House of Commons Hansard #256 of the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was veterans.

Topics

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

1:10 p.m.

NDP

Sheri Benson NDP Saskatoon West, SK

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the lively debate we are having here, and my colleague's speech. I would like to hear him reflect on another important aspect of accountability and transparency, and that is when a prime minister promises something when he or she is a candidate that does not happen when he or she becomes prime minister.

Yesterday, we celebrated the first anniversary of the Prime Minister's broken promise to Canadians on electoral reform. Most Canadians thought that this was a key pillar of his election strategy. Most Canadians assumed that it was a big one, and that it was probably something he would follow through on should he win and become prime minister. Lo and behold, that is what happened. Then we went through almost a year, nine months, with a parliamentary committee, an expensive online survey, and a ministerial tour, and we were all encouraged to have town halls. Most of us thought we were still going in that direction.

In light of the conversation we just had about accountability and ethics, I wonder if my hon. colleague might reflect on that broken promise to Canadians.

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

1:15 p.m.

Conservative

Erin O'Toole Conservative Durham, ON

Mr. Speaker, yesterday marked a day of broken promises on electoral reform, and the Prime Minister blaming veterans for expecting him to keep his promise on lifetime pensions for all our injured veterans. This shows that the Liberals made calculated promises they knew they would break to get left-leaning voters from the NDP on electoral reform, and defence, veteran, and right-of-centre voters on veterans issues.

As I said in the House today, and I choose my words carefully, this shows a leader who is willing to either lie or be so willfully blind to the promises being made that he is prepared to say anything. I would like the Prime Minister to inform the House, and I do not use that word lightly, whether he did not cost these promises or did not think about electoral reform, or whether he chose to lie to Canadians to win the election.

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

1:15 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, on a point of order, during question period and right now, the member used a term he knows full well is not parliamentary. We can agree that Conservatives and Liberals at times will get into heated discussions, but I do not believe it is appropriate to start using unparliamentary language.

I would ask the member to rethink the use of the word, without trying to expand or hit a point on which I believe he is outright wrong.

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

1:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

Before we go to the hon. member for Durham, the term “liar” was used, and it is an unparliamentary term. I will let the hon. member reply, and we will see what he has to say.

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

1:15 p.m.

Conservative

Erin O'Toole Conservative Durham, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have thought a great deal about the use of that term. I have tried to use it within the context of a question, because I am not sure here. When a promise is made, and I am not suggesting the Prime Minister lied in this House or anything like that, but we certainly saw in an election campaign that a promise was made. The determination is either that the promise was made without full knowledge of the cost implications, and that is likely what it is, or it was made for political calculation, which would be a lie. I think it is the former, and I would like the Prime Minister, or perhaps the veterans affairs minister, to clarify that for me.

I do not use that word lightly. However, when I was the veterans affairs minister and I was trying to deal with families struggling with losing faith in the Government of Canada, both Liberal and Conservative, I said that the biggest thing we owe veterans is the truth and to work with them on making progress. I am being very judicious with the decision, and perhaps a ruling on this might be in order.

If I offer this as a question with two alternatives, it really is up to the Prime Minister to determine or confirm which alternative is correct. At that time, if there would be an acknowledgement that they did not cost the full lifetime pension promise, did not look at its implementation or its impact on people, I would certainly withdraw the language I suggested as the alternative. However, this is such a passionate subject for me personally and for veterans, and I know my friend from Barrie feels the same way. I would like a determination on whether posing it in this way, giving the Prime Minister and the veterans affairs minister a choice, allows me to remain within the parliamentary rules. I certainly have respect for this House. I certainly have respect for the deputy House leader. However, this is part of responsibility in public life.

We can get passionate about pipelines and a whole range of issues, but unlike some issues, benefits and payments to injured veterans affects families. This is bigger than a lot of debates we have in this place, and perhaps why, if we do take the sacred obligation we have to our veterans, we should be very precise with our language.

Mr. Speaker, if I am found to be playing too close to the line here by offering it as a choice, if that is your determination, I will apologize to this House. I did give very careful thought about how I have used these terms and how I have presented it for them to respond. Holding a press conference a couple of days before Christmas, after the House rose, and suggesting they did not break their promise is not fair to this House, and it is not fair to veterans or their families across the country.

Mr. Speaker, I will look to your honourable guidance with respect to this question.

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

1:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

We will start with the hon. parliamentary secretary and then go to the member for Hull—Aylmer on the same point of order.

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

1:20 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, if we were to look at Beauchesne's sixth edition and at what is parliamentary and what is not parliamentary, we would find a very clear statement.

