Skip to main content

SNUD Committee Meeting

Notices of Meeting include information about the subject matter to be examined by the committee and date, time and place of the meeting, as well as a list of any witnesses scheduled to appear. The Evidence is the edited and revised transcript of what is said before a committee. The Minutes of Proceedings are the official record of the business conducted by the committee at a sitting.

For an advanced search, use Publication Search tool.

37th PARLIAMENT, 1st SESSION

Special Committee on Non-Medical Use of Drugs


EVIDENCE

CONTENTS

Wednesday, May 8, 2002




¹ 1545
V         The Chair (Ms. Paddy Torsney (Burlington, Lib.))
V         Deputy Chief Michael J. Boyd (Deputy Chief of Police, Policing Support Command, Toronto Police Service; Chair, Drug Abuse Committee, Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police)

¹ 1550

¹ 1555

º 1600
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Mike Niebudek (Vice-President—RCMP Members Association, Canadian Police Association)

º 1605
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Mike Niebudek
V         Detective Glen Hayden (Former Drug Investigator, Edmonton Police Service; Vice-President—Alberta, Canadian Police Association)

º 1610
V         Mr. Mike Niebudek
V         Det Glen Hayden

º 1615
V         Mr. Mike Niebudek
V         Det Glen Hayden

º 1620
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Réal Ménard (Hochelaga--Maisonneuve, BQ)
V         D/Chief Michael Boyd
V         Mr. Réal Ménard
V         Mr. Mike Niebudek
V         Mr. Réal Ménard
V         
V         Mr. Réal Ménard

º 1625
V         Staff Sergeant Michel Pelletier (National Coordinator, Drug Awareness, RCMP; Technical Advisor,Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police)
V         Mr. Réal Ménard
V         S/Sgt Michel Pelletier
V         Mr. Réal Ménard
V         S/Sgt Michel Pelletier
V         Mr. Réal Ménard
V         Mr. Mike Niebudek
V         Mr. Réal Ménard
V         Detective Superintendent Jim Hutchinson (Director, Drug Enforcement, Investigation Bureau, Investigation/Organized Crime, Ontario Provincial Police; Member, Drug Abuse Committee, Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police)

º 1630
V         Mr. Réal Ménard
V         Mr. Mike Niebudek
V         Mr. Réal Ménard
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Réal Ménard
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Kevin Sorenson (Crowfoot, Canadian Alliance)

º 1635
V         Mr. Derek Lee (Scarborough--Rouge River, Lib.)
V         Mr. Kevin Sorenson
V         S/Sgt Michel Pelletier
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Kevin Sorenson

º 1640
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Kevin Sorenson
V         D/Chief Michael Boyd
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Mike Niebudek
V         The Chair
V         Det Glen Hayden
V         The Chair
V         Det Glen Hayden
V         The Chair

º 1645
V         Det Glen Hayden
V         The Chair
V         Det Glen Hayden
V         The Chair
V         S/Sgt Michel Pelletier
V         The Chair
V         S/Sgt Michel Pelletier
V         The Chair
V         Ms. Hedy Fry (Vancouver Centre, Lib.)

º 1650
V         D/Chief Michael Boyd

º 1655
V         Ms. Hedy Fry
V         Mr. Mike Niebudek
V         Det Glen Hayden
V         Det/Supt Jim Hutchinson
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Derek Lee

» 1700
V         D/Chief Michael Boyd
V         Mr. Derek Lee
V         D/Chief Michael Boyd

» 1705
V         Mr. Derek Lee
V         Mr. Mike Niebudek
V         Mr. Derek Lee
V         Det/Supt Jim Hutchinson
V         Mr. Derek Lee
V         D/Chief Michael Boyd

» 1710
V         Mr. Derek Lee
V         Ms. Hedy Fry
V         Mr. Derek Lee
V         Mr. Mike Niebudek
V         Mr. Derek Lee
V         Mr. Mike Niebudek
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Mike Niebudek
V         Mr. Derek Lee
V         Mr. Mike Niebudek
V         Det/Supt Jim Hutchinson

» 1715
V         The Chair
V         D/Chief Michael Boyd
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Mike Niebudek
V         The Chair
V         D/Chief Michael Boyd
V         The Chair
V         D/Chief Michael Boyd
V         The Chair

» 1720
V         Mr. Mike Niebudek
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Mike Niebudek
V         The Chair
V         Det Glen Hayden
V         The Chair
V         D/Chief Michael Boyd
V         The Chair

» 1725
V         Ms. Hedy Fry

» 1730
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Derek Lee

» 1735
V         D/Chief Michael Boyd
V         A witness
V         D/Chief Michael Boyd
V         The Chair
V         D/Chief Michael Boyd
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Mike Niebudek
V         The Chair
V         S/Sgt Michel Pelletier
V         The Chair
V         Det/Supt Jim Hutchinson
V         D/Chief Michael Boyd
V         S/Sgt Michel Pelletier
V         Mr. Mike Niebudek

» 1740
V         Det Glen Hayden
V         The Chair










CANADA

Special Committee on Non-Medical Use of Drugs


NUMBER 042 
l
1st SESSION 
l
37th PARLIAMENT 

EVIDENCE

Wednesday, May 8, 2002

[Recorded by Electronic Apparatus]

¹  +(1545)  

[English]

+

    The Chair (Ms. Paddy Torsney (Burlington, Lib.)): I call this meeting to order. Pursuant to the Orders of Reference adopted by the House of Commons on Thursday, May 17, 2001, on consideration of the factors underlying or relating to the non-medical use of drugs, and on Wednesday, April 17, 2002, referring to the subject matter of Bill C-344, An Act to amend the Contraventions Act and the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (marihuana), this is the Special Committee on Non-Medical Use of Drugs.

