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Track Joyce

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Crucial Fact

  • Her favourite word is rcmp.

Liberal MP for Vancouver Quadra (B.C.)

Won her last election, in 2015, with 59% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Ethics October 22nd, 2013

Mr. Speaker, Chris Woodcock, the former PMO issues manager, was sent the February 20 email from Mike Duffy, detailing his deal with Nigel Wright. The Prime Minister misled Parliament when he claimed that no one else in his office knew of the deal. It was a PMO office-wide strategy to subvert the work of a committee by Duffy's silence and cover the whole thing up.

Nixon used to call his cover-up experts “the plumbers”. Why did the Minister of Natural Resources hire Chris Woodcock, the PMO's disgraced plumber, as his chief of staff?

Petitions October 21st, 2013

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to table a petition calling on the Government of Canada to coordinate a full process of public consultation prior to the commencement of any disposal of the Jericho Garrison Lands in my riding of Vancouver Quadra.

These lands are 21 hectares of Department of National Defence lands located in the Point Grey neighbourhood, and they have a mix of trees, green space and historic buildings. They are lands that are significant to the heritage and quality of life of the residents of Vancouver Quadra and the broader community. We know that there is a planned divestment of these lands, but there has been no consultation with the public.

The petitioners therefore call on the government to rectify that and to lay out a plan and a timeline for full public consultation before any active divestment or sale of the Jericho Garrison Lands takes place.

Respect for Communities Act October 18th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, I have been very clear that the Liberal Party supports consultations, and those kinds of consultations took place before InSite's ribbon was ever cut.

We support consultation. We support involving the community. What we do not support is a veto by a small number of vocal voices that are acting on a “not in my backyard” basis or on the basis of a very narrow focus on the fact that the drugs that are being used at these sites are illegal, ignoring all of the preponderance of evidence that this is healthier for the community, safer for the community, and saves lives.

Bill C-2 is unworthy of the hon. members opposite. The evidence is very clear that these facilities are positive for the community as well as for those with the illnesses that require their services.

It is not my time to be asking questions at this point in the debate, but I would say that if there is anything inflammatory, it is actually the Conservative member's party campaign director who, an hour after this bill was tabled, sent out a fundraising letter with the statement that Liberal and NDP members want addicts to shoot up heroin in backyards of communities all across the country. How is that for crass political undermining of the very interests of justice, of undermining the health and well-being of community members?

That is shocking. It speaks to the Conservative government's strategy with respect to this bill and why it is pushing forward with it despite all the evidence that it is the wrong way to go.

Respect for Communities Act October 18th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, absolutely. The medical community is clear. That is why I was quoting the statement that this bill appears to be founded upon ideology from the Canadian Medical Association itself.

The previous comment about the switching of this bill from the health committee to the public safety committee is more indication of that ideological basis. This bill is not based on evidence. It is not based on compassion for people and family members, many of whom are suffering from previous abuse, mental illness, and other challenges.

Our job is to support them in rehabilitation and in staying safe, and in helping communities stay safe at the same time. This is exactly what the medical community is saying these sites accomplish.

Respect for Communities Act October 18th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for pointing out that manoeuvre, which is consistent with what I have been pointing out as being a reprehensible toying with the most vulnerable, refusing them the supports they need to prevent deaths and infections and to help with their health concerns.

Why? It is for political gain. It is about reinforcing some messages around public safety that are based on misinformation. The health committee is clearly where this bill should go; it is a health issue and a justice issue, and the evidence shows that public safety is improved with these sites.

Respect for Communities Act October 18th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, that is an excellent question from my colleague.

Yes, education is critical. In a community that I represented provincially a number of years ago, I hosted a crystal meth forum in the school gymnasium. We had people who suffered from that addiction and had come through it, as well as psychologists and police officers, speak to the public and talk to the parents and the students who were in the gym about the dangers of crystal meth.

