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Liberal MP for Don Valley East (Ontario)

Won her last election, in 2015, with 58% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Islamic History Month September 20th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, in 2007, this House unanimously adopted a motion presented by the late Honourable Mauril Bélanger to declare October as Islamic History Month. Islamic History Month recognizes the important contributions of Muslims to Canadian society, their cultural diversity, and the importance of fostering great social cohesion.

On September 25, the Toronto District School Board is launching Islamic History Month at the Aga Khan Museum, located in my riding of Don Valley East. The Aga Khan Museum presents insights on the history of Muslim civilizations through various activities, events, and exhibitions that act as a catalyst for mutual understanding.

As we celebrate the 10th anniversary of Islamic History Month, I encourage people from all backgrounds to take the opportunity to learn about the history and diversity of the Muslim people.

Cannabis Act June 7th, 2017

Madam Speaker, at any school, children are smoking cannabis more than they are smoking cigarettes, so it is important that the product is a safe product. We cannot be ostriches and hide our heads in the sand, and say the problem does not exist. What we have done with this bill is include municipal and provinces governments, and the police forces. At the moment, criminals benefit from it, and it goes into their pockets.

Does the hon. member want criminal organizations to benefit from it? If he does, then he does not support the bill.

Cannabis Act June 7th, 2017

Madam Speaker, that is a valid question. We are talking about legalization versus decriminalization. Under decriminalization, the current law makes it a criminal offence. If we keep the current law, then we have no basis for conversation.

With legalization, we would make strict regulations for the sale and possession. We would ensure the safety of Canadians. We would remove the criminal activity, because it is the criminal organizations that are benefiting from it. By decriminalization, we could decriminalize it, but it still does not reduce the fact that the activity is still in the hands of criminal organizations. There is a balance to be had.

The bill cannot automatically remove the status quo at the moment until we have had discussions at the committee level, where I hope the committee will get more intelligent reporting and input.

Cannabis Act June 7th, 2017

Madam Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to rise in the House today to support Bill C-45, the cannabis act. This bill represents not only a fulfillment of a large campaign promise to Canadians but a meaningful step forward in protecting our youth and ensuring a safer Canada.

In 2012, 20% of youth aged 15 to 17 reported using cannabis in the previous year. This is an unacceptable statistic as it is harmful to our youth. In my riding of Don Valley East, I represent a large youth population. As government we have a duty to ensure that cannabis stays out of the hands of these constituents.

Bill C-45 would establish criminal prohibitions on the sale or distribution of cannabis specifically to young persons. This is the first time in Canada that a specific criminal office for selling cannabis to a young person has been created. The bill would create two new criminal offences, with maximum penalties of 14 years in jail for giving or selling cannabis to youth, or using a young person to commit a cannabis-related offence.

There is also strict legislation designed to prevent youth from using cannabis. Under the act, any kind of labelling, packaging, promoting, advertising, sponsorship, or endorsement that could entice young people to use cannabis, or make cannabis appealing to youth carries a heavy penalty. This includes a fine of up to $5 million and/or three years in jail.

A large problem with the current status quo is that it does not protect youth. As we have heard, there is a large number of young people who have had their lives irreparably damaged by minor cannabis possession charges. Cannabis possession is the fourth most frequent crime committed by youth in Canada.

Bill C-45 would seek to avoid subjecting youth to the lifelong consequences of a criminal record. Individuals under the age of 18 years would not face criminal prosecution for possession or sharing very small amounts of cannabis, and any violation of that act by youth would be subject to the youth criminal justice system. On top of these measures, our government has committed $9.6 million over five years to a comprehensive public education and awareness campaign designed to inform Canadians, including youth, about the risks and harms of cannabis use.

In 2012, 33% of people aged 18 to 24 reported using cannabis in the previous year. Currently, cannabis procurement is a very dangerous activity. It involves contacting criminal dealers or visiting illegal pot shops, arranging secret cannabis buys, and worrying about the content of the drugs. There is a serious issue with the cannabis that is currently in circulation that has been combined with other potent drugs or has an abnormally high THC content. While overdosing from cannabis is not likely, an impure form of cannabis can lead to an extremely unpleasant reaction to the drug.

Bill C-45 would allow those who are regular consumers, and those who are looking to experiment to consume safe and regulated drugs. It would also allow for the government to regulate the sale and production of these drugs, taking the profits out of the hands of criminals. In 2013, 67% of police-reported drug offences involved cannabis, and of those, 80% were possession offences.

