Mr. Speaker, throughout the debate at second reading, through committee hearings, and now finally, in the final debate, mounds and mounds of evidence have been introduced and cited, painting a grim picture of the consequences of the government's determination to legalize marijuana for recreational purposes.
Still, the Liberal government is bound and determined to ram this legislation through, so that by July 1, 2018, Canada's 151st birthday, youth as young as 18 will be able to legally purchase marijuana from government outlets, and use this drug with virtually no restrictions.
I have been allotted 20 minutes to present my objections to this harmful legislation, but would need hours to present all the evidence presented by doctors, psychiatrists, researchers, police, parents, and a host of specialists warning the government not to go down this road, and of the serious consequences if it does.
I will instead focus on a few articles and studies, and ask the members across the floor, how can they can justify their actions, having had prior knowledge to these?
I hold in my hand mandate letters from the Prime Minister to ministers on expectations and deliveries. I will be using them in my presentation to point out just how this action by the Prime Minister has been broken by his ministers.
The Prime Minister presented all ministers with these mandate letters after the last election.
The mandate letter to the Minister of Health reads:
I expect you to work closely with your Deputy Minister and his or her senior officials to ensure that the ongoing work of your department is undertaken in a professional manner and that decisions are made in the public interest.
I wonder if the minister, at that point, informed the Prime Minister about this document from her own department, modified on August 19, 2016. I am sure she was aware of it. This document, among other things, states:
Using cannabis or any cannabis product can impair your concentration, your ability to think and make decisions, and your reaction time and coordination. This can affect your motor skills, including your ability to drive. It can also increase anxiety and cause panic attacks, and in some cases cause paranoia and hallucinations.
It further states:
Cannabis should not be used if you:
are under the age of 25;
are allergic to any cannabinoid or to smoke;
have serious liver, kidney, heart or lung disease;
have a personal or family history of serious mental disorders such as schizophrenia, psychosis, depression, or bipolar disorder;
are pregnant, are planning to get pregnant, or are breast-feeding;
are a man who wishes to start a family;
have a history of alcohol or drug abuse or substance dependence.
A list of health outcomes regulated to the short and long-term use include the following:
increase the risk of triggering or aggravating psychiatric and/or mood disorders (schizophrenia, psychosis, anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder);
decrease sperm count, concentration and motility, and increase abnormal sperm morphology;
negatively impact the behavioural and cognitive development of children born to mothers who used cannabis during pregnancy.
This document was available to the minister. It clearly shows that in reaction to that, she is breaking what the Prime Minister instructed her to do. I am going to read another that the Prime Minister has written:
No relationship is more important to Canada than the relationship with Indigenous Peoples.
That was to the Minister of Indigenous Services in the opening statement. Why did the minister not sound the alarm and give the Prime Minister the message that she received from President Aluki Kotierk of the Nunavut Tunngavik? She said:
The federal government needs to consult with Inuit on whether cannabis should be legalized and, if so, when, as well as plan to deal with the possible negative impacts of legalizing cannabis...
It goes on. Chief Gina Deer of the Mohawk Council of Kanawakee stated:
Our community has been zero tolerance for many years on drugs. Now when you tell them that we have to accept marijuana as a legal product and not as a drug, it’s hard to accept, especially for elders.
The Prime Minister further stated to the Minister of Crown-Indigineous Relations:
I expect you to re-engage in a renewed nation-to-nation process with Indigenous Peoples to make real progress on the issues most important to First Nations, the Métis Nation, and Inuit communities--issues like housing, employment, health and mental health care...
This is what Chief Isadore Day stated in testimony at committee:
It's accurate to say that first nations are also not prepared to deal with the ramifications of Bill C-45. Does Canada even know the full impacts of cannabis yet? When the states of Colorado and Washington legalized cannabis sales in 2013, American Indian tribes were negatively impacted.
Further, Chief Day also stated at committee that despite hearing this, the Liberals continue to reaffirm that it's important that we focus on getting this job done as quickly as we are able.
The chief reiterated that one of the biggest concerns that first nations have with Bill C-45 is the health and safety of our people. He cited statistics that cannabis is the second most abused substance among indigenous people. He added that in Ontario alone, $33 million is needed to treat first nations with drug and alcohol addictions. He concluded by stating that there appears to be more questions than answers. This leaves the first nations in a compromising state, leading to an accelerated timeline.
The Prime Minister also said to the minister:
Work with the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness and the Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs to address gaps in services to Aboriginal people and those with mental illness throughout the criminal justice system.
She should have told him about the health report that I mentioned previously, and the concerns that his own government had with the legalization and usage of marijuana.
Health Canada stated warnings, and I have mentioned some, but it serves to mention these as well:
Cannabis contains hundreds of substances, some of which can affect the proper functioning of the brain and central nervous system. The use of this product involves risks to health, some of which may not be known or fully understood. Cannabis should not be used if you have a personal or family history of serious mental disorders such as schizophrenia...
The Prime Minister loves to point out to the Minister of Justice, who just spoke, his great love and respect for the charter. In his mandate to the minister he stated:
You are expected to ensure that the rights of Canadians are protected, that our work demonstrates the greatest possible commitment to respecting the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
A child advocate group in New Brunswick has done an assessment of violations to the rights of the child treaty, and has a very serious concern that this legislation is going to see legal challenges. I wonder if the minister should have told the Prime Minister that a court challenge, which is what it has stated, is a good idea under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Section 7 states:
Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of the person and the right not to be deprived thereof except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice.