A word in itself is not necessarily determined as being parliamentary or unparliamentary because of the word itself. It is the context in which it is said. The context in which the member said it, whether it was right now or during question period, was that it was meant to try to provoke all sorts of reactions from other members of the chamber. It was to promote unhealthy decorum inside the House of Commons. That is the manner in which he used the word. The member is trying to twist it around to make it look as if the Government of Canada has done something wrong. I give him full merit in terms of his ability to try to communicate a false message. However, by trying to incorporate a word that by nature is unparliamentary, that will be listed as unparliamentary, and then arguing that because of the context, it was to contrast, and now it is up to the Speaker, what the member is really trying to do is re-emphasize a question he asked earlier today.

There was a response from the minister. I would suggest that the minister was right and the member was wrong, and he should accept the answer and recognize that the way he used the word was unparliamentary.

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

1:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

If you do not mind, I am going to go to the member for Hull—Aylmer, and then I will speak to this. This is going a little longer than we anticipated.

The hon. member for Hull--Aylmer, please.

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

1:20 p.m.

Liberal

Greg Fergus Liberal Hull—Aylmer, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the House for giving me an opportunity to raise this point of order. It is the same point of order my colleague from Winnipeg raised.

I have come to know the member for Durham well since my election in 2015. I consider the member an honourable member. Regardless of the context, I would certainly suggest, out of respect for the House, that the member would want to withdraw that word. I am certain that there are other ways he could make his point without skating so close to the line. The hon. member, as I indicated, has a distinguished history in the House, and I am certain he would not want to impugn another hon. member in the House, in this case the right hon. member for Papineau, by using that word, which I am not even going to employ.

Out of courtesy and out of respect, I would ask the hon. member to make it patently clear that he will withdraw that message and would allow him to make, in his inimitable and usually very erudite way, his point without employing words that even come close to skating to the line.

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

1:20 p.m.

Conservative

Erin O'Toole Conservative Durham, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would refer to Section 491 of Beauchesne's, which says, “No language is, by virtue of any list, acceptable or unacceptable.” It is the context.

What I might suggest is a compromise. The member for Hull—Aylmer is probably one of my favourite members on that side. He is a good friend. Perhaps this might change it. I would like clarity here. If this was not an issue that I lived and breathed and bleed about, I would not be phrasing it with a choice for the Prime Minister to make. That is how I am phrasing it, and maybe those members do not like it.

Perhaps the framework would be that the promise was made when there were no members of the House, because the House of Commons was dissolved. A collection of Liberal candidates in the last general election made a promise with respect to lifetime veteran pensions. That was either one of two things. It was either in the context of a campaign, when the House of Commons was dissolved and there were no hon. members at that time. In the context of that campaign, it was either an un-costed, not properly researched promise, or a political calculation, which now appears to be a lie. I do not like using that word. I hoped I would never have to use it. I am using it, because that is what has happened as a result of that promise.

I look for direction. If I am wrong, I will withdraw and apologize. However, it is not absolutely clear to me if it is presented in that way, or perhaps the compromise would be that the House was not in session, and it was a collection of candidates,

It is important enough that I would like your clarity on it, Mr. Speaker.

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.

Liberal

The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

What we have done is we have consulted Bosc and Gagnon. There is a paragraph here, and I will take the time to read through it:

In dealing with unparliamentary language, the Speaker takes into account the tone, manner and intention of the Member speaking; the person to whom the words at issue were directed; the degree of provocation; and, most importantly, whether or not the remarks created disorder in the Chamber. Thus, language deemed unparliamentary one day may not necessarily be deemed unparliamentary the following day. The codification of unparliamentary language has proven impractical as it is the context in which words or phrases are used that the Chair must consider when deciding whether or not they should be withdrawn. Although an expression may be found to be acceptable, the Speaker has cautioned that any language which leads to disorder in the House should not be used. Expressions which are considered unparliamentary when applied to an individual Member have not always been considered so when applied “in a generic sense” or to a party

I think in this case, we do find that it was applied to one person, and there was some disruption in the chamber. There is no question there. We have seen it on both sides just while the discussion was taking place. What I want to avoid is a slippery slope. If we start with one word and continue on that way, who knows where we might end up.

I will leave it to the member for Durham to respond to that, and then we will get on with the debate.

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.

Conservative

Erin O'Toole Conservative Durham, ON

Thank you very much for your clarity, Mr. Speaker, and for the time and interventions from other members of this House.

Certainly, when I raised it in question period, there was not disorder caused by it, but clearly in this debate there was disorder caused by it. In light of your reading of the rules, I will withdraw that word. It remains that I would still like a wider answer to the issue, but I will try to use better language, more parliamentary language, when I ask about the issue.

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.

Liberal

The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

We will take that under consideration and get back, if necessary.

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.

NDP

Hélène Laverdière NDP Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, since my speaking time has been cut short, I will try to stay on point.

Our democracy is important and we cherish it. However, it is a living thing, and we must not let it wither. We must support and nurture it. The Liberals had an opportunity to do so. They even promised to advance our democracy by introducing proportional representation. However, they broke their promise and by doing so they discouraged many young people who had decided to vote. They prevented us from having a House of Commons that truly represents the interests of the entire population. Furthermore, they have fuelled cynicism about politicians and our institutions. This is a step backwards for democracy.