However, that is the very kind of thing for which the government cut funding in its Bill C-10, when the Conservatives decided that their justice system should be about reducing flexibility of judges, having mandatory sentences, and locking people up and throwing away the key. They are actually reducing funding for the very kinds of preventive and educational activities that are so badly needed in communities.

Respect for Communities Act October 18th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to speak to Bill C-2, an act to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. It is truly sad that this is the first bill being introduced by the government. It is as though this bill would really be in the public interest, when clearly it is one that would be harmful to people who need our help the most.

Bill C-2 was formerly Bill C-65. Bill C-65 was killed by prorogation. Perhaps one positive thing about the prorogation is that it delayed the conclusion of a bill that would be harmful to many Canadians.

Specifically, this legislation would amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act to, among other things, create a separate exemption regime for activities involving the use of a controlled substance or precursor that is obtained in a manner not authorized under the act. It specifies the purposes for which an exemption may be granted for those activities; and it sets out the information that must be submitted to the Minister of Health before the minister may consider an application for an exemption in relation to a supervised consumption site.

What does that actually mean? Let us put a human face on this. This legislation is really about human beings. It is about family members, brothers and sisters, sons, daughters, mothers and fathers, who suffer from the disease of addiction to drugs, a disease that has no geographic boundaries, no social boundaries, no economic boundaries but is found in communities across Canada, a disease that often ties into factors that are beyond the control of the person suffering from the disease—for example, mental illness or childhood abuse. Let us bear in mind that these are human beings, that these are family members.

I am proud of the leadership that was taken by the City of Vancouver more than a decade ago. The mayor of Vancouver and other people who wanted to address the challenges faced by people with drug addiction on the streets of the Downtown Eastside created a safe consumption site, formerly called a safe injection site. This site, called InSite, has been operating in Canada pursuant to a section 56 legal exemption since 2003. Proponents of the site include the Portland Hotel community services society and the Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users. These organizations challenged the federal Conservative government's refusal to continue the legal exemption to InSite in 2008, and this challenge was taken all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada.

In 2011, the Supreme Court declared that the health minister had violated the charter of rights of people who need access to such a health facility and ruled in favour of the exemption, ordering that this exemption to the act be granted a continuation by the federal health minister.

Bill C-2 is just the government's latest attempt in a long series of attempts to shut down any effort to open a safe consumption site elsewhere in Canada. For clarity, we should really be calling this bill the “banning of safe consumption sites act”.

Bill C-2 is an ideological bill from a government that has always opposed evidence-based harm reduction measures such as safe consumption sites. These safe consumption sites must be part of a broader evidence-based national drug policy, which would save lives, reduce harm and promote public health.

The Liberal Party of Canada does support the need for broad community consultation with respect to the establishment of any safe consumption site, which is exactly how the Liberals participated in the establishment of Canada's first safe consumption site in the Vancouver Downtown Eastside.

Liberals consulted broadly and worked in conjunction with provincial and municipal governments, public health authorities, business associations, and the public. InSite was the product of co-operative federalism, a concept not well known to the current Conservative government.

There were a number of authorities and stakeholders that combined forces in their efforts to create it. It was initially launched as an experiment that has proven to be successful in saving lives, in improving health, and in decreasing the incidence of drug use and crime in the surrounding area. In fact, not a single injection overdose fatality has occurred with InSite, a safe consumption site, which is one reason the Vancouver Police support InSite. InSite is also supported by the City of Vancouver and the British Columbia government.

In contrast, the current health minister has never even set foot in Vancouver's InSite facility. Her legislation is based on ideology, not on evidence.

One piece of evidence of harm reduction from InSite is in the most recent annual research on the incidence of HIV and the HIV virus. Only 30 new HIV cases were found in the Downtown Eastside. That is remarkable, because in 1996, we had 2,100 new cases of HIV in the Downtown Eastside. Compare that: 30 new HIV cases versus 2,100 new HIV cases. That is the kind of reduction of harm and all the attendant social and economic costs that this facility has provided.

