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  • 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

Cannabis Act June 6th, 2017

Madam Speaker, I am honoured to rise today to speak in favour of Bill C-45, which our government introduced to legalize and strictly regulate cannabis consumption in Canada.

The cannabis bill represents a new approach to cannabis, one that puts public health and safety at the forefront, and will better protect young Canadians.

The current approach to cannabis just does not work. It has allowed criminals and organized crime to profit while also failing to keep cannabis out of the hands of Canadian youth. In many cases, it is easier for our children to buy cannabis than cigarettes.

Canadians continue to use cannabis at some of the highest rates in the world. It is the most commonly used illicit drug among young Canadians. In 2015, 21% of youth aged 15 to 19 reported using cannabis in the past year. That is one out of every five young people in our country.

Today it is regulated and controlled by organized crime. It is far better to have it regulated and controlled by government.

Too many of our youth see cannabis as a benign substance. They are often ill-informed on the harm that it can do, and are unaware that early use of cannabis increases susceptibility to long-term effects. Youth are especially vulnerable to the effects of cannabis on brain development and function. This is because the THC in cannabis affects the same biological system in the brain that directs brain development.

They are unaware that black market cannabis can be contaminated by mould, pesticides, and other more dangerous drugs. At the same time, too many young people today are entering the criminal justice system for possessing small amounts of cannabis, which could potentially impact their long-term opportunities. Clearly, there has to be a better way of educating and protecting our youth.

In Vancouver Quadra, in the second decade of the century, we were seeing regular violent attacks on our city streets, in my riding included, with bystanders being hurt, which was part of the competition for these profits among organized crime gangs. That is why in September 2011, I began working in Ottawa, within the Liberal caucus, organizing meetings and bringing expert speakers to Ottawa to advance the dialogue about cannabis prohibition and how legalization could address some of those serious problems. I have the privilege in Vancouver Quadra and Vancouver of working with former attorneys general and justice and health professionals in a coalition called Stop the Violence BC. We have common cause on legalization.

I would like to focus my comments today on the benefits of this legalization for youth, one of our government's primary objectives for Bill C-45.

I would first like to note that this legislation is just one piece of the overall approach to addressing cannabis use by youth.

Specifically, our government is trying to reduce cannabis use by youth, to restrict their ability to obtain the product, to provide them with better information on its health harms and risks, and to keep them out of the criminal justice system for possessing even small amounts of cannabis, as is possible today. This approach requires legislative and regulatory measures and support for public education and awareness. To this end, our government has begun a public education campaign, with a focus on youth and their parents, to better inform them about cannabis and its health harms and risks.

Considering all of these measures combined, I am confident that our government's overall approach will be effective in better protecting our youth from the potential harm of this mind-altering substance.

I would like to explain some of the specific measures in the cannabis act to help safeguard our youth.

As a society, we have learned much from the health and safety controls put in place for other potentially harmful substances, such as tobacco, alcohol, and prescription medications. Bill C-45 uses these best practices as a starting point.

At the outset, Bill C-45 prohibits the sale of cannabis to anyone under the age of 18 and prohibits adults from giving cannabis to anyone under 18. It also creates an offence and penalty for anyone caught using a young person to commit a cannabis-related offence. Any adult found guilty of engaging in these activities would face a jail term of up to 14 years.

To avoid the kind of enticements to use cannabis that we have seen in the past with tobacco, Bill C-45 would prohibit any form of cannabis that is designed to appeal to youth, such as gummy bears or lollipops. To further protect youth, cannabis producers or retailers would be prohibited from using any kind of packaging or labelling that might be appealing to youth, or to use any kind of endorsement, lifestyle promotion, or cartoon animal to promote their product, and the promotion and advertising of cannabis products would not be permitted in any place or in any media that could be accessed by youth.

We are taking the health and safety of our youth very seriously. Bill C-45 also includes authority to make regulations that could require cannabis to be sold in child-resistant packaging to protect our youngest ones from accidentally consuming this product.

Taken together, these measures constitute a comprehensive approach to protecting the health and safety of our youth.

