Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise in support of this bill. Like its predecessor, Bill C-85, this bill is intended to improve and modernize the drug abuse provisions currently contained in the Narcotic Control Act and the Food and Drugs Act.
I believe all of us here recognize the need for some reform in this area. Parts of the legislation are more than three decades old. It is obvious we cannot fight the drug problems of the 1990s with 30-year old legislation.
Some members have raised concerns about various aspects of the bill, particularly the health provisions which constitute the major part of the bill. Maybe those members are not aware that many of the concerns they have expressed have already been addressed by changes incorporated in Bill C-85 last year.
Although it is for the Minister of Health to respond to those concerns which have not yet been addressed, it is necessary to emphasize two points regarding the health provisions before I turn to the smaller but important law enforcement component of this bill.
This bill must not be looked at in isolation. It is not a standalone piece of legislation. It is the last and most important in a series of pieces of legislation designed to support the Canada drug strategy.
This federal program is a ten-year, $480 million campaign launched back in 1987 to fight substance abuse and drug trafficking in Canada. As part of that strategy Bill C-7 is an important element of the government's overall campaign to curb substance abuse.
Some members have raised alarming images of innocent doctors and pharmacists unable to practise their professions, of violations of doctor-patient confidentiality and of the potential for law abiding citizens to be prosecuted for the use of everyday substances such as caffeine. Of course nothing could be further from the truth. I believe that even the members who mouth that kind of fear know they are engaging more in fear mongering than in fact dissemination.
The initial health regulations to be proposed under this new bill will be identical in effect to those which currently exist under the Narcotic Control Act and parts III and IV of the Food and Drugs Act. Further, all of these existing regulations were developed in close co-operation with the people they most affect, the doctors, the pharmacists and the veterinarians. We are not reinventing the wheel, we are simply building on a solid and proven foundation with the advice of the people most directly concerned.
The bill would eliminate ambiguity and broaden the scope of existing legislation so that governments and police services can respond effectively to the Canadian drug scene of the nineties. Undoubtedly new health regulations will eventually be promulgated but not before they have been developed in full consultation with the people most directly involved. That can hardly be described as acting in haste or with lack of forethought. This is simply acting with common sense.
The same common sense has been applied to the police enforcement aspect of the bill. Any police officer on the street will tell us that drug traffickers today use increasingly sophisticated methods to evade police efforts aimed at halting their deadly trade. To keep up with the traffickers the police need equally sophisticated investigative techniques such as reverse sting or sell-bust operations.
I hope my friend from Edmonton is getting all of this.