House of Commons Hansard #301 of the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was point.


Industry, Science and TechnologyCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

12:40 p.m.


Matt Jeneroux Conservative Edmonton Riverbend, AB

Mr. Speaker, the member raises some phenomenal points on exactly what I have been hearing across the country. I was in rural communities in British Columbia, in Alberta, and in Saskatchewan. All three of those communities were curious as to where they stood on a protein supercluster that had been announced. They think they might be part of it. However, there is a lot of confusion because of the mixed messages they have been given by the minister and the minister's staff. They are curious if this is being headquartered somewhere, if there are a number of employees that come along with this, if there are certain deadlines they have to meet. Certainly, a lot of these small companies within these rural communities are wondering if maybe this is just an Ottawa-based project from which they have no opportunity to really grow their local economies.

The member for Barrie—Innisfil also raised another great point with respect to the science file. We have been hearing a lot on the science file, on the support for a number of initiatives within the Naylor report. We only saw about half of the Naylor report addressed within the last budget. There was a lot of hope within the science community leading up to the budget. Then about half of the recommendations were actually addressed.

Again, this leaves a number of small businesses and small innovators questioning the type of support they have from the government. The trickle-down effect of that is going to be immense, and we are going to have a number of small businesses looking at other places, such as the United States, to set up business as opposed to innovating in Canada.

Industry, Science and TechnologyCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

May 25th, 2018 / 12:40 p.m.


Frank Baylis Liberal Pierrefonds—Dollard, QC

Mr. Speaker, I sit on the industry committee with the member opposite, and I have found his contribution to be very good to our committee. As we were developing the IP strategy, I thought his questions to the witnesses were excellent. The report was great too. The IP strategy that has came out of the report has been extremely well received. I own a number of patents, and I have spoken to a number of high-tech companies that make patents. They think our IP strategy will work excellently.

Could the member tell me which high-tech company, specifically, he has spoken to that says the strategy is not good? I am not interested in hearing a politician's view. I am interested in hearing about a specific high-tech company that says is not a good.

Industry, Science and TechnologyCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

12:40 p.m.


Matt Jeneroux Conservative Edmonton Riverbend, AB

Mr. Speaker, I enjoy the interventions of the member on the industry committee as well. We have enjoyed our time there over the last few months. I would remind him I was not there for the entire IP strategy. He may think differently. However, I was put on the committee just at the end of the IP strategy.

The comments I referenced in my speech were from the Intellectual Property Institute of Canada. The president of the institute who governs this said that the government's patent pool left his group with many questions and the government's goal was not clear. The government did not specify which patents and which licensing firms would form the collective.

Industry, Science and TechnologyCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

12:40 p.m.


Arnold Viersen Conservative Peace River—Westlock, AB

Mr. Speaker, one of the things my colleague touched on right at the end of his speech was the innovation that happens in the Canadian oil patch, particularly in Alberta, Saskatchewan, and northern B.C. Necessity is the mother of all invention. Could he talk a little more about that area of the economy?

Industry, Science and TechnologyCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

12:40 p.m.


Matt Jeneroux Conservative Edmonton Riverbend, AB

Mr. Speaker, the member for Peace River—Westlock is also the deputy shadow minister of industry, science, and economic development. He does fantastic work. He also participates a lot with the work we do in our committee.

Right now we see a lot of the innovation sector look south. We see a lot of red tape being removed in the United States and other countries, a few of which I mentioned in my speech. They are looking for places where the government is out of the way and not controlling everything, like the Liberal government has in the latest IP strategy.

The solution to a lot of this is to encourage the government to not put in place additional taxes and red tape on small businesses. I spoke with a small business in my community, which employees 15 people. It told me that it had been taxed so much at the federal, provincial, and municipal level that it was having a tough time keeping its employees. It said that it would have to lay off two people, and the owner and general manager would also have to take less salary. The effect of those two people being laid off then trickles down. These two people now will have a difficult time meeting their mortgage. They will probably not own that second car. They probably will not be eating out at the local restaurants and shopping at the other local businesses. These two people will now have to reassess their lives. It points directly to the tax burden that has been put on the business from three levels of government.

To see these innovators and small businesses continually be taxed and stressed to the maximum is certainly something we do not support on this side of the House. When the other side is coming up with strategies such as this, when it is coming up with the proponents focused on the Trans Mountain expansion project, which I also spoke about in my speech, I appeal to the members to ensure they are helping innovators and small businesses, not standing in their way.

Industry, Science and TechnologyCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

12:45 p.m.


Murray Rankin NDP Victoria, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to be here this afternoon, speaking about such a critically important, although I must admit somewhat boring, topic. When the words “intellectual property” are put together in the same sentence, most Canadians would probably be turned off about now.

However, for reasons that have been well expressed already by my colleagues, this area truly is a significant part of Canada's future. We need to ensure that we have harnessed intellectual property and, as I will argue, worked more closely with our universities in order to do so. That, of course, is the thrust of many of the excellent recommendations, all 12 of them, that were made in this report of the industry committee, entitled “Intellectual Property and Technology Transfer: Promoting Best Practices”.

It will not surprise the House that I will say a few things about my riding of Victoria, because we are the home of a number of universities and colleges that have been integrally involved in intellectual property accumulation that has then been transferred to our burgeoning high-tech sector. Many Canadians will be surprised to learn that our main industry, in fact, is high tech, which depends on some of the things that the committee has quite astutely observed and made recommendations upon.

Let me therefore begin by looking at some of the recommendations. I would like to highlight only a couple of them that I think are important. Then I will talk about the situation in my part of the country. Lastly, I will end with something that is rarely talked about in this House but which ties very directly into this issue, and that is the so-called Naylor report.

Let me start with the recommendations that I think are particularly important to the university and college sector.

Recommendation 3 of the industry committee report is that the Government of Canada facilitate access to information relevant to technology transfer for Canadian small and medium enterprises.

Why? It claims “in order to promote collaborations between post-secondary institutions and the private sector, notably for the purpose of the commercialization of academic research.”

Sometimes Canadians think that universities are simply an ivory tower place, and that is so far from the reality that exists today. Many of the discoveries that are happening across our country—and Canadians should be immensely proud of those discoveries and the researchers that are making them—can be commercialized and should be commercialized. It troubles and pains me that so many of our young entrepreneurs think there is no sense in trying to commercialize it in this country and that they should just go down to Silicon Valley or Boston or maybe Ireland, which has become such a high-tech sector in and of itself.

That should not be the future of Canada. We need to keep the best and the brightest who make these discoveries, so we need to provide the protection of intellectual property that is needed to keep them in this country, where they create jobs and a better future for us and our children and grandchildren.

That recommendation deserves some emphasis.

Recommendation 5 reads like this:

...that the Government of Canada consider launching a pilot program designed to provide small businesses access to strategic intellectual property advice.

That will be a challenge thrown directly to the Government of Canada, which I hope they will take up as a pilot project.

The last one that I will focus on is that the committee recommends:

...that the Government of Canada study the opportunity to renew and expand funding allocated to programs supporting technology transfers between post-secondary institutions, (universities, colleges and polytechnics), and Canadian enterprises.

It is abundantly clear that the committee gets it and sees the incredibly important need. However, forgive me if I focus this debate on the community with which I am most familiar, Victoria.

