Mr. Speaker, that was a very reasonable question.
I serve as the opposition critic for Canada-U.S. relations. In that capacity I have occasion to meet frequently with American law enforcement officials, legislators and administration policy makers. This issue of Canada liberalizing its marijuana and drug laws is very much on the radar screen of policy makers in Washington.
In the post 9/11 environment, we have a critical national imperative to make Americans comfortable with sharing an open border with Canada. For our economic survival we need to ensure an open border that right now encompasses $1.8 billion Canadian in daily trade. Bill C-10 would only increase pressure in Congress and in other sources of authority in Washington to increase border inspections and to increase the number of customs officers for surveillance of Canadian vehicles and passengers going into the United States, all of which would mean longer lineups, more hassles, and a greater cost for the Canadian economy.
I am afraid that this will have an unintended economic cost in terms of greater American border vigilance as they seek to intercept the increase in the supply of marijuana in Canada which they anticipate will be the unintended result of the bill. Let us be very mindful of that.
Let me make a related comment. It is interesting to note that three U.S. states, Oregon, Nevada, and one other, have had referendum campaigns on decriminalizing marijuana. They had very vigorous debates in those states. In each instance, the voters in those states decided to maintain the prohibition against production, trafficking, and possession of marijuana.
I am not suggesting that we should always govern ourselves according to American domestic policy trends, but we have to be mindful of them. When we look at the post 9/11 security environment and we add on to it the growing American unease about Canada as an exporter of drugs, particularly cannabis, into the United States, the bill is particularly unhelpful.