In the meantime, they chose to organize cash for access meetings, where people pay for access to the Prime Minister and his cabinet. These are very intimate meetings, where a good meal and a glass of wine are served to people who can afford to pay $1,500 to speak one-on-one with the Prime Minister and members of cabinet.

In Laurier—Sainte-Marie, most people cannot afford to pay $1,500 to speak to the Prime Minister or his ministers about their housing problems or how they are outraged about tax evasion and cuts in services. They do not have that kind of money.

Why do the wealthy have this kind of access, while the people I represent, the citizens of Laurier—Sainte-Marie, do not? That is unacceptable. With Bill—

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

1:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

Order. I am sorry, but that is all the time we have for today. The hon. member for Laurier—Sainte-Marie will have 7 minutes and 30 seconds to finish her speech when we resume debate on this matter.

It being 1:30 p.m. the House will now proceed to the consideration of private members' business as listed on today's Order Paper.

The House resumed from November 23, 2017 consideration of the motion.

National Impaired Driving Prevention WeekPrivate Members' Business

February 2nd, 2018 / 1:30 p.m.

Conservative

Glen Motz Conservative Medicine Hat—Cardston—Warner, AB

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to lend my support to the motion of my friend and colleague the member for Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel to create a national impaired driving prevention week. A similar effort has been under way in Alberta, where December is recognized as Impaired Driving Month. Both intentions are the same, which is to raise awareness of impaired driving and encourage people to drive sober.

I salute my colleague and others for sharing their personal stories. As a former police officer, I have seen too many preventable and tragic accidents coming from a decision to drive after drinking or taking drugs. It is encouraging that many of the discussions and stories during the debates have focused on the impacts to families and communities, and support for the victims of these accidents.

Any effort that can reduce the unnecessary loss of life and make our roads safer is worth our attention and effort in the House, and we can show that we can rise above partisanship. By supporting a national impaired driving prevention week, my hope is that we can decrease the number of impaired drivers on the road. These campaigns have been proven to work. Over the last 30 years, impaired driving, both by alcohol or drugs, is down 65%. Today, we are at the lowest rate ever recorded. That is both a cause for celebration and a reminder that the job is not yet done. When it comes to impaired driving, one is too many.

Why did impaired driving drop significantly during this time period? First, in my opinion, it was an attitudinal shift. Punishments changed and how we deal with impaired drivers shifted. Gone are the days when police drove people home instead of arresting them. Zero tolerance was adopted, and those who broke the law faced the consequences of their actions. As a society, we changed our view of drinking and driving. The era of “one for the road” ended. Today, most consider impaired driving as a social taboo. Complacency or acceptance of this practice is at an all-time low.

For our youth today, there is pressure to stop friends from driving while impaired, along with education on how to recognize and avoid driving under the influence. All of this has been accomplished through the community and educational efforts of groups like Mothers Against Drunk Driving, MADD Canada. Through their campaigns, MADD and others have reduced the number of fatalities, accidents, and victims. These groups have rallied the industry to help with educational efforts in win-win scenarios that see more people arrive alive.

However, more can and should be done. Nearly 60% of crash deaths today still involve drivers with alcohol or drugs in their system. The most recent statistics show that over 72,000 incidents of impaired driving in Canada were reported in 2015. As we can see, there is still a lot of room for improvement. We need to continue the trend of fewer impaired drivers and fewer families left to pick up the pieces after losing a loved one. I hope that by dedicating a week specific to this issue we are able to rally educational efforts across various groups, and further empower our police services to protect Canadians from drunk driving.

However, as we debate this motion to prevent impaired driving, a surprising number of members in this House continue to support legalized marijuana. Make no mistake. Marijuana legalization will result in more impaired driving deaths, more accidents, and an increased risk to road safety. History has already shown us the results.

Colorado legalized marijuana a little more than five years ago. A summary of the impacts in the U.S. were far gloomier than what the Liberals' proposed plan says, even though the political promises were the same. In the U.S., the politicians promised that legalization would reduce the impacts of organized crime, increase tax revenue, decrease crime rates, and improve controls over youth access to drugs. Does that sound familiar? However, reports show that organized crime continues to do well, including operating in both the legal and illegal markets for marijuana, where prices are tax-free and significantly lower. Instead of higher revenues, there has been pressure on social services as addiction rates, homelessness, and youth use has increased. For impaired drivers, the first year saw marijuana-related traffic deaths increase by 92%. Youth access spiked, even though the legal age of use is 21 in Colorado. Youth rates were significantly higher in legalized states versus non-legalized states. Drug-related high school suspensions were up 40%. Today in Colorado, business groups, doctors, and health providers are trying to rally the public to reverse that legalization.