I confess a lot of Canadians do not understand it and have a very unfortunate stereotype about what our community is, thinking of it perhaps as a retirement centre, a government centre, and so forth. That is why I think Canadians need to understand that greater Victoria's technology sector is now a $4-billion industry, making it the largest industry in the capital regional district. It is $4 billion. It is the largest industry. I think that will come as a surprise to Canadians. It has been that way since 2007, when it quietly moved up the ranks and hit $1.6 billion. According to recent studies, for every high-tech job, four other jobs are created.

Here I need to do a shout-out to Mr. Dan Gunn, who deserves a lot of credit for that. He heads up the Victoria Innovation Advanced Technology and Entrepreneurship Council, which uses an enormous number of very amusing and engaging techniques to engage the young members of that burgeoning high-tech community. He deserves credit for putting it together, creating that umbrella, having fun with people, getting them to collaborate informally at what they call “Fort Tectoria” on Fort Street, and has helped to turn the downtown area into what San Francisco calls “the mission district”, full of entrepreneurs and young people.

A long time ago the Liberal government of British Columbia moved many of the government jobs away. It downsized and moved them to different parts of the province. Those buildings are now increasingly being occupied by 20-year-olds and 30-year-olds who are creating a future.

The law firm I used to be with rented the building where all these computers were just sitting, because the people we took the lease from simply sold their entire business and moved to Silicon Valley, leaving thousands of dollars of material laying around.

That is just one of many start-ups that have been so successful in our community, and we are very proud of them. To return to the point I made earlier, it saddens me that many of them think they have to go abroad to succeed.

I commend the committee for recommending that there be a pilot project to make sure we know how to best harness this future and grow it, as we have done so well in our community.

As I said earlier, the high-tech sector employs a younger group of talent compared to workforces like those in government. It is also very diverse. Moreover, its employees make more money than the average worker in other industries.

How about this? Technology employs about 5% of British Columbia's workforce. That is more than forestry, mining, and oil and gas combined. If I said that to most Canadians in other parts of the country, they would scratch their head and say, “That's not what I understand. That's not the image of British Columbia that appears on TV. It's totally different.”

British Columbia has the University of Victoria, Royal Rhodes University, and Camosun College. It has enormous tech innovation centres that are succeeding. It also has what I think is the most important thing, a commitment in our communities to make this happen.

I salute entirely the report that has been provided.

I promised that I would also refer to the Naylor report. What is the Naylor report? David Naylor is the former president of the University of Toronto. He did a remarkable job for Canadians, and I am here to salute him today.

Last year, he chaired Canada's fundamental science review and produced an enormously important report called “Investing in Canada's Future: Strengthening the Foundations of Canadian Research”. That report is, as we might expect, very detailed.

One of the things he recommended, which I think dovetails quite nicely with the recommendations I referred to earlier, is that we create a panel to look at Canada's federal research infrastructure and that the Government of Canada by an act of Parliament create what he calls the national advisory council on research and innovation.

After enormous consultation, the committee thought that we needed such a federal statute to create such a council if we were going to have oversight of the federal research and innovation ecosystems around this country. It is obvious how that dovetails with the recommendations the industry committee made. I commend this Parliament to think about whether that act of Parliament ought to be created. I think it should.

Among the responsibilities of that committee would be to advise the Prime Minister and cabinet on federal spending, as well as broad goals and priorities for research and innovation; to improve the co-ordination and strategic alignment of different elements of federal support for research and innovation; and to evaluate the performance of the extramural research enterprise and so forth and so on.

The report spends an enormous amount of time talking about our proud funding agencies, NSERC, SSHRC, the medical research council, and the funding agencies, but makes very specific recommendations. I am advised that our universities are in broad agreement with the Naylor report, so it would be a win-win for the government to introduce that act of Parliament, and do what Dr. Naylor and his team suggested and get on with the job of harnessing the technology of intellectual property, which I have spoken about and the committee addresses and takes so seriously.

The new economy, the digital economy, is not based on land or money or the resources one normally thinks of, but on information. Technology in a digital economy is harnessing that intellectual property, be it medical research or research into applications on the Internet and the like. If we do not get our hands around how we can preserve and protect that intellectual property, obviously we are not going to thrive in the 21st century. We are not a country anymore of hewers of wood and drawers of water. We are not a country that simply uses the land and the resources provided to us as Canadians as our legacy and our heritage to create a new economy.

Our children are working in jobs many of us do not even understand. My son has a high-tech job that I do not even know what it involves. I am not the only parent in that situation. He does geographic information systems. I do not even know what they are, but all I know is that he is doing well, making money, and staying in Victoria because in our community we have people who do that. It is part of this new economy that I speak of.

However, if we do not have intellectual property rules that are effective in the 21st century and that understand the technological basis of that new economy, as a Canadian public, we are going to be the losers. Every time I see one of those planes going from the airport in Victoria down to the Bay area, which happens a couple of times a day, I do not know whether to laugh or cry. Many times they are going down to get the financing they need to advance the technology, which I am delighted they do. However, many times, they are going down so that people can take up new jobs in the Bay area, and we are losing that opportunity for our children and grandchildren here.

I commend the industry committee for recognizing the urgent need to get our hands around the preservation of intellectual property, the commercialization of the research it generates and, finally, to get jobs for Canadians, high-paying, family-supporting jobs in technology that will sustain the future of our country.

As for what those jobs are, let me talk about my community and the technology sub-sectors in greater Victoria. I do not think people will believe this. These jobs are in software; performance marketing and ad tech; fintech, which is technology for the finance industry; gaming; virtual reality; aerospace; life sciences; biotech; advanced manufacturing; telecom and wireless; ocean sciences and marine technology; technology services; and clean tech. It goes on and on. Again, not every Canadian knows what each of those words means, but they do know when their daughter or son comes home with a big paycheque from something they are working at. They do not even have to know what the word means. I had to look in the dictionary when my son came home and told me he got a job in this field, because I did not even know what it was. That is a bit disconcerting, but that is the new reality many of us here will understand only too well.

I cannot overemphasize the critical importance of the work this industry committee has done for Canadians. Of course, the question then always turns to this side of the House and whether they get it and if they want to keep Canada on track. I support some of the things the government has done with technology development and innovation. I accept that it has done better than the last government, that there is funding required, and that it has made significant investments in this. It would be disingenuous of me not to recognize and salute that. However, intellectual property preservation, boring though it might sound, is at the root of this. The government needs to figure out with us in this place how we can harness it.

Naylor suggested that we have a statute. I think that is a very good idea. Most university professors and presidents with whom I have spoken accept that as a critical first step to do what has to be done. There is lots of work we can do as Canadians to get on with the job.

I salute this report, I salute the committee, and I say, “Let's do it.”

Industry, Science and TechnologyCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

1 p.m.

Whitby Ontario


Celina Caesar-Chavannes LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Development

Mr. Speaker, I too would like to speak to the brilliance of Dr. David Naylor. I was on the governing council at the University of Toronto when he was president. He really is a fantastic individual.

