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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.

Topics

Automobile IndustryOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Vancouver Kingsway B.C.

Liberal

David Emerson LiberalMinister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, I have never heard so much hogwash in all my life.

The government is developing a strategy for the Canadian automotive sector that will be the most dynamic strategy we have had in Canada for 50 years. The 80,000 workers in the automotive industry will still be there in 10 years. The number will actually grow.

Fisheries and OceansOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Liberal

Lawrence MacAulay Liberal Cardigan, PE

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans.

The herring fishery off the northern coast of Prince Edward Island is being destroyed. Herring is considered by fishermen to be the queen of the sea, it is so vital to all the other stocks in the sea. DFO is allowing mid-shore seiner vessels to fish too close to Prince Edward Island.

Will the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans address this serious problem, move the seiners, and save the valuable herring stock for the fishermen?

Fisheries and OceansOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Halifax West Nova Scotia

Liberal

Geoff Regan LiberalMinister of Fisheries and Oceans

Mr. Speaker, the science shows that these herring stocks are in fact healthy. On the basis of science, this year the total allowable catch was increased by 10,000 tonnes.

As part of the management plan I announced earlier this year, the line for the commercial fishery was moved out to 20 fathoms, out of an excess of caution. Scientists will study the effects of the seiners on the ecosystem in the shallower waters to get the information needed to resolve this matter once and for all.

Citizenship and ImmigrationOral Question Period

November 2nd, 2004 / 2:55 p.m.

Conservative

Randy White Conservative Abbotsford, BC

Mr. Speaker, Canada is hearing refugee claims from countries considered safe by UN convention, such as Germany, Switzerland, and the United States. I would like to ask the immigration minister why legitimate refugee hearings were put on hold to hear hundreds of refugee claims by U.S. citizens last year.

Citizenship and ImmigrationOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

York West Ontario

Liberal

Judy Sgro LiberalMinister of Citizenship and Immigration

Mr. Speaker, I think the hon. member is well aware of the fact that we continue to have a very fair and generous system. It is quite effective, and there are lots of avenues of recourse for anyone who disapproves of the decisions that a refugee board makes.

Citizenship and ImmigrationOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Conservative

Randy White Conservative Abbotsford, BC

Mr. Speaker, how is this for fair and generous? Some recent American refugee claimants include drug traffickers, people fleeing from multiple crimes, army deserters, and even a wanted Hell's Angel. While waiting for a hearing these so-called refugees stay in Canada and receive medical benefits and financial assistance, handing Canadians a bill for millions of dollars.

Why does the Liberal government knowingly shelter American criminals, instead of deporting them and freeing up our resources for real refugees in this country?

Citizenship and ImmigrationOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

York West Ontario

Liberal

Judy Sgro LiberalMinister of Citizenship and Immigration

Mr. Speaker, let me just assure the hon. member that the door is open on the other side, and it is the same thing. If any of our people go across the border and claim the same thing, they can also do that and claim refugee status. We have a fair system; we have a just system. Under the UN convention, if someone claims asylum or refugee status in a country, they are entitled to due process.

AboriginalsOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Bloc

Bernard Cleary Bloc Louis-Saint-Laurent, QC

Mr. Speaker, the peace of the braves between the Cree and Quebec put an end to judicial proceedings against Quebec. Proceedings against Ottawa, however, are ongoing because, five months from the deadline, none of the issues have been resolved.

Could the Minister of Indian Affairs confirm that, come April 2005, this very important matter for Quebec and the Cree will not turn into another James Bay battle between Canada and—

AboriginalsOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development.

AboriginalsOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Fredericton New Brunswick

Liberal

Andy Scott LiberalMinister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians

Mr. Speaker, the James Bay Cree negotiations are extremely important to the Government of Canada and, I must say, are moving along nicely. We expect good news soon.

Canadian HeritageOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Liberal

Scott Simms Liberal Bonavista—Exploits, NL

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the hon. Minister of Canadian Heritage.

On October 30 the minister co-hosted a meeting in Halifax with the provincial and territorial ministers responsible for culture and heritage.

