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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

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

5:35 p.m.

Conservative

Randy White Conservative Abbotsford, BC

Mr. Speaker, I do not know where the hon. member opposite was coming from when he said that we were not supporting the bill. Actually, we are supporting Bill C-16. We believe that something must be done with impaired drug and drunk driving.

The difficulties members in the House have is the fact that these bills are put in but not well thought out. Bill C-17, the marijuana bill, is exactly that. It is not well thought out at all. This bill proposes to support training police officers and spending around $11 million on them. The government wants enough police officers out there on the road to be able to detect drug and drunk driving.

The fact of the matter is there are not going to be enough trained police officers. In fact, the government says that by 2008 there will be several hundred trained which is ridiculous given that the marijuana bill is coming in 2004. It is issues like that where the government seems to be throwing in the bill on drug and drunk driving detection in order to take a little bit of the heat off of the decriminalization of marijuana bill. However, that being said, I can certainly live with any legislation that gives authority to police to determine whether a person is under the influence while behind the wheel.

We have gone so far today with drunk driving that problems have been created as a result. When drunk drivers hit somebody, they take off from the scene of the accident because they are fearful of staying at the scene of the accident and getting a drunk driving charge. More and more hit and run is increasing. That is why we have Carley's law coming to the House again in order to deal with those individuals who try to get away from drunk driving charges and leave the scene of an accident, leaving someone injured or dead.

Regarding Bill C-16, drivers suspected of being under the influence of a drug will by law this time have to submit to a roadside assessment test administered by a police officer. That is a good thing. The problem is that there is actually no roadside assessment test available today to determine whether an individual is under the influence of drugs. So it is one thing to say it; another thing to do it.

The government must commit to get the roadside assessment test in place promptly because we are dealing with the decriminalization of marijuana now. If drug impairment is suspected the individual must be detained at a police station and submit to another drug impairment assessment and a sample of bodily fluids may be taken for testing. That is a good move. The penalties for failing to submit to drug impairment would be equivalent to the penalties currently in place for failing to submit to an alcohol breathalyzer test. That too is good.

I can attest that we are now strengthening drug impaired driving investigations and we are on the right track. However, police officers have many concerns. I was talking to one of the senior police chiefs of one of our largest cities just before I came into the House. He said that it was one thing to try to get tests going which are not done yet and to train their officers, which will require a lot of money, but what are we going to do when we find a person that is under the influence? They are not paying fines today for speeding. How are we going to collect the drug driving penalties? Are we going to be chasing these people just as much as we chase speeders and try to get them to pay their fines? These are some of the many questions the police have on how this will be administered.

We have to deal with those issues in committee. In the meantime, let us not lose sight in Canada that this drug driving legislation, Bill C-16, and the decriminalization Bill C-17 are but two small parts of the problem that exists in drugs in this country.

I have said this and I do not know how many times in the House of Commons over the last five or six years, we have an epidemic in the country. It is drug addiction. We have bad people making a lot of tax free dollars from selling drugs to young people. We have new drugs coming on the market every day. Crystal meth is a serious problem. It is made in basements and in garages.

There are a lot of kids addicted to crystal meth, cocaine and heroin, and methadone, in fact. We have a serious drug problem. The government cannot afford today to tinker with bills that deal with decriminalization of marijuana and yet ignore, on the other hand, the terrible addiction that is taking place and underfunding things like rehabilitation, spending hardly anything relative to many other things in the country, advertising and education of young people.

There is such a thing as a national drug strategy. I know that the government is saying it has one. The fact is we do not. The health department is going around the country now getting focus groups in to talk about what should be in a national drug strategy. We cannot tinker with a system as large as drug addiction and just play with decriminalization of marijuana or drug impaired driving. I think it only stands to reason, and anybody who thinks they can, is sadly mistaken.

I have countless attestations from people who are addicted. They say marijuana got them into it. They have a hundred dollar a day habit. I recently talked to a young lady who has a $300 a day habit. She lives and breathes just to get enough money to get another shot.