The minister should have warned him that by legalizing marijuana, a drug with psychoactive properties, the Government of Canada will encourage the sale and consumption of marijuana, thereby putting all Canadians at greater risk of encountering harm and death through impaired driving accidents and workplace accidents, smoking-related sicknesses, and other marijuana-induced injuries. For example, police chiefs across the country have expressed their concern that they will not be able to keep the public safe from drugged drivers. Thus, the proposal to legalize marijuana runs contrary to the charter provision, the right to the security of the person.
To the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, he wrote:
As Minister...your overarching goal will be to lead our government’s work in ensuring that we are keeping Canadians safe.
Here again, I would raise the report from the health department, but I would also make mention of a report that has just come out, “The Legalization of Marijuana in Colorado: The Impact”. The executive summary states, “Marijuana-related traffic deaths when a driver was positive for marijuana more than doubled from 55 deaths in 2013 to 123 deaths in 2016.” This same executive summary states, “In 2009, Colorado marijuana-related traffic deaths involving drivers testing positive for marijuana represented 9 percent of the traffic deaths. By 2016, that number has more than doubled to 20 percent.” It goes on, and there are statistics that talk about what happens to the youth and how youth use has risen dramatically as well.
This might be my favourite. The Prime Minister wrote to the Minister of Science, the same minister who has repeatedly, in this House, stood up and said that the current government will listen to science, because the Prime Minister told her this:
We are a government that believes in science – and a government that believes that good scientific knowledge should inform decision-making.
I wonder if that minister told the Prime Minister about the report on the legalization of marijuana in Colorado, or possibly this report from the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Here is a great one she should have read, from Frontiers in Psychiatry: “Persistency of Cannabis Use Predicts Violence following Acute Psychiatric Discharge”. There is this lengthy report from the World Health Organization: “The Health and Social Effects of Nonmedical Cannabis Use”.
It goes on and on. I am sure the minister read the “Market Analysis of Plant-based Drugs C. The Cannabis Market”, from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.
Every one of these reports points to the same conclusion: the use of cannabis is restricted for a reason. There is a reason governments have, on a continual basis, made that their practice.
I have often stated in this House that I am genuinely impressed by the Liberal caucus. It is full of doctors and lawyers and Ph.D.s and Rhodes scholars. This is not a group of people who could be excused for not having the information.
I found a great article by James Di Fiore, written in the Huffington Post. He wrote:
I've written about my modest contribution to the elimination of pot prohibition before. To recap, in 2011 I was hired by the Liberal Party of Canada's upper brass to pressure their delegates to vote yes on a policy initiative that would push for legalization. For three months, my team approached marijuana advocacy groups and rallied their members to bombard [all] delegates via email, tweets and Facebook messages. The plan was to put enough pressure on delegates until they voted for a Canada who would shed its draconian views on weed. When we started, just 30 per cent of delegates [30 per cent of that caucus] were in [the] camp. After the votes were tallied at the Liberals' 2012 convention, more than 75 per cent of delegates voted yes.
This group can make the right choice. I know that there are many in the Liberal caucus who are opposed to what the government is doing and what the Prime Minister is forcing them to do as well. Now is the time for them to stand up, make the right choice, and vote against this dangerous bill.
I might add that the Prime Minister is not leading a bold charge that will make this an example of progressive nations. Let us listen to what Prime Minister Mark Rutte, of the Netherlands, said, in a 2014 article about the use of marijuana. “People should do with their own bodies whatever they please, as long as they are well informed about what that junk does to them”. The Dutch have a different approach to the whole idea of marijuana.
The article went on, “Rutte added in the same interview that cannabis legalization of the Colorado model”, and I should emphasize that the Colorado model is for those 21 years old and over, “where the state taxes and regulates all levels of the supply chain, and adults 21 and over are allowed to purchase weed from state-licensed stores—was out of the question. 'If we were to do that, ' he said, 'we'd be the laughing stock of Europe.'”
This not going to be a progressive move by the Prime Minister and the Liberal caucus. As a matter of fact, while the Dutch system has some major drawbacks, current UN treaties forbid countries to legalize and regulate drugs for recreational use. Specifically, the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs,1961, states that member states have a general obligation “to limit exclusively to medical and scientific purposes the production, manufacture, export, import, distribution of, trade in, use and possession of drugs.”
Piet Hein van Kempen, a professor of criminal law and criminal procedure in the Netherlands, was recently asked by the justice ministry to study whether international drug treaties offer any wiggle room to legalize, decriminalize, tolerate, or regulate cannabis in any other way for recreational use. His answer was an emphatic no. Maybe when the Prime Minister gets to meet his new best friend, Xi Jinping, he can tell him about his plans to legalize marijuana and ask for his thoughts. I am sure he would give the Prime Minister a history lesson on what took place in Chinese society.
The Liberals are on track to legalize marijuana for recreational purposes by July 1, 2018. They say they have had extensive consultations, conducted the largest online survey, and completed a report called “A Framework for the Legalization and Regulation of Cannabis in Canada”. The Liberals say they have consulted with Canadians; provincial, territorial, and municipal governments; indigenous governments; representatives of organizations; youth; parents; and experts in relevant fields. Ignoring the warnings of doctors, police chiefs, and first nations parents, they have pushed this bill rapidly through the House.
This bill would drastically change Canadian society, the full ramifications felt for years to come. They say it will protect us and take marijuana out of the hands of criminals. I suggest it would enslave our youth and make the government the new pusher on the block.
That the motion be amended by deleting all the words after the word “That” and substituting the following: “Bill C-45, An Act respecting cannabis and to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, the Criminal Code and other Acts, be not now read a third time, but be referred back to the Standing Committee on Health for the purpose of reconsidering clause 226 with the view to establish a coming into force date that complies with the wishes of those provinces, territories, municipalities, law enforcement officials and first nation groups who require more time to prepare for the legalization of cannabis.”