Mr. Speaker, in the short amount of time I still have available, I simply want to repeat where I started, which was the fact that in Canada impaired driving was the leading cause of criminal deaths. We have one of the worst impaired driving records in the developed world. It is not surprising that the bill attempts to address the scourge of impaired driving.
We heard from Mothers Against Drunk Driving and other countless witnesses at the justice committee, telling their heartbreaking stories of the loss they had suffered. However, the bill poses serious concerns, particularly in the area of mandatory alcohol screen. There are also problems with the bill, which time will not allow me to address, with respect to minimum sentencing provisions, something which the government said it opposed, yet brought it up again in the bill.
What is the concern with mandatory alcohol testing? The new police powers enacted through the legislation would remove the reasonable suspicion requirements for roadside inspection by peace officers that presently exist in the Criminal Code, instead moving to a mandatory system by which, at the discretion of the patrolling officer, motorists must submit to random breath samples without any justification whatsoever, in other words, on a whim.
The leader of the NDP, Mr. Jagmeet Singh, told the Toronto Star that he had been pulled over 11 times because of the way he looked. He said:
I've been stopped by police multiple times for no other reason than the colour of my skin. “It makes you feel like you don't belong, like there's something wrong with you for just being you.”
That is why he has worked so hard to address racial carding and the like in the province of Ontario.
Vancouver lawyer Ms. Kyla Lee from Acumen Law testified to the committee as follows:
As a Métis I am very concerned about how this is going to affect people from the aboriginal community. We see in B.C. already basically an offence of driving while native, and that's only going to get worse.
We have grave concerns about the bill, as do many witnesses, including the Canadian Civil Liberties Association that brought its concerns to the committee. It said:
Since some individuals will often be pulled over “randomly” five, ten, a dozen times in a few months, for no obvious reason other than their age, the colour of their skin, or the neighbourhood they were driving in, RBT will often be humiliating and degrading to individuals who are subject to search.
Despite bringing forward many amendments, the NDP managed to get at least one that will make a difference. We commend it to the House and hope it gets enacted in the final bill. As well, we succeeded in getting the proposed section 31.1 added to the bill. It states that the government must table a report in Parliament within three years after these controversial sections come into force, and that the Attorney General, “must undertake a comprehensive review of the implementation and operation of the provisions at question”.
This is a complicated bill. We will take the time over the next while to consult and ensure that the balance that has been struck has been struck properly for all Canadians.