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House of Commons Hansard #151 of the 38th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was trade.

Topics

Controlled Drugs and Substances ActPrivate Members' Business

6:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

No.

Controlled Drugs and Substances ActPrivate Members' Business

6:30 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

Controlled Drugs and Substances ActPrivate Members' Business

6:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Controlled Drugs and Substances ActPrivate Members' Business

6:30 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

All those opposed will please say nay.

Controlled Drugs and Substances ActPrivate Members' Business

6:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Controlled Drugs and Substances ActPrivate Members' Business

6:30 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

In my opinion the yeas have it.

And more than five members having risen:

Controlled Drugs and Substances ActPrivate Members' Business

6:30 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Pursuant to Standing Order 93 the division stands deferred until Wednesday, November 23, immediately before the time provided for private members' business.

A motion to adjourn the House under Standing Order 38 deemed to have been moved.

Controlled Drugs and Substances ActAdjournment Proceedings

6:30 p.m.

Conservative

Steven Fletcher Conservative Charleswood—St. James, MB

Mr. Speaker, in June of this year, the Conservative Party moved a motion to fully fund and implement the Canadian strategy for cancer control. The motion was passed by the House and then the very next day the Liberal government refused to fund and implement this strategy: again, typical Liberal hypocrisy.

I have called on the government on numerous occasions to fund the strategy. This is a strategy that has the support of the entire cancer community. It is a strategy that has proven to be effective in other industrialized countries throughout the world. It is a strategy that we need to protect the lives of Canadians from this terrible disease.

When I have asked this question before, the minister has talked about a chronic disease strategy. Cancer in too many cases is not chronic, it is deadly. Because of the unique characteristics of cancer, it needs to be dealt with in a national strategy, as the cancer community has outlined.

We know the government has refused to fund the strategy. The member may come back and say that it has put some money toward the cancer strategy. For the cost of a minor Liberal scandal, we can fully fund the entire strategy, which is about $260 million over five years. The government has committed only a fraction of that amount.

The government may say that it has invested other moneys in cancer. As a member from the Cancer Society said at a recent finance committee meeting, the cancer funding from the government has been done in “an ad hoc, uncoordinated and non-time specific manner”.

It is time that we fully fund and implement this specific strategy called the Canadian strategy for cancer control. Will the government, without any qualifications, yes or no, fully fund and implement the Canadian strategy for cancer control immediately?

Controlled Drugs and Substances ActAdjournment Proceedings

6:30 p.m.

West Nova Nova Scotia

Liberal

Robert Thibault LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health

Mr. Speaker, consistent with the motion approved by the House on June 7, the Government of Canada is committed in its effort to reduce the growing human and economic costs of cancer as well as heart disease and mental illness in Canada.

The government has a long history of domestic and international leadership in health promotion and chronic disease prevention and control. It is now furthering its work through the new integrated strategy on healthy living and chronic disease. This integrated approach is supported by scientific evidence, international experience as well as the World Health Organization.

Budget 2005 approved $300 million in funding over five years for this integrated strategy which would provide health promotion activities to encourage and support Canadians in healthy living and physical activity. As well, the integrated strategy includes complementary disease specific activities for cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes. In this way it will serve as a platform for federal contributions to the Canadian strategy for cancer control.

Through the integrated strategy, in partnership with the provinces, territories and other key partners, we are moving forward to reduce the burden of chronic diseases, including cancer.

Since 1999, the Health Canada portfolio has been working with stakeholders involved with cancer to establish a Canadian strategy to control this disease. A secretariat was established at Health Canada and resources provided to support planning and development.

Following comprehensive consultation in the community involved in fighting cancer, strategic priority areas were selected for purposes of planning and in depth intervention. Action groups established in each of these strategic areas then formulated expert recommendations with government and non government participation. These efforts guided and will continue to guide Canada's investment in the fight against cancer. Clearly, the government recognizes the importance of a strategic national approach to cancer control. It has worked together and in consultation with all jurisdictions with a mandate to fight cancer.

Cancer control is a complex undertaking requiring concerted efforts by the provinces, territories, municipalities and all stakeholders. It is through this cooperative multisectoral approach that the strategy for cancer control aims to reduce cancer's incidence and the suffering, disability and death it causes.