As I heard the member speak about Victoria, it reminded me of our government's investment in superclusters. Whether we are talking about a supercluster for the ocean, AI, advanced manufacturing, protein, or digital, superclusters gave the opportunity across the country for the most unusual suspects to come together and work together. An unprecedented 450 businesses—300 of them small to medium-sized organizations—60 post-secondary institutions, and 180 other participants came together to create these great clusters of innovation. When we talk about complementing the promotion and protection of IP and jobs and having people stay in Canada, this is one strategy that we have used, among many others, that can help to do so.

I am wondering if my hon. colleague could say whether he believes some of the initiatives we have taken complement this report we are discussing today, and whether we are working hard to ensure that businesses stay in Canada and will continue to grow a very advanced economy here in Canada.

Industry, Science and TechnologyCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

1 p.m.


Murray Rankin NDP Victoria, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague across the way for her intervention, recognizing our shared admiration for Dr. Naylor. That is something we would agree on 100%. His contribution to this country is not understood well enough by enough Canadians. On that we agree.

On superclusters, I have heard some skepticism in some circles that the number of superclusters seems to align just perfectly with the different regions of Canada. I hope that they are entirely merit-based. I have no position or opinion on that, because I simply do not know, but I know some have noticed just how miraculous it was that it lined up so perfectly for the government. Nevertheless, the concept of superclusters, which I think is the main point of the member's remarks, is something that one has to accept.

I know that universities now, with the Internet and Skype, are talking to each other in a way that was unprecedented even 10 years ago. It is remarkable to see how modern research is conducted. We collaborate across regions in different sectors, and I think that this success will be built upon by the notion of superclusters. Unfortunately, as always, there are winners and losers, and we hear grumbling from people who were not successful in different parts of the country, but promoting collaboration is key.

The other point, however, that the industry committee talked about is that it is fine to have universities create great ideas, great intellectual property, but the next step involves using intellectual property regimes to harness it, to protect it, to sustain it, and then to see if we can commercialize it in a way that works for Canada and not just places like Silicon Valley.

Industry, Science and TechnologyCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

1:05 p.m.


Matt Jeneroux Conservative Edmonton Riverbend, AB

Mr. Speaker, I want to commend the member on his speech. He took what he calls a boring topic—I do not know if everybody would agree—and made it a lot more enlightening than I did just a few moments earlier, so I commend him on that.

I will ask for the member's thoughts on where he sees, right now, the government's involvement in the intellectual property innovation sector, and to contrast it to what is happening with the low-tax environment in the United States.

We are seeing a number of companies, organizations, and innovators looking to the United States and choosing it over Canada. I wonder if maybe he has seen some of that and if he is concerned to see that happening or having the potential to happen at an even greater level.

Industry, Science and TechnologyCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

1:05 p.m.


Murray Rankin NDP Victoria, BC

Mr. Speaker, I think we have a challenge here. The member put his finger on a problem that needs to be addressed and that we ought to look at head-on as Canadians.

I told members how painful it was to see people go to the United States with their ideas and commercialize them there. However, the problem that often arises is more complicated. I have heard so many entrepreneurs tell me that they do not want to go to the United States because there is not a health care system they can afford or depend upon, and they look with pride to the health care system that Canada has. Yes, there are lower taxes, and I do not think that is going to change any time soon, but there are other quality of life factors.

I can speak to my riding of Victoria. When Mr. Gunn sells a high-tech company on relocating to Victoria, he tells me that he is often selling the sizzle and not the steak—that is, he is selling the fact that the quality of life in our community is so extraordinary that people want to live there, even though it might be a little more expensive with taxes, even though they might make a little less, because they have to think of families and so forth. That is the first point.

The second point is new Canadians. When I think of the brain drain from developing countries to the United States and Canada, increasingly those people are not interested in going to the United States, for reasons I need not explain to the House. As a consequence, we could be the beneficiaries of those brains, of that entrepreneurial zeal. Do not get me wrong: we have done a good job, and I am proud of our record with respect to bringing in new Canadians, but we should enhance that.

I was in Pakistan recently, and a number of people told me that because they could not get visas to come here to study, they or their kids went to Australia or the U.K., and even begrudgingly to the United States, because our rules seemed to be hamstringing them. It made me angry, because we could get so much from them and they could contribute as other generations of new Canadians have to our economy, yet we find ways to tie them up in red tape. That is one of the ways we can improve and protect intellectual property and create more jobs for Canadians, new and old alike.

Industry, Science and TechnologyCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

1:10 p.m.


Arnold Viersen Conservative Peace River—Westlock, AB

Mr. Speaker, the member mentioned recommendation 5: “The Committee recommends that the Government of Canada consider launching a pilot program designed to provide small businesses access to strategic intellectual property advice.”

If I understand correctly, Quebec has already done this. It has launched a program for exactly this, which is called “The First Patent Program”. It has been very successful in Quebec. I was not at the committee for the drafting of the report or the study, but I was interested to know what the committee had heard on the Quebec initiative and if the member opposite is familiar at all with it. I understand the member is from Victoria, which is a long way from Quebec, but since he has given a speech on this topic, I was wondering if he has any opinions on how the Quebec scenario had gone and if that would have been perhaps an adequate pilot project.

I was disappointed to see in this report that it was a pilot project and was not just assuming a first patent program, much the same as Quebec has.

Industry, Science and TechnologyCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

1:10 p.m.


Murray Rankin NDP Victoria, BC

Mr. Speaker, unfortunately I did not have the pleasure of serving on the committee, so I am unable to be specific on the merits of the Quebec first patent program, although I understand, as the member correctly pointed out, it has been deemed a success.

The member talked about his disappointment that this is a pilot project, but I do not share his disappointment with the recommendation that the government do a pilot project to provide small businesses access to strategic intellectual property advice. I like pilot projects. I like the fact that people can take a look at it and not use a whole bunch of money to create a permanent program, because if it does not work, we can go and try another one. That is the nature of this high-tech sector. In fact, we do not want to dig in and get locked into something that may not work, or that may work for biotechnology but not very well for ocean research technology, for example. I would not want to be seen as denigrating the committee's excellent report with the notion that a pilot project is somehow less valid. I think it is actually a benefit.

Industry, Science and TechnologyCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

1:10 p.m.


Arnold Viersen Conservative Peace River—Westlock, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is my privilege to stand today and speak to this report as well. I know the committee spent a long time doing a study on this.

There is no doubt that the government has a specific role to play in intellectual property. I am an automotive mechanic by trade, and one of the reasons I came here was that I was frustrated, because I often feel that the government gets involved in things that it has no business getting involved in. However, intellectual property is one of the areas in which I think the government definitely has a role to play. I would put it under the honest weights and measures aspect of what the government ought to be doing.

If one has a good idea and develops that idea, one ought to be rewarded for that idea. Often there is a great amount of risk that comes with bringing forward an idea. If the level of risk is there and one is successful in getting that idea brought forward, there should be some reward that comes with that.

I think this is an honourable, righteous, and necessary role for the government to be playing in Canadian society and in the world at large. I know that there are groups in the world that are always on the lookout for good ideas and that try to bring these ideas to market, long before folks here in Canada have the opportunity. Therefore, I am pleased to see that the committee studied this, and I am pleased to see that the report has come out. Overall, the report goes in the right direction on a number of things. What we need to always remember, though, is that necessity is the mother of most invention.