Having supported the renewal of the program “Tomorrow Starts Today” at the current level, would the minister tell us more about that meeting?

Canadian HeritageOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Jeanne-Le Ber Québec

Liberal

Liza Frulla LiberalMinister of Canadian Heritage and Minister responsible for Status of Women

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to say that the provinces presented a unanimous resolution proposed by Saskatchewan and seconded by Alberta which states:

--the Federal, Provincial and Territorial Ministers responsible for Culture and Heritage pledge their renewed collaborative efforts toward the elaboration of the Convention, [under UNESCO] which would reiterate the right of governments to adopt cultural policies.

Furthermore, the provinces and territories pledged for the renewal of both the “Tomorrow Starts Today” initiative and the historic places initiative.

International CooperationOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Bloc

Diane Bourgeois Bloc Terrebonne—Blainville, QC

Mr. Speaker, last Tuesday, the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development tabled a report which informs us that CIDA does not have the means to gauge the overall results of its international aid projects. It also says that CIDA has no performance expectations for its water-related programs, and its staff are uneasy about the excessive number of untargeted priorities.

What does the Minister of International Cooperation plan to do to get CIDA to review its approach, determine where it stands, and where it is going, with respect to the environment as the commissioner wants it to?

International CooperationOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Barrie Ontario

Liberal

Aileen Carroll LiberalMinister of International Cooperation

Mr. Speaker, after the commissioner submitted her report I had the opportunity, having sought it out, to sit and speak with her about the results of that report. Although there were some criticisms to be made, on the whole her comments were quite complimentary.

The eight projects that she looked at were about five years ago, and while she did indeed make recommendations with regard to CIDA's ability to measure, I can assure the hon. member that we are very engaged in improving our track record in that--

International CooperationOral Question Period

3 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Elmwood—Transcona.

HealthOral Question Period

3 p.m.

NDP

Bill Blaikie NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health.

The Minister of Health will know that there is a consensus among all the opposition parties with regard to compensating all the victims of hep C.

Would the minister tell us what the position is of the government now? Will the government save the House a whole lot of time and just agree now to do the right thing and compensate all the victims of hep C?

HealthOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Vancouver South B.C.

Liberal

Ujjal Dosanjh LiberalMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, there is a take note debate tonight on that issue.

I have spoken to that issue many times. Our position is very clear. We are looking at the potential surplus in the fund established early on for the 1986 to 1990 class.

We will be speaking to the plaintiffs' lawyers. We will be taking this matter to cabinet. We are in agreement that we should be doing everything possible to compensate those victims.

HealthPoints of Order

3 p.m.

Conservative

Monte Solberg Conservative Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, during question period, I distinctly heard the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development call the member for Central Nova a liar and I would like him to withdraw.

HealthPoints of Order

3 p.m.

Eglinton—Lawrence Ontario

Liberal

Joe Volpe LiberalMinister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, I want to show a little more class than the member for Central Nova, so what I will do, if that word was offensive to him, I will withdraw it, but I am absolutely tired of the innuendo, the allegations, the slander and the slurs that come from his lips.

HealthPoints of Order

3 p.m.

The Speaker

Well, I take it the word has been withdrawn and we are thankful for that.

The House resumed consideration of the motion.

Contraventions ActGovernment Orders

3:05 p.m.

Parkdale—High Park Ontario

Liberal

Sarmite Bulte LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak to Bill C-17, an act to amend the Contraventions Act and the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. During the time I have been allotted I will take the opportunity to look at how other legislatures in other jurisdictions around the world deal with the possession of cannabis.

Countries around the world treat cannabis possession in different ways. Some countries tolerate forms of possession and consumption, other countries apply administrative sanctions or fines, while others apply penal sanctions. I was quite interested to learn this morning that certain states in the United States, notably Alaska, also treat cannabis possession in different ways, although it does vary from state to state.

However, despite the different legal approaches toward cannabis, a common trend can be seen, particularly in Europe, in the development of alternative measures to criminal prosecution for cases of use and possession of small quantities of cannabis for personal use. Fines, cautions, probation, exemption from punishment and counselling are favoured by many European justice systems.

