Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise to talk about Bill C-45, the cannabis act and the complications it will create, the planning that is necessary, and more importantly, what should be done for many Canadians as the legislation moves to implementation.
One of the things that concerns me the most is that we will continue to criminalize Canadians. That will be quite substantial for their record, especially given that our neighbour to the south, the United States, has a much broader definition of a criminal record as it relates to marijuana possession. Despite state movements to legalize and decriminalize cannabis, border complications become an impediment to this idea.
Liberals do not even care about the substantial repercussions. They are indifferent to the fact a life can be changed significantly by a federal criminal charge and the consequences of that charge for the rest of that person's life.
What is more interesting is that as we move toward legalization, we see a culture that becomes a little more emboldened before the law changes. We see it every single day out on the streets. People may accidentally get bold with this.
In fact, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice mentioned one of those things. He mentioned a case in which a person now has a federal criminal record. He is concerned about more of those. That can happen, and there are consequences, especially in border communities. Given the fact that 80% of Canada's population lives close to the U.S. border, we will have implications.
In the area I represent, 10,000 doctors and nurses commute daily across the border. Thousands of auto workers commute across the border on a daily basis. We have an aging population now, and the first chance in a while for some people to get good-paying, career-oriented jobs, with benefits and a return on investment on their education. If they make a mistake now—if they are around cannabis, or somehow get caught up in a charge as we are making this transition—it is not good.
Let us not confuse what can be done right now, and decriminalization can be done right now, independent of what we are doing here. It is as simple as that.
The Liberals choose not to do this, to instead hang those people out to dry in the interim, because if a truck driver, a nurse, or a doctor happens to have a teenager or someone else with marijuana in their household, or if they are around it or smell of it or any of those different things, they could be implicated at the border.
Worse yet is if they have a charge already. I know many professionals that we have to deal with on a regular basis who are so important to the Canadian economy and will forever need constant management on the border. That is what we do out of our office. We work over and over on certain cases. They have no other criminal record, no other consequential involvement, only good employment records and contributions to the community. This is where the bitter irony resides, from this moment on until we finally move to legalization.
All those victims in between the chaos—the ones who are emboldened to do it, the ones who get side-swiped during the transition, and the other ones who are going to crack down on it—will have their lives altered.
Meanwhile, the Prime Minister will walk free and clear. He could do that because he thought it was just a popular thing for him to say. He had been elected as a member of Parliament and he bragged about the fact that he smoked marijuana, a criminal offence in Canada. Is it not a little ironic that he has a security detail around him and the known fact that he has participated was willingly expressed? The fact is that we still do not know to this day where that marijuana came from. Where did the marijuana come from that the Prime Minister smoked? Did it come from a friend, a family member?
The fact is that his life never changed as a consequence. He used it as a political opportunity, whereas the people I represent cannot get their records cleared. They are working day in and day out with no other problems but are affected by this thing from 10, 20, sometimes 30 years ago.
As we go down this path, we will continue to have those people who are caught at a disadvantage because they are not the elite. They are not the ones with the family name. They are not the ones from the political corridors of this chamber or other chambers. Despite this being the House of Commons, and it has been for many decades, we will see them suffer a different fate from that of our own Prime Minister during this entire thing. That is a problem. That is called elitism because someone is separate or above the law and can flaunt it for political gain. In fact the political gain is an economic gain, but if someone happens to be a truck driver, a business person, or anyone else, they have that blemish on their record forever.
Why can we not fix that right away? The Liberals simply do not want to. It is interesting because we have heard the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice talk about criminalization, organized crime related to this, which is very true and very important to deal with, but he was the same as the Prime Minister in voting against single-event sports betting, which has $8 billion to $10 billion of organized crime and offshore betting accounts stuffed to the limit because we do not allow it. It happens in bars, in basements, with the click of a mouse, or off of a phone, and it goes offshore with no taxation. That $8 billion to $10 billion are modest estimates and the Liberals voted against even putting that to committee. The bill was supposed to at least get to committee. It had actually passed in this chamber before and it failed in the Senate. The Liberals decided to stop it right here and not to send it to committee.
There is very little credibility left for them with that argument. Canadians who are actually arrested, no matter where they are from, from the day of tabling of legislation here until the day it is not, will have to ask themselves, and they will get an opportunity to reflect, why is it okay for some to puff up their chests and smile with bravado and say they are cool because they smoked marijuana and do it for their own interests, whether it is political or otherwise, and not get a record, not be held to account, at the same time as others face a record that includes criminality that will affect them and their lives just because they were not the elite.