My colleague's point was that when the government starts to pick winners and losers, that is when we end up in an interesting area. I do think the government has a particular role to play when it comes to intellectual property, but it must always be careful to ensure that it does not pick winners and losers. It must set out a framework. It must set out a series of protections, much the same as we protect all other areas of life in Canada. It is the government's role to protect things. However, as the federal government, we should not necessarily be encouraging one area and not another area. We see that, in some respects, when it comes to particular industries. The government picks winners and definitely tries to stifle others. We see it with the aerospace industry, for example. The government will bend over backward to prop up that particular industry and ensure that it is capitalized, and that sort of thing, whereas in the oil patch, we see very little support. In fact, it wants to phase it out, as the Prime Minister has said.

Coming from northern Alberta, I would say that we have seen major advances in the intellectual property that has come to northern Alberta through necessity, essentially. Northern Alberta is a rugged place. The elements are fairly harsh, yet it is a thriving place. We have significant forestry, farming, and oil patch initiatives going on. When it comes to the government's role in all of those things, it is to manage them in a manner that allows the companies and individuals who are operating up there to protect their good ideas.

One of the things I like to talk about that I have a personal connection to is the fracking industry in northern Alberta. Members might be interested to know that to put one hole in the ground and frack it out in an average fracking operation costs about $17 million. The interesting part is that $10 million of that $17 million, more than half the cost, is for the water that is used. It is not necessarily for the water. It is purely for the trucking costs to get the water from where it is produced at one hole over to another hole. There is a huge cost associated just with using the water, because we do not want to use fresh water. We typically use polluted water from other sources.

For example, in Whitecourt, Alberta, the forestry and pulp industries use a bunch of water. At the end of that, they have a slurry that has been spent, they cannot use it anymore, so they sell that water to the oil patch, which pumps it down the holes when they do a frac. A significant amount of water is needed when that happens. They use that water. That water is not lost; it goes down the hole. They use it to break open the rocks at the bottom. Over the course of the next three years, all of that water will come back up.

Basically what has happened is that they keep using the same water over and over again. Once the water comes back up, they ship it over to the next hole and they start fracking at the next hole.

However, a large amount of water is used, and about 70% of it comes back within the first three months. Then it takes about three years for the rest of the water to come back up the hole. There always needs to be a significant volume of water, which is being trucked around from hole to hole as the fracking is done.

Fracking sounds like a harsh word, and a lot of people wonder what actually happens. The best way it has been described is that it is like blowing into a balloon that has a pinprick in it. When the balloon is fully deflated, everything looks normal. As the balloon is blown into, the hole in the balloon gets larger and larger, so someone has to blow faster to keep the balloon expanding until finally a point is reached where someone can blow really fast into a balloon and all the air leaks out of the hole because it keeps getting larger and larger.

That is essentially what happens during a frac. The water is pumped down the hole very fast, and the water squeezes into microscopic cracks in the rock. The water forces those cracks open, and tiny pieces of sand are sent out with the water. When the pressure is released, the water backs up out of the hole and leaves the sand behind. The sand holds the rocks open to allow the natural gas and oil to come back out.

Due to the amount of water that is needed and the cost, and as I said earlier more than half of the cost of a particular hole is just the water, there have been huge innovations in how to reduce the amount of water because of the benefits to it. If the amount of water needed can be reduced, that could mean less trucking, these holes could be produced cheaper, and it is in the best interests of everybody to ensure our water can be used for agriculture, for example.

Just on that point, the vast majority of industrial water use in Alberta is in the agricultural industry. The oil patch only accounts for 1% of all use of industrial water.

My personal connection to that is that my uncle works in the oil patch. He has a company that heats water. The company started out in the building construction industry, melting the frost out of the ground so people could pour basements during the winter. It was kind of an innovative thing that came about in the boom times, in 2004-06, when it could not build houses fast enough. When workers were heating the ground to get the frost out so it could dig a hole to pour the basement, he got the idea to get into the business of heating the ground.

The company then developed a technology that is fairly innovative. It does not use a boiler. It has a different way of heating the water. It has a patent on that, which has served it well. The company has branched into heating for the oil patch. It just started out, as we can imagine, with this large volume of water that is used for fracking, which happens at all times of the year. That cannot be left to freeze. It sits in tanks. If it freezes, then the tanks would rupture, and there would be a real problem.

Then what happened was it started talking with the folks, telling them that if the water was at a different temperature as it went down the hole, maybe less amounts of water could be used. The company has discovered, and has patented this idea as well, that as it does the frac, it actually heats the water up as it goes down the hole. Apparently that makes the water more slippery and it goes down the hole faster. It allows the frac to be done in a shorter amount of time, hence using less water. That, in and of itself, was interesting.

It has caused them to use much less chemical in the water, and it has also reduced the amount of water needed. That is an innovation that is happening in northern Alberta. It is an innovation that is happening just because of necessity, and it is interesting to see.

My hon. colleague from the NDP talked a lot about how the universities are playing a big role in that, and I would say that they are in this case as well. My uncle's company has partnered with the University of Alberta, and they are in constant contact getting the physics and mathematics of it organized. My uncle's company is doing business out in the real world. People often say, “This seems to work, but we do not know why. Can you help us figure out why it works? Are there any tweaks we can make on it?” I would say that our universities play a significant role in this as well.

We often talk about the commercialization aspect, and that is what this entire report is talking about: how we can take those ideas and make them viable in the real world. That is an important aspect, but in its recent rollout on intellectual property, the government missed the whole piece on the first patent.

I was talking with my uncle about that. The first patent was a hurdle to get over. These people had no idea what they were up against. They had not even thought about it. They were just trying to heat up water, and they were not thinking that maybe they were the first people to think of it and perhaps there was a patent. Once they had made it through that hurdle of patenting the first thing, suddenly the next patent was a lot easier. They were thinking, “Hey, this is an idea. Nobody else seems to be doing this. Maybe it is a patentable idea.” Their patents are now being used all over the world. They are operating all over North America, up in Alaska and down in Colorado. They have set up shops in both of those places. That speaks more to the record of the current government in terms of taxation and not championing the oil patch. They are definitely still thriving. They are working in Alberta, but also in the United States.

Recommendation 9 in the report talks about a tool kit for Canadian technology transfer. This is based on the work that has been done in the United Kingdom. I know that the United Kingdom and Canada were built on the same basic framework of the system of law, so the tool box built in the U.K. is definitely something we should look at bringing into Canada.

One thing that is interesting is that oftentimes universities, on the public dime, create a good idea but there is no good mechanism for that good idea, that intellectual property, to be transferred to a corporation or a commercial interest. That is where this tool kit comes in. It would be interesting to look at how that tool kit worked in the U.K., to ensure that we have a good transfer of great ideas from universities into the so-called real world, where they could be used to make all of our lives better. That is probably the thing we all need to remember.

My hon. colleague from the NDP was talking about these jobs that we do not even understand yet. Perhaps we do not necessarily know what his son does on a day-to-day basis, but it is a geology technology that is being used there. It sounds to me as if he is probably involved in mining or something like that, whether it be copper mines, the oil patch, or whatever.