In Spain, Italy, Portugal, Belgium and Luxembourg, the possession of small amounts of marijuana is not a criminal offence. In the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland and Denmark, it is still a criminal offence, but one that is never prosecuted.

In France, a directive recommends that judges and government departments use criminal proceedings only as a last resort when people have committed no offence other than the use of illegal drugs.

Britain recently reclassified marijuana from a class B to a class C drug. Possession will therefore be on a parallel with anabolic steroids and growth hormones, which, I should add, are still illegal but not an arrestable offence. However this is coupled with a reserve power of arrest for police officers where it is perceived that the possession of cannabis is a danger to public order or for the protection of children.

Most U.S. states envisage the possibility of imprisonment for the offence of possession of cannabis. However a dozen U.S. states have passed measures decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana. These include California, Alaska, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Maine, Nevada, Nebraska, Colorado, Oregon and Mississippi.

Typically in these cases decriminalization means no prison time or criminal record for first time possession of a small amount, approximately 30 grams to 60 grams, for personal consumption. State and local enforcement authorities treat the offence as a minor traffic violation.

Some Australian states and territories have also adopted cannabis decriminalization measures. Some of these measures are similar to what is being contemplated in Bill C-17. I would like to take a few moments to describe the situation in South Australia, the first Australian jurisdiction to adopt cannabis decriminalization measures.

Reform of the cannabis laws in South Australia came with the introduction of the controlled substances amendment act, 1986. The amendment proposed a number of changes to the controlled substances act, 1984, including the insertion of provisions dealing with the expiation of simple cannabis offences. This represented the adoption of a new scheme for the expiation of simple cannabis offences, such as possessing or cultivating small amounts of cannabis for personal use or possessing implements for using cannabis.

The cannabis expiation notice, known as the CEN scheme, came into effect in South Australia in 1987. Under this scheme, adults committing simple cannabis offences could be issued with an expiation notice. Offenders were able to avoid prosecution by paying the specified fee or fees which ranged anywhere from 50 to 150 Australian dollars within 60 days of the issue of the notice. Failure to pay the specified fees within 60 days could lead to prosecution in court and the possibility of a conviction being recorded.

Underlying the scheme was the rationale that a clear distinction should be made between private users of cannabis and those who are involved in dealing, producing or trafficking cannabis. This distinction was emphasized at the introduction of the CEN scheme by the simultaneous introduction of more severe penalties for offences relating inter alia to the production of all drugs of dependence and prohibited substances, including offences relating to larger quantities of cannabis.

The expiation system for minor cannabis offences in South Australia has been the subject of a number of evaluation studies. The impact of the implementation of such a system is therefore best seen there. As I mentioned, the South Australian cannabis expiation notice system began in 1987. One of the main arguments for an expiation system was the reduction of the negative social impact upon convicted minor cannabis offenders. Implicit in this argument was the belief that the potential harms of using cannabis were far outweighed by the harms arising from criminal conviction.

This is a belief also that resides in many Canadians.

The effect of introducing the CEN scheme on levels and trends of cannabis use in Southern Australia has been assessed by a number of surveys on drug use. None of these found an increase in cannabis use there that could be linked to its introduction.

The level of cannabis use over respondents' lifetimes did in fact increase considerably in Southern Australia, from 26% in 1985 to 36% in 1995, but comparable rises were also noted over the same period in states such as Victoria and Tasmania, which took a prohibitionist approach to cannabis.

The number of offences for which cannabis expiation notices were issued in south Australia increased from around 6,000 in 1987-88 to approximately 17,000 in 1993-94 and in subsequent years. This appears to reflect the greater ease with which police can process minor cannabis offences and a shift away from the use of police discretion in giving offenders informal cautions to a process of formally recording all minor offences.

