Madam Speaker, first of all, I want to congratulate the member for Winnipeg North on being nominated for hardest-working MP. Well done, dear colleague.
I have tremendous respect for my colleague, but I would add the caveat that just because a person is hard-working does not mean everything they do is right.
I also want to take this opportunity to remind members that November 5 was municipal elections day in Quebec. The 28 municipalities in the beautiful riding of Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier voted in a mix of new officials and re-elected incumbents. The day after the elections, I wasted no time in congratulating the mayors and councillors. However, a warning was in order as well. In eight months' time, these municipal councillors and mayors will have a problem to deal with. These elected officials will be responsible for making sure life goes on in their municipalities after July 1, 2018. They will have decisions to make. They will have to keep an eye on their parks. What will be happening around schools?
My colleague said earlier that 12-year-olds could be walking around with drugs in their pockets. We must not forget that children are more impressionable than adults. I am deeply troubled.
Municipal elected officials will also have to look at what this means for highway safety codes. Those are under provincial jurisdiction, but municipalities do have local responsibilities. Recently, the Government of Quebec enacted legislation giving municipalities additional responsibilities, including speed limits in residential areas. Municipalities handle that. What a gift for our newly elected officials.
I take no pleasure in rising in the House today to speak to a Liberal bill that will destroy our youth, theact respecting cannabis and to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, the Criminal Code and other acts.
I was talking about municipalities. We also have to talk about the other level of government, the provincial government, which will have to deal with all these problems in return for a portion of the federal government's revenues from legalizing this product.
Many studies have made it abundantly clear that using marijuana affects people's health, especially the health of our young people. We must not forget that health is under provincial jurisdiction.
We also have to talk about road safety. We have no idea how our hard-working police officers are going to enforce that. There has been talk of training and investment, even of sending people to the United States for training. Nobody is ready for this. We should be taking our time.
As for personnel management, the Quebec minister of labour does not know what to do about the problem. People will be going to work after using drugs. It is a lot harder to verify people's state after they use drugs than after they drink. This is just one more thing being downloaded onto the provinces.
A university president from the Quebec City area asked how they are supposed to deal with this and manage it on campus. A myriad questions remain unanswered, and yet the government is fixated on one thing: July 1, 2018. Why is there such a rush to get this bill into law?
I recognize that drug use exists and that we need to do something. However, just because the government cannot control an existing problem does not mean that we should trivialize and legalize it. We should be taking more responsible steps and taking the time to come up with better solutions. I do not think this is the right way to tackle the problem.
We need to work on prevention. We need to encourage our youth to play sports and get involved in the arts and in their community. Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier has 500 organizations. Their problem right now is that they cannot renew their membership lists or find new volunteers.
Why has the federal government not developed a program to encourage our youth to get involved in their community? When they are involved in sports, dancing, singing, or arts and crafts, whatever the activity, that is all they think about. They do not have time for mischief or smoking marijuana.
The government opposite outlined specific purposes in the legislation. They are:
a) protect the health of young persons by restricting their access to cannabis;
However, it will be sold everywhere. Furthermore, people will have easy access from home since they will be allowed to grow their own pot plants. I will continue:
b) protect young persons and others from inducements to use cannabis;
Once again, it will be available everywhere. Here is the the third purpose:
c) provide for the licit production of cannabis to reduce illicit activities in relation to cannabis;
In other words, the government is saying that it will kill organized crime, but the Canadian Police Association said that it was naive to believe that organized crime activity could be restrained, reduced, or influenced. That is the word the Canadian Police Association used to describe this government. Then, the bill goes on:
(d) deter illicit activities in relation to cannabis through appropriate sanctions and enforcement measures;
Young people from 12 to 17 will apparently be able to go around with 5 grams of marijuana, which is the equivalent of 10 to 15 joints depending on their size. I will keep reading:
(e) reduce the burden on the criminal justice system in relation to cannabis;
Yes, we agree on decriminalization, but let us make the distinction between decriminalization and legalization. All 338 members of Parliament probably made some mistakes in their youth. It is certainly better to pay a fine, as we do for speeding, than it is to have a criminal record. The bill goes on:
(f) provide access to a quality-controlled supply of cannabis; and
(g) enhance public awareness of the health risks associated with cannabis use.
The government is saying that marijuana is not good for people's health, but it is going to legalize it. The government is saying that people should not use it, but it is going to put measures in place that will make it more accessible to our young people. I rise in the House today to protect our young people. That is important for any self-respecting society. It is naive to think that this is going to get rid of organized crime.
My goal is to protect young people under 25. All studies show that the brain development is complete by age 25. Why put young people between the ages of 18 and 25 at risk? The government is treating our young people like lab rats. We are the first G20 country that wants to legalize this drug. Why? We will become a testing ground and that is unacceptable. We are sacrificing a generation. That shows a lack of respect for our young people and makes it seem the government does not believe in the future of our country.
This government is here for the wrong reasons. It is spending money hand over fist and now has backed itself into a corner, so it is looking for a way to make some fast cash. First, that is an irresponsible way for a government to behave, because it has no vision. Second, it is using our young people to fill its coffers. The government has failed to mention what the cost of the consequences will be. We need to take the time to find a more respectful solution.
Even the tax is set out in budget 2017. We are wasting our time here today. The Liberals want this measure to take effect on July 1, 2018, and they did not agree to any of the amendments proposed by the NPD. They are looking forward to July 1, when they can raise some money for the friends of Pierre Elliott Trudeau's heir, our famous Prime Minister.
It does not take a genius to understand that this government is implementing measures that will take money out of the pockets of Canadians and harm our young people. That is unacceptable. This government needs to listen to reason. I am calling on the government to take more time before implementing this legislation, to be serious, and to show some respect for our young people. I am rising today on behalf of our youth.