In my opinion, the economy always comes back to food, clothing, and shelter. Those are the three basic necessities for all of humanity. To make all of our lives better, we want to be able to get our food cheaply and make sure that it is healthy. We want to be able to live in a place where we want to live. We want to find shelter and we want to be clothed. All those things drive the economy.

The member's son worked in geology technology. I know that is a big part of northern Alberta. For example, when I was a mechanic, I did an oil change on a customer's truck. He also had a Viper, so I will always remember him as one of the few customers we had with a Dodge Viper. His job was to estimate how much gravel was in a certain gravel bank when there was to be a gravel pit development. He had to estimate what kind of gravel potential was there so that the government could understand what kind of royalty revenue it could anticipate from that project.

One of the things that he used was a drone to take measurements of the land. He said that using this new drone technology allowed him do three or four times more work in a year. The drone in and of itself is very cool, and we have all seen the camera, but it is the software that takes the measurements through the camera that makes it immense. I am sure that this technology as well was being developed in northern Alberta—

Industry, Science and TechnologyCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

1:30 p.m.


The Acting Speaker Liberal Frank Baylis

The member for Peace River—Westlock will have three minutes left on his discussion when we resume on this fascinating topic.

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 April 18 consideration of the motion that Bill C-330, An Act to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (landlord consent), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Controlled Drugs and Substances ActPrivate Members' Business

1:30 p.m.


Pat Kelly Conservative Calgary Rocky Ridge, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is difficult sometimes to pick up a speech where one left off several weeks ago. However, I am going to do my best to do so and will begin by commenting on the first hour of debate on this bill.

I am not sure why or how this came about, but many speakers tried to confuse the intent of this bill with those of Bill C-45 or Bill C-46, though it has nothing to do with them. Nothing in this bill has to do with arguments for or against the legalization or decriminalization of recreational marijuana. This bill has absolutely nothing to do with the discussions on those bills dealing with those questions. This bill is completely unrelated. This bill deals with the existing regime for medical marijuana, and medical marijuana only.

I hope that today, as we resume debate on this bill, we will confine discussion and debate to the subject matter of the bill, which is the home cultivation of medical marijuana that has been prescribed. Under the current regime for medical marijuana, a patient with a prescription is permitted to cultivate marijuana in their home. This bill does not reject their doing so or argue that a person should not be able to do that with a prescription.

What this bill addresses is the issue of landlord consent. This is important because it is well known that home cultivation of marijuana can damage property and create health hazards. It varies from province to province.

In British Columbia, for example, a person might be permitted to grow marijuana to fill three prescriptions in their home, two for the residents of a home, plus a prescription for a non-resident of a property. If a person combines three prescriptions, and if these are particularly heavy dose prescriptions of up to, and in excess sometimes, of 10 grams a day, the number of plants required to fill such large prescriptions if combined are quite numerous, in some cases perhaps more than 100 plants.

Putting 100 plants in one home raises a number of health considerations. I know that many members have a background or history in local government and know that from their time, as municipal government representatives, this is something that had to be dealt with when when there was widespread illegal home cultivation. The grow ops that sprung up as a result presented an enormous challenge to municipalities, law enforcement, and health authorities in dealing with the health consequences of growing too much organic matter in an enclosed indoor space. Therefore, mould and toxins are important considerations.

If a person owns their own home and wishes to grow 100 plants, and has the legal prescriptions to do so, no problem. If a person is a tenant and their landlord permits them to do so, no problem. However, if a person's landlord is not even aware of such cultivation in a home and it results in the destruction of the property, this is a tremendous problem for landlords, and a tremendous disincentive for either the development of, or investment in, rental property. If a prospective landlord has to exist in a climate in which they do not know if a tenant can destroy their property through excessive cultivation, they may choose not to even invest in that property.

We know this is a tremendous issue that all municipal and law enforcement people have been aware of, but it is also an issue in the real estate and mortgage industries. I spent my career, before running in the last election, in the mortgage business. In the mortgage business, once a property has been flagged as having been used for the cultivation of marijuana, that property is stigmatized to the point that it is unmortgageable and unmarketable.

Many lending institutions generally say that they would never lend on a property that had been used to cultivate marijuana. If there was a certificate of remediation, they might say that under a certain set of other strong criteria, they might perhaps lend on the property, but my experience over 20 years as a mortgage broker is that no lender will ever accept a mortgage application on a property formerly used for the cultivation of marijuana. They will find a way to kill it. They will render the property unmarketable and unmortgageable, and perhaps uninsurable.

Controlled Drugs and Substances ActPrivate Members' Business

1:35 p.m.

Scarborough Southwest Ontario


Bill Blair LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada and to the Minister of Health

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased today to rise to speak to Bill C-330, an act to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. This private member's bill proposes to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act to allow regulations to be made that would require written consent from landlords in the event that their tenants were producing or selling a controlled substance within leased space. If applicable, Bill C-330 would also establish a mandatory requirement for the Minister of Health to report back to Parliament on an annual basis to explain why such regulations had not been made.

As my colleagues know, the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act is a legal framework for the control of substances that can alter mental processes and that may produce harm to individuals or society when diverted to an illegal market. Under this act, it is illegal to conduct certain activities with respect to controlled substances or precursors, unless authorized by regulation or granted by an exemption.

If I may, I will take the opportunity to correct an issue of language. My colleague and friend across the aisle, in his remarks, referred frequently to a prescription for medical marijuana. I want to take the opportunity to clarify, if I may, that there is no such thing as a prescription for medical marijuana. It is, in fact, an authorization, which provides for an exemption under the current criminal prohibition, as directed by the courts in the Allard decision, and as incorporated into regulations under the new ACMPR regulations.

The Controlled Drugs and Substances Act includes broad authorities that enable the government to strictly regulate the production and sale of controlled substances.

I would like to articulate a number of the reasons the government is unable to support Bill C-330. When introducing the bill on December 14, the member for Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo indicated that it sought to address concerns from landlords about tenants growing cannabis for medical purposes in leased premises. Bill C-330 could, in fact, have implications for a number of parties that are regulated under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act who operate within leased facilities. This could include, for example, licensed producers of cannabis for medical purposes and licensed producers and dealers of other controlled substances.

If a licensed producer or dealer of a controlled substance is operating in a commercially rented facility, the lease agreement will typically include details on the specific activities that are taking place within the facility, making the landlord aware that controlled substances are being produced there. The landlord would, therefore, consent by way of approving the lease.

To obtain a federal licence to commercially produce cannabis for medical purposes in cases in which the applicant is not the owner of the site, an application must be accompanied by a declaration by the owner of the site consenting to its use for the proposed activity, and like federally licensed producers and dealers of controlled substances, including licensed producers of cannabis for medical purposes, individuals authorized to produce cannabis for their own medical use are subject to regulations under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. Cannabis for medical purposes is regulated under the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations.

These regulations aim to provide reasonable access to cannabis for medical purposes for Canadians who have received an authorization from their health care practitioners. Under these regulations, Canadians can legally cultivate a determined amount of cannabis for their own medical use or designate someone to produce it for them. These regulations contain landlord consent requirements applicable to personal and designated production if the production site is not the ordinary place of residence of the applicant or the designated producer, and the site is not owned by them.