Many experts view this effort to bring together expertise to develop the Canadian cancer strategy for cancer control as an innovation in integration. As one of my fellow members observed in our debate last week, cancer is not a single disease.

To develop this cancer strategy, cancer stakeholders came together across their differing interests, concerns and experience of the different cancers to create an overarching approach. As they did so, they acknowledged that many cancers had protective and risk factors in common with other major chronic diseases, particularly cardiovascular disease and diabetes. The cancer strategies prevention recommendations place importance on healthy eating and physical activity as protective factors, for example. As a result, cancer stakeholders have been leaders in advocating for integrated approach for primary prevention.

Controlled Drugs and Substances ActAdjournment Proceedings

6:35 p.m.

Conservative

Steven Fletcher Conservative Charleswood—St. James, MB

Mr. Speaker, what the member has just said is very misleading and I am very disappointed.

First, the government needs to get it straight. Cancer is not a chronic disease. In the vast majority of cases it is a deadly disease. Second, the cancer community from all jurisdictions has said that this strategy needs to be fully funded and implemented.

The member in French suggested that they were still trying to work on it. No, it is already done. It has been in a document put together for over three years.

The member has refused to commit to fully funding and implementing the strategy and it is a disgrace. The government should be ashamed of itself. Will the government fund the strategy, yes or no?

Controlled Drugs and Substances ActAdjournment Proceedings

6:35 p.m.

Liberal

Robert Thibault Liberal West Nova, NS

Mr. Speaker, the Government of Canada contributes to the fight against cancer in many ways. It takes an integrated approach. We are working on the primary causes of cancer, which also happen to be the causes of other chronic illnesses.

We are also working in the area of research, whether with the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, or with specific efforts such as our $10 million contribution to the Terry Fox Foundation.

Also $4 million annually goes to the Canadian Breast Cancer Initiative. Funds go to the Canadian Childhood Cancer Surveillance and Control Program. The Federal Tobacco Control Strategy will be funded $560 million over five years. The the Canadian Institutes of Health Research invested $93 million last year in cancer research.

We work with the Canadian Cancer Society and many other organizations in an integrated approach and in a reasonable way to tackle these long-standing Canadian health concerns.

Controlled Drugs and Substances ActAdjournment Proceedings

6:40 p.m.

Conservative

Russ Hiebert Conservative South Surrey—White Rock—Cloverdale, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise in the House today and follow up on a question I asked of the Minister of Justice on October 19 in question period.

My question was prompted by the outrageous comments of some of the minister's Liberal colleagues. First, there were the comments by Vancouver mayor and would be Liberal Senator Larry Campbell, who referred to concerns expressed about the growing crystal meth problem as “garbage”. Then there were the comments of the member for Richmond who said that our concerns about crystal meth were “irresponsible fearmongering”.

I raise these issues to remind the House that in the riding of the same member from Richmond three crystal meth operations were found shortly thereafter.

I want to use the bulk of my time to comment on some of the work that has been done to deal with the issue of crystal meth. I note that while the minister has committed a small sum toward education and addiction treatment, these funds although welcome, we must do more to recognize a society wide effort is needed to discourage and suppress drug abuse.

Unfortunately, the government is sending very mixed messages to society. On the one hand we have the reforms recently announced by the government to treat methamphetamine production and abuse more seriously. On the other hand we have a trend toward decriminalization of cannabis and state sponsored shooting galleries for heroin addicts.

On the one hand the government is saying that it is getting serious about treating crystal meth as a hard drug in the Criminal Code. Yet on the other hand it is refusing to adopt mandatory minimum sentences, eliminating conditional sentences and parole for violent offenders. Once again, we have the spectacle of a Liberal government that talks a good line, but fails to deliver results.

I want to tell the House that people in my riding know better than to wait for a federal Liberal promise to be fulfilled or for positive action to be taken. They have seized the initiative themselves and set up a community organization dedicated to fight crystal meth abuse.

The Surrey Methamphetamine Regional Task Force, better known by its acronym SMART, is focused on education and public awareness, health services and enforcement. Just yesterday SMART held a public meeting in Surrey to raise awareness about the drug.