While we in the House of Commons are talking about drug and drunk driving and decriminalization of marijuana, there are a lot of catastrophic issues and cases out on our streets. There are parents who do not know where their children are. There are young people trying to sell their bodies to raise enough money to get their next shot. There are bad guys out there stealing us blind and selling drugs to our kids.

For goodness sake, I will say it again, it is irresponsible and reprehensible of the House of Commons to be dealing with just one small aspect of drug addiction. Decriminalization of marijuana, yes, we can deal with it, but for goodness sake, members must get their heads out of the sand.

There are people watching this all across Canada right now saying “My child is addicted and these people are talking about decriminalization of marijuana and drug and drunk driving. Where is the common sense?” While we must deal with these two issues, we must also deal with the important big picture.

I have spent a lot of time with people who are addicted and a lot of time with parents who have children who are addicted. They are hoping that we in the House of Commons have the responsibility and the common sense to deal with some of these things. Please, let us not forget that our country, our parents and our young people need us to deal with drug addiction in totality, not just decriminalization of marijuana and not just drug and drunk driving.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

5:45 p.m.

Vancouver Centre B.C.

Liberal

Hedy Fry LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to speak to the motion to send the bill on drug-impaired driving to committee.

Bill C-16 is an integral part of the national drug strategy. It is an important part of the continuum of education, public awareness, treatment, harm reduction, and enforcement. This is one of the enforcement pieces that makes sure that continuum actually works. This legislation dovetails very nicely with the bill on marijuana that we have recently brought in. It is part of showing that nothing should be cherry-picked or taken on its own. It is part of an overarching strategy and plan.

There are some people who take a lot of relief from seeing that the number of deaths on our roads due to alcohol-impaired driving have dropped dramatically over the past twenty-some years, but I believe that so much more remains to be done to eliminate alcohol-impaired driving that we should not be heaving any sigh of relief at this point.

In public surveys the Traffic Injury Research Foundation has found that hundreds of thousands of drivers, representing some 6% of all drivers, make about five million alcohol-impaired driving trips each year. About 84% of all impaired driving trips are made by only 3% of all drivers. We are talking about a group of people who are in fact abusers of the drug alcohol.

This percentage sounds small, but it represents hundreds of thousands of drivers who put themselves, their passengers, and third party road users at risk. In road fatalities where there is at least one drinking driver, the drinking drivers and their passengers comprise the vast majority of fatalities. Often enough, fatal alcohol crashes are single-vehicle crashes.

We have far less information with regard to drug-impaired driving than we do with alcohol, but studies have shown that drivers using drugs are disproportionately represented in fatal crashes. We also hear of young people in Ontario who drive more often after using cannabis than they do after using alcohol. It is good that they are getting the message about not drinking and driving, but the news that they are driving after using drugs is alarming in the extreme. We also hear of drivers who combine cannabis and alcohol, as well as other drugs, and who have an even greater risk of crashing.

It is surprising that people take these risks while intoxicated by drugs or alcohol. Public education messages from government, organizations such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving, traffic safety organizations, police, health authorities, and educators are so prevalent that it is absolutely impossible to believe that there is a driver in Canada who is unaware of these messages.

Because these impaired drivers are still out there, it is important for members of this House to help the police where legislation can help. The drug-impaired driving amendments that are proposed in this bill could go a long way toward giving police officers the kinds of tools they need.

Sometimes the police may find someone driving who seems impaired, but the alcohol concentration is low on the breathalyzer test. The police have no ability to lay a charge, under paragraph 253(b) of the Criminal Code, of driving while over the legal limit. Given the low reading on the breathalyzer, they may be reluctant to trust their own assessment of the impairment and lay a charge of impaired driving under paragraph 253(a) of the Criminal Code.

Having training that relates to the observation of symptoms of impairment could help police officers to make better observations, not only of drug impairment but also of alcohol impairment, in order to strengthen the case where drugs and alcohol in combination are causing the impairment but the alcohol is only at a very low level.

