Mr. Speaker, I especially appreciate the .5, I must say.
I can assure the House that I am not going to spend that much time on the bill. I do want to conclude with a few brief remarks to highlight the fact that we in the Liberal Party are prepared to support the bill as reported today. We do have some concerns in relation to it, but all in all it is a significant step forward.
Having said that, I want to highlight an important issue that I believe is of concern to people in my constituency of Winnipeg North and a number of regions of the country where there are a lot of similarities. That is the importance of looking at the broader impact of contraband and how it is used within criminal organizations.
Contraband has been found to be highly profitable by organized crime and gangs. As a result, this has added to the problems. Contraband seriously impacts communities throughout Canada, and I want to emphasize how important it is that we deal with it.
Contraband cigarettes are just one part of it. Selling illegal drugs, and prostitution are other elements that provide a major source of revenue for gangs and organized crime. We need to do more to deal with this problem, and we are looking to the government today to take some action. We have a piece of legislation in front of us that would hopefully have an impact. I suspect it will to a certain degree. We are asking the government to do even more to deal with the issue of contraband cigarettes and other sources of revenue that are feeding organized gangs.
I will conclude by talking a bit about the demand for contraband, which I made reference to at the beginning of my remarks. The demand for contraband tobacco has increased over the years because of the organized crime element and its ability to make huge profits. One of the reasons that organized crime can make the profits it makes is because of the level of taxation on cigarettes.
As government has recognized, in order to discourage people from smoking, it has increased the cost of cigarettes. As a result, we have seen significant growth in the purchase of contraband cigarettes through the underground and illegal activities. We need to work with the different stakeholders, the provinces and others, to look at ways to beat this serious issue.
I want to pick up on my final point of cigarettes as a whole. We recognize that smoking is detrimental to the health of our citizens. I would therefore suggest that we do more to educate people and encourage them to make the decision to quit smoking, specifically our young people. We should support our students in the best way that we can. We should ensure that anti-smoking programs are included in our public education system.
We need to see stronger leadership coming from Ottawa. Ottawa needs to deal with the different stakeholders who could play a role in minimizing the use of tobacco, whether it is the health element or the tax element. All of this has to be taken in an all-encompassing fashion, so that Canada will be able to deal with the serious issue we are facing today on a number of fronts, recognizing that the bill attempts to deal strictly with contraband tobacco.
However, at the end of the day, we help deal with that issue and it has a serious impact, a positive impact, upon other areas, too.
With those few words, I am quite prepared to end my comments in anticipation. As I indicated, the Liberal Party supports the bill in principle and supports its going forward.