The current Conservative government has been trying to shut down that facility and now wants to prevent those facilities from opening in other communities. The Liberal Party does not support Bill C-2, clearly. As Liberals, we support evidence-based policies that reduce harm and protect public safety. The bill would do neither of those things.

As I previously said, the Vancouver safe consumption site has proven to be effective not just in reducing HIV infections but in reducing crime and in protecting public safety in the area surrounding the facility.

Unfortunately, the bill would raise the criteria to establish a new safe consumption site to such an extraordinarily high level that it would be nearly impossible for any future consumption site to be established in Canada. That could mean that InSite will remain the only safe consumption site in Canada. Other cities that want to open a safe consumption site would be virtually prevented.

I just want to go back a bit to why the Supreme Court ruled that the government had to provide a continuation of the permission for the safe consumption site, InSite, to continue.

The case was based on a violation of the claimants' section 7 charter rights. 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. Determining whether there had been a breach of section 7 involved a two-part analysis by the court. The court considering any potential section 7 violation must ask, first, whether there is a deprivation of the right to life, liberty, or security of the person, and second, if so, whether the deprivation is in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice.

The Supreme Court found that both conditions had been met, and I will quote the Supreme Court's ruling:

The Minister's decision thus engages the claimants' s.7 interests and constitutes a limit on their s.7 rights.

This is a decision to try to shut down InSite. Continuing the quote:

Based on the information available to the Minister, this limit is not in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice. It is arbitrary, undermining the very purposes of the [Controlled Drugs and Substances Act], which include public health and safety. It is also grossly disproportionate: the potential denial of health services and the correlative increase in the risk of death and disease to injection drug users outweigh any benefit that might be derived from maintaining an absolute prohibition on possession of illegal drugs on Insite's premises.

It is very clear that the Supreme Court forced the federal government and the federal health minister under the Conservatives, to allow InSite to continue operating as a matter of justice, and that is in addition to all the other health and public safety benefits that evidence has shown this facility provides. The Supreme Court ordered the minister to grant an exemption to InSite under section 56 of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.

Now we have a new bill that is trying to take another route to undermining these kinds of services to human beings that actually help their ability to get off drugs and improve their safety while they are still in the grip of their addictions.

In the last 20 years, supervised injection services or safer consumption sites have been integrated into drug treatment and harm reduction programs in western Europe, Australia, and Canada, and they have saved lives. The Toronto drug strategy has provided an excellent review of the research on these services and has found that programs such as safer consumption sites reduce overdose deaths, reduce needle sharing and HIV and hepatitis C infection, reduce public drug use, do not cause an increase in crime, and even increase use of detox and other treatment centres. What is not to like about these results?

The government's bill is based entirely on ideology and not on evidence. It is based on unsubstantiated beliefs that are unsupported and contradicted by overwhelming scientific consensus. Let me outline a few of the problems with Bill C-2, and there are many.

Bill C-2 creates an unnecessarily cumbersome application process for an exemption for what is foremost a health care service. As the Toronto medical officer suggested in a recent report:

The requirements of the bill...stretch beyond the scope and spirit of the Supreme Court of Canada ruling. The requirements will pose significant barriers for health services applying for an...exemption [from the act].... The likelihood that an applicant can obtain letters of support from all required bodies is low.... The required consultation process is beyond the capacity and budget of most community based health services.

Bill C-2 focuses on public safety at the expense of public health. It is an approach that runs counter to the Supreme Court of Canada's emphasis on striking a balance between public safety and public health and it ignores comprehensive research showing that safer consumption sites do not negatively affect public safety and do support better public health.

The bill requires that staff working at such a site obtain criminal record checks. This requirement will effectively discriminate against potential staff or volunteers who have a history of drug crime. This is of concern, because the involvement of peer workers in these services is critical to their success. People who have gone through this tragic disease and have managed to beat it and come out the other side are the very kind of counsellors who can help people still in the grip of the disease of addiction.