In addition to protecting public health and safety, one of our government's goals is to avoid criminalizing Canadians for relatively minor offences.

Having a criminal record for simple possession of small amounts of cannabis can have significant consequences. Having a record can seriously impact opportunities for employment, housing, volunteerism, and travel.

The question we have to ask ourselves is do we want to continue to saddle Canadians with these burdens for the possession of small amounts of cannabis? Our government's response is an emphatic no.

For this reason, the proposed legislation sets out a 30-gram possession limit for dried cannabis in public for adults aged 18 and over, with strict penalties for adults who give or try to sell it to youth or who use a young person to commit a cannabis-related offence.

Bill C-45 takes a different approach to cannabis possession by youth, one that recognizes that in some circumstances, entering the criminal justice system can do more harm than good. Prisons can be known for turning a misguided person into a bad person, at great public expense.

Under Bill C-45, youth would not face criminal prosecution for possessing or sharing a very small amount of cannabis. Any activities by youth involving more than small amounts of cannabis, defined as over 5 grams, would be addressed under the provisions of the Youth Criminal Justice Act.

Our government will be working with the provinces and territories to support the development of legislation in each jurisdiction that would allow law enforcement to confiscate any amount of cannabis found in the possession of a young person. This would allow authorities to take away any amount of cannabis they may have in their possession.

Let me be clear: the proposed approach to addressing youth possession of cannabis does not mean that such behaviour is acceptable or encouraged. It is not. Rather, it recognizes that a more balanced approach with a range of tools works better to reduce cannabis consumption among youth, which is exactly what we are aiming for.

We believe that this law strikes the right balance between avoiding criminalizing youth for possession of small amounts and ensuring that cannabis remains tightly regulated and controlled, just as Canadians wish it to be.

Questions on the Order Paper May 19th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, with regard to (a), (b), (e), (f), and (g), data for the years 2013-2014 and 2014-2015 are available on the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat’s website at https://www.canada.ca/en/ treasury-board-secretariat/services/ performance-talent-management /performance-management-program- executives.html.

The data for 2015-2016 will be published once they are finalized.

With regard to (c) and (d), the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat sets departmental spending limits for executive performance pay, calculated as a percentage of departmental executive payroll at March 31. Each department then has the flexibility to spend this budget, as long as individual payments do not exceed the following percentages established by the Treasury Board: up to 12% of base salary for at-risk pay and up to 3% of base salary for bonus pay for each eligible executive at the EX-01, EX-02, or EX-03 levels, and up to 20% of base salary for at-risk pay and up to 6% of base salary for bonus pay for each eligible executive at the EX-04 or EX-05 level.

With regard to (h), the directives on executive compensation and on the performance management program for executives set out the requirements related to eligibility for performance pay. All executives are assessed at the end of the performance management cycle on the extent to which they have achieved the objectives set out in their performance agreement and their demonstration of their key leadership competencies. Based on this assessment, each executive is given a rating on a 5-point scale, where 1 is “Did not meet” and 5 is “Surpassed”. Executives who obtain a rating of 2 or higher are eligible for performance pay. Ratings recommended by the manager of each executive are reviewed by the departmental review committee and approved by the deputy head. All performance pay decisions must be approved by the deputy head.

With regard to (i), only individuals who get a rating of “Surpassed”, meaning their performance was outstanding, and who receive the maximum percentage of at-risk pay are eligible for the bonus.

With regard to (j), executives whose performance rating is “Did not meet” are not eligible for performance pay.

Public Service Labour Relations Act May 16th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the words of my NDP colleague across the aisle and the personal stories that she mentioned.

Bill C-7 and our response to both the House committee and the Senate amendments would give labour relations and collective bargaining a regime that would allow RCMP members to stand up for their rights and to address issues of workplace well-being and harassment which, as the member has pointed out, are so critically important. Our government listened to the Senate, listened to members of Parliament from all parties, and expanded the issues which are now available for collective bargaining.

Will the member support this important piece of legislation?