There has been strong support by law enforcement and criminal justice personnel in south Australia for this CEN scheme. The scheme has proven to be relatively cost effective and more cost effective than prohibition would have been. The total costs associated with the CEN scheme in 1995-96, were estimated to be around $1.24 million Australian, while total revenue from fees and fines was estimated to be around $1.68 million Australian. Had a prohibition approach been in place, it is estimated the total cost would have been in excess of $2.01 million Australian, with revenues from fines of around $1 million which is much less than under the CEN scheme.

A report on the CEN scheme noted that it appeared to have numerous benefits for the community, not the least of which was cost saving for the community as a whole, reduced negative social impacts for offenders, greater efficiency and ease in dealing with minor cannabis offences and less negative views of police held by offenders.

The changes made in the cannabis laws in Australia are not technically decriminalization measures as cannabis possession remains a criminal offence in all Australian jurisdictions. What has been changed is a reduction in the penalty for processing small amounts of cannabis for personal use to something less than imprisonment which is what is being proposed in this bill.

I am happy to have the opportunity to say a few words. I would like to conclude my brief remarks by indicating again my support for the proposed legislation and that the bill be referred to the committee prior to second reading.

Contraventions ActGovernment Orders

3:15 p.m.

Conservative

Brian Fitzpatrick Conservative Prince Albert, SK

Mr. Speaker, I oppose the decriminalization of marijuana, and I will approach this matter from a different angle.

I will start from the angle of the problem we have with impaired driving, which is huge. On average four Canadians are killed every day in automobile accidents caused by impairment. When I saw our disabled Olympians the other day, I wondered how many of them were disabled as a result of an automobile accident caused by an impaired driver.

The figures are immense. It is a serious tragedy and a major evil. Liberal governments do not want to deal with the problem. They would rather tinker with the law rather than take serious steps to deal with the evil on our highways.

Last spring the member for Vegreville--Wainwright introduced a private member's bill in the House that would have closed some loopholes that allowed people to escape accountability and liability for their actions with regard to impaired driving. Liberals voted against that bill. I think their major reason for opposing that bill, in all honesty, was because it would have offended some defence lawyers, who make a good living at getting people in court off on minor technicalities. I do not have a lot of enthusiasm for that crowd, but people on the other side of the House do. I guess they have to ensure that their business is taken care of as well. Their game is making laws that leave loopholes and technicalities for people to escape liability.

This brings me to the issue of marijuana and impaired driving and the issues that flow from that. We are far from dealing with the problems of impaired driving caused by alcohol. Yet the government wants to open up another area by decriminalizing marijuana. It seems to me it is trying to create more mayhem and tragedies on our highways by proceeding in that way.

The research on this issue is frightening. The level of impairment of somebody who has had a small amount of marijuana is more severe than the level of impairment of somebody who has had a small amount of alcohol. Many studies have been done on that. Studies have indicated that when people have one joint, wait 10 minutes and have another joint and then take a normal sobriety test like touching their nose with their finger, or standing on one leg for 30 seconds or walking a straight line, they cannot do it. They have lost their coordination and their reflex time as a result of smoking a small amount of marijuana. If a bit of beer, or whiskey, or rum or something is added into that equation, it is disastrous.

We have an opportunity to emphasize prevention. It is too late when people are put in body bags and dragged off to the mortuary. It is too late when people are charged. The best thing we could do, as policy-makers, would be to prevent these tragedies at the beginning. The government's initiative seems to be going totally against getting impaired drivers off our highways, saving lives and preventing unnecessary injury and harm to people.

Let me examine a couple of other areas pertaining to the matter of impairment. We have devices that measure alcohol levels accurately. It is well established in the court system as to what these levels are and how these matters are processed. This is not the case with marijuana. We have no efficient device that can measure the level of impairment from marijuana.

Most cases dealing with impairment caused by marijuana, which are contested in the court system, are a defence lawyer's holiday. It is far easier to get an acquittal in that situation than it is for alcohol.

What we do by decriminalizing marijuana is invite a whole round of new legislation and more laws. That is the Liberal way. Liberals believe that passing laws is like waving a magic wand and something will happen at the other end. In real life it takes a lot more than commands and orders from the government through the form of legislation. It will take a lot of new technology to deal with that level of impairment.