Bill C-2 did not involve any consultation with provincial health authorities, nor with key professional bodies, including the Canadian Medical Association and the Canadian Nurses Association.

This is a health issue. These sites are a health benefit. Canada's primary health associations were not consulted. In fact, the Canadian Nurses Association is very concerned about this bill. They are concerned about what the meaning of broad community support is in the bill and whether one group's opinion could outweigh that of several other groups. It is not clear in the bill.

The Canadian Medical Association supports evidence-based harm reduction tools, such as safer consumption sites. In a statement, the CMA stated:

The CMA's position is founded upon clinical evidence. Bill C-[2], it would appear, is founded upon ideology that seeks to hinder initiatives to mitigate the very real challenges and great personal harm caused by drug abuse.

These are doctors saying that the government is hindering their efforts to mitigate the harm experienced by human beings with the disease of addiction.

A study co-authored by Dr. Julio Montaner, who is an international leader in HIV/AIDS research, found that there was a 35% reduction in overdose deaths following the opening of InSite. That is a 35% reduction in overdose deaths in the community of the Downtown Eastside following the creation of a safer consumption site. These are all important indicators of the sense it makes to allow these sites.

Bill C-2 is trying to prevent more sites from opening. It requires groups to seek letters of opinion from civic and provincial authorities and essentially vetoes the provision of health care services by organizations that may have a vested interest, through a narrow mandate regarding the use of illegal drugs. Such organizations may not be aware of the broad spectrum of other issues for which these safer consumption sites are so beneficial. Those vetoes may prevent a site from going ahead.

Bill C-2 also specifies that a report on the consultations within a broad range of community groups must be included with an application. The Liberals believe in community consultation. The bill provides a 90-day period during which the minister may receive comments from the general public on any application for an exemption. That is concerning. Will a single person's comment then be used as an excuse to scupper a safe consumption site?

Public consultation is an important component of establishing these sites, but the two sections I have been describing give undue emphasis to the opinions generated in public consultations. That can potentially allow a vocal “not in my back yard” minority opposition. It could enable that NIMBY factor to halt the implementation of lifesaving health services, services that reduce HIV infections, deaths, and other harms in the community.

Why is the Conservative government doing this? It is about politics. Unfortunatley, it is recognized as being about scoring political gain over justice and scoring political gains over health benefits. The clearest indication of this is that only an hour after the legislation was introduced back in June, the Conservative campaign director, Jenni Byrne, issued a crass and misleading fundraising letter to supporters stating that the Liberals and NDP want addicts to shoot up heroin in backyards in communities all across the country. Send us money, said Jenni Byrne, the Conservative.

The intention of the Conservative government is clear. It lost the gun registry as a way to misinform the public and raise funds for their campaigns. Now it wants safer consumption sites to play that role so that it can undermine the actual truth and the people suffering from this disease in order to raise money for the Conservative Party. That is not okay, and this bill must not go ahead.

Ethics October 18th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, Canadians demand accountability in what happened in the PMO. We will not stop asking questions until we get real answers, not evasion.

Those same PMO security logs indicate that an unidentified third party joined Senator Gerstein and his PMO host at that meeting on February 12, 2013. Who was that other person? Was it the Prime Minister? If not, who was it?

Ethics October 18th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, that is just more attacks and bluster. One has to wonder just what the Conservatives are covering up.

Here is another specific question. According to those same Prime Minister's Office security logs, the next day, February 12, 2013, Senators David Tkachuk and Irving Gerstein attended separate meetings, also in room 204 Langevin Block. Who precisely did they meet with?

Ethics October 18th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, Canadians have been calling for honest answers about the Mike Duffy affair for six months now.

All we get from the government are nonsensical responses and attacks. I have a very simple question.

According to security records from the Prime Minister's Office, Mike Duffy had a meeting in room 204 Langevin Block on February 11, 2013. Who did he meet with?