Madam Speaker, it is a privilege to speak to Bill C-46. We have discussed the proposed legislation at length here. The bill introduces new and higher mandatory fines and maximum penalties for impaired driving crimes as well as mandatory alcohol screening at the roadside.
The Conservative Party supports measures that protect Canadians. However, we are concerned for a number of reasons, one of which is that the police, municipalities, and premiers are not prepared for the legislation that would be enacted, and I am referring to Bill C-45.
This is good legislation insomuch that it would increase fines and the penalty for impaired driving would be less of something that people generally who are driving would consider. However, some serious complications have ensued.
I want to take us to the very heart of this legislation, which is Bill C-45, the legalization of marijuana bill. What does that entail? For starters, it means that 18-year-olds in this country would legally be able to purchase and legally be able to indulge in smoking marijuana.
There has been a lot of talk about this proposed legislation. There has been a lot of talk about what the bill would do. I would like to bring to the House's attention a recent poll in the Vancouver Sun. The question was, “Where do you think people should buy their pot?” Multiple choices were listed. The highest group of people, 82.31%, answered “None of the above. I don't agree with legalization”. If we are hearing that this is what people want, it certainly does not reflect what we are seeing at the polls. The number dwindles down from there, shops that sell cannabis, pharmacies, liquor stores, etc.
I was pleased to hear from the member for Steveston—Richmond East the same news as was contained in the Vancouver Sun, that the federal government will not move ahead with marijuana legalization if it is not ready. It is good to hear that members on the other side are starting to talk this way. The member further said, “The concerned group is right. Things are not ready yet. We are still in the process.” We are looking for more of that encouragement from members on the opposite side. It is a step in the right direction, but it is a long way from where they should be.
I have been in this place for 12 years. I have served on a number of committees. Oftentimes when legislation is being proposed or new ideas come up, I always ask: Are there other jurisdictions that we can point to that have had this experience? What have they discovered? What have they learned from their enactment?
I am pleased to say there are a number of jurisdictions, and I am going to cite a few from a study on the legalization of marijuana in Colorado. Colorado took it upon itself in 2013 to legalize marijuana. It had relaxed laws and it continued on in that direction. We must remember that when we legalize marijuana the legal age will be 18, whereas in Colorado the age is 21. I do not have time to talk about that, even though it is an important issue as well.
The Colorado experience was such that it talked about impaired driving and fatalities. Marijuana-related traffic deaths more than doubled from 55 deaths in 2013 to 123 deaths in 2016.
If this foolish legislation, Bill C-45, is passed we are going to hear moms and dads, sisters, brothers, and grandparents asking the Liberals to answer for their situation, for their circumstance, for their pain, since they brought the legislation forward.
Marijuana-related traffic deaths increased 66% in the four-year average since Colorado legalized recreational marijuana. There is more.
In 2009, Colorado marijuana-related traffic deaths involving drivers testing positive for marijuana represented 9% of all traffic deaths. By 2016, it doubled to 20%. On youth marijuana use, we are talking about 21-year-olds. Youth past-month marijuana use increased 12% in the three-year average from 2013-15. In the latest poll, 2014-15, results show that Colorado youth ranked number one in the nation compared to number four in 2011-12. Colorado youth past-month marijuana use for 2014-15 was 55% higher than the national average. We know what is coming down the pipe.
Colorado is one jurisdiction that we can point to, but we can talk about drug usage and what other countries have experienced as well. When we do that, I would like to talk about the Netherlands. I have a little tie to the Netherlands. My parents emigrated from the Netherlands and I have family who live there, so I have a little understanding of what goes on there.
Before I talk about that though, I need to say that although there are some different opinions and different laws in other countries, the current UN treaty forbids countries to legalize or regulate drugs for recreational use. We are a signatory to that. Most countries, with the exception of Uruguay, moved in another direction. Holland tried something different. It tried a two-tier system. It sounds complicated and I would explain that the Dutch have an attitude. Let me quote what Prime Minister Mark Rutte said. He is a hip guy, he is not a stuffy old guy. Mark was the guy who rode his bicycle when the G7 participants went to the Netherlands and President Obama came in with choppers and cars. Mark said during an interview that, “people should do with their own bodies whatever they please, as long as they are well informed about what that junk does to them.” He was talking about marijuana usage.
He went on to say that cannabis legalization of the Colorado model for 21-year-olds, “—where the state taxes and regulates all levels of the supply chain and adults age 21 and over are allowed to purchase weed from state-licensed stores—was out of the question”. He said “if we were to do that, we'd be the laughing stock of Europe.” In relation to the system that they tried to adopt, which would maybe allow some marijuana usage for those with the right to do so, this two-tier system where it is being sold openly but cannot produce it, is complete bankrupt. This is from Jon Brouwer, a law professor at the University of Groningen who specializes in Dutch drug policy. It is a system that is fundamentally flawed, pumping millions into the criminal underworld. Of course, the Liberals insist that this will greatly hinder the underground and the criminal element. We are finding out in Holland, which started to tamper with it, it did not work that well.
I spent some of my time yesterday reading a report by the World Health Organization. I recommend it. It is a great read. It reinforces pretty much everything I have been saying. The health and social effects of non-medical cannabis use is what we have all signed to. I encourage members to read that. I will not be supporting Bill C-45. I think Bill C-46 is moving in the right direction, but we certainly need to do a lot more work.