House of Commons Hansard #20 of the 38th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was victims.


Contraventions Act
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.


Russ Hiebert South Surrey—White Rock—Cloverdale, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to address Bill C-17, an act to amend the Contraventions Act and the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act to decriminalize the possession of small quantities of marijuana. I will begin my comments by discussing some of the health consequences of this drug in particular.

First, let us be very clear that there is demonstrable harm with the use of marijuana. It is far worse than smoking. It is an activity that we are officially, as a House, trying to discourage. For example, emphysema and lung cancer are both consequences of smoking and drug use.

The New England Journal of Medicine says that smoking five joints a week is the equivalent of smoking a pack of cigarettes a day. Clearly there is a link to health consequences.

The Neurotoxicity and Teratology journal reports that a baby exposed to marijuana while in the womb has an increased chance of hyperactivity and social problems. The National Academy of Sciences says that marijuana can cause cancer, lung damage and babies with low birth weights. Another journal, Circulation Research of the American Heart Association reported a five-fold increase in heart attacks among people who smoke marijuana. The British Medical Journal revealed an increased incidence in schizophrenia and depression. Lastly, a Dutch study shows that cannabis smokers are seven times more likely than other people to have psychotic symptoms.

Clearly there is a host of health problems associated with this particular activity and we as a House should be doing everything we can to discourage it.

Let us be very clear from the very beginning. We are not talking about the marijuana of the 1960s and the 1970s, which was in a completely different category. In the 1960s the THC levels in marijuana was about .5% to 2%. What we see today coming out of British Columbia, what is known as B.C. bud, has THC levels of 35%. That is an enormous increase in the toxicity and the potency of this particular drug. What is also clear is that this is like the crack cocaine of marijuana. It is a natural step to harder drug usage. I know this from my experience, which I will refer to later, as an attorney having talked to young people who have been addicted to these drugs.

Finally, as the Canadian Medical Association acknowledges that cannabis is an addictive substance, why do we want to make it more accessible to young people instead of less accessible? I personally think it is a huge act of hypocrisy on the part of the government to have this legislation alongside Bill C-16, the drugged driving bill, because under Bill C-16 the government seems to acknowledge that driving while under the influence of marijuana is a serious concern and one we need to discourage, under Bill C-17 it makes it more accessible.

This morning I was talking to Sergeant Paul Mulvihill of the Surrey RCMP detachment in my riding. He was telling me that this approach was very short-sighted.

While I generally support the notion of Bill C-16 and the idea of a drugged driving bill, I want to comment briefly on some of my concerns. It probably needs a lot more funding to ensure that the officers are properly trained to administer that legislation and so the convictions will stick.

Health is not the only concern that I have with this particular legislation. I am also concerned about the economic consequences. We know these people have higher rates of absenteeism from work. There is a greater increase of family breakdown, a greater use of the medical system, such as addiction treatments and rehab centres, and of course there is the cost of incarceration. The more accessible these drugs become to Canadians, the more chances they will have to suffer the consequences of that. We need to consider this from an economic perspective.

I find it striking that just a few weeks ago the first ministers came to an agreement on health where they are handing out stacks of cash to the provinces to deal with health care and here we are encouraging, by reducing the consequences, behaviour that will cost our health care system enormous amounts of money. It will be a huge drain on the system.

From an economic perspective we cannot forget that we live next to our largest trading partner, one of the largest in the world, and that is the U.S. I can tell members that the Americans take a dim view of what the Canadian government is considering with this legislation.

The U.S. drug czar has recently indicated that there will be repercussions if we push ahead with this plan because 95% of the drugs, particularly those grown in British Columbia, do not stay in B.C. They go straight across the border, and they send us cocaine in exchange. It is a horrible problem. In light of the delays we are currently experiencing at the border, do we want to instigate further problems?

As a result of the terrorist attacks on September 11, we already face higher scrutiny at the borders. The second busiest border crossing in the country is in my riding. Truckers are waiting six to seven hours to cross the border with their products and we are proposing legislation that would increase the level of scrutiny and make it even harder for people to make a living as they move trade to and fro across the border.

We are not just talking about the economy. Those are general statements. We are talking about truckers with families in my riding who cannot make a living when their trucks are sitting at the border and not moving. This is a serious problem and we are bringing forward legislation that would poke another stick in the eye of the Americans. It is not the right thing to do.

I want to briefly address some of the criminal concerns related to the legislation.