Bruce Hayne, a past-president of the Surrey Chamber of Commerce, has taken a leadership role in the crystal meth battle and is chairing SMART. He was joined by several other concerned citizens, including Gary Hollick, publisher of the Surrey Now newspaper, who is leading the local education campaign and Denyse Houde and Lois Dixon of the Fraser Health Authority who are advocating for additional addiction services.

The Superintendent of the Surrey RCMP, Fraser MacRae, and Surrey Fire Chief, Len Garis, are coordinating on the law enforcement aspects of this problem. I want to congratulate these citizens for the good work they are doing.

As a member of Parliament for a part of Surrey, I also have a role to play in pushing for the kind of criminal laws that ensure we get crystal meth lab operators and dealers off our streets and away from our playgrounds.

I stand here today to demand that the government toughen up sentencing for crystal meth convicts.

Again, will the minister admit that the member for Richmond is wrong and that the would be senator from Vancouver is also wrong, that crystal meth is a scourge on our communities? Will he admit that the concerns that groups such as SMART have raised about the abuse of this narcotic are neither “garbage” nor “irresponsible fearmongering”?

Will the minister admit that the crystal meth problem has grown worse under his watch? Will the minister admit that the actions that matter are the actions that deliver results? Will he admit that his actions to the present do not address the critical issue of sentencing of crystal meth producers and dealers?

Controlled Drugs and Substances ActAdjournment Proceedings

6:40 p.m.

Northumberland—Quinte West Ontario

Liberal

Paul MacKlin LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to have the opportunity to address the member's question because clearly there is no doubt about crystal meth and its implications. The member's original question was based upon whether we would be bringing forward mandatory minimum penalties in order to deal with this issue.

The hon. member's proposal to encourage mandatory minimum penalties for offenders involved in the drug trade is no doubt well intentioned. Liberal members take second place to no one in the House in working to ensure the protection of society. Unfortunately, history tells us that stiffer sentences alone will not achieve this.

Even though it is true that Canada's sentencing approach prefers to give the court discretion to fashion a fit sentence that is proportional to the gravity of the offence and the conduct of the offender, our Criminal Code already provides 42 mandatory minimum penalties which denounce--and I underline the word “denounce”--the acts identified therein.

As I have already mentioned, apart from the mandatory minimum penalty for murder, there are mandatory minimums of four years for the use of a firearm in 10 different listed offences.

I was present at last week's meeting of the federal, provincial and territorial justice ministers in Whitehorse. Minister Cotler indicated that he was prepared to seek authority to enact additional measured mandatory minimum penalties for firearms offences to denounce such activity. That is part of a tripartite strategy. Such a strategy would include not only the legislation aspect but more effective enforcement as well as preventive and social initiatives that address the root causes of crime.

The ministers talked about ways to increase the effectiveness of sentencing, with particular attention given to a discussion of the use of mandatory minimum sentences. A special ad hoc group of officials will work on these issues over the winter.

Federal, provincial and territorial ministers also endorsed recommendations on ways to strengthen how the concerns about crystal meth can be dealt with within the criminal justice system, for in fact it is obviously a matter of some concern to all of us who are aware of the issue.

Research on the effectiveness of minimum sentences shows that they have no deterrent or educational effect according to the Law Reform Commission and that they are no more effective for crime prevention than lighter sentences are. That was confirmed in 2001 by a study commissioned by Justice Canada that found there was no correlation between the crime rate and the severity of sentences.

That refers to the study of Gabor and Crutcher, “Mandatory Minimum Penalties: Their Effects on Crime, Sentencing Disparities, and Justice System Expenditures” for the Department of Justice in 2001.

The study commissioned by Justice Canada summarized findings from a review of sentencing arrangements in a number of common law jurisdictions other than the United States and was released in September of this year. It is now available at the Department of Justice website.

The study found that in those countries where mandatory minimum penalties do exist, they are mostly for murder, and in every case they provide a court with the ability to sentence under the minimum in exceptional circumstances. That refers to the study by Julian V. Roberts, “Mandatory Sentences of Imprisonment in Common Law Jurisdictions: Some Representative Models”, from the Department of Justice in 2005.