The current criminal justice system is overrun with people who committed non-violent possession crimes. The bill aims to eliminate this burden, thereby allowing our justice system to be more effective in protecting Canadians.

The regulations introduced in the bill include the legal possession of up to 30 grams of cannabis when in public, the purchase of cannabis from regulated retailers, and the growing of up to four cannabis plants per residence. This would ensure that the cannabis market is safe and secure. New regulations on minor possession would also allow our police forces to focus on the important work of keeping cannabis out of the hands of our youth, and the proceeds out of the hands of criminals.

The bill represents political co-operation to the utmost extent. All three levels of government, municipal, provincial, and federal, worked together, along with private Canadian citizens, to ensure the best possible legislation that will protect Canadians.

I would like to congratulate the task force on cannabis legalization and regulation for its hard work. Through its tireless work, engaging in cross-country consultations with all levels of government, as well as experts, patients, advocates, indigenous governments and representative organizations, youth, employers, and industry, it provided meaningful advice on this new legislative and regulatory framework.

The proposed cannabis act would create a strict framework for controlling the production, distribution, sale, import, export, and possession of cannabis in Canada.

I am proud to tell the members of my constituency, many of them youth, that the government they elected is truly working for them. I am proud to tell them about the immense amount of work that our government did and is doing, above and beyond, to fulfill the campaign promises that many Canadians feel so strongly about. I am confident that the cannabis act will lead to a safer and better Canada.

Criminal Code May 31st, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague. He being an ex-chief of police, I am so glad that he has pointed out that section of the bill. I think that would be very useful to prevent this misunderstanding that police are just targeting any person illegally.

I understand that six different Canadian police services from Halifax to Vancouver to Yellowknife have tested the device. They are very happy with the way the device works. I believe the section my hon. colleague mentioned would be a boon to the prevention of illegal stops.

Criminal Code May 31st, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for her concerns, and I agree with her that there may be a perception that the police might just pick on some visible minorities, but that is not the intent of the bill. The bill intends to ensure that all of us are safe, that people who have consumed alcohol or drugs do not take to the roads. The police would be given the power, when they stop a person for a driving infraction, to tell the person why they are stopping them and to give a test. They can do a reasonable amount of search in terms of seeing a person's eyes or seeing if there is an odour, but the police also can call in a drug enforcement person to take a look at it. Therefore, there are checks and balances in the system.

The second thing we also need to do is to work with the provinces, territories, and municipalities toward better public education. I am so glad to see the Minister for Public Safety has started that consultation and broad expansion of the communication.

Criminal Code May 31st, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge.

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to rise today at second reading of Bill C-46, which deals with driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

In all our ridings, impaired driving upends lives, devastates families, and ravages communities. While the rate of impaired driving has been on the decline since the 1980s in most of Canada, it is still a cause for concern. For example, Saskatchewan has the highest per capita rate of any province, with 575 incidents per 100,000 people in 2015. That rate is more than double in the Yukon and the Northwest Territories.

While the vast majority of impaired driving incidents in Canada involve alcohol, drug-impaired driving has been on the rise since 2009. In 2015, Canadian police reported some 3,000 incidents of people driving while under the influence of drugs. In 2015, there were more than 72,000 impaired driving incidents, including 3,000 drug-impaired driving incidents. In other words, drug-impaired driving is not a new phenomenon, and the measures in place in recent years have not stopped the problem from getting worse.

Drug-impaired driving has been a criminal offence since 1925. Front-line officials across the country have made repeated calls to treat it as a more serious criminal offence, to create accurate and reliable testing tools, and to improve public education on the dangers of driving while impaired. Our approach, through this bill, will do the same.

To begin with, Bill C-46 would amend the Criminal Code to provide police with the authority to use roadside drug screeners. In practice, this is how it would work. A police officer would conduct a traffic stop under his or her authority. The officer could form a reasonable suspicion, which could be determined from several factors, including red eyes, the odour of an impairing substance, or abnormal speech patterns. If there were reasonable grounds to suspect drugs in the body, at that point the police officer would be authorized to demand an oral fluid sample or a standardized field sobriety test. These screeners would detect the presence of a drug in a driver's oral fluid. A positive result on the drug screener would give the officer reasonable grounds to believe that the driver was committing an impaired driving offence, at which point he or she could demand a blood sample or call a drug recognition expert. There is a solid history of both the effectiveness of this test and of jurisprudence in dealing with challenges to it.