Washington state has a similar story, according to the Northwest High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area report, which is part of the White House's plan to reduce drugs. They say drivers involved in fatal crashes with drugs in their system increased 122%. Nearly two out of three DUls for marijuana involved youth, with 20% of youth reporting they were in a car with a driver who was under the influence of or used marijuana. Similarly, half of school expulsions and 42% of drug suspensions were marijuana related. These numbers are consistent and clearly show that Canada should be preparing for a major issue related to drug impaired driving.

Sadly, the government has not been listening. The Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police warn that it will not be ready to equip and train enough police on drug testing processes and procedures in time for the arbitrary summer deadline. This does not help police services serve their communities, it will not help protect innocent victims from impaired drivers, and it is entirely avoidable.

This new national impaired driving prevention week would, no doubt, help educate Canadians on the dangers of using marijuana and driving, and lots of education is needed because many Canadians still believe that the impacts of marijuana and alcohol are the same, if not less, for cannabis. However, unlike alcohol, marijuana takes seconds to impact the brain and the user feels and exhibits the effects immediately. While alcohol peak effects are reached quickly and dissipate within two to three hours, marijuana impairment can last up to 24 hours, depending on the strength of the drug and the frequency of use.

The drug impacts critical functions like thinking, reflexes, perception, balance, motor control, and reaction times, all essential elements to driving. Worse for our kids, the impairment is not immediately recognized by the user or others who interact with them. Where the signs of alcohol impairment can warn us not to get in the car with someone who is under the influence, the same warning signs may not be there for a marijuana high. The least we can do is create a week to educate people on the dangers of driving while impaired, since we know there will be significantly more people driving while impaired when marijuana is legalized. Those who ultimately pay the price for impaired driving are the victims. We cannot debate this issue without making the families, friends, and loved ones of victims central to this issue.

As the member for Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel has seen and experienced first-hand from his statements in the House, the innocent victims pay a significant price by those who make the decision to drive under the influence. All penalties, jail, community service, criminal records, pale in comparison to that. I ask all MPs who stand in the House to support the member's motion to also re-examine their support for legalizing marijuana. If our goal, as members of the House, is to improve our society and leave a brighter future for our children, the legalization of marijuana does not align with those ideals.

Canada's record for impaired driving has been getting better each year, but 72,000 incidents of impaired driving remain far too many, and with the government's decision to legalize marijuana, without question, it will create thousands more drug impaired drivers. With this law being rushed, the government puts the safety of its citizens at risk.

There is clearly a need to better inform and prepare Canadians. With this new national impaired driving prevention week, it is our hope that industry, community, and public agencies can rally together to improve road safety and educate Canadians. We can continue to improve awareness, social pressure, and enforcement to reduce impaired driving. We can honour and remember innocent victims who were lost by the senseless act of driving while under the influence. With this week, we can play a small part in the creation of a better and safer future.

National Impaired Driving Prevention WeekPrivate Members' Business

1:40 p.m.

NDP

Richard Cannings NDP South Okanagan—West Kootenay, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to affirm my support for Motion No. 148. I thank the member for Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel for bringing this forward.

There was considerable consensus in the House when we had our initial discussion on this motion back in November. It is truly a positive step.

While it is highly commendable to promote awareness, I wish to use some of my time today to encourage the government to go further. We must do all we can to minimize preventable tragedy and keep our roads safe for Canadians.

Driving is not a constitutional right; it is a privilege, a privilege that must be denied those who act recklessly by driving impaired. We need to give serious consideration to concrete, measurable ways so this behaviour can be deterred and ultimately eliminated. I will revisit this a little later.

Committing to additional awareness campaigns about the perils of drug, alcohol, and distracted driving is a good place to start. We have seen that these initiatives work. Data from Statistics Canada shows that in 2015 the rate of alcohol impaired driving was 201 incidents per 100,000 population. That was the lowest rate since data on impaired driving was first collected in 1986, down 65% and 4% lower than in 2014.

After decades of awareness, it is now widely accepted that alcohol impaired driving is wrong and that it causes considerable harm. However, as we move forward toward the legalization of cannabis, we must acknowledge that many individuals do not believe drug-impaired driving is quite so serious. Anything that impairs reactions and judgment will have detrimental effects on the ability to drive. Impairment is impairment.

Recently, I heard Dr. Robert Solomon interviewed by CBC's Michael Enright about impaired driving. Dr. Solomon, a legal expert who has done considerable research on impaired driving, also testified at the justice committee. He pointed that 16 to 24 year olds represented 13% of the population but accounted for one third of the cannabis users.

Canadian youth are already the leading demographic for rates of impaired driving. The high instance of cannabis use paired with the already high rate of impaired driving warrants our attention. Additionally, perhaps most disconcertingly, the perception that drugs will not impair driving is prevalent among young Canadians.

