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Liberal MP for Charlottetown (P.E.I.)
Won his last election, in 2015, with 56% of the vote.
Statements in the House
Madam Speaker, very soon we are going to be called upon, both here and in the other place, to vote on this piece of legislation. There are people who will undoubtedly feel compelled to vote against it, albeit for different reasons.
I invite the hon. member to speak to the ramifications of there being no federal law. For those who are considering voting against the legislation for one reason or another, what will be the consequences if that turns out to be the majority view, either here or there?
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his passionate intervention. His participation at every stage of this debate has indeed been thoughtful. Although we do not always agree, there is no denying the comprehensive and heartfelt nature in which he addresses the debate.
I want to ask the member a question about the speech that was put forward by the Minister of Justice.
The Minister of Justice indicated that when we take out the words “reasonably foreseeable” and leave the bare words of the Carter decision, we are left in a situation, and we draw this experience from the most permissive regimes in the world, where it is possible that a soldier with PTSD, a sexual assault victim, or a young person with a spinal cord injury, under those permissive regimes and without the reasonable foreseeability language, will be able to avail themselves of medical assistance in dying.
The member talked about us bringing forward something that would make Canadians proud. Therefore, my question for him is whether he agrees with what the Minister of Justice has said, that we owe a responsibility to those individuals in the legislation that they be protected under Canadian federal law. My question is whether he agrees that this is a responsibility that we hold, and whether we will be maintaining that responsibility by defeating the motion before Parliament.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to address the issue raised by the member opposite when he talked about an artificial time crunch and a failure of process.
The Carter decision was handed down on February 6, 2015. Between February 6, 2015, and the federal election, there were was the elapse of eight and a half months in which the Conservatives were in power, eight a half months of the 12 months allotted by the Supreme Court of Canada.
The member opposite said that it was difficult for politicians to be involved in the lead-up to the federal election. My question is why. The politicians in this place, during those eight and a half months, were denied an opportunity for debate in any sort of a parliamentary process, they were denied an opportunity for debate or discussion before a parliamentary committee, and they were denied an opportunity for debate in this chamber.
All the while, it was the Conservative government that was denying that opportunity, specifically by voting against a motion to establish such a process that was brought in March by the Liberals—
Justice June 15th, 2016
Mr. Speaker, I reject the premise of that question. This government is very committed to attacking the scourge of human trafficking in this country. We are well seized of this issue. We were the ones who instituted an inquiry into murdered and missing aboriginal women. We are also going to be reviewing in detail the provisions of Bill C-36, the flawed piece of legislation that was brought in by the previous government.
We are seized of it, we are acting on it, and we will indeed come up with an evidence-based solution to this terrible scourge.
Justice June 15th, 2016
Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for his excellent work on the justice committee and his advocacy on this issue.
We are well aware of the pressing vacancies within the ranks of the judiciary across this country, and in particular, in the province of Alberta. I can tell the hon. member that the Minister of Justice has been hard at work on this file, and he can expect some news very soon.
Canadian Golf Hall of Fame Inductee June 15th, 2016
Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to rise today in the House to recognize LPGA tour professional and proud Prince Edward Islander, Lorie Kane.
Lorie will be inducted into the Canadian Golf Hall of Fame later this year. She is a 20-year veteran of the LPGA tour. She has four LPGA wins, along with 99 top 10s. Lorie has also won four tournaments on the Legends Tour and very proudly represented Canada at the Pan-Am Games in Toronto last year.
Despite her successful and high-profile career, Lorie never forgot her roots on the Island. She founded the Lorie Kane Charity Golf Classic, which has raised over $1 million for local charities.
Lorie is a member of the Order of Canada and has twice been named Canadian female athlete of the year. She was inducted into the Prince Edward Island Sports Hall of Fame in 2014.
I ask the House to join me in congratulating Lorie Kane on her many achievements, which now include her rightful place in the Canadian Golf Hall of Fame.
Business of Supply June 13th, 2016
Mr. Speaker, I do not know how I can answer that question other than to say that I find myself in violent agreement with the member for Winnipeg North.
Clearly, the objective of the government policy with respect to marijuana legalization is exactly that, to keep it out of the hands of young people and to keep the profits out of the hands of criminals. That is the process on which we are embarking through this task force, through the consultation with the provinces and territories that have a shared jurisdiction in many of the areas.
It will be a public health approach, and one that will achieve our policy objectives where the old approach, prohibition, has been an abject failure.
Business of Supply June 13th, 2016
Mr. Speaker, what we know is that the war on drugs has been an abject failure. What we know is that cannabis use among young Canadians is the highest in the developed world.
We know that the prohibition system has been an utter failure. We believe that the right answer is evidence-based, and it is strict regulation and control. That is what we are moving toward, based on the evidence that we will be amassing through the task force. That will be a better answer for Canadians.
Business of Supply June 13th, 2016
Mr. Speaker, allow me to take that logic to another situation.
The drinking age in the province of Quebec is 18. Do we say to all of the 17-year-olds in Quebec that they are going to be legal next year so we will cut them some slack this year? It makes no sense, nor does this.
The idea of decriminalizing, in the absence of any other system of control, will do nothing but enrich organized crime. It is certainly not where we want to go, and not where we need to go in this country.
Business of Supply June 13th, 2016
Mr. Speaker, I wish to advise you that I will be sharing my time with the eloquent and brilliant member for Eglinton—Lawrence.