The proposed amendments do not create a new offence of drug-impaired driving. That offence is already in the Criminal Code, and it carries serious penalties. When the drug-impaired driving causes bodily harm, the maximum penalty is equal to that for manslaughter and criminal negligence causing death.

This proposed legislation would give police officers the authority to demand roadside physical tests, more precise tests at the police station, and a bodily fluid sample. If all these elements align, then a prosecution could proceed.

At the present time, the police can only do physical tests if they have a suspect who voluntarily agrees. Surprisingly, there are many who do voluntarily agree; but not surprisingly, the police are often stopped short in their investigation because impaired drivers do not agree to have the test done.

The training that the police receive relating to drug recognition evaluations can help them in other ways when it comes to ruling out alcohol and drugs as causing impairment.

In policing the roadways or in dealing with persons who are arrested, the trained officer may conclude that medical attention is needed and that there is no drug or alcohol impairment. So there is another part of giving the police these kinds of training and skills.

It is interesting to note that even if a person has taken a drug, they may not be impaired by the amount they have taken, or the impairing effects may have worn off. This proposed legislation addresses drivers who are actually impaired by a drug. A certain threshold that attracts suspicion must be reached before the police can make a demand. If the investigation determines that the person is not impaired, then there will be no charge.

This bill, as I said earlier, shows the government's commitment to deliver reforms to drug-impaired driving as an adjunct to its cannabis reform. I note that a consultation document on drug-impaired driving in the fall of 2003 incorporated discussions among federal, provincial, and territorial officials, and that the comments received from the consultation helped to inform the bill that was tabled as Bill C-32 on drug-impaired driving in the previous Parliament. Of course the drug-impaired driving bill is not limited to cannabis; it addresses all drugs and impaired driving.

It is important to note that independent of the proposed cannabis reform, the drug-impaired driving amendments are necessary, and they should proceed independently. That is precisely why they are in their own bill and not subsumed in another bill, even though they are related.

There are some people who believe that demanding a set of physical tests from a suspect is an intrusion on liberty, but I would remind anyone who thinks this that the police are not on a fishing expedition. They are required to have a threshold of suspicion before making a demand for the physical tests. The drug recognition evaluation officer must have a reasonable belief that a drug-impaired driving offence has occurred prior to demanding these tests, and only when the evaluation officer identifies a class of drugs is there a demand for a bodily sample.

I would like to support this bill. It is a good bill. It gives the police the kind of training that they need to become good drug evaluation officers on the street, and it does not infringe upon the liberties of people on whom that demand is being made.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

5:55 p.m.

Conservative

Myron Thompson Conservative Wild Rose, AB

Mr. Speaker, I don't know why it is, I guess it's just my luck that whenever I get up to speak it always follows a speech from a Liberal who just amazes me on these kinds of issues, one who says the government has been committed and is committed to doing the right thing.

Right off the bat, I want the Speaker to know that I agree with this bill, but where was the member in the eighties, when there were people dying on the highways and they knew darned well it involved drugs? This kind of thing has been going on for ages. All of a sudden, in the year 2004, we want to do something about it.

There has been a huge commitment in the country. It is something the Mothers Against Drug Driving have been calling for for a long time. It is something the police departments have been calling for for quite some time. Now we have heard another one of these kinds of speeches. Really, it irritates me to think that the member has been here for as long as I have, and possibly longer, and finally has come to the point where she can get up and glorify the wonderful government and talk about how they are going to address this terrible issue, which has been going on for ages. Where do they come from? It is really a puzzling part for me.

Only about two hours ago I was asked to speak to a bill about decriminalizing marijuana. They can say what they want, but when we decriminalize marijuana it is going to kill any deterrent for a lot of people where it once existed. If the fact is that they are not going to get a criminal record for using marijuana, I believe it will certainly encourage younger people to maybe do some things with marijuana that they never thought about in the past because they were afraid of getting a criminal record. It was a deterrent, but now we want to decriminalize it, so it might encourage them.