The study also shows that recent polls conducted in Australia and the United States demonstrate that public support for mandatory minimum penalties has declined in recent years. The U.S. uses mandatory--

Controlled Drugs and Substances ActAdjournment Proceedings

6:45 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The hon. member for South Surrey—White Rock—Cloverdale.

Controlled Drugs and Substances ActAdjournment Proceedings

6:45 p.m.

Conservative

Russ Hiebert Conservative South Surrey—White Rock—Cloverdale, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is interesting to hear the member mention in his comments the root causes of crime, because for the past few months I have been holding meetings across Canada as co-chairman of our Conservative Party's task force on safe streets and healthy communities. I have heard from police officers, youth workers and city councillors about the exploding problem of crystal meth abuse. It is becoming a scourge on our Canadian cities.

This is what the 2005 report of Criminal Intelligence Service Canada states about methamphetamine abuse in Canada:

Methamphetamine use is on the increase in many parts of the country, but primarily in Western Canada. The bulk of this methamphetamine is manufactured domestically in Canada in small clandestine laboratories...Organized crime groups involved in the illicit methamphetamine industry include outlaw motorcycle gangs, specific Asian crime groups, and independent organized crime groups.

The report quotes Chief Richard Deering of the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary, who states:

Substantive evidence indicates that about 95% of the property crime reported to us is directly linked to the illicit drug trade, which is, for all intents and purposes, controlled by organized crime groups that have refined the ability to profit from criminal activity to a science.

Controlled Drugs and Substances ActAdjournment Proceedings

6:45 p.m.

Liberal

Paul MacKlin Liberal Northumberland—Quinte West, ON

Mr. Speaker, there is no doubt in terms of our belief that the crystal meth concern is real. I think the government has indicated that it is prepared to consider many ways of approaching this, first of course through changing the precursor regulations to deal with the specific chemicals that go into the makeup of these drugs: red phosphorous and ephedrine.

The reality is that we are trying to do whatever we can to denounce this and to make sure that this conduct goes no further. This year we have substantially increased the penalty provisions within the Criminal Code to deal with issues of a similar nature, but in fact I think where we are placing ourselves today is that we have to deal with the root causes within the areas where crystal meth is actually being used. We have to deal with the chemicals that go into the manufacture of that particular substance. We have to make sure that we deal with those chemicals in a way that will stop that flow and therefore stop the--

Controlled Drugs and Substances ActAdjournment Proceedings

6:50 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The hon. member for Lanark—Frontenac—Lennox and Addington.

Controlled Drugs and Substances ActAdjournment Proceedings

6:50 p.m.

Conservative

Scott Reid Conservative Lanark—Frontenac—Lennox and Addington, ON

Mr. Speaker, my question tonight refers to a question that I asked in the House quite some time ago, back in June of this year. At that time I raised two questions in the House for the ministers of democratic reform and democratic renewal.

For folks out in TV-land who are not familiar with this, there actually are two separate ministers, one for democratic reform and one for democratic renewal. None of us can tell what the difference is between democratic reform and democratic renewal. It is not part of my question, but if the parliamentary secretary chooses to finally explain the answer to that mystery at some point I would love to hear what it is.

At any rate, I asked two questions of these ministers. The first one dealt with a private member's bill which has since been defeated or withdrawn, so therefore there is no need to discuss that.

The second question related to the government's response to the report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, which at that time was being written, on the subject of electoral reform. The procedure and House affairs committee had at that time, in response to the response of opposition parties in the House to the Speech from the Throne, been charged with the task of designing a system for reforming Canada's electoral system.

The system recommended by the committee was then to be placed in effect and to have the effect of causing Canada to start down the road toward potentially replacing its current first past the post electoral system with some other electoral system, if it is the judgment of Canadians that it would be better. At that time, I asked the following question:

Let me ask the [minister] responsible for electoral renewal, will he be acting promptly on the recommendations of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs regarding electoral reform?

A couple of weeks later, the report was indeed tabled, making recommendations. Specifically, it recommended a two-pronged process.

It recommended a public input process, in which the principles behind electoral reform would be brought forward. It would be a process in which members of the public would be selected and led by a facilitator. The second prong of the approach would be to have the parliamentary committee on procedure and House affairs, or a special committee, debate and determine a specific new electoral system.

