Mr. Speaker, in listening to the remarks of the member for London West we see the excellence that is brought to the work of this Chamber.
I want to speak very briefly on the process rather than the substance of this bill. For me the bill personifies and represents everything that is good about what we said we would do when we came to this House.
The very low number it has, Bill C-7, should indicate to members that a considerable amount of time has elapsed between the time this bill was introduced and today. The reason for that is quite simple. We said when we campaigned in the election in 1993 that we would introduce processes that allowed backbench members to get involved in a hands on way with the drafting of important legislation, which is exactly what happened with this bill.
The members for Vancouver East, Beaches-Woodbine, Oakville-Milton, Fredericton-York-Sunbury, London West, Etobicoke-Lakeshore, Saint-Denis, Lachine-Lac Saint-Louis and many others spent hundreds of hours arguing through the articles of this bill. They were concerned. This bill is a holdover from the previous government. As many members have said, when they first heard the testimony they thought something was wrong, that the bill did not meet the test that we campaigned on.
Members of this House worked exceptionally hard with the full support of three ministers, the Minister of Justice, the Solicitor General of Canada and the Minister of Health. They struggled to improve the bill and have it reflect the principles and the values which our party brings to this House.
In so doing, we received tremendous support from staff in the various ministries. I want to single out an individual, Mr. Paul Genest, from our research bureau who put in all of those hours with each of these members as they thought through, argued through and worried about the details. It is not easy being a backbencher and approaching legislation in the face of a cadre of experts, lobbyists and in this case people from other countries who come in and say that the legislation must be written in a particular way to meet their particular needs. It took a long time. It took much thought. It took very hard work.
I believe we have produced legislation that will, as the member for London West has suggested, put Canada in the forefront of leading the war on drugs from a perspective of harm reduction and not simply following the U.S. model that was established earlier in the eighties under Ronald Reagan.
This whole process has been an exercise in excellence and one in which our caucus should be very proud. I want to thank those members on the staff and in this caucus who worked so hard to do what we said we would do when we came here and that is allow every member of this House a hand in drafting important legislation.