As the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction says:

The challenge is many youth do not consider driving under the influence of marijuana to be risky, unlike driving under the influence of alcohol. Some youth even believe that using marijuana makes them better drivers, but evidence clearly shows that it impairs driving ability....more awareness campaigns that centre on youth are needed to deter them from driving while impaired, especially after using marijuana.

A national study by the Partnership for a Drug Free Canada provides further evidence to that effect, writing, “Nearly one third (32%) of teens did not consider driving under the influence of cannabis to be as bad as alcohol.”

Further to this point, in an article published in the National Post in 2016, “About half of pot-smoking Canadians who get behind the wheel while high believe the drug doesn’t impair their ability to drive safely — and 20 per cent say nothing would make them stop driving while stoned.”

People can see that an unfortunate number of factors are converging here. We have Canadian youth with already high rates of impaired driving, high cannabis use, and the belief that drugs will not cause impairment. Clearly, this needs to be addressed. Awareness will help but let us not stop there. Let us also consider measures and practices that will deter impaired driving in all forms.

I supported Bill C-46, which, among other measures, would allow police to administer roadside mandatory alcohol screening, MAS, as a way to apprehend all drivers at the stop who were impaired. Dr. Solomon was quite clear in his testimony on this, that testing every driver at a stop instead of relying on subjective discretion saves lives. It increases the likelihood of an impaired driver being apprehended. The practice deters impaired driving since drivers know they will be tested.

While this practice may give some pause, I reiterate that driving is a privilege not a constitutional right.

MAS is used successfully in many European countries as is illustrated by the submission to the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights that Dr. Solomon co-authored. In it he wrote, “When Switzerland enacted MAS in 2005, the percentage of drivers testing positive for alcohol fell from about 25% to 7.6%, and alcohol-related crash deaths dropped by approximately 25%.”

Folks are less likely to engage in a behaviour if they know there is a greater probability of being caught. Dr. Solomon's submission to the committee goes on to say, “A 2013 study reported that MAS prevented an estimated 5,309 crash deaths in four Australian states over a 27-year period and was particularly effective in reducing crash deaths among 17-30 year olds.”

Lives are being saved by this practice. Mandatory alcohol screening is no doubt effective, but we are still debating a suitable equivalent for drug impaired driving. Such a device needs to be reliable, efficient, and ideally inexpensive for police forces. These are the kinds of measures that I believe are necessary in order to go further than awareness campaigns.

I will conclude by reiterating my support for my honourable colleague's motion, but I also want to remind members that we have a long way to go. We have a long way to go in terms of addressing persistent misconceptions around the harmfulness of drug impaired driving, and we have a long way to go to implement effective practices that will save Canadian lives.

National Impaired Driving Prevention WeekPrivate Members' Business

1:45 p.m.

Ville-Marie—Le Sud-Ouest—Île-des-Soeurs Québec

Liberal

Marc Miller LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Infrastructure and Communities

Mr. Speaker, it is with great personal pride that I stand today to support the motion of my colleague and friend, the member for Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel. I hope I am not betraying his trust today by telling the House how emotional and passionate he is about this particular initiative. It stems from one principle that he raised with us quite recently, which is that he has done everything in his life for his three daughters. For anyone who has studied the background of this motion, it stems precisely from the personal physical and emotional trauma his daughter went through.

This is a bright and important motion, and I am glad it is garnering unanimous support in the House. It comes from a very personal source and it is of great importance to the member. It was something he did way before he got into politics, notably by pioneering an initiative called “cool taxi”, which gave tickets to people who were impaired, without any questions asked, in order for them to get home safely.

I want to talk about a good friend of mine, Peter Cullen. He is a former colleague of mine at the law firm I worked at for a number of years, Stikeman Elliott. This is not a partisan pitch. In fact, his brother is an NDP organizer, and he has reminded me several times that he tends to be Conservative. Members can applaud on that side of the House, but there are about three of those in the Montreal area, so it is not a big number. I did want to emphasize that this is not a partisan pitch by any stretch of the imagination.

When Peter Cullen found out I was getting into politics, he had read a local newspaper article that we have all been the subject of, which goes through our family history in a most embarrassing way. He came up to me in the lawyer's lounge and asked if my uncle was Graham Gales. Peter is a maritime lawyer. I did not do maritime law at all, so we had not really worked together or gone through our personal histories. I told him Graham was my uncle. He looked at me and under the stress of emotion gave me what I call the white Anglo-Saxon Protestant hug, which is as close as one can get to something a little firmer than a handshake, but it was deep in emotion. He said he did not know that, despite the years we had worked together. He told me that Graham had been his best friend, that he had walked to school with Graham every day, and still misses him. I spoke with Peter this morning to get permission to speak about him in the House. He told me he is still affected every day by the loss.

Graham died at 18, hit by an impaired driver, close to Hawkesbury. I never got to meet my uncle and Peter lost his best friend. This was something I did not know. I knew the loss had affected my mother. It was in 1972. She was pregnant with me, a few months along. It obviously affected her parents, my grandparents. They never recovered from it, nor does any parent, I believe, who loses a child. It also affected a swath of people around him, including my colleague and buddy Peter.

