House of Commons Hansard #235 of the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was young.

Topics

Bill C-45—Time Allocation MotionCannabis ActGovernment Orders

10:20 a.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

Bill C-45—Time Allocation MotionCannabis ActGovernment Orders

10:20 a.m.

NDP

The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

I want to remind members that there is an opportunity to ask more questions. If they have questions and comments, they might wish to wait as opposed to yelling them across the way.

Bill C-45—Time Allocation MotionCannabis ActGovernment Orders

10:20 a.m.

Liberal

Jody Wilson-Raybould Liberal Vancouver Granville, BC

Madam Speaker, my thanks to my colleague for his reiteration of our commitment in the campaign in the lead-up to the election, a campaign commitment we are moving forward with in a substantive and comprehensive way, while taking a health and safety approach, to ensure we address the dysfunction of the status quo and the ability for young people access to cannabis. Canada has the highest rate of usage of cannabis by young people as compared to other places in the world.

We made a commitment to the legalization, strict regulation of cannabis, and the restriction of access to cannabis to keep it out of the hands of children and the proceeds out of the hands of criminals.

We have undertaken to achieve this commitment with vigour. We have introduced Bill C-45. It has benefited from the substantive expertise of the task force on cannabis. Most of their recommendations were incorporated into the legislation. We have also benefited from recommendations and amendments that were made at committee.

I look forward to the continued debate and discussion over the course of today and to the passage of the legislation. I also look forward to the discussion that will happen in the other place.

Bill C-45—Time Allocation MotionCannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 21st, 2017 / 10:25 a.m.

Conservative

Kerry Diotte Conservative Edmonton Griesbach, AB

Madam Speaker, we keep hearing the justice minister say that this is all about keeping pot out of the hands of children. What kind of Orwellian doublespeak is that? Clearly, when they are 12 years old, they will be able to possess five grams of pot. How do mothers or fathers go to their children and tell them that pot is not good for them, when the government says that it is okay for 12 year olds to have five grams of pot? How is that keeping pot out of the hands of children?

Bill C-45—Time Allocation MotionCannabis ActGovernment Orders

10:25 a.m.

Liberal

Jody Wilson-Raybould Liberal Vancouver Granville, BC

Madam Speaker, I know the member opposite has asked this question in previous forums.

Nothing in Bill C-45 makes it legal for a young person to possess cannabis. In having the five grams in Bill C-45, we have sought to ensure that we find a balance between the over-criminalization of young people and to ensure we do everything we can to protect the health and safety of, and restriction of access for, young people.

In the legislation, the provinces and territories have the ability, much like they do with respect to tobacco and alcohol, to put in place measures to ensure that cannabis can be seized from a young person by law enforcement officers, much the same way they do with respect to alcohol and cigarettes.

Bill C-45—Time Allocation MotionCannabis ActGovernment Orders

10:25 a.m.

NDP

Anne Minh-Thu Quach NDP Salaberry—Suroît, QC

Madam Speaker, this is the 25th time that time allocation has been invoked to limit debate on a bill, even though the Liberals have only passed 19 bills so far. This is senseless and demoralizing.

The Liberals talk a good game about transparency and listening. They claim they are still at the listening stage and are open to amendments. However, of the 38 amendments proposed by the NDP, how many were accepted? Zero. The Liberals rejected every single amendment in committee, even though the goal was to improve the bill so it would truly protect youth.

The minister says we are protecting youth. In reality, however, only a paltry $36 million over five years has been set aside for education. Colorado invests $40 million a year in education and prevention, but Canada is only prepared to put $7 million a year towards its so-called historic marijuana legalization bill. That is totally inadequate. This is supposed to be an investment in protecting our youth.

The deadline is less than nine months away, but no front-line youth outreach organization has been contacted. There is no outreach going on with youth at home or in school or with street workers. There is a problem with communication and prevention.

What can the minister offer us in the way of assurances? Nothing is giving me much comfort this morning.

Bill C-45—Time Allocation MotionCannabis ActGovernment Orders

10:25 a.m.