The government in a way is telling young people and other people that it is okay, that it is not serious. It may not even be as bad as drinking alcohol, so maybe the drug of choice for people should be marijuana. The fine will not be very severe, so perhaps people can switch over to it. Is that what the government is inviting our society to do with this kind of law? What kind of message is this to parents and young people on the problem of impaired driving?

The cases dealing with impaired driving from marijuana are a disaster for the police and for the prosecution. They are a difficult problem for the courts. There is no simple answer. If we look at these cases, we are not getting convictions and we are tying up the court system. This is a very poor signal in this area.

I would invite anybody in the House to meet with families who have lost young people through automobile accidents caused by impaired drivers. I challenge any one of the members on that side of the House to tell those people that decriminalizing marijuana is a good idea.

I want to raise a side issue on this. As Canadians, we quite often say that Americans do not understand our concerns and interests. Sometimes I think Canadians are not so good at understanding American concerns and interests. I find it amazing in this day and age, with some of the rhetoric that comes from the other side of the House, that some Canadians do not really understand what happened on September 11, 2001.

Everyday we have a big trade surplus with the United States. Of our exports, 87% go to the United States. Exports help pay for our health care. They help pay for our social programs. They provide an awful lot of jobs in the country. Having that border secure and open is very important to our well-being.

The United States of America is concerned about our drug policies, our grow ops and our huge export of drugs through the border system into their country, and we do not seem to understand that. We are oblivious to that fact. We are sending the wrong signal, just as people call the President of the United States a moron, or a bastard or some other unflattering name. We do not understand what impact our policies are having on how Americans perceive us and our well-being as a nation.

Quite honestly, in a lot of areas we have a lot to be shameful for, especially on that side of the House.

Contraventions ActGovernment Orders

3:25 p.m.

Scarborough—Agincourt Ontario

Liberal

Jim Karygiannis LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, I want to add my personal thoughts on this very important issue. We have to look at the proposed legislation as well as what we are individually facing in our ridings. Although the existing legislation states that it is a criminal offence to have any marijuana and to grow any plants, it provides for a maximum of seven years for as many plants as one might grow. So if people grow 3, 10, 20, 50, or 100 plants, they would get a maximum of seven years.

In my riding I have been in contact with the local police superintendent, the local councillors, and the local provincial MPP. We do have a problem. I would like to describe my riding to the rest of my colleagues.

My riding is in a suburban area. It has homes that are three bedroom bungalows as well as homes that are about 2,700 to 3,000 square feet which make it an easy target for people who want to grow marijuana. Many people have bought homes and are doing just that. They have grow house operations. They are referred to as grow houses and some people also refer to them as grow ops.

This year alone there were over 40 houses that were busted by the police in the riding of Scarborough—Agincourt. In a conversation with the local superintendent of station 42, he conveyed to me that he feared that we have grow houses on every street in our area. Police will be constrained if they want to fight organized crime.

All of our efforts will have to be made in order to bust grow houses. There are many nights that I would drive home through the riding and would find police officers coming out from having busted a home. There are many times that I would drive by homes that were suspected grow houses and we were working with the police in order to put them out. Just last week there were three grow houses that were busted in my riding within 24 hours. These numbers present a concern. My local councillor conveyed to me that he felt that it was an epidemic.

I have spoken to many colleagues in the House and have been told that they too are in similar situations. For example, just to the north in the riding of Markham the police were busting a methamphetamine lab. They went to advise the neighbours that they could be in danger of having their homes explode and catch fire. What did they find? They knocked on the house next door and it was a marijuana grow operation.

For a long time we have been in need of legislation as well as best practices to ensure that we, the custodians of our neighbours, can and will close these grow houses. In my riding the three levels of government are working together and are taking the necessary first steps to bring about quick solutions.

For example, the city councillor just last week put two signs outside homes to advise the neighbourhood that the homes were grow operations and to let people know that should they buy that house that it was a grow operation. We are requesting from the Toronto Real Estate Board as well as other real estate boards in the province of Ontario that a disclosure be put into the offer when someone buys a house.