This is something that has touched every single person in the House, whether at this level of capacity or at full capacity. As members of Parliament we hear about trauma, but on a personal level, we have all been touched deeply by it in some measure.

The reason I am telling the House about Peter is that the repercussions of impaired driving have a devastating effect on society, not only on people who are close but on people we never would have imagined it would have had an impact on, and it marks them every day. When I talked to Peter this morning, as well as a couple of years ago, about this loss, he still is visibly under the emotional trauma of reliving the incident. Part of that was him asking me to help him find the grave where Graham is buried, because he went looking for it and never found it. I have helped him, and hopefully, he has found the grave and has been able to get some peace.

My colleague from Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel has gone through a similar personal trauma. His daughter, thank the Lord, survived and is now in law school. I have not checked her grades, nor should he share them with me, but I am sure she will be at the top of her class. She was highlighted by the Barreau du Québec at some point for her studies. She is a young Quebec leader and has a very bright career. However, she was the subject of an impaired driving crash and it took a a significant period of time for her to recover from that.

The reason we support this as a government, why my colleagues across the way support it as members of the Queen's loyal opposition, and why I support it on a personal level is the fact that the motion makes sense. It makes sense for a number of reasons, both personal and professional.

We have talked at length about legalizing cannabis. I had a prepared speech and was prepared to tell the House about the initiatives and the millions of dollars that this government was prepared to invest to raise awareness of impaired driving as it related to cannabis. However, the reason today's motion is garnering so much support is because it makes sense. It only needs to achieve one single purpose to have success, and that is to change but one and to save but one single life. If it does that, my colleague to the left of me can be extremely proud of what he has achieved with this initiative. Moreover, I am going to get rid of this speech. I was waiting for my mother to call me and give me permission to actually talk about this, but I hope she forgives me.

This is deep and personal for everyone. As I mentioned earlier, as members of Parliament, we have all heard terrible stories. We should stay humble because of that. We have all been one step away from taking the wrong turn, being stupid, and jumping into a car in a condition less than respectable. If any kids are listening to this speech, there is one message I would like to convey to them. If they are under extreme peer pressure to get into a car with someone that they know is drunk, then they should take the damn keys away and throw them in the snow, or wherever. A friend may be lost for a week, or maybe two weeks, but that friend will not be lost for life.

National Impaired Driving Prevention WeekPrivate Members' Business

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

Jim Eglinski Conservative Yellowhead, AB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to compliment my colleague across the aisle for a very heart-wrenching speech, one that came from his heart and involved a lot of people. He was correct when he said that every time there is an accident when someone is killed by an impaired driver, this is not the only victim. There are also the victims who have to live on. I thank the member. It was a great story.

I am pleased to rise in the House to speak to Motion No.148, which would establish a national impaired driving prevention week. As members know, I spent 35 years as an RCMP officer. As an emergency responder, I have personally witnessed the prevalence and impacts of impaired driving. I attended too many fatal MVAs directly related to impaired driving. I even had the occasion once to charge an individual with a Breathalyzer reading six times over the legal limit. It was scary. He was not supposed to be walking.

I am grateful that this motion has been put forward, and I am pleased to see that it appears to have support from all sides of the House, as it should.

Impaired driving is not a new problem in Canada. It has been recognized by the Criminal Code of Canada since 1921. Despite a sizeable drop in the impaired driving rate since the mid-1980s, it still remains a leading cause of criminal death in Canada. In my own province of Alberta, one in five drivers involved in fatal collisions between 2011 and 2015 had been drinking prior to the collision. In that same period, 389 people were killed and 5,969 people were injured in alcohol-related collisions. These numbers are unacceptable.

In a Statistics Canada survey, one out of 20 drivers in Ontario, Manitoba, Alberta, Yukon, and Nunavut admitted to driving in previous years after consuming two or more drinks in the hour before driving. It is clear that we have a lot of repeat offenders. Out of these individuals, more than three-quarters reported driving impaired on multiple occasions. On one occasion, I remember arresting a person three times in one night for impaired driving. The only way to stop him was to lock him up.

This motion states that the government should recognize the importance of educating Canadians about the consequences of impaired driving, and that is so right. With a good education program, we can get that information out there and lower the statistical data, very much as we did when seat belts came out. A good education program got the message out.

According to the statistics I just shared, 95% of Canadians seem to understand the consequences of drunk driving, but we need to keep educating the public until that number is 100%, because the 5% who keep drinking and driving are doing a lot of damage and permanently changing the lives of thousands of people, as my friend across the way just said.

It is not just alcohol that impairs our driving. Cellphones are a huge distraction on the road. This distraction greatly impacts our ability to drive safely. According to the Canadian Automobile Association, drivers who text are 23 times more likely to be involved in a crash or a near miss. I have witnessed ladies applying makeup, men shaving, and some unmentionable distractions while people were driving.