The process would start on October 1. I initially proposed that it start on September 1 in order to give us more time. It would report early in 2006, and right about this time, maybe a little later than right now, the two groups would be meeting to review their preliminary hearings.

The schedule was to start on October 1. What happened was that the government, as far as I can tell, did not do anything whatsoever in order to act to make this happen. On October 1, it still had not responded as to what we were to be doing.

Finally, several days later, a response was tabled not in the House but rather at the Clerk's office, because the two ministers did not have the nerve to actually stand up and table this non-response. What they said was that they could not meet the deadlines. They said the deadlines were impractical and the committee should have known better.

My questions are the following.

If the schedule was unrealistic, why did the parliamentary secretary to the minister, who will be answering us today, agree to that schedule? Indeed, he helped design the schedule.

Why did he object to my original timeline, which would have started the process on September 1 and which would have allowed more time?

Finally, why did the government wait until after the October 1 deadline to even bother giving a response at all?

Controlled Drugs and Substances ActAdjournment Proceedings

6:50 p.m.

Saint Boniface Manitoba

Liberal

Raymond Simard LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Internal Trade

Mr. Speaker, my response will be short and concise.

My hon. colleague mentioned two ministers, but there are actually three ministers responsible for various issues on this file. Three government ministers have well defined responsibilities and are working together to achieve the government's strong and well-known commitment to democratic renewal.

The Minister Responsible for Democratic Renewal is responsible for engaging Canadians in our democratic institutions with a particular emphasis on young people. I hope that is very clear. We are talking about civic literacy, citizenship engagement, those kinds of issues. The Deputy Leader of the Government in the House of Commons continues to be responsible for the Canada Elections Act. The Leader of the Government in the House of Commons continues with his responsibilities for parliamentary reform. There are three very well defined responsibilities.

Our government has indicated that we are taking this issue very seriously. It is obvious that we are, given that three ministers have various roles to play in this field. The significant resources the government has dedicated to democratic renewal demonstrate how committed we are to addressing this complex and important matter. Canada's democratic initiatives are the envy of the world. We will continue to support democratic reform.

With regard to the member's comment on how our government has reacted to the 43rd report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, our government's response has been extremely positive.

The government has indicated that it supports the citizens' consultation process and the formation of a special parliamentary committee to look at democratic reform. The member may not be aware of this but we have put out the request for proposal that is required for the citizens' consultation process and it is at an advanced stage.

Taking stock from our provincial counterparts, democratic reform cannot be packaged into the tight timeframe proposed in the report. Our B.C. colleagues have indicated that it took them two years to get to this point. Obviously, after having heard this testimony, it indicates that we should take our time, do it properly, and not rush this issue just to satisfy the opposition. That is our position.

Controlled Drugs and Substances ActAdjournment Proceedings

6:55 p.m.

Conservative

Scott Reid Conservative Lanark—Frontenac—Lennox and Addington, ON

Mr. Speaker, the government certainly was not rushing. The whole summer went by and no action was taken whatsoever.

The parliamentary secretary said that it takes two years. He was part of the process. He sat in my office and negotiated the dates. Complaining about the dates as being unrealistic when he himself designed them is just a little weird.

The Minister Responsible for Democratic Renewal was supposed to go on a million dollar cross-country tour to promote voter participation, particularly with regard to youth voters. Since that relates to the first of the questions I asked last June, I will ask this. This seems to have vanished. Is this tour now cancelled? Is she not going out there, or is it still on in some way?

Controlled Drugs and Substances ActAdjournment Proceedings

6:55 p.m.

Liberal

Raymond Simard Liberal Saint Boniface, MB

Mr. Speaker, I apologize but I missed part of the question.

The member indicated that I was involved in arranging a timetable in his office. That is absolutely untrue. We discussed the conditions of a possible process. That is absolutely a fact.

I have argued consistently that the timelines were extremely tight. I am sure if the hon. member would read the blues he would find exactly that. The timelines were extremely tight and I did not think they were reasonable. There was a consensus in committee that the timelines would be put forward, but I did not believe the timelines were reasonable. He will see that consistently in the blues.

Controlled Drugs and Substances ActAdjournment Proceedings

6:55 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The motion to adjourn the House is now deemed to have been adopted. Accordingly, this House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 10 a.m. pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 7 p.m.)