Madam Speaker, I thank the member for a very sensible question and the very valid points he raises. First, on funding, obviously the NDP is advocating that the government bridges what we call the Romanow gap: that we come up to 25% federal funding for our national health care program to the provinces and stop listening to the Kirby report. A person who actually sits on the board of directors for private insurance companies should not be allowed to comment on our not for profit publicly delivered health care system.
Second, in terms of dollars, this issue versus health care, the introduction of Bill C-38 in June 2003 was also accompanied by an announcement of the renewal of the Canada drug strategy providing $245 million over five years. But the Auditor General's report on illicit drugs sharply questioned the reliance on enforcement and pointed out that 95% of those federal funds spent on illicit drug use in Canada is used toward the enforcement and interdiction rather than education and any measures we take to actually reduce the number of people involved in substance abuse.
I would argue, then, in answer to the hon. member's question, that we do not have to take money away from other important budget lines and social policies. We could redirect or re-prioritize the use of the existing $245 million and dedicate more of it toward prevention, education, health promotion and a rules based and non-punitive approach to marijuana use.