Mr. Speaker, I am appreciative of the fact that I can stand in this House and deal with this particular topic.
Being a former police officer for over 20 years, I have seen the usage of marijuana and other drugs and how they can affect, not only the lives of those who have used it and their families, but also society.
I can recap one situation. I was patrolling in the streets of Calgary one evening and a vehicle in front of me, which had just driven out of one of the local bars, was all over the road. I stopped that particular vehicle to determine if the driver was impaired. I thought he was impaired by alcohol. He was placed on the final breathalyzer test and actually blew under the limit, advising me as a police office that he wasn't impaired by alcohol. He had been smoking marijuana at the same time. It was a small quantity of marijuana that he had actually smoked but with the enhancement of the alcohol, his ability to drive was severely hampered.
That is what is happening in too many driving situations today. The roadside testers do not have the ability to detect the use of marijuana on the breath of a driver. In fact, there are accidents happening where drivers are impaired by a drug and not by alcohol. They often, unfortunately, slip through the checkstops and never end up being charged.
There is major problem with the direction that the government is taking when it comes to the legalization or the decriminalization of marijuana, even small quantities. The small quantity, up to 30 grams, is enough to impair any driver. Any person getting behind the wheel of a car would be considered a hazard. And if there is alcohol mixed with that, it is even worse.
I think that sends the wrong message to Canada's youth. Unfortunately, I can recall the statement of a previous Prime Minister who made reference to “marijuana brownies”. That remark was irresponsible and absolutely uncalled for. For it to come from the top person of the land was offensive.
The use of marijuana is not a joke. The use of any drug is no joke. It destroys family. It destroys even those outside the purview because it is costly in treatments and it is costly to fix the damage that is being done by those who are using drugs.
I will relate another situation. Some say that it is not an addictive drug. I beg to differ with that comment. I have arrested individuals who went on house break-in sprees just to get enough money to buy marijuana. The marijuana of today is not what it was 50 years ago or 40 years ago. It is a lot different. It is addictive in many of its forms. It is also being mixed with other more lethal drugs nowadays that make it even worse.
An individual who had been responsible for 400 house break-ins got to the point, just to support his marijuana need, of even using violence if he was confronted by people in the house he happened to enter, which was not very often. However, two or three times is two or three times too many. He kicked an elderly woman so he could make a clean escape with the goods he had stolen from her house.
He was a marijuana user with a habit. He wanted money, no matter how he could get it. In this particular case, he went out to get it by entering houses unlawfully. He stole the goods of ordinary people that were sometimes artifacts that they had saved from one generation to the next. He sold them for peanuts so he could support his drug habit.
I find it reprehensible to think that our government is moving down a path that will make marijuana usage more acceptable by lowering fines and by taking away what should be strong court action to deter this kind of activity. Unfortunately, our government has not taken into account the societal needs of restriction or abstinence from this kind of drug.
Those individuals in the highest governmental position in the land are condoning the use of marijuana. They are saying that marijuana brownies or chocolate brownies could be used to the same degree, but they are also starving our law enforcement agencies from enforcing the law that would restrict those who want to violate the law by distributing and growing this particular drug.
What does it take to crack down on organized crime? It takes organized police action across the country and internationally. To have organized police action we need a national drug strategy. We need strong communication links between police agencies within the country. We need strong communication links to police agencies outside the country. These grow operations and marijuana distribution links are outside the country. They are not just in Canada. People are getting fat off of this kind of activity. Lawyers will go to any length to defend them because they know there are lots of bucks involved in the drug trade.
This legislation could very well increase the demand for marijuana. Bill C-10 could make the illegal production and distribution of marijuana even more lucrative because it is such a minor measure. It is more enticing to those who want to use marijuana. It is more enticing to those who distribute it knowing they would get more of their product out. They would grow their quantities of marijuana in a more aggressive way because the legislation would allow them to do so.
Enforcement agencies always have a hammer that they can hold over individuals who use marijuana. They could use this hammer as a lever to charge those who use small quantities or use it as a lever to determine where individuals receive it or who is pushing the drug in the community. However, that lever has been watered down more and more. The police no longer have that as an advantage to enforce the law. That is a travesty in itself.
The legislators on that side of the House are aware of what they are doing when they diminish the effectiveness of law enforcement to determine who on earth is pushing a serious drug in the community.
If we look at the fines that have been set out, we know right away these are minor fines, especially with young people. I noticed that a 14 year old youngster was caught recently in Alberta. He was looking after one of these grow ops. What will they do with him? The law really will not affect him a whole lot. However, because he is a youngster, he is subject to more leniency within the system because the fines attached to the legislation are considerably different than what they were years back. Law enforcement agencies do not have the leverage over those who even possess small quantities of this product.
Let us now turn to industry itself. Because of the messages being sent from the government side, industry has another fight on its hands, whether it is the trucking industry, or heavy equipment operators or machine operators. Employers are very concerned about the increased use of marijuana by machine operators. Now, many of them insist that their employees take tests and if they are using marijuana, they are not acceptable.
Fortunately with that drug, it stays in the blood stream for a few days and random tests, or even more than random tests, will detect the drug in their systems. However, the problem is that people are using it while operating equipment and while driving trucks on our roadways. Even within police and security fields, there are all kinds of restrictions about usage of marijuana, but the government is not following through with its legislation. Industry and others are bearing the brunt of government legislation that tends to want to make things more lenient.
Where do we go from here? Bill C-10 does not address the issues broadly across our society. It seems to only address those who want to use this substance and makes it lighter on them. The message being sent to our youngsters is that this is an acceptable way to go.
We in the House have a lot on our plates with which we have to deal. As members of the opposition, we are dealing with the scandals on the government side and are spending our time rooting out the truth. We have to look at our farmers who are suffering. These are issues that have grave importance. We are the highest taxed OECD country. It actually is crippling our productivity and our economic growth.
Our health care system has all kinds of demands on it and it is disintegration. The provinces want this to be dealt with too, on a national level. These are answers that come out of this Parliament. On top of all that, our military is in a state of decay. Yet here we are in the House dealing with Bill C-10 on the possession of marijuana.
Where are we going when it comes to our priority list? I cannot understand it. What is our priority list? Is it investigating a scandal? It should be. Let us get down to the bottom of it right now before an election. Is it fixing medicare? No. Is it restoring our military, our troop strength and equipment? No. These are not the subject of a lot of bills when we look at what has gone through the House, but there sure has been a lot of time spent on bills like Bill C-10. All we are talking about in this bill is making the smoking of dope easier. Basically that is where we are.
I think the bill is not worthy of support and I will ask my colleagues not to support it. We should be putting our efforts into something that has much more significance.