also sets out specific aggravating factors to be considered by the court at the time of sentencing. These are directed particularly at drug dealers who target children, those who use weapons and violence, as well as those who have previous drug related convictions. This part also included a purpose clause dealing with sentences and, more particular, encouraging rehabilitation and treatment in appropriate circumstances.
Part II deals with enforcement of the proposed act by police. This includes provisions relating to search, seizure and detention of property or illegal substances, forfeiture of offence related
property, as well as a complete scheme for protecting innocent third party rights over such property and forfeiture of proceeds of drug related crimes.
Part III outlines procedures for disposal of controlled substances. Part IV covers administration and compliance.
There are seven parts to the bill and its most important provision is that it moves Canada 30 years in time from the sixties to the nineties. It codifies and empowers police while at the same time it protects citizens. It gives us a Controlled Drugs and Substances Act that has merit and is enforceable.