Two hours ago we were talking about a bill that will probably encourage the use of marijuana by our young people. I am sure it will, and I think a lot of people would agree with me. Then we turn around and suddenly find a miracle bill to deal with it because we know it is going to get worse. It has been bad for a long time. We have tried to bring it to the attention of the House a number of times. I had a private member's bill once on behalf of victims.

One set of parents lost a beautiful daughter at age 16. She was run into from behind when she was trying to make a turn off a highway, signalling and everything. All the fire and police department members who were there said there was no indication of any alcohol, but they were quite certain that the driver of the other vehicle was under the influence of drugs, just from the way he was acting. He was driving a huge vehicle, which literally stomped out the little car that smashed the girl to death.

Nobody could do anything about that. Their hands were tied. There was no alcohol, but there was evidence about the existence of drugs in the person who caused the accident. There was nowhere to turn.

That was over ten years ago. I brought the private member's bill in here in 1993 with the hope it would attract some attention in the House, that maybe we ought to look at the possibility of testing drivers who could be under the influence of something other than liquor.

Now, 12 years later, in 2004, I hear a wonderful speech from one of the Liberal members, who all of a sudden has seen the light about bringing in this bill, which I am going to support, and doing it right behind a bill that in my view, and I am sure in the view of others, is going to encourage the use of marijuana.

We might find the odd 17-year-old or 16-year-old who maybe thought about using marijuana but said that they did not want to take a chance because they might get a criminal record. But guess what? We are talking about a 30-gram bag; if we keep it under that, you wouldn't get a criminal record. Does that not sound a little encouraging, rather than discouraging?

We are presenting a bill on one hand that is going to encourage more people to maybe think about using marijuana, and on the other hand we are going to strengthen a bill that is going to make sure that we get them when they start using it and then driving.

Something is wrong with that picture. Bill C-16 should have been introduced without Bill C-17, which could wait quite some time. Bill C-16 should have been brought in a long time ago, but it needs to be strengthened.

We need to start thinking about is how we will provide the tools to police officers so they can detect those people who offend while driving under the influence of any kind of a drug. I hope we do this at committee and in the future when we discuss this bill.

We are quite certain that it will take a lot of training. That training will come from police officers who will train other police officers. From where will these police officer come? They will probably come from the detachments we have in every riding, which are shorthanded now. These detachments need more men and women on the force, but they are not getting them. Now we will take more out of the detachments to do the training. That is fine because we need the training. However, to bring in more police officers and expand the force to some degree will cost money. The government does not know if it can afford that.

I have news for the government. It can afford it. Scrap the useless gun registry for crying out loud and direct that money to training police officers. It should do some training of police officers that will really help save lives and protect society, instead of spending more money on gopher shooters and duck hunters. The government is spending millions of dollars every day on something that as far as I know has not saved a life. I can guarantee that we have lost a lot more lives on the highways due to the influence of some sort. We know it is true for alcohol. We could all bet our last dollar that it is true for drugs.

In my view that would seriously attack the problem. That doing what needs doing. We will pass this bill in 2004. We will try to get the bill through the Senate and it will become law. We hope the Senate will put its stamp of approval on the bill. However, the police force will not be ready. Police officers will be pulled in from everywhere and police will be training police. They will learn more and more. The government will get to spend more money on research as well to ensure it gives them all the tools and the best equipment it can so they do a good job.

This should have been done a long time ago. The government knows this has been a problem. Mothers Against Drunk Driving have been telling the government for years that it is a problem. The police departments have been telling the government for years that it is a problem. Lo and behold we get a wonderful glowing speech from the member across who ought to know better. The Liberals have had opportunity after opportunity to do something about this.

Let us concentrate on getting the right things in place. Let us stop this nonsense about trying to bring in the decriminalization law when we do not even know what it will do. Has anyone really analyzed whether the decriminalization of marijuana will encourage its use? Do not forget it will take away a deterrent? We always talk about having to deter people from different things, and it is important to do this. However, does a bill that will decriminalize marijuana encourage its use? I really wonder if members have seriously thought about that.