The government claims that this is not about giving kids criminal records for smoking a joint. I beg to differ. The bill suggests that a fine be given for the possession of 30 grams of marijuana, which puts this whole theme that it is pushing to the lie that it is. Thirty grams of pot is enough pot to make 30 to 60 marijuana cigarettes. Let me say that if people are walking around with 30 to 60 joints in their pockets it is not about personal possession, it is about trafficking.

What do we do here? We fine these people a $150 for trafficking. However, to a drug pusher who is making tens of thousands of dollars a month, paying a $150 fine is the cost of doing business and it is not a very big cost at all. In fact it is a small price to pay.

While I appreciate the fact that there are increased sentences for grow ops when 25 plants or more are at stake, what the legislation would actually do is decrease the consequences for grow ops with less than 25 plants. That just does not make any sense. Why would we be more lenient on people than we have been in the past as a result of this?

At the end of the day, without mandatory minimum sentences for these crimes, nothing will change. There will be no practical consequence.

The reality is that the lenient Liberal appointed judges are part of the problem. Because there are no deterrents under the existing system, the problem is getting worse. For example, in 1992, in the Vancouver area, 29% of the charges laid were drug related charges. In 2000 it had dropped to 4%. Clearly being lenient is not solving the problem.

I have spoken to enforcement officers in my riding who are tremendously frustrated with all the time and effort they have put into collecting evidence and having their cases dismissed in court or the sentences being of no real consequence to the criminals.

Let us make no mistake, grow ops are a serious problem. They cost us hundreds of millions of dollars a year. In fact, electricity utilities alone lose about $200 million per year from theft.

Where are the escalating sentences? The legislation equates the possession of pot to a parking fine. It is not even as serious as a speeding ticket where with subsequent speeding tickets the cost of the fine goes up. That is not so here.

As a lawyer who has dealt with criminals, I am all too aware of the dangers of gateway drugs like marijuana. I have spoken with far too many young adults who as teens experimented with marijuana and have now spent a decade hooked on hard drugs like heroin.

Here we are doing everything we can to help people stop smoking but we are about to legalize marijuana, a drug far more dangerous to society and especially vulnerable youth. It does not make sense. I will do everything in my power to ensure that drug dealers will not have legal access to our children, and that includes amending the legislation.

Visually Impaired
Statements By Members

2 p.m.


Navdeep Bains Mississauga—Brampton South, ON

Mr. Speaker, three million people or 10% of the population cannot access regular print due to a disability and therefore require alternative formats. Only 3% of what is available in print is actually available in audio, electronic text or large print.

Microsoft, in my riding of Mississauga--Brampton South, and the Canadian National Institute for the Blind are working together to change this. They have been recognized for developing the CNIB digital library benefiting more than three million print disabled Canadians. The library provides access to tens of thousands of new books, over 40 newspapers and hundreds of magazines.

On behalf of all print disabled Canadians, I would like to take this opportunity to thank Microsoft and CNIB for their efforts and congratulate them on being presented with the award from the Canadian Centre for Philanthropy for the second consecutive year. Congratulations on a job well done.

Statements By Members

November 2nd, 2004 / 2 p.m.


Inky Mark Dauphin—Swan River, MB

Mr. Speaker, with the Canada-U.S. border closed to cattle exports, farmers can no longer afford to either sell or keep their livestock.

The government has provided little help politically or financially. While producers struggle, the government promises loan guarantees for the construction of Canadian packing plants. Guarantees alone will not build even one packing plant. The government stands by while this industry dies.

The Canada-U.S. border must be opened. The Liberal government must immediately start a WTO proceeding just as we have done to protect other Canadian industries. A successful challenge would oblige the U.S. to open its borders.

What is the government waiting for? When will it act? It is time that the Liberal government stood up for our cattle producers at the WTO. Canada's producers deserve a government that will support them in their time of need.

Athens Olympic Games
Statements By Members

2 p.m.


Raymonde Folco Laval—Les Îles, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate athletes Alexandre Despatie, Christopher Kalec, Philippe Comtois, Julie Leprohon, Jean Pascal, Nicolas Macrozonaris and Achraf Tadili, as well as coaches Jean-Paul Girard, Michel Larouche and Stéphane Larouche, all of whom took part in the Athens Olympic Games.

They all deserve to be honoured for representing us in their respective sports disciplines.

I have had the good fortune to witness all the sports talent in our region, even in groups of young people who participate in sports just for fun. I support all action aimed at helping our local athletes to achieve their goals. We in Laval are proud of our athletes, and I thank them.

Statements By Members

2 p.m.


