Madam Speaker, I do not often rise in the House to speak, but Bill C-93 is a very interesting piece of legislation. In all honesty, I think Bill C-93 came as a result of good intentions. The government saw a problem it had created because of some previous legislation and said that it had to fix it.
We should go back to the original issue. The original issue was that the Liberals rushed a piece of legislation. They tried desperately to meet self-imposed deadlines that they should not have made. The Liberals made promises that, in all honesty, they realized they could not keep. Then, to try to keep the promises, they crafted some very poor legislation. Of course, I am talking about the bill that legalized marijuana.
As some of my colleagues have said, the jury is still out. I do not feel that the jury is out, but some people say that the jury is still out on whether marijuana is a gateway drug. I have some personal experiences in my family, and I would argue that marijuana certainly is a gateway drug. I do not think we are seeing the full ramifications of the legalization of marijuana.
We are discussing Bill C-93 this afternoon because the government is trying to come up with a quick fix for some flawed legislation to legalize marijuana. The end result would be a brand new category of record suspensions, which could not be easily revoked and could be granted automatically without any insight into an individual's history.
Let us imagine a person charged with possession of marijuana. For the poor innocent teenager who is caught smoking marijuana and charged, I am 100% in favour of striking that off his record. However, the people who are repeatedly charged, or the people who plead down maybe from a charge of selling marijuana to a charge of simple possession, I do not think should automatically be granted a pardon.
It is a good thing there is an election in October. Hopefully, what will happen in October is that there will be a change in government. The new government will be able to address some of the flaws we are seeing in Bill C-45 and Bill C-93. Hopefully, the Conservatives will form that new government, and we will bring some common sense and some pragmatic ideas on how to deal with this unfortunate happening.
In essence, we support expedited pardons. We think it is a good idea. There is a little good news in this legislation. I am not part of the committee, but I understand that while the Liberals did not accept all of our amendments, two were accepted that helped to improve the bill's procedural fairness. They would require the Parole Board to include a review of the program in its annual report. If the Conservatives are elected in October, and if there is any justice, we will be elected in October, we will be able to review this, because after a year, this would be subject to review.
Everyone makes mistakes. We realize that the government made a mistake when it legalized marijuana. However, we are supposed to learn from our mistakes. We try to teach our children to learn from their mistakes. We should learn from our own mistakes.
Unfortunately, the Prime Minister, in his rush to meet self-imposed political deadlines, failed to act to adequately address the many concerns of municipalities, law enforcement, employers, scientists and doctors about this cannabis legislation. I am here to say that in my riding of Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry, we are feeling the ramifications of legalized marijuana.
In my riding, I have had police officers stop me and say that they do not know what to do with this. They are not sure about the equipment they were given to test whether folks are impaired, or whatever. It is the same with employers. Employers are shaking their heads and asking how they are going to deal with this terrible legalization of marijuana. They are telling me that people are going out during their breaks, smoking up and coming back to work. It is legal, so what is an employer to do about it? People are very confused about this.
Now what do we do? We would add to the problem with Bill C-93. If the government had taken its time and not had its self-imposed deadline at all costs, and instead done Bill C-45 correctly, we would not have this problem. Police officers, employers and all the labour unions told telling us how to do Bill C-45 properly; there was a lot of input. The government had to get it done and now we have ended up trying to fix the problem with Bill C-93.
As I said, Bill C-93 is well-intentioned and has some good features. We agree that a person who just had one charge should not have it on his record, and we would like to facilitate its removal.
From what members of the committee tell me, the government would not listen to suggestions. I cannot understand why it would not listen to the suggestion made on behalf of the Canadian Police Association, which I believe is a reasonable one to improve the bill, namely, calling for the Parole Board to retain limited flexibility and discretion to conduct investigations and to ensure that the small number of applications by habitual offenders are vetted. This would have ensured that these individuals did not take advantage of a process that is clearly not intended for their cases.
The Canadian Police Association deals with this issue day in and day out. It has the experience and we should be listening to it. That was a wonderful amendment. I wish somebody from the government side would explain why it has no intention of including that amendment in the legislation. The amendment is so reasonable and would be so helpful, yet it was defeated at committee where the Liberals have the majority.
There were other amendments that I understand were also rejected. One of them was to restore the power to make inquiries to determine the applicant's conduct since the date of conviction. Let us say a young person made a mistake when they were 15 years old and have not had a problem since. I could understand our pardoning that person very easily. However, what if that person has had a terrible record of breaking and entering, selling marijuana and all of these other kinds of things? Would we still give that individual a pardon? Under this proposed legislation, we would not have any choice because the government did not agree to this amendment.
The bottom line is that I will be supporting this legislation, but it is not the way it should be. The truth of the matter is that the government should have taken its time. Why did we get this piece of legislation in the House at the last minute? It is because the government was too busy with other priorities and it did not seem to matter. All of a sudden, now it wants to ram this through at the last minute. I do not think that is the way this place should operate.