Many years ago, when we were buying homes that might have had formaldehyde insulation, there was a full disclosure. One of the things we want to do is ensure that people know that a house that they are buying was a grow operation. Real estate agents must ensure that this is disclosed by the seller. The provincial member is looking into that aspect to have provincial legislation to address this concern.

The Province of Ontario is also passing legislation to allow the public utility to check the amount of hydro that is used by the house. If there is extreme usage, then the public utility can temporarily shut off the hydro in order to determine whether or not it is a grow house.

Then we look at this place and what we can do right here. The bill that we are debating today states that the bill will restructure the offences. One to three cannabis plants will result in a summary conviction offence punishable by a fine of $500 for adults and $250 for youth. This offence will be prosecuted exclusively by way of a contravention ticket. Four to 25 cannabis plants will be punishable by a summary conviction of up to 18 months imprisonment and up to a $25,000 fine or punishable on an indictment of up to five years less a day imprisonment. For 26 to 50 cannabis plants, the result will be punishable by an indictment of up to 10 years. More than 50 cannabis plants will be punishable by an indictment of up to 14 years.

It is appropriate that the penalty for cultivating up to three plants be reduced. The person who is growing only up to three plants is not likely to be involved in trafficking or organized crime. However, we deplore the use of marijuana when persons get to the use of 50 cannabis plants and more. We have homes in my riding that are 2,700 and 3,000 square feet and they have more than 200 plants in those homes.

Many of my constituents have expressed concerns over the bill. This bill does not legalize the use of marijuana. The bill addresses the needs of my area with regard to grow houses.

I will be working with colleagues from all sides of the House to ensure that we shut down grow house operations and put them permanently out of business for our future generations. It addresses the needs of my area and more work needs to be done.

Contraventions ActGovernment Orders

3:35 p.m.

Conservative

Myron Thompson Conservative Wild Rose, AB

Mr. Speaker, we all knew the day would come when the bill would be reintroduced in the House, the bill which was introduced in the previous Parliament. I believe it was Bill C-10 at that time. We hoped that if it was reintroduced, it would have the changes that are so necessary to make it a worthy bill.

Obviously, after looking at this particular legislation, it has not been done. The government members did not listen to the suggestions that came from victims groups, police agencies, and other representations made to the committee last session. We are ending up with the same thing we had in the past.

This party is really not interested in seeing people getting criminal records. We are not interested in destroying kids' lives because of mistakes they make. At the same time, I am personally not interested in providing an opportunity that could lead down the slippery slope and cause a great deal of grief for a great number of people.

I base these comments on the experiences I had as a school principal for 15 years. The children in the particular junior high school were no different from any of the children I have worked with or seen across the country in all kinds of schools. They were good, ordinary kids, capable of making mistakes, and at the same time getting trapped into a very dangerous substance that could cause them a great deal of grief.

Over that period of 15 years I want to assure hon. members that we had to deal with a number of children at the teenage level who experimented with marijuana, who had to try it, and who got involved with it to a greater degree than they anticipated. It is sad to say that in a school with a very small population the results of the children engaging in this particular substance ended about 80% of the time in tragic ways.

This is a dangerous drug. We cannot take it lightly. We have heard the comments that it is no different from a can of beer and that it is just one of those things we do and then we forget it. That is not the case with a lot of young people. I am talking about people who ended up taking their lives through suicide.

It started with marijuana and the kicks it provided. I am talking about leading into better feeling drugs, whatever they might be. I have no idea what these things do to an individual, but I do know that it alters their mind and it alters their way of thinking. Any drug that does that, alcohol being a prime example, cannot be all that great if we overdo it.

In many cases people who have entered into this activity have ended up overdoing it and getting into situations that caused them, their families and their parents a great deal of grief. This is the plea we hear from victims all across the country and all across the school sector.

During the 15 years I was there, parents would say that we would have to do something to keep marijuana and other types of drugs out of our schools, that it was dangerous and could lead to bad things like automobile wrecks, and activities that we would never think of doing under normal conditions.

