Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to join the debate at third reading of the bill. Yes, we dealt with it at committee. I want to thank all members of the committee for bringing to the committee a very intelligent debate on anti-drug laws.
It is interesting and somewhat refreshing when we have a news story that is actually accurate. There is a news story today about the bill. There is one quote in there that says the following about the offences in the bill:
These are trafficking offences, these are people who are in the commercial business of selling drugs. If you're convicted of trafficking in drugs, I believe you should do the time that is indicated in this bill.
That is a quote in a national news story attributed to me, and I am happy the newspaper got it right, because it is exactly how I feel about the bill.
It is curious about the opposition to the bill. All that was printed from the perspective of the other opposition parties, and maybe they did not get their whole quote and that is fair, that has happened to all of us, but the only real quotes from the opposition are that we are going down the road the United States has gone and it has been a failure.
There is nothing quoted, and I have heard nothing in the House, and I would have listened in the House on the occasions I had to speak to this bill or in committee for the many hours we spent on these issues in general. I would have listened, had there been some compelling evidence to suggest that a person convicted of trafficking in drugs should not go to jail.
It is important because occasionally we lose sight of the fact that there is a whole book called the Criminal Code that talks about what the offences are. What is trafficking? It is very important that the public perception not be that we are trying to put people in jail who are in possession of small amounts of drugs, particularly marijuana. This is where the pressure point of the public seems to be, that if individuals have a joint, they will go away for six months under this new law. That is not the case.
We heard evidence from the Department of Justice officials, and even the government would admit that DOJ officials are not always on side with everything that is brought down the pipe. They said very clearly that would not be the case.
These are issues involving trafficking. Trafficking, under section 5 of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, has been interpreted by the courts variously, but for instance, “--distribution means the allocation to a number of people and accordingly, cannot occur where there is one recipient.--” That is a case from the New Brunswick Court of Appeal.
Another one: “--where the transportation by the accused of a narcotic is incidental to the accused's own personal use of the narcotic, as distinct from transportation as part of a transaction involving others, there is not an offence of trafficking”.
As my friend from Edmonton—St. Albert indicated, with his years of experience, it is not a walk in the park to convict somebody of trafficking in drugs. Trafficking in drugs, even marijuana, means that people are selling drugs for the purpose of a commercial gain. They are trying to increase the use of drugs.
Particularly, the bill gets into an issue that is very near and dear to me. The young children of our community are going to school in a different environment than when I went to school, and certainly when the member for Mississauga South went to school, which was considerably more years before I did. These are different times, and drugs are front and centre of the dangers that little children face every day. They walk to school. They go through playgrounds. They are faced with the possibility of being drawn into the net of drug use, which can ruin lives, families, and eventually may ruin our social mores in our community in general.
I sit back and think of what I am saying. Do I sound like a rabid Conservative? Am I a person who has become the Republican road show that we have seen for the last three years over there? When I look at the member for Windsor—Tecumseh, I know that he is a family man. I know that he is a church-goer. I know that he believes in social mores. I have to think that he does not think that putting traffickers back on the street again so they can corrupt our youth and our society is a good thing.
This is where we draw the line with our friends who are free-willing on drug use, on drug sales, on drug trafficking, and the Conservatives who would say, if George Bush did it, it is okay. That is why we are the party of the middle, the party of responsibility, and we say this is a good act.
This legislation targets trafficking. For the first time the Conservatives might be getting it right. They are saying that in order to avoid sending someone to prison on a mandatory minimum sentence, that individual would have the opportunity to take part in rehabilitation through diversion to a drug treatment court. These are great tools. They have been used extensively in western democracies for some time.
We have been critical of the government's national anti-drug strategy. Its strategy consists of a bunch of neoprene, blue placards placed in front of any television camera saying it has an anti-drug strategy.
Where is the funding for the drug treatment courts? Why are there not more drug treatment courts across this country? I live in Moncton, New Brunswick. New Brunswick is a province of this country. In fact, it is one of the first provinces of this country. There is no drug treatment court in New Brunswick, and that is a shame.
By supporting the bill we are saying to the Conservatives that for however long they might be government, and we all hope that might be a shorter time rather than a longer time, that they increase funding to diversionary tactics, treatment facilities and institutions like drug treatment courts.
The other aspect that the Conservatives are learning from the years of battering in justice committee is that it is important to have regular reports to committee and to Parliament with respect to how their legislation is doing. That is contained in section 8.1(1). Reporting to Parliament on the effect of this legislation would be a positive step.
The justice committee held one set of hearings in Vancouver. Members were astonished by the fact that marijuana, which in some popular parliaments might be seen as a recreational drug which makes one peaceful, is the currency of organized crime in western of Canada and probably in the rest of Canada as well. It is a serious problem.
We have to do something to include marijuana. I have heard nothing from the other opposition parties that it would be okay if it were crystal meth. Those members are trying to push the button of sensibility on the issue of moderate marijuana usage. It is wrong to think that marijuana and the trafficking of marijuana is part of our Canadian culture. It is not. It is part of the cashflow of organized crime.
We have been through this legislation. It is time to put the bill on the books and hold the feet of the government to the fire. Its anti-drug strategy must be something more than a 5 o'clock press conference.
With that in mind, I want to close my remarks by moving, seconded by the member for Cardigan:
That this question be now put.