Liberal

Jody Wilson-Raybould Liberal Vancouver Granville, BC

Madam Speaker, my colleague across the way has always been an advocate for ensuring we have public education and awareness campaigns. I appreciate her raising this in the House, time and again. Our government is fundamentally committed to it, ensuring we do it in a substantive way.

I know my colleague, the Minister of Health, as well as my parliamentary secretary, are going to continue to engage, as am I, as is the Minister of Public Safety. We have made substantive investments with respect to public education and awareness. We have been engaging in social media to raise awareness about the harms and risks with respect to cannabis use. We have been talking about this and distributing leaflets on a drug-free Canada.

We will continue to do this. We will continue to engage with Canadians about how best we can move this forward to ensure that awareness is made in all areas and within all the places and populations that it is necessary to make substantive efforts.

Bill C-45—Time Allocation MotionCannabis ActGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.

Conservative

Peter Kent Conservative Thornhill, ON

Madam Speaker, the minister speaks of exhaustive consultations, but she does not acknowledge the appeals for delay from all levels of society.

Here we have time allocation, the legislative guillotine, cutting off debate on perhaps the most important piece of legislation, where debate should be exhausted, not cut off. The Liberals have rejected appeals from the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, the provinces, the municipalities, and from all sorts of groups across society. We are now seeing checkerboard regulations being brought in, province to province, in some cases contradictory regulations, which will complicate both the application and enforcement of the law, as well as the public's right to know what happens on this side of the Gatineau River or on the other side.

It is particularly offensive, as this week we have the representatives from towns and cities, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, in Ottawa to talk to government, to talk to their parliamentary representatives. How can the Liberals and the minister look those representatives in the eye and tell them that they are not listening to their appeals for delay?

Bill C-45—Time Allocation MotionCannabis ActGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.

Liberal

Jody Wilson-Raybould Liberal Vancouver Granville, BC

Madam Speaker, in fact I do recognize that these individuals are in Ottawa, and we have been listening. We have been talking to municipal officials. We have been looking them in the eye and having substantial conversations about Bill C-45 and the provisions contained therein. We are committed to ensuring that we change the status quo, a status quo that simply is not working. We want to move forward with the legalization of cannabis and strictly regulate and restrict access.

In order to have a comprehensive framework in place by July of 2018, we have to work with provinces, territories, law enforcement, and municipalities. We are committed to continuing to do that and look forward to the discussion that will happen today in ongoing debate, which has been substantive in this place.

Bill C-45—Time Allocation MotionCannabis ActGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.

NDP

Peter Julian NDP New Westminster—Burnaby, BC

Madam Speaker, the fact is this has become a government that is engaged in serial closure. This is the 25th time in this Parliament that the government has sought to ram through legislation without having proper debate, and it is particularly egregious.

Yesterday, on Bill C-59, an immensely controversial piece of legislation, the government imposed a procedural trick to shut down debate after only a few hours. Today, we are dealing with deeply flawed legislation with holes in it that need to be fixed, and the government is saying that it is going to shut down debate in the House of Commons and ram things through. The number of witnesses the minister cites does not matter. The fact is that amendments have been rejected time and time again and now the Liberals are trying to shut down debate. Why do they not fix the bill? New Democrats are willing to work with them.

Bill C-45—Time Allocation MotionCannabis ActGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.

Liberal

Jody Wilson-Raybould Liberal Vancouver Granville, BC

Madam Speaker, I have to reiterate the comprehensive nature of Bill C-45, the consultations, and the ongoing discussions we have had, and will continue to have, with provinces, territories, and municipalities to ensure that we can establish the comprehensive framework that will legalize cannabis, and strictly regulate and restrict access to cannabis. This is an ongoing effort.

As we have seen, six jurisdictions have instituted their own measures with respect to the regulation of cannabis. We are going to continue to work with them and the other jurisdictions to ensure, come July 2018, that we have a comprehensive framework in place that obliterates the status quo and ensures that we keep cannabis out of the hands of kids and the proceeds out of the hands of criminals.

Bill C-45—Time Allocation MotionCannabis ActGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.