Finally, as members of this House also know, Bill C-45, the cannabis act, is currently before the other place. This act would create a strict framework to control and regulate the production, distribution, sale, and possession of cannabis using a public health approach, in which public health and public safety objectives would be at the forefront. Should it receive royal assent, cannabis would no longer be regulated under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. Regulations with respect to cannabis, for both medical and non-medical purposes, would be enacted under the cannabis act, and this would include the landlord consent requirements that currently apply to cannabis for medical purposes, about which I have previously spoken.

Under this new legal framework, adults would be permitted to legally possess and purchase limited amounts of cannabis through a government-licensed retailer. Subject to applicable provincial, territorial, and municipal rules, adults may also be allowed to cultivate up to four plants at their place of residence.

Allowing for the cultivation of a small number of cannabis plants at home supports the government's objective to displace the illicit market. It is a reasonable way to allow adults to cultivate cannabis for their own personal use, while prohibiting any commercialization and sale of that which is produced for personal use and which prohibits large-scale grow ops, which will attract the criminal sanctions contained within that bill.

The approach our government is taking with respect to home cultivation is consistent with the advice we received from the task force on cannabis legalization and regulation and with the approach that has been taken by most jurisdictions in the United States that have legalized and regulated cannabis for non-medical purposes.

Provinces and territories have the authority and can assess the need for additional restrictions within their jurisdictions, and they will be responsible for enforcing those rules. In fact, some provinces have already chosen to incorporate such restrictions in their proposed legislation, and I will give some examples.

New Brunswick would require a locked enclosure around outdoor cultivation and a separate locked space for any indoor cultivation.

Alberta has proposed that all cultivation will take place only indoors and it will allow landlords and strata councils to restrict cannabis cultivation.

Nova Scotia has recently proposed to provide landlords with the ability to ban the smoking and growing of cannabis within rental units.

These are just a few examples of how provincial legislation would be used and relied upon to establish rules that are tailored to each province.

Additionally, each municipality has the ability, through its zoning and bylaw jurisdictions, to enact additional regulations to control and to ensure this conduct is done in a way which is safe and socially responsible.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the sponsor of the bill for providing us with an opportunity to debate this important matter.

Controlled Drugs and Substances ActPrivate Members' Business

1:40 p.m.


Alistair MacGregor NDP Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to be able to join the debate today on Bill C-330, introduced by the member for Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo.

What does this bill purport to do? Bill C-330 would be making an amendment to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, specifically section 55. Section 55 of that act lists all the areas where the Governor in Council is able to make regulations for the purposes of carrying out the provisions of the act. What the bill would do is insert a new clause under paragraph 55(1)(g). Paragraph(55)(1)(g) allows the Governor in Council to make regulations “respecting the premises, processes or conditions for the production or sale of any controlled substance or any class thereof, and deeming such premises, processes or conditions to be or not to be suitable for the purposes of the regulations”.

The proposed paragraph 55(1)(g.1) that the member wants to insert through this bill would require persons or classes of persons who intend to produce or sell any controlled substances to obtain the written consent of the landlord, and it would prescribe the manner and form in which that consent is to be obtained and the conditions under which it must be renewed. That is what this bill is purporting to insert into the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.

I have a few problems with this bill because I think it oversteps its bounds in a few areas, and I will walk the House through them.

I will start off with the Allard decision rendered by the Federal Court a few years ago, which was in response to the previous Conservative government's regulations that dealt with medical cannabis and the authorizations included therein. The new access to cannabis for medical purposes regulation was the Liberal government's response to the Federal Court of Canada's February 2016 decision. In that decision, the court found that the requirement for individuals to get their cannabis only from licensed producers, which was the regime for medicinal cannabis imposed by the previous Harper government, violated the liberty and security rights protected by section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

I feel this bill would be inserting another impediment to the constitutional and charter-protected rights of patients to access medicinal cannabis. If the federal government is going to insert itself, through this law, by basically mandating that written consent would have to be authorized by a landlord, the courts could reasonably see that as an impediment and a contradiction of the spirit of the ruling rendered by the Federal Court in 2016. That is my number one reason.

As I walk the House through this, I think the big problem is that this bill would very clearly insert itself into provincial jurisdiction. If we look at section 92 of the Constitution Act, 1867, specifically subsection 13, it is very clear that provincial jurisdiction over property and civil rights is there for all to see. Provincial jurisdiction over that area has been reaffirmed by the courts on numerous occasions, and I know provincial governments are very quick to assert their right in this particular area if they suspect any federal intrusion.

Property and civil rights can cover a whole range of issues, and I think that was the intent of the Fathers of Confederation. They wanted matters of a merely local or private nature, basically property and civil rights, to be included under provincial jurisdiction. Canada is a very big and very diverse country, and from British Columbia to Manitoba to Prince Edward Island we have various different local cultures. The provinces need to be authorized to make laws that fit the local cultures in each of those provinces. I feel that by trying to legislate how written consent has to be informed in the relationship between a tenant and a landlord, Bill C-330 would be very clearly inserting a federal power into an area defined under property and civil rights.

The very clearly written Allard decision by the Federal Court on a section 7 protected right for access to medical cannabis for patients who require it, and the fact this is very clearly an area of provincial jurisdiction are two clear reasons why I think the House should vote against this bill.

I would also like to talk a little about the federal criminal law power, because it is another thing we have to talk about with respect to this particular bill.

In previous rulings, the Supreme Court of Canada has held that a valid criminal law requires, first, a prohibition; second, a penalty; third, a criminal law purpose, such as peace, order, security, morality, and health. If I look at the aim of Bill C-330, I do not think it really matches the requirements of a federal criminal law power. If we look at the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, that is very much what it concerns. It tries to prohibit or to limit certain types of behaviour.

We know that the bill is being discussed in the context of medicinal cannabis, because recreational cannabis, as was rightly pointed out by the government side, will come under a new regime once Bill C-45 receives royal assent. However, I think that a federal bill that aims to become a statute but inserts itself into property and civil rights is not a valid exercise of the federal criminal law power. That is a third point that we have to be aware of when discussing the bill.

While I talk about this, let there be no illusion that I don't have sympathy for landlords who are going through this. I think every member of Parliament has had landlords approach them who have valid concerns about how their properties are being managed. I would say to them that, for most of the issues, the provincial governments will be responsible for regulating these kinds of contracts in their residential tenancy acts and so forth. I know that the Government of British Columbia has come forward with some proposals specifically with reference to when Bill C-45 is implemented. The member for Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo is quite right to be suspicious of Health Canada's inspection regime, because I do not think Health Canada has allocated enough resources or is carrying out enough inspections to ensure that licence holders are complying with the terms of their licences.

I have brought this very same issue to the attention of the Minister of Health. I wrote her a letter on behalf of constituents a few years ago, and I did get a response. I will read from that letter from the health minister, because I think we need to keep the pressure on the health minister to live up to her obligations. Part of her response reads:

The Department has taken measures to ensure that Canadians are well informed about the rules and their responsibilities to help them comply with the new regulations [the ACMPR]. We have also emphasized the need to comply with all relevant provincial, territorial and municipal laws, including local by-laws about zoning, electrical and fire safety, as well as all related inspection and remediation requirements. We have also outlined on our website precautions Canadians can take to reduce risks to their health and safety.