Over the last few years we have seen what overindulgence in drinking can cause. It causes a great deal of grief for a great number of people. If we are going to do it, it has to be done properly, but I am not sure how that particular thing is done. How do we properly do things that alter the mind and that cause us to do things that we would not ordinarily do?

The bill is not intended to make big criminals out of kids who make mistakes and I agree with that. However, at the same time, let us not go soft enough in the direction that it might lead kids to think that even the Government of Canada supports a certain amount of use of this type of drug.

That to me is the fearful step that can lead down a slippery slope ending up with the results that I have seen personally with friends of mine whose children either died at their own hands, in a tragic accident or just by doing a stupid thing. It is dangerous. We have to recognize that.

I see all kinds of flaws in the bill. For example, having 30 grams is considered safe and will not result in a criminal record.

I have checked with some people who have experimented with this particular drug. I certainly have not; I am no expert on it because I have never used it. I am no expert on it because I never went to the extent of finding out exactly what impact it does have. I have only seen the results from dealing with those who have been on it.

I have been told, and I believe it is true, that 30 grams would make a terrific high for a great number of young people, that up to 12 or 15 kids could enjoy 30 grams of marijuana. What are we saying here? Obviously if it can supply 12 to 15 young people with a sufficient amount of stuff to last for quite a while and cause a great reaction or whatever it is that it does, then if one individual has that much, how much damage will it do to that one person if that is for his or her own personal use?

That is what is being said in this bill, that up to 30 grams is okay. If that amount makes 50 to 60 cigarettes, joints, or whatever they are called, that sounds like an awful lot. I do not believe for a moment that we can take that lightly, yet this bill is willing to do that. We have to change that. That just cannot be the case. Thirty grams can be rolled into a lot of joints.

I have also been told that a 30 gram bag of marijuana has a street value of approximately $300. We have a fit today if a kid is carrying around a $10 pack of cigarettes. If a person under the age of 18 is carrying cigarettes that he or she spent 10 bucks for, that is against the law, and of course we are going to fine him or her. We want to do the same thing here except here we are going to say that up to 30 grams of marijuana is okay. Well I am afraid that is way overboard. That is carrying things way too far.

Imagine the amount of profit that the person could make if he or she a had a 30 gram bag of that to sell every day. If the person was caught, he or she would pay a $100 fine, no big deal. Maybe the next five days he or she would not get caught and would sell a bag for 300 bucks each day. That would be a pretty good profit.

What are we doing when we come up with this soft way of looking at these serious issues if not giving out the message that maybe some things are worth taking the chance? From my experience, going into marijuana at any degree would not be worth the chance.

The end result in too many cases has been too severe to allow legislation to fluff it up enough that it encourages some people to say, “Wow, I could do a little of this. I can take a chance. If I get caught, sure I will get a small fine, but nothing too serious will come out of it,” or “I could get up to 30 grams to throw a big wing-ding of a party and be the supplier”. It seems to me if someone is supplying 30 grams to some other people just to have a wing-ding of a party, then the person is breaking the law in that sense.

I do not know where we are going with this. I remember there used to be a time when, if a minor was in possession of booze, the first thing they wanted to know was where he or she got it. If an adult had provided booze to that minor, that adult would be in a lot of trouble. People went to jail in those times. Now it is not even mentioned. It is not even talked about. It is not a big deal.

We are relaxing things too much in too many areas of this type and it is not leading to good things. It is leading to some very bad things that are occurring in our society. We need to stop and think about it. If there ever was a piece of legislation that we needed to have a real good look at during committee, and I hope all parties will do that, this bill would be it. The bill is seriously flawed and it needs correcting. I hope the committee will come back with a document that makes this House open its eyes and say, “If we are going to protect our kids, particularly the young people who engage in these activities, then we have to get tougher on how we deal with it”.

When we are dealing with a product that happens to be so easy to obtain in a prison where there is zero tolerance, then zero tolerance has to mean zero tolerance. Let us make these bills mean what we say. Let us not soft pedal.