I was a principal of a school for 15 years. I saw a number of students who were engaged in the activity of using marijuana. I had to work with them and their parents Over those 15 years there was not one case where any good came from its use. I can name several cases that ended up in severe tragedy, death on the highway, death from suicide and further addictions. Some of those very kids today are on the streets in Vancouver addicted to the hilt.

No good has ever come out of its use. We have to get that through our heads. If we want to pass laws that encourage the use of marijuana, that is absolutely brainless. We should do everything we can to deter it, to stop it and to fight it.

I will support Bill C-16 because we want to get people who are under the influence of drugs off our roads. Let us do a better job of putting something in place that will get people prepared to do it the way it needs to be done, not go at it haphazardly without accomplishing what needs to be accomplished first.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

6:05 p.m.

Liberal

Anita Neville Liberal Winnipeg South Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, I too am pleased to be here today to offer my support for what I believe is very important legislation. Drug impaired driving legislation is the first step in strengthening the enforcement of drug impaired driving offences.

However, I want to focus on a particularly important initiative which I think is as important as the legislation itself. That is the announcement of additional funding to train law enforcement officers in drug recognition expertise, DRE.

We have heard before that there is currently no roadside mechanism to detect drug impairment. DRE is the only recognized investigative tool to effectively enforce drug impaired driving in Canada. We have heard from the provinces and territories that they lack the capacity to train law enforcement officers in this technique.

We recognize that additional resources are required to ensure that officers are adequately trained to enforce the legislative initiative proposed in the bill. The $7 million in new funding over the next three years will provide law enforcement officers with the necessary tools to detect drug impaired drivers on Canadian roadways. The additional resources will enhance the initial funding of $910,000 provided through Canada's renewed drug strategy and $4.1 million reallocated from within the RCMP to the national DRE program.

The new funding to train law enforcement in DRE is a direct response to concerns raised by both the NDP and the Bloc Québécois when the former Bill C-32 was discussed in this House. We have heard much of that today. The funding also responds to other key stakeholders who expressed serious concerns about the lack of resources allocated to the problem of drug impaired driving including the law enforcement community, provinces, territories and Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

Funding for DRE training also reflects the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police resolution which called for an integrated model of standardized field sobriety tests and DRE testing. Police officers in Quebec, B.C., Alberta, Ontario, Nova Scotia and my own Manitoba who have been trained in DRE are already using these techniques. As well, the RCMP has begun rolling out its national DRE program.

The force recently established a national coordinator to work with provincial and territorial partners to identify DRE training needs and training capacity in their respective jurisdictions. The RCMP is also carrying out training initiatives to bolster the relatively small number of trainers and trained officers currently in Canada.

There are currently 1,794 police officers trained in standardized field sobriety tests, 106 officers are trained in drug recognition expertise and 31 are DRE instructors. With the new funding, we estimate that Canada will have some 3,522 officers trained in standardized field sobriety tests, 394 DRE trained officers and some 174 DRE instructors by 2007-08. This number of trained officers should be sufficient to carry out ongoing training as part of regular police operations.

By incorporating a train the trainer approach, the program addresses the issue of sustainability by building the necessary expertise and the capacity for long term training in the provinces, territories and municipalities. This will ensure that jurisdictions can continue to train others in DRE.

A small but important part of the new funding, about $500,000, will be used for research and a comprehensive evaluation to examine both the implementation of DRE in Canada and its training effectiveness. This will allow us to ensure that law enforcement officers are trained adequately and effectively and that our efforts to stop drug impaired driving are as strong as they possibly can be.

The government wants to provide law enforcement with the powers and the necessary tools to remove drug impaired drivers from Canadian roadways. I would like to add that this initiative is a very good example of the cooperative efforts by many stakeholders including parliamentarians, the RCMP, the law enforcement community, provinces and territories. We support both the proposed legislative amendments and the additional resources for DRE training.