Liberal

Nathaniel Erskine-Smith Liberal Beaches—East York, ON

Madam Speaker, I have heard a lot of talk about delays from the other side, requests to delay this legislation further, and that we are rushing ahead so quickly. I would note that Colorado and Washington, in November 2012, passed resolutions at the ballot. The electorate called for legalization. In Colorado, 13 months later, businesses opened to sell cannabis. In Washington, 21 months later, businesses opened to sell cannabis. Given that it has already been more than 24 months since our election, does it seem like a rush here in Canada?

Bill C-45—Time Allocation MotionCannabis ActGovernment Orders

10:35 a.m.

Liberal

Jody Wilson-Raybould Liberal Vancouver Granville, BC

Madam Speaker, I appreciate my colleague's reiteration of the substantive investment of time that we have made. It has always been clear that this was a priority for our government. We engaged with a task force of experts, health experts and law enforcement, which provided us with substantive recommendations that we listened to. We listened to Canadians right across the country. We had the benefit of vigorous debate and discussion at the committee hearings, and amendments have been made.

We will continue to listen to Canadians, provinces, and territories, as well as municipalities, indigenous communities, and governments. This is a commitment we have made. We are committed to ensuring that we roll out robust public education and awareness campaigns around the risks of cannabis. Again, I appreciate all of the substantive efforts and engagement by many people right across the country.

Bill C-45—Time Allocation MotionCannabis ActGovernment Orders

10:35 a.m.

NDP

The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

It is my duty to interrupt the proceedings at this time and put forthwith the question on the motion now before the House.

The question is on the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Bill C-45—Time Allocation MotionCannabis ActGovernment Orders

10:35 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Bill C-45—Time Allocation MotionCannabis ActGovernment Orders

10:35 a.m.

NDP

The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

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

Bill C-45—Time Allocation MotionCannabis ActGovernment Orders

10:35 a.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Bill C-45—Time Allocation MotionCannabis ActGovernment Orders

10:35 a.m.

NDP

The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

All those opposed will please say nay.

Bill C-45—Time Allocation MotionCannabis ActGovernment Orders

10:35 a.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Bill C-45—Time Allocation MotionCannabis ActGovernment Orders

10:35 a.m.

NDP

The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

In my opinion the yeas have it.

And five or more members having risen:

Call in the members.

(The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)

Vote #396

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

11:15 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

I declare the motion carried.

I wish to inform the House that, because of the proceedings on the time allocation motion, government orders will be extended by 30 minutes.

The House resumed from November 9 consideration of Bill C-45, An Act respecting cannabis and to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, the Criminal Code and other Acts, as reported (with amendment) from the committee, and of the motions in Group No. 1.

Report StageGovernment Orders

11:20 a.m.

Eglinton—Lawrence Ontario

Liberal

Marco Mendicino LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House of Commons today to speak about the motions moved by the member for Sarnia—Lambton.

Before I begin, I would like to acknowledge the work of the Standing Committee on Health in its study of Bill C-45, an act respecting cannabis and to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, the Criminal Code, and other acts. The committee heard from nearly 100 witnesses in five days. The committee's deliberations resulted in the adoption of 20 amendments that contributed to improving various aspects of the bill. These were informed by the insight and advice of the many witnesses, both domestic and international. I want to thank the members of the committee for this thoughtful review of the bill and its efforts to improve the proposed legislation.

Bill C-45 follows through on our government's commitment to legalize, strictly regulate, and restrict access to cannabis in a way that protects Canadians, including our youth, and removes profits from the hands of criminals and organized crime. In my remarks today, I would like to further explain some of the reasons our government's approach to cannabis is the right one.

The motion put forward by the member for Sarnia—Lambton would effectively prohibit adults from cultivating any cannabis plants on their own property. This stands in sharp contrast to the approach proposed by our government, which would allow adults to grow up to four cannabis plants on their property for personal use.

First, let me remind members of the House that our proposed legislation was informed by the sound and extensive advice of the task force on cannabis legalization and regulation, which was chaired by the Hon. Anne McLellan. The task force consulted extensively with Canadians across Canada on how best to approach the legalization and regulation of cannabis. The members heard from youth, cannabis consumers, industry, indigenous communities, provincial and territorial governments, law enforcement, municipalities, regulators in other jurisdictions, public health and safety experts, and researchers, and the list goes on. Overall, the carefully weighed and diverse range of perspectives expressed during these extensive consultations suggested that small amounts of cannabis for personal use can be safely and responsibly grown at home by adults.