I will be following up with the Minister of Health, because I still think there are some very real gaps. Obviously, from the feedback I have heard from constituents, the actions of Health Canada thus far do need some improvement. I hope that the parliamentary secretary is listening to my concerns, because I will be following up on them.

I think it is a question of resources and commitment that we need to take up with the health minister. When we look at the minister's response, she has outlined “provincial, territorial and municipal laws”. She acknowledges that this is an area of provincial concern and jurisdiction; hence, lending more credence to the argument that Bill C-330 kind of falls outside the scope of what we are able to do.

I will conclude by saying that while I cannot support Bill C-330, I will respect the intent behind it. I know that the member for Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo has identified a problem and is trying to take action to solve it. However, I just do not think that Bill C-330 is the answer. I think that we need to keep the pressure up on Health Canada and the Minister of Health to ensure that the inspection regime is running as well as it possibly can.

Controlled Drugs and Substances ActPrivate Members' Business

1:50 p.m.


Pierre Poilievre Conservative Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, allow me to read the following headline in The Vancouver Sun, “Marijuana grow-op cost $135,000 in damages: B.C. property owner.” The article says:

A Coquitlam woman says she has incurred $135,000 in damage to her rental property due to a medical marijuana grow-op licensed by Health Canada without her knowledge or consent.

That is what we are discussing today.

I would like the thank the Conservative member for Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo who has come forward to defend the thousands of Canadians who rely on rental properties as a source of income and even retirement. I know people in my constituency for whom a rental property is not just a little extra money. It is not even just an investment. It is a pension plan. Middle-class people who do not have corporate or government plans often build and/or purchase rental properties in order to generate enough income and equity upon which to retire.

It is a win-win when they do that because they provide more affordable housing in our communities. However, the prospect that some may use those properties to host medical or other recreational marijuana growth within the house is threatening the value of the important asset in which the landlord has invested.

This threat is very real. Damage from grow ops in a residence can include the following: mould, humidity damage, electrical wire tampering, wall damage, floor damage, ventilation damage, plant and smoke smell and odours. These damages can effectively destroy the value of a house and make it impossible to resell and, ironically, make it uninhabitable for the person who originally started the grow op in the first place.

If such damage is allowed to occur in the rental properties of the nation, we will have fewer rental properties. When the supply goes down, the price goes up. The result being rental housing becomes less affordable for those people who need it the most.

What I like most about the bill is that it is so straightforward. The whole bill can be read in one page. The bill itself is really one paragraph, and I will read it:

...requiring that persons or classes of persons who intend to produce or sell any controlled substance or any class of controlled substances in leased premises obtain the written consent of the landlord, and prescribing the manner and form in which that consent is to be obtained and the conditions under which it must be renewed;

It is very simple. If people want to grow marijuana in a house that they rent, they need the permission of the property owner. That is a basic article of property rights. If people are going to do something with someone else's property, his or her permission is needed. It is very simple. Most of the best things in life are simple, and that is why we have a bill, thankfully and mercifully, written in one paragraph with a simple aim and an obvious outcome.

If Bill C-330, an act to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, targeting the growing and use of legalized for the production of marijuana for medical use as well as the potential forthcoming requests for business space to sell marijuana, passes, it will require the consent of landlords to tenants if those tenants are going to use the property for the production of marijuana.

We know landlords are aware of the very serious risks that could befall them if they should rent a property to someone who plans to use that same property for the production and use of medical or other forms of marijuana.

Unfortunately, the bill does not have the jurisdictional reach to touch upon recreational marijuana. However, that said, such an example set in the medical space at a federal level may act as an encouragement for provinces to use landlord and tenant legislation to address recreational marijuana as well. That is why Bill C-330 is the best approach to providing landlords the assurance they need. It does not require the creation of unwarranted and unnecessary government bureaucracy to manage this area. It simply requires that landlords give permission to their tenants to use their property for the production and sale of marijuana. Simply put, if the landlord approves of this behaviour in his or her property, he or she will provide a written, signed, and legal consent form to the tenant to engage in these activities. If the landlord does not provide the written, signed, and legal consent, the tenant cannot engage in the production of marijuana on the property. It is very straightforward. If the tenants proceed to do so, they will be in violation of their leasing agreement and the landlord will be able to remove the tenants. In other words, the landlord has ownership of the property and he or she deserves to know if someone is using the property in a potentially destructive manner, and if he or she refuses permission, he or she should have the ability to impose that decision because it is his or her property. This is not unfair to tenants; it is simply logical. If tenants are unhappy with those lease conditions, they are afforded the ability to find new housing and re-enter the housing market in accordance with their province's legislative conditions. Again, it is landlords across the country who take the inherent risk and associated cost of mortgaging and maintaining rental properties, and they must be provided this basic protection.

As I have noted, marijuana production and sales are going to rapidly change over the next several years. As a result, we need to change the legislative framework in which that happens to ensure that all Canadians are protected and that everyone acts with respect for each other's property. Some will argue that medical marijuana is necessary, and I am not here to dispute that. That is not the point of this debate. I am simply here to suggest that property owners should have the autonomy and authority to protect their property against damage.

Some people have suggested that this could simply be regulated at a provincial level. That is not true, because in the case of medical marijuana, a federal licence is extended to the person producing it, and that federal licence may have overriding power over landlord-tenant rules and over other contractual obligations. That is why we need a very simple clause inserted into the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act that would protect our landlords against this problem.

The government, I gather, might not support this particular legislation. I would urge the government, for political reasons, to consider otherwise. Normally the Liberals do not take political advice from me, but I will implore them, just once, to do so. If they refuse, I predict that they will regret that refusal when the time comes. That time in the next election will be when the situations just described will be unfolding. I do not think Liberal MPs will want to meet landlords and entrepreneurs who have lost tens of thousands, or hundreds of thousands, of dollars of their net worth because somebody used their property as a grow op without their permission. Let us stand up for our entrepreneurs; let us stand up for the pensions of private individuals who are trying to save for the future; and let us stand up for the availability of affordable private housing by requiring consent for anyone attempting to grow marijuana at a property that does not belong to her or him.

Controlled Drugs and Substances ActPrivate Members' Business

2 p.m.


Ed Fast Conservative Abbotsford, BC

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the member for Carleton's intervention on this private member's bill. It goes to the heart of what we do here as members of Parliament. Our role is to represent the interests of our communities, to establish safe, respectful communities where business people can do business in a way that is honourable, communities where we have neighbourhoods where people care for each other and respect each other's property.

We heard the member for Carleton talk about a Vancouver Sun article about a landlord who lost $135,000 because of a grow op in the home he was renting out. Let me read some other headlines: from the CBC, “Landlords fear property values will go up in smoke with marijuana legalization”; from the Toronto Star, “Ontario landlords want right to ban pot in rentals immediately after legalization”; from the CBC, “Landlord pays high price for renter's medical marijuana grow-op”. Here is another one, from the Financial Post: “Pot's no party for Canadian landlords wary of marijuana fumes and steamy grow-ops”.