I am pleased to stand in the House today to address the topic put forward by the member for Victoria.
It is clear that there is no reason to hastily rush into decriminalization, as members opposite suggest. Over the last decade or so, courts have told us that people with a legitimate medical need have a constitutional right to access marijuana for medical purposes. As the result of various court decisions, there is a robust regulatory system in place that provides legal access to marijuana for medical purposes to Canadians who need it.
To be frank, those who want it for recreational purposes can wait until such time as we have a new system that legalizes, strictly regulates, and restricts access to marijuana.
At this time, we have a fully functional system that allows a little over 53,000 Canadians to access medical marijuana.
The current system has established strict controls over the production and sale of marijuana for medical purposes. These controls protect protect public health and safety and enable Canadians to access marijuana for medical purposes when authorized by their health care practitioner.
Let me make it very clear. Our government does not licence organizations, such as compassion clubs or dispensaries, to possess, produce, or distribute marijuana for medical purposes. These activities by these organizations are, and remain, illegal. Instead, through the marihuana for medical purposes regulations, Health Canada has put in place controls to enable the production and distribution of marijuana for medical purposes, while reducing the risk of marijuana being diverted to an illicit market or use.
Health Canada grants licenses to producers so that they can produce and distribute dried marijuana, fresh marijuana, and cannabis oil to people who have received authorization from a health care practitioner. Those Health Canada-approved licensed producers must meet the strictest standards in order to produce and distribute medical marijuana.
The system was created to help ensure a professional, secure, and ethical industry that would provide reasonable access for Canadians to marijuana for medical purposes. Licensed producers must demonstrate compliance, including quality control standards, record keeping of all activities and inventories of marijuana, and physical security measures to protect against potential diversion. In addition to those stringent requirements, the system also requires that certain key employees, along with directors and officers in the case of a corporation, have a security clearance.
The regulations provide for rigorous oversight to reduce public health, safety, and security risks by setting out an in-depth licence application review process and a strong compliance and enforcement regime. Licensed producers must meet good production practices, including the requirement for analytical testing for contaminants, sanitation requirements for production, and packaging and storage, among other requirements. Licensed producers also have to test marijuana for microbial and chemical contaminants, and must meet legislated quality control requirements.
This means that the marijuana sold is subject to strict quality control and robust oversight in order to protect the health and safety of Canadians.
For its part, Health Canada plays a compliance and enforcement role to ensure that licensed producers produce marijuana to the high standards set out in the regulations. To this end, the department conducts frequent inspections of all licensed producer facilities.
To date, Health Canada has issued 31 licences to producers located across Canada who conduct their operations according to the quality control measures and appropriate health and safety standards that I have already talked about today.
We know these producers are selling a wide variety of quality-controlled marijuana in a manner that reduces risk to public health and safety. Moreover, licensed producers are offering marijuana at a range of prices, with some producers offering compassionate pricing.
To be able to access marijuana for medical purposes, Canadians must have the support of a health care practitioner; that is a physician in all provinces and territories or a nurse practitioner in those provinces and territories where it is permitted.
These health care practitioners complete a medical document that includes the daily amount of marijuana required. With that medical document, individuals can register with one of the licensed producers identified on the Health Canada website. To date, nearly 53,000 Canadians have registered to purchase marijuana for medical purposes. From licensed producers, Canadians can obtain dried or fresh marijuana as well as cannabis oil.
What is more, people who are entitled to obtain marijuana for medical purposes and who purchase it from licensed producers can produce and possess marijuana products such as ointments for personal use.
As part of the regulatory requirements, licensed producers must ensure the safe distribution of marijuana. This means that licensed producers are only permitted to provide marijuana to registered clients and this marijuana must be securely shipped directly to the client or an individual responsible for the client or to the client's health care practitioner.
Let me also add that licensed producers may not operate a storefront.
Licensed producers must package marijuana in a child resistant manner that allows the client to determine whether it has been opened prior to receipt and helps to prevent children from opening it.
Licensed producers must apply a label on the container indicating the name of the client, that of the licensed producer, the contact information of the supplier, and information about the marijuana being shipped.
The licensed producer is also required to include similar information on a separate document with each shipment of marijuana. These documents are useful should a client be required to demonstrate proof of authorized possession to law enforcement.
All these requirements create a framework that allows people in Canada to access marijuana prescribed by a health practitioner.
The system is working. I mentioned that there are 53,000 registered clients who are already legally accessing marijuana for medical purposes from 31 licensed producers. These licensed producers have the capacity to absorb new clients. This means that Canadians who require marijuana for medical purposes do not need to go to a dispensary. They can already get it from a legal source if they require it for medical purposes.
The government is working hard to make changes to the current regulations based on the Federal Court's guidelines.
While I will not speculate about the specifics of the proposed regulations, they will be crafted to address the issues identified by the court and ensure that authorized individuals have reasonable access to marijuana for medical purposes.
In the meantime, I want to remind the House that licensed producers will continue to carry out their operations as usual and that Canadians needing marijuana for medical purposes can continue to access it through licensed producers.
It is simply unnecessary to decriminalize marijuana. There is a robust system in place for those who need it for medical purposes. For those who wish to access marijuana for recreational purposes, we would urge them to respect the current laws while we take the time to put in place a responsible regulated system for marijuana for non-medical purposes. That system will keep marijuana out of the hands of youth and keep criminals from profiting from marijuana's illegal trade. Therefore, I cannot support today's motion.