The proposed new framework for cannabis, which permits a small number of plants to be cultivated by adults on their own property, is consistent with the approach recommended by the task force. There is no doubt that our government's proposed approach, allowing a small number of cannabis plants to be cultivated at home, is balanced and supports the objectives of Bill C-45.

One of those objectives is to avoid criminalizing Canadians for minor offences related to cannabis. The current approach to cannabis has resulted in thousands of Canadians being charged, convicted, and sent to jail for possessing small amounts of cannabis, which indeed is counterproductive. Should the motion moved by the member for Sarnia—Lambton be adopted, Canadians would continue to be exposed to criminal charges for minor, non-violent offences. This would create an unnecessary burden on the criminal justice system, which is one of the reasons these motions should not be supported. We all know that criminal records can result in lifelong consequences by, for example, limiting employment opportunities.

Another key objective of the bill is to reduce illegal activities in relation to cannabis. Significant profits are generated by the illegal cannabis market every year, and some of this profit ends up in the hands of organized crime. Allowing adults to legally cultivate a small number of cannabis plants on their property would represent an alternative to the illegal market and should not be prohibited completely. Completely prohibiting personal cultivation, as proposed by the member for Sarnia—Lambton, may undermine the government's ability to displace the illegal market and reduce criminal activities.

Setting a limit on the number of plants an adult may grow is a reasonable way to distinguish between responsible adults who wish to grow a limited number of cannabis plants at home and cannabis cultivated to supply and drive the illegal market. This is why other jurisdictions have taken a similar path.

As the federal framework has also been informed by international experience and best practices, I would note that in jurisdictions where cannabis is legal and strictly regulated, only one, Washington state, has maintained a prohibition on personal cultivation. Other jurisdictions, including Colorado, Oregon, and California, set provisions that restrict the number of plants that can be grown, such as the ones included in Bill C-45.

Permitting personal cultivation in limited amounts is consistent with our government's approach to allowing Canadians access to a legal source of cannabis while setting a clear threshold to help law enforcement identify criminal organizations that are supporting an illegal market.

To be clear, permitting personal cultivation of a limited number of plants would not mean open season for cannabis. On the contrary, the selling of home cultivated cannabis would still be a criminal offence, and growing more than four plants would be prohibited and prosecutable.

Finally, it is important to clarify that under the proposed framework, the provinces, territories, and municipalities would have the flexibility to impose further restrictions related to personal cultivation, beyond what is found in Bill C-45. This is an important point, as our government believes that they would be in a better position to assess the necessity and feasibility of such additional restrictions and their enforcement.

Through our government's proposed approach, Canadians would no longer run the risk of having a criminal record for possessing, sharing, or growing small amounts of cannabis. Canada is more than ready for a new approach, one that includes the ability of Canadians to grow small amounts of cannabis plants at home for personal use.

Again, the motion moved by the member for Sarnia—Lambton goes against the key objectives of the bill. Therefore, we recommend that all members of this House vote it down. It would also undermine our government's efforts to displace the illegal market and reduce criminal activities around cannabis. I am confident that the new legal framework we are proposing, including the current provisions of the bill that would allow personal cultivation of a small number of plants at home, is the best path forward for all Canadians.

Report StageGovernment Orders

11:25 a.m.

Conservative

Marilyn Gladu Conservative Sarnia—Lambton, ON

Madam Speaker, I sat through all the testimony at the health committee. I noted that in his speech, the member talked about Washington state. In fact, Washington state did not allow home grow, and we see that it had the best outcomes in terms of reducing organized crime, which is down to less than 20%, and in making it difficult for people under the age of 21 to actually get hold of cannabis, which is actually the goal of this legislation.

The government did not listen to the provinces and has removed the height requirement for the four plants. That means that if people watch the YouTube video, they could roll chicken wire across the whole inside of a house and grow four trees and a huge amount of marijuana.

Why did the member not listen to Washington state, Quebec, and New Brunswick, which clearly see that home grow is a problem?