This motion is well timed with Bill C-373, which I will also be speaking to when it is up for debate later this month. It calls for a national framework to deter and prevent distracted driving, with a focus on hand-held devices.

Distracted driving is a major issue across Canada. The number of deaths caused by distracted drivers is now outpacing the number of deaths caused by drunk drivers in provinces like Ontario and British Columbia. It is imperative that we include distracted driving in our conversations about impaired driving. If this motion passes and we have a national impaired driving prevention week, I would like to see this as part of the conversation each year.

I would also like to see drug-impaired driving as part of this conversation. This is an issue I continue to be very concerned about as the Liberal government pushes to legalize marijuana.

Drug-impaired driving has been increasing every year since 2009. The message about drinking and driving is well known, but people do not fully understand the impact drugs can and will have on their judgment and reaction time when driving.

Studies of vehicle accidents around the world show that the drugs most commonly found in drivers involved in accidents include marijuana, opioids, and cocaine. Each drug affects the brain differently, but almost all impact the user's attention, judgment, motor skills, reaction time, decision-making skills, and coordination.

Public Safety Canada conducted research with Canadians on drug-impaired driving in 2017. It found that 28% of cannabis users have operated a vehicle while under the influence, and one-third of Canadians have ridden in vehicles operated by a driver who was affected by the use of cannabis. Among those who have driven while impaired, almost half downplayed the risks. They either indicated that driving while under the influence of cannabis was less dangerous than driving while under the influence of alcohol, or they believed that driving while under the influence of cannabis posed no real risk to them or anyone else. They are wrong. I have investigated horrific accidents where no liquor was involved but the drivers were high.

These are the attitudes of Canadians, and they need to change, especially as marijuana becomes legal. This is why I support educating Canadians about the dangers of impaired driving. I know there are members here who have personally been impacted by an impaired driver, and we have heard that. Some have lost a friend or family member. The sponsor of this motion almost lost his daughter, a story he shared with the House.

What is even more heartbreaking than his story is the fact that there are thousands more stories like his out there. So many Canadians have been impacted by impaired driving in life-changing ways. This is something that needs to change. From my service as an RCMP officer, some of my worst memories are of motor vehicle accidents: death and mangled bodies. One never forgets.

A national impaired driving prevention week would serve as an annual reminder and education campaign about the very real consequences of driving while impaired, whether by drugs, alcohol, or distractions.

When the sponsor of this motion spoke in November last year, he said that four Canadians die in an impaired driving accident each day. That is too much. If a single life can be saved by this motion, then it is worth supporting. I encourage all members of this House to support Motion No. 148 to help make our roads safer.

National Impaired Driving Prevention WeekPrivate Members' Business

2 p.m.

Liberal

Rob Oliphant Liberal Don Valley West, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is always a great honour to rise in the House of Commons to offer thoughts on motions and bills in front of us. Particularly today, it is a great honour to rise in support of Motion No. 148, and our move, I hope unanimously, in this House to establish a national impaired driving prevention week.

I will begin by thanking the hon. member for Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel for his passion, wisdom, and hard work in bringing forward this motion for our consideration. I believe it is something that can and will change lives once it is enacted.

It is interesting for me that politics is a place where ideas and people come together. This place is a place where our private lives and our public offerings are able to come together. The hon. member for Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel has brought his private experience, his personal story into the public forum, and I think every one of us is richer for that. There will be Canadians whose lives are saved because of his work today. We thank him and commend him.

The speeches I have listened to on this have been interesting. We have had statistics raised regarding the incidents of impaired driving, collisions, and motor vehicle accidents that are a direct result of impaired driving, and lives lost. We have also heard personal stories of lives that have been broken, dreams that have been shattered, and families that have been severed because of this.

What I want to add to this conversation today is the role of civil society. Our job is to get the laws right. It is also our job to ensure that enforcement happens appropriately. If we have laws that are right, and we have enforcement that happens well, lives can be saved. However, attitude, education, personal responsibility, and our own behaviour are critical in ensuring that lives can be saved.

By establishing a national impaired driving prevention week, we have the opportunity to have a national conversation that engages young people and older people, that is involved in schools and communities, that is able to take the conversation forward, get attitudes to change, to make sure that behaviours are appropriate, and that all of us are working together to ensure that lives can be saved.

This sort of a week would build upon weeks that already exist, but would come at a time of year which is critical. At the end of winter and in the early spring, as students begin to think about the summer, it is a most important time to bring those educational offerings into consideration, making sure that everyone is informed and is enabled to live life appropriately.

I want to highlight one civil society group that is working in concert with many others. It is one that I happen to know quite well. The organization is named Arrive Alive Drive Sober. Arrive Alive has been established for several decades. Its national office is in Don Valley West. They run programs aimed both at young people and older people, to ensure that we will have fewer accidents and many fewer casualties from impaired driving.