Pierre Paquette Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, On Saturday, October 16, for the fourth year in a row, local writers left their usual haunts and set out to bring literature to the people, in the heart of downtown Joliette.

Again this year, some fifty writers from the Lanaudière region and all over Quebec, among them the three I accompanied, Élise Turcotte, Stanley Pean and Louis Caron, gave their time and their words in particular to anyone wanting to write a poem, a greeting card, a love letter, even a political speech.

The public scribe locations were provided by various downtown Joliette businesses, thereby continuing the great partnership of our region's business and cultural communities.

My congratulations to the man behind this project, Jean-Pierre Girard, and this brave group of writers who make this unique event possible. It hearkens back to the era of public scribes, when writers made their talents and knowledge available to others. Certainly no one in Joliette was suffering from writer's block that day. Congratulations to all who took part.

Dairy Industry
Statements By Members

2 p.m.


Lynn Myers Kitchener—Conestoga, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to draw to the attention of the House that representatives of Canada's dairy producers from every province are in Ottawa today to meet with members of Parliament on important issues related to this vital agricultural sector.

Dairy producers are here to discuss clear rules regarding the use of dairy terms and images which are not misleading to consumers. They are also here to discuss the impact of BSE on dairy producers' income. Since the discovery of a single case of BSE, dairy producers have suffered many losses due to the decreased market value of veal calves, replacement heifers, and cull cows resulting in the loss of an estimated total of $419 million on an annual basis. As the House knows, the dairy supply management system is based on three pillars. Each of these three pillars are equally important; weakening one would compromise the entire system.

It is most encouraging knowing that so many members of Parliament have taken the time to meet with the dairy farmers to discuss the current issues affecting this important industry.

Riding of Oxford
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Dave MacKenzie Oxford, ON

Mr. Speaker, as one of the first members of the 38th Parliament to be sworn into office, I am extremely honoured to stand before this House today as the member of Parliament for Oxford.

The riding of Oxford is a prime example of the fabric that makes up this great nation of Canada. It is filled with urban centres like Woodstock, Ingersoll, Norwich, Tavistock, and Stompin' Tom Connors' favourite, Tillsonburg.

During the election campaign and since then I have travelled to every corner of the riding. I can assure the House that the people of Oxford share many of the same values and concerns as those of their fellow Canadians.

I am pleased to report that the following mayors are present in Ottawa today taking part in the Ontario auto industry meetings: Mr. Paul Holbrough, Mayor of the Town of Ingersoll; Mr. Michael Harding, Mayor of the City of Woodstock; and Mr. Steven Molnar, Mayor of the Town of Tillsonburg.

I urge my fellow colleagues to welcome their presence here with us today.

Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Sarmite Bulte Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, on Sunday, October 31, the Félix awards were presented at the 26th gala of the Quebec recording, performance and video industry association. This event, broadcast live from St. Denis Theatre on the French network of the CBC, celebrated the outstanding contribution of francophone music.

The ADISQ showcases the exceptional talent of our artists and the expertise of professionals in the Quebec music industry. The vitality of the industry is obvious. It is reflected in the diversity and quality of its artists.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank ADISQ, a key stakeholder in the Canadian music industry, for organizing this event every year, and to congratulate all the music artists who took part.

The government is proud to support artists and the Canadian recording industry through various Canada music fund programs. In four years this fund will have invested approximately $95 million in this industry in order to strengthen all of its sectors from creators to audience.

Congratulations to all the winners at ADISQ.

Jean Lemire
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Pauline Picard Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Royal Canadian Geographical Society will be presenting Jean Lemire from Drummondville with its gold medal for his mission and his five documentaries on the impact of climate change on the wildlife and the inhabitants of the Arctic. Since their first screening in 2003, these documentaries have been seen by more than 10 million people.

Trained as a biologist, Jean Lemire makes us realize that the thawing permafrost is distressing proof that the Arctic is suffering the effects of global warming.

In September 2005, he will head out for the Antarctic, one of regions most seriously affected by climate change. He and his team will spend one year aboard their sailboat and produce a series of movies for the International Polar Year, in 2007.

Congratulations to Jean Lemire and all his team. May his movies encourage us all to take aggressive action to save our planet.

Canadian Automobile Association
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Alan Tonks York South—Weston, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise to congratulate the Canadian Automobile Association, CAA, for the important work it does on behalf of Canadians. I also want to welcome its 11 clubs to Parliament Hill who are visiting us today from across the country.

The CAA is a federation of automobile clubs which represents the rights and interests of more than 4.5 million Canadian motorists. Through public awareness campaigns and government advocacy, CAA is working with public policy makers to improve roadway safety, reduce accident related injuries, and assist government to meet its climate change goals.