In short, this legislation and related funding is about saving lives by keeping impaired drivers off the roads. That is why I too am happy to support this legislation in the House today.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

6:10 p.m.

Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine Québec

Liberal

Marlene Jennings LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister (Canada—U.S)

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak in favour of sending the drug impaired driving bill to committee. This bill, labelled Bill C-16, is an act to amend the Criminal Code, impaired driving, and to make consequential amendments to other acts.

The fact that the debate to refer the bill is taking place so soon after its tabling shows the commitment of the Liberal government to having the bill passed and in force as soon as possible.

Under the Criminal Code, the bill is intended essentially to enable a peace officer to require a person suspected of having drugs in his body undergo standardized field sobriety tests. If these indicate impairment, the police officer would also have the right to require the person to accompany him to the police station to undergo a series of tests administered by an expert in drug recognition in order to determine whether the apparent impairment is the effect of a drug.

Bill C-16 is a bill which has widespread support among Canadians and I believe in the House. I would urge all members of the House to support the bill when it comes to a vote, to send it to committee and have it adopted as quickly as possible. We need it, law enforcement wants it, Canadians want it, so let us do the right thing. Let us support it.

The House resumed from October 28 consideration of the motion.

SupplyGovernment Orders

6:15 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Marcel Proulx)

It being 6.15 p.m., pursuant to order made Thursday, October 28, 2004, the House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion by the hon. member for Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot concerning supply.

Call in the members.

(The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)

SupplyGovernment Orders

6:50 p.m.

The Speaker

I declare the motion carried.

The House resumed from November 1 consideration of the motion that Bill C-14, an act to give effect to a land claims and self-government agreement among the Tlicho, the Government of the Northwest Territories and the Government of Canada, to make related amendments to the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act and to make consequential amendments to other acts, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Tlicho Land Claims and Self-Government ActGovernment Orders

November 2nd, 2004 / 6:50 p.m.

The Speaker

The House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion at second reading stage of Bill C-14.

(The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)

Tlicho Land Claims and Self-Government ActGovernment Orders

7 p.m.

The Speaker

I declare the motion carried. Accordingly, the bill was referred to the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development.

(Bill read the second time and referred to a committee)

The House resumed consideration of the motion.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

7:05 p.m.

The Speaker

The House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the referral to committee before second reading of Bill C-13.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

7:05 p.m.

Liberal

Karen Redman Liberal Kitchener Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, if the House would agree, I would propose that you seek unanimous consent that members who voted on the previous motion be recorded as having voted on the motion now before the House. Liberal members will be voting in favour, except for those members who would like to be registered as having voted otherwise.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

7:05 p.m.

The Speaker

Is there unanimous consent to proceed in this fashion?

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

7:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

7:05 p.m.

Conservative

Jay Hill Conservative Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, Conservative members present this evening will be opposed to this motion.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

7:05 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Guimond Bloc Charlevoix—Montmorency, QC

Mr. Speaker, the members of the Bloc Québécois will vote in favour of this motion. We could apply this vote to Bill C-17 because the result is exactly the same.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

7:05 p.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin NDP Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Mr. Speaker, the members of the NDP will vote in favour of this motion.

(The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

7:05 p.m.

The Speaker

I declare the motion carried. Accordingly the bill stands referred to the Standing Committee on Justice, Human Rights, Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness.

(Bill referred to a committee.)

The House resumed consideration of the motion.

Contraventions ActGovernment Orders

7:05 p.m.

The Speaker

The House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the referral to committee before second reading of Bill C-17.

Is there unanimous consent that the vote on the previous motion be applied to this motion as suggested by the whip of the Bloc Québécois?

Contraventions ActGovernment Orders

7:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Contraventions ActGovernment Orders

7:05 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Steckle Liberal Huron—Bruce, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I would like to be recorded on Bill C-17 as opposing this motion.

Contraventions ActGovernment Orders

7:05 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to be recorded as being opposed to Bill C-17.