Anne Leonard was the executive director for decades, and gave her heart and soul to ensure that their educational programs could find a way to do it. I want to pay tribute to Anne, who retired last year after giving her life to this cause. She worked with so many people to ensure that Canadians have better information and make better decisions. Michael Stewart has taken over from her as executive director and program director. He has brought the wisdom that Anne has offered to the association, and is now living it out.

I work with them every year as they get funding for Canada summer jobs, and employ young people, making sure that information is taken into communities, taken around the province, and making sure that we have activities that promote healthy living, safe driving, and that we have a reduction in impaired driving from any source.

Their public campaigns are centred on two major themes: choose our ride, and shut out impaired driving. They bring together people. They do it in the community at annual conferences, workshops, and other events where people are gathered. They make sure that people hear the right information. They have clever ways of doing that through social media as well as through one-on-one conversations.

I believe that this week, this very important week what will happen in the third week of March, will be an opportunity for Arrive Alive to engage even more strongly in the kinds of activities that the member has envisioned in this motion.

We have rare opportunities in this House to save lives. We bring our personal stories. We commend each other on the activities we are doing. However, this particular motion has the opportunity to change lives and that gives us a great opportunity to engage in that.

I thank the hon. member for Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel for doing this work, and for his passion, courage, wisdom, and tenacity in doing that. I encourage all members of the House to support the motion when it comes to a vote.

National Impaired Driving Prevention WeekPrivate Members' Business

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Nicola Di Iorio Liberal Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to offer a brief reply. Emotions make us. They are a driving force. They are a guide. I have to tell members that when I addressed this motion, I relived the circumstances that led me to propose it, and at times I am overtaken by emotion. Therefore, if members do not mind I will rely on my notes to ensure that I comply with the time and the constraints that this honourable House imposes on us on occasion.

On November 23, the first reading of Motion No. 148 took place. I would like to take this opportunity today to thank all my colleagues in Parliament, as well as my family, constituents, and friends for their support.

Also, I thank my dear friend, the hon. member for Ville-Marie—Le Sud-Ouest—Île-des-Soeurs, for being here today to support me, as he has from the very beginning. In Montreal, we practised law in two office towers across the street. We were competitors. However, here, as in life, we are always friends.

I salute my colleague and friend from Medicine Hat—Cardston—Warner, and my friend and colleague from Don Valley, for their strong voices and support.

I would also like to thank, in the same manner, my colleague from South Okanagan—West Kootenay and my colleague from Yellowhead for their support and constant attention to this motion.

Furthermore, as my hon. colleague from St. John's East pointed out earlier, “impaired driving remains the leading criminal cause of death in Canada”. This is why my proposal to establish every third week of March as the national impaired driving prevention week is of paramount importance, as it seeks to raise awareness on the consequences of impaired and distracted driving, in particular for our Canadian youth. In conjunction with my hon. colleague from Victoria, I believe that we must utilize this week to teach our youth that driving impaired can have “dangerous” and “dire consequences”.

In matters of prevention, of which I have been a long-time promoter, the results speak for themselves. Prevention campaigns are addressing concerns, as previously outlined by my colleague from Brandon—Souris, that “Canadians are not getting the message” on the dangers of distracted or impaired driving.

Furthermore, with the rise of mobile phones and social media, distracted driving has grown as a concern. My goal is to instill, especially in our younger citizens, that, as was so eloquently put by my colleague from Haliburton—Kawartha Lakes—Brock, “No text, no tweet, no call, no post is worth a life.”

Drug-impaired driving is on the rise. Now that the legalization of cannabis is imminent, it is even more important to strengthen the actions of the many organizations that are already working on this important issue. Motion No. 148 is a call to action in order to direct our energy toward ongoing prevention efforts and the reduction of traffic accidents caused by impaired driving.

Dedicating one week out of every year to increasing awareness will provide a tangible context that will help our fellow Canadians consolidate their efforts to prevent impaired driving. In my work in this regard, I have heard the stories of victims as well as their families and friends. There are organizations, such as MADD Canada, Arrive Alive, and the Canadian Association of Road Safety Professionals, as well as Canadians who are concerned and participate in awareness campaigns.

I would like to acknowledge Justine Rozon, Evelyne Méthot, and my daughter, Claudia Di Iorio, whose courage and perseverance have inspired me and made me aware of the terrible problem of impaired driving.

My commitment to reducing and even eliminating the national tragedy of fatalities and serious injuries resulting from impaired driving is the main reason why I came to this venerable institution. Let us unite in this fight, the fight for life. I thank all my colleagues.

National Impaired Driving Prevention WeekPrivate Members' Business

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

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

National Impaired Driving Prevention WeekPrivate Members' Business

2:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

National Impaired Driving Prevention WeekPrivate Members' Business

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

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