Mr. Speaker, I rise this afternoon to speak to Bill C-45 on cannabis legalization.
As my colleague said, a lot of people are talking about this. Most of the people in my riding are against the bill. I have a hard time understanding why the Liberal government wants to legalize marijuana. How is this going to benefit society?
The government says it wants to protect young people and fight organized crime. What planet is it living on? Does it really believe that its bill is going to protect young people? Does it really think it will do away with organized crime? It is dreaming. There is no way.
Luc Plamondon is a noted songwriter from my region and the brother of my colleague, the member for Bécancour—Nicolet—Saurel. He was born in Saint-Raymond de Portneuf, which is in the riding of Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier. He wrote a great song that I will use to set the stage for the rest of my speech. Here is part of it:
My head's going to explode
I'm about to crash
Lie down on the road
And breathe my last
I believe in our youth, and I do not want to let our young people die. Why is marijuana not already legal in other G7 countries? That is a good question. This government wants to legalize marijuana and is so proud of itself for being the first G7 country to legalize cannabis. What lofty aspirations Canada has. Why have other countries not legalized marijuana?
The Liberal government wants to use our young people as guinea pigs. He wants to sacrifice a generation by improvising the legalization of marijuana in order to fulfill an election promise. When they made this promise, the Liberals ranked third in the polls. Now, they are trapped. Nevertheless, since they backpedalled on election reform, they could also backpedal on this bill. They have a habit of backpedalling. However, in this case, they are being stubborn. Is the Prime Minister enjoying this?
Let us talk about Bill C-45, which states that its purpose is to:
(a) protect the health of young persons by restricting their access to cannabis;
However, there will be greater supply on the market. The bill is going to:
(b) protect young persons and others from inducements to use cannabis;
This prohibited use is being trivialized. As a father, I would tell my children that it is not a good thing to smoke marijuana. However, the Government of Canada and the Prime Minister are saying that it is all right. What rhetoric. It continues:
(c) provide for the licit production of cannabis to reduce illicit activities in relation to cannabis;
People will be able to grow marijuana anywhere they want. Where is the control? Next, it says:
(d) deter illicit activities in relation to cannabis through appropriate sanctions and enforcement measures;
(e) reduce the burden on the criminal justice system in relation to cannabis;
If the Liberals want to meet that objective, all they have to do is decriminalize marijuana. That will fix the problem. Lastly:
(f) provide access to a quality-controlled supply of cannabis; and
(g) enhance public awareness of the health risks associated with cannabis use.
Also, this law will give the minister the power to set the price for various products and services provided for under the legislation. That means that the minister will become the leader of the new Liberal biker gang. His crest will be a nice marijuana leaf with the Liberal Party logo, and his motto will be “just one little joint”. It is always good to dream big.
Why is this government prioritizing the legalization of pot over other much more important issues for the country, such as the environment, job creation, economic development, aggressive efforts to support our regions, and a balanced budget, among others?
I fail to understand how Canadian society will benefit from the legalization of marijuana. I know that the government's stated objectives are to protect youth and reduce the involvement of organized crime. That certainly sounds good during an election campaign, but it is unrealistic.
Does this government know anything about human psychology? Fifteen percent of people will always defy the law, which means that 85% respect authority. Legalizing marijuana is like inviting people to an open bar; we are saying it can be used safely, and so, marijuana's potential market will go from 15% to 100%. We want to poison our youth by saying, “Smoke your joint; go on, enjoy yourself!” We are now in the business of helping to develop this market.
This law will expose new consumers to greater harm. Not only will law-abiding citizens start using, there will also be an increase in the number of road accidents caused by marijuana use. I am not the one saying this. This data comes from the various states, regions and municipalities that have legalized marijuana.
Moreover, organized crime will push its customers, especially young people, to buy at a discount. This will not put an end to organized crime because its members are more clever and intelligent than this government. Organized crime will develop other markets and drugs, and it will lower its prices. They are in the business of marketing. How much will all this cost society? How many young people’s lives will be destroyed?
Schools are worried, as is the Association des policières et policiers provinciaux du Québec and the Association des pédiatres du Québec. Numerous studies on brain development in young people have shown that people under the age of 25 are at a high risk of harm.
My fellow citizens in the beautiful riding of Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier have many concerns. What will be the cost of implementing this law given all the accompanying structures that will have to be put in place? Monitoring systems, training and awareness-raising campaigns will have to be funded. How much money will be spent in the near future and for how many years if we go ahead with legalization? Awareness-raising campaigns against cannabis will need to be organized to educate the public and protect our children.
As well, how much of a burden will we be putting on our health care system? How will this impact our society? How will it affect health and safety in the workplace? Are we about to see a new generation of young, budding horticulturists? Why jeopardize Canada's fine, young people and put them at risk of irreparable harm? Why this eagerness to legalize cannabis? How do Liberals plan to measure and control the rate of hallucinogenic compounds? Regarding the limit of four plants per household, how can the government seriously think that they can control all of this?
The Liberal government wants to legalize marijuana, but give responsibility for distribution to the provinces. What happens when a young person who is not of legal age to consume marijuana crosses the Quebec-Ontario border? How will we apply this law?
All of these questions remain unanswered. I invite the Liberal government to reflect on this bill and withdraw it on behalf of our youth, who deserve a better future. We are in 2017. I am in favour of the decriminalization of marijuana and I support awareness-raising campaigns that encourage young people to participate in sports and the arts and to say no to drugs. With such measures, the Liberals would achieve their goals without having to legalize marijuana.