With Bill C-46, police would be able to use an oral fluid drug screener that could detect THC, cocaine, and methamphetamine. These devices would be approved by the Attorney General of Canada once they were evaluated and recommended by the Canadian Society of Forensic Science.

Six different Canadian police services, from Halifax to Vancouver to Yellowknife, tested these devices in a pilot project earlier this year to ensure that they worked in a variety of conditions, including cold temperatures. I look forward to the public report on that project, which should be available soon.

The bill would create three new criminal offences so that people who had an illegal level of drugs in their blood, or drugs in combination with alcohol, within two hours of driving could be charged. These offences could be proven by blood samples, which could be taken by police when there were reasonable grounds to believe that a driver was impaired.

Law enforcement officials have highlighted that existing impaired-driving laws are complex and difficult to apply. For example, some offences overlap, and some cases take up a great deal of court time. Bill C-46 would repeal this current regime and replace it with a modernized, simplified, and coherent structure. Police across the country would be able to better understand, apply, and enforce the law and therefore be better able to keep communities safe.

Bill C-46 would also facilitate the detection of impaired drivers by allowing for random roadside breath testing. This is something that already exists in countries such as Australia, New Zealand, and Ireland. Groups like MADD Canada have been calling for it for a long time because of research showing that it results in fewer accidents and saves lives.

Ultimately, Bill C-46 would institute and enhance a legislative framework to detect, prevent, and punish impaired driving. As I said earlier, though, a legislative approach must be accompanied by public education and efforts to combat the persistent misinformation that exists among Canadians on this issue.

I am encouraged that Public Safety Canada has launched and promoted social media campaigns this year targeting youth, parents, and drivers with a message encouraging sober driving and amplifying the message of our partners. The March campaign garnered 11.5 million impressions, meaning the number of times the content was displayed, and over 75,000 engagements, such as likes, comments, and shares, meaning it reached a large audience. I understand that a comprehensive marketing strategy is also under development, including a sustained public education and awareness campaign to combat drug-impaired driving, in collaboration with various partners. This campaign should help address some of the misperceptions that exist about the effects of certain substances on a person's ability to drive.

The changes we are proposing now mean that the government would be providing law enforcement agencies with clearer laws, better technology, better training, and more resources to investigate and prosecute drug-impaired drivers. It would mean tougher penalties to deal appropriately with offenders and better public education and awareness about the dangers of driving while impaired. As a result, Canadians would have safer roadways and safer communities.

I am encouraged by the response to these proposed measures thus far, including from Mothers Against Drunk Driving and others. That is why I urge all members to support this important legislation.

Interparliamentary Delegations May 29th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 34(1), I have the honour to present to the House, in both official languages, five reports of the Canadian Branch of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association. The first concerns the bilateral visit to Delhi, Bombay, and Ahmedabad, India, from September 10 to 18, 2016.

The second concerns the 65th Westminster Seminar on Practice and Procedure, held in London, United Kingdom, from November 21 to 25, 2016.

The third concerns the 62nd Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference, held in London, United Kingdom, from December 11 to 17, 2016.

The fourth concerns the Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians Working Group meeting, held in Steyning, West Sussex, United Kingdom, from February 24 to 27, 2017.

The fifth concerns the International Parliamentary Conference on National Security and Cybersecurity Day, held in London, United Kingdom, from March 27 to 31, 2017.

We have been very busy.

Global Centre for Pluralism May 10th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, May 16 will be the official opening of the international headquarters of the Global Centre for Pluralism at 330 Sussex Drive. Founded by His Highness the Aga Khan, in partnership with the Government of Canada, the centre promotes research, learning, and dialogue on the necessity of pluralism. Inspired by Canada's experience as a diverse and inclusive country, the centre is helping the world to see diversity as a benefit and not a risk.

To quote the Aga Khan:

Tolerance, openness and understanding towards other peoples' cultures, social structures, values and faiths are now essential to the very survival of an interdependent world. Pluralism is no longer simply an asset or a prerequisite for progress and development, it is vital to our existence.

I would like to thank His Highness for his significant contributions to Canada and the world.

Interparliamentary Delegations April 10th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 34(1), I have the honour to present to the House, in both official languages, the report of the Canadian delegation of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association respecting its participation in the executive committee meeting held in London, United Kingdom, from April 27 to 30, 2016.