This year the CAA's focus is on roadway infrastructure and the urgent need for additional funding. While supportive of the government's recent commitment to infrastructure redevelopment, it urges us not to forget the important role roads and highways play in the Canadian economy.

I want to thank the CAA for its efforts and for the important work it does on behalf of Canadian motorists and the travelling public.

Statements By Members

2:10 p.m.


Rob Merrifield Yellowhead, AB

Mr. Speaker, since 1998 the official opposition has urged the government to compensate all hepatitis C victims of tainted blood.

We accepted Justice Krever's recommendation to compensate all victims, not just those inside an artificial window. However, year after year the Liberal government has denied fair treatment to thousands of Canadians and their families. On October 21 the Commons health committee passed a motion urging this government to compensate all who contracted hepatitis C from tainted blood. The motion passed unanimously.

I have given notice to move concurrence in this House for this motion. During tonight's debate we will be looking for clear support from this government and a timetable for action, not more studies. We cannot erase the wrongs of years past, but we can do something for the remaining victims and their families before it is too late.

Compensation was the right thing to do in 1998 and it is the right thing to do today. The funds are in place; the excuses are getting weak. Canadians are watching. Victims are waiting. Let us do the right thing.

Dan MacPherson
Statements By Members

2:10 p.m.


Wayne Easter Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, I want to note before the House the passing of a valued member of our community, Mr. Dan MacPherson. Dan, as stated by a friend, walked the talk in being an active member of his community, his industry, his province and his country. He touched many lives.

I will name just a few of his achievements. He was president of the Prince Edward Island Branch of Holstein Canada, founding member of the Dairy Producers Association, president of the P.E.I. Federation of Agriculture, founding chair of the Farm Centre, 4-H Club leader, founding member of the P.E.I. 4-H Council and its president, Sunday school teacher and superintendent for 30 years, elder and clerk of session, trustee for the Charlottetown Rural High School, chairman of the Second Queens PC Association, funeral director, and founding member of the Central Queens Funeral Coop.

Dan was a kind and supportive family man who was a good neighbour, a successful businessman, and a man of faith who lived true to his convictions.

Statements By Members

2:10 p.m.


Alexa McDonough Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, the Darfur region of Sudan is the site of the worst humanitarian crisis in today's world. There are 1.5 million displaced Sudanese, hundreds of thousands of starving and diseased, and tens of thousands killed, raped and tortured.

Yesterday the Sudan Liberation Army walked away from peace talks conducted under the auspices of the African Union because the government army conducted new raids on refugee camps in Darfur, denying humanitarian agencies access to refugees.

The Prime Minister must unequivocally condemn these raids. He must not use his trip to Sudan later this month as an excuse for remaining silent in the wake of these latest atrocities. Canada's peacebuilding leadership is desperately needed. We have a moral obligation to show that leadership in this desperate crisis.

Canadian Automobile Association
Statements By Members

2:10 p.m.


Werner Schmidt Kelowna, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise to welcome representatives of the Canadian Automobile Association. The CAA is a traffic safety advocate that works with public officials, media, motorists and the general public on such important issues as school safety patrols, the safety of child car seats and seat belts, and of course safer roads and highways.

Much of our daily routine and economic activity involves the use of vehicles travelling on a network of roads and highways that need to be maintained and upgraded for the safety of the travelling public. The CAA remains committed to these traffic safety goals and is here to remind us of the need for appropriate funding of our highway infrastructure on which so much of our lives depend.

Better roads and highways will provide Canadians with economic, environmental and safety benefits. I congratulate the CAA for its continued diligence on behalf of drivers, motorists and the travelling public.

Dairy Production
Statements By Members

2:10 p.m.


Paul Crête Rivière-Du-Loup—Montmagny, QC

Mr. Speaker, dairy farmers from all regions of Quebec and Canada are meeting today with members of this House.

These dairy farmers of Canada represent thousands of families working on dairy farms that generate agricultural revenues of around $4 billion. Considering direct sales for milk processing and the economic activity derived from the provision of goods and services to dairy producers and processors, the industry's economic activity adds up to $26 billion and provides employment for 142,505 Quebeckers and Canadians.

In addition, survey results show that Quebeckers and Canadians pay less for dairy products than do their neighbours to the south. Stable and competitive prices for consumers, a steady supply of high-quality milk for dairies, and the ability of producers to earn fair market returns; these are the advantages of a supply management system.

I want to thank all those who feed us.