Public Service Labour Relations Act May 16th, 2017

Madam Speaker, our government listened to the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security and accepted the amendments put forward by members of Parliament that were supported by various parties. Our government accepted the appropriate amendments from the Senate and has been willing to make changes accordingly. I would like my colleague to comment on what that speaks to in terms of our openness and the democratic process in the House under our government.

Public Service Labour Relations Act May 16th, 2017

Madam Speaker, I have a question for the Conservative member who just spoke. I would also like to tell him that it would be disrespectful towards RCMP members to vote against Bill C-7, because this is about creating working conditions that meet the needs and address the rights of RCMP members.

I would add that, in Bill C-43, which also pertained to labour relations and was introduced by the previous Conservative government, secret ballot voting was not mandatory. That was not all that long ago, and the decision was left to the discretion of the RCMP labour relations employment board.

Why was having all these choices the right thing for Bill C-43 but so unacceptable now? Why vote against Bill C-7 when it contains the conditions requested by RCMP members?

Public Service Labour Relations Act May 16th, 2017

Madam Speaker, the member posed a question asking why our side of the House believes that card check is a better approach. In fact, we have been very clear that it is important there be a card check method and a secret ballot method. Each has its place, and there is a board that can determine the appropriate place for fair and effective certification.

I actually find it very puzzling that the Conservatives are now so opposed to allowing the Public Service Labour Relations Board to have the discretion to choose the certification method it thinks is the most fair. When the previous Conservative government introduced Bill C-43, its RCMP labour relations bill, did it make secret balloting mandatory? No, it did not. It actually left the choice to the Public Service Labour Relations Board, just as we are doing.

I would like to know why it was fine for the board to have the choice of appropriate methodology under the Conservatives' previous Bill C-43 but it is not now.

Public Service Labour Relations Act May 16th, 2017

Madam Speaker, I would like to thank the member for Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel for his words and for his work on the parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security. We are aware, and certainly a labour law professor will be aware, of all of the initiatives that have come forward since 2014 to address workplace harassment in the RCMP.

Why does the member believe that, in his own words, meaningful discussion and good faith on issues of workplace wellness and harassment will improve the labour regime in collective bargaining for RCMP members?

Public Service Labour Relations Act May 16th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, it is actually disappointing that the member opposite strictly narrowed his remarks to the secret ballot issue. Is there nothing else important to the RCMP? Wait, in fact, that is not something that was asked for by the members themselves. In fact, the discussion on the secret ballot is well served in the debate on Bill C-4. That bill would put the discretion as to the certification methodology into the hands of the labour board.

How will the member explain to RCMP members in his riding that all the benefits of collective bargaining they would be acquiring through Bill C-7 are being rejected by his no vote because of a matter that is actually being handled under Bill C-4, different legislation?

Public Service Labour Relations Act May 16th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I want to compliment my colleague, the member for Mississauga—Lakeshore, for his comments, for his thoughtful response to the previous question, and for his comment about it being a good day and legislation of good quality. It needs to proceed further.

Another aspect of this being a good day, and the member alluded to this in his speech, is the fact that under this hopefully final version of the bill, RCMP members can bargain harassment through their representatives. Given the context of the situation with the RCMP, the concerns about atmosphere and workplace issues, and the historic challenges with harassment, I would like to hear his comments on this aspect of the bill.

Public Service Labour Relations Act May 16th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, my colleague mentioned that the management rights clause would be consistent with the labour relations approach in the rest of the public service. She specified that means if there were something that management believed is contrary to the effectiveness of police operations, if it were to be bargained, it would then go to the Public Service Labour Relations and Employment Board to determine whether it would be in or out of the scope of the bargaining.

The NDP member who spoke previously implied that these management rights could be akin to reinstating the original exclusions, which would put a lot more power as to what to negotiate or not into the hands of the RCMP commissioner. However, we heard in the member's speech that it is actually the PSLREB that would determine whether something was in or out of the scope of bargaining.

I would ask the member to comment on whether this new management rights clause in what is hopefully the final version of Bill C-7 actually provides a neutral party determining what is in or out of the scope of bargaining.