There is a real problem in communities across our country. This has nothing to do with the legalization of marijuana in Canada. What it has to do with is that we now have in Canada a regime of medical marijuana in which those who are deemed to qualify to use marijuana for medical purposes can either purchase it or grow it themselves. When a landlord is leasing out his or her property, whether it is a single family home, a townhouse, or perhaps an apartment within an apartment building, currently the landlord has no ability to place conditions and restrictions on the tenant not to use that property for the purposes of growing or selling marijuana. Of course, what happens is that, unbeknownst to the landlord who has leased this property, the tenant is using his or her medical marijuana licence to grow plants. Tenants are entitled to grow up to 15 plants of their own if they are using about three grams per day, but they are also entitled to have three other users growing on their property. We can imagine how big this problem can get, especially if it is an apartment.

We have heard many pleas from Canadians across the country, and Bill C-330 would finally put in place a landlord's right to place restrictions and conditions when leasing the property to a tenant. These are restrictions that relate to the use, sale, production, and growth of marijuana on that property.

I want to commend the member for Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo for an amazing job in moving this bill forward. She represents her community very well. Her community reflects the challenges that communities across our country have faced for many years. Illegal grow-ops and medical grow-ops are causing no end of problems for the communities in which these facilities are located.

I can share the experience of my own community. Abbotsford is a beautiful community, nestled between Mount Baker on one side and the Fraser River on the other. It is the largest farm gate revenue producer in British Columbia. It is a prosperous community. It is also the most generous community in the country, by a country mile, by the way. That is what Stats Canada says.

This is a great community to live in, but it has had a few challenges. One of the biggest challenges has been illegal marijuana grow-ops, and now that has been followed by medical grow-ops. Essentially, people who have an authorization to grow medical marijuana on their property, and for others as well, are now effectively operating commercial grow-ops on a smaller scale within neighbourhoods.

These are not commercial buildings. These are not industrial buildings. These are residential communities. These grow ops are surrounded by families with young children. They have to put up with the oppressive smell, the stench of marijuana plants as they grow. I have smelled it many times. I have had friends who have had these challenges.

I used to be on city council in Abbotsford. Day after day residents would come to council and ask us what we were doing to shut down these illegal operations, these operations that should not have been there and were causing such grief within our broader neighbourhood. All we could tell them was that our police authorities, our building inspectors, and our fire department were doing their very best.

Under privacy laws, the locations of these medical grow ops cannot be disclosed, so our law enforcement officials do not really know where they are. Any locations are generally complaint-driven, and the options available for municipal authorities to shut down these grow ops are extremely limited.

Can members imagine living next to one of these buildings or one of these homes, smelling the odour of marijuana and knowing that nothing can be done about it? My colleague from Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo has brought forward a common sense bill that at least would allow landlords to address the issue of these grow ops that are causing no end of grief within our communities.

There is also a landlord's perspective. Imagine being a landlord with a 50-suite apartment building. Most of the apartment dwellers are law-abiding and do things in accordance with the law. Even if they do have authorization to purchase medical marijuana, they do so in small quantities. They do not grow a large number of plants within their apartment.

However, there is that one tenant who did not disclose in advance to the landlord his or her intention to grow many plants within their unit. Suddenly the surrounding residents want to know what is going on in the building.

A cascading effect takes place here. Now the landlord has a problem, because he may not be able to get rid of the tenant, and even if he is able to do so, what happens next? He likely will have thousands upon thousands of dollars in damages. He will have to bring in people to fix the damage within that unit. If he is renting out a house, imagine how expensive that could be. Members may have read about the house that had $135,000 worth of damage as a result of a grow op in the place.

It gets worse.

The municipality comes out to inspect the property and discovers it has been a grow op. That fact has to be registered against the title. Anybody who wants to purchase that home will not be interested, because it was a former grow op and they will be concerned about health problems.

The mortgage company is made aware of this. The landlord wants to renew the mortgage but is suddenly told by the bank that it cannot take the risk. The landlord goes to insure the property against fire and other perils, but the insurer says that unfortunately it cannot be renewed because the property was used as a grow op.

The landlord has an apartment that has to be remediated as a result of all the damages caused by the grow op, and all of his tenants are leaving the building. The landlord loses rent, is unable to insure the building, and is no longer able to mortgage the property.

We can see the cascading effects when legislation that is perhaps well intentioned ends up being abused within Canada.

Bill C-330 is a remedy for landlords. It is a remedy for neighbourhoods.

It would not solve all the problems with grow ops across Canada. We have recreational marijuana close to being legalized in Canada. That is going to create many other problems, but at least one remedy is being brought forward. I strongly support Bill C-330.

Controlled Drugs and Substances ActPrivate Members' Business

2:15 p.m.


Cathy McLeod Conservative Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is very clear to me and many others in the chamber that we have a very serious problem. It is a serious problem that has been created by the federal government, and it is up to the federal government to fix this problem.

It has been argued that the provinces and municipalities need to create their own regulations, but let me remind everyone that when this is a medical authorization, federal rules supersede it. To suggest that we have landlord consent in regulations, as this bill would, would enable the provinces and territories across this country to build in some basic protections for landlords.

I want to refer back to a person who came to me. Over the years, I have seen many headlines, and many people have approached me. There was one in particular who came to me who was crying. He had a rental property. Someone lived downstairs and a family lived upstairs.

First, the municipality is not allowed to know that there is an authorization for medical marijuana, which means no fire inspections, no electrical inspections, and no inspections to make sure it is done properly. Because of privacy rights, Health Canada is not authorized to tell municipalities.

This landlord found out that there was a grow op in his home. The immediate thing that happened, just as my colleague said, is that his insurance was cancelled. He could not get insurance for his property. The tenant on the main floor produced his authorization and said, “I'm sorry, but I have every right to grow my plants for my medical needs.” The tenants upstairs, who had a young baby, said they would not stay because they were worried about the health of their child and the risks.

Here was someone who had put his savings aside to create a nest egg in his retirement, and he was being slowly destroyed. To be frank, it is Health Canada and the federal government that created the situation for this to happen.

The Liberals like to say that they have to provide access for medical purposes. That is their argument. What did they do last week? In the budget bill, there is an excise tax for recreational purposes. They said they were going to apply an excise tax to medical marijuana. How is that providing ready access for medical purposes that they say they are responsible for? Applying an excise tax would actually make it more unaffordable for people to buy their medical prescriptions. There are many ways the Liberal government could provide access without destroying people's lives across this country.

There has been a lot of razzle-dazzle. As people have talked about this bill, they have tried to mix it up with the recreational regime. I can understand that people watching or reading the debate might be a little confused about recreational and medical and what each is doing.

This is quite simple. Health Canada's authorization is for medical purposes. It can allow sometimes 100 plants if someone has a big prescription and is growing it for a few people. It can happen in a landlord's home, who cannot do anything about it.

If this is not the answer, the Liberals need to support it, and perhaps the committee could find a way to massage the bill in a way that would create an answer to this serious problem. If members vote no and then look at the hard-working people in their ridings who have had their homes destroyed, they should be ashamed of themselves and will have to answer for that in the next election.

Controlled Drugs and Substances ActPrivate Members' Business

2:15 p.m.


The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

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

Controlled Drugs and Substances ActPrivate Members' Business

2:15 p.m.

Some hon. members



Controlled Drugs and Substances ActPrivate Members' Business

2:15 p.m.


The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

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

Controlled Drugs and Substances ActPrivate Members' Business

2:15 p.m.

Some hon. members