    . Today, we are very pleased to have with us, from the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, Deputy Chief Michael Boyd, from the Toronto Police Service. Deputy Chief Boyd is also chair of CACP's drug abuse committee—and I'll wait until your presentation for you to introduce your two colleagues. And from the Canadian Police Association, we have Mike Niebudek, a vice-president with that organization, and Detective Glen Hayden, a former drug investigator with the Edmonton Police Service and also a vice-president of the CPA.

    We'll start with you, Deputy Chief Boyd. Your presentation should be somewhere between five and ten minutes. If you're at nine, I'll give you a little signal, and hopefully you can wrap up. That will give then us a chance to ask questions.

+-

    Deputy Chief Michael J. Boyd (Deputy Chief of Police, Policing Support Command, Toronto Police Service; Chair, Drug Abuse Committee, Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police): Thank you.

    Madam Chair, members of the House of Commons Special Committee on Non-Medical Use of Drugs, I want to begin today by thanking you, on behalf of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, for inviting our participation.

    My name is Michael Boyd. I'm a deputy chief with the Toronto Police Service and chair of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police drug abuse committee. I am joined today by Detective Superintendent Jim Hutchinson, of the Ontario Provincial Police, and Staff Sergeant Michel Pelletier, of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Both are members of the committee. Together, we have over a hundred years’ worth of police experience. The Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police has 932 members, representing the leadership of 350 Canadian police services with 55,000 police officers. Our motto is “Leading Progressive Change in Policing”.

    Madam Chair, members of the committee, we are certain that, at this point in your inquiry, you know the issues around illegal drugs are extremely broad in scope and are multifaceted. We will make our best efforts to provide answers to your questions today, of course, and if you have questions to which we are unable to provide complete answers, we want you to know that we will be prepared to provide those answers in the forthcoming days. I also want to mention that we will be able to respond to questions in French, and that I will be going through a prepared text that is about thirty minutes in length; however, I will be drawing points from my presentation to meet the ten-minute timeframe.

    In policing, we are exposed to all aspects of both the supply and demand sides of the illegal drug spectrum. On the supply side, we investigate and understand the cultivation or production facet. We investigate and understand the importation or, as we are now seeing in Canada, the exportation of illegal drugs. We investigate the high-level trafficking, the mid-level trafficking, and the street-level trafficking, and we understand those facets. We investigate and understand the connection between illicit drugs, organized crime, and the link to terrorism. Of course, on the demand side, the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police sees the experimentation with and investigates the use of illicit drugs by our young people. We see first-hand the increased threat to our youth at risk. We see the impact and influence of illicit drugs on the education and development of our youth and the peer pressure placed upon them to engage. We see the effects of addiction, the need to feed the habit, and the crime and disorder in our neighbourhoods, and we respond to our communities' pleas for help.

    While we recognize that other groups in society are involved in various aspects or facets of the spectrum, we believe the police are one of the only groups in society that has a direct connection to all of the various aspects or facets of the drug continuum. By virtue of that, we feel we have access to the big picture of the complete drug scene, from beginning to end.

    Our presentation today focuses on three main themes: first, that illicit drugs are harmful—and we include cannabis in that; second, that we collectively need to find solutions together—and we have some suggestions about what that would look like; and third, that we need leadership to champion our collective efforts.

    Just quickly moving through our first message that drugs, including cannabis, are harmful, I'd like to touch briefly on kinds of harms, and I want to refer to health harms, social harms, and economic harms.

    Cannabis use today is on the increase, and it is certainly at least 500% higher in THC quantity than the cannabis many of us are used to from the late 1960s and the early 1970s. I think this is very important. The point is that cannabis or marijuana today is a far different drug from what it was at that time. There is considerable misinformation about the physiological consequences of cannabis use, and we have listed those consequences in our paper, for you to consider at some later point in time.

    The rate of cannabis use is on the rise and is approaching levels of use not seen since the 1970s. A point to be made is that our current prevention efforts are insufficient to counter the factors driving the escalation in use in the late 1980s. A student survey conducted by the Addiction Research Foundation has shown us how the percentages of increase are on the rise, and I make reference to this fact in our documentation.

¹  +-(1550)  

    We also want to mention that although it's highly controversial, we believe there is evidence to suggest that cannabis is the foundation upon which most young people begin experimenting with illicit drugs. We believe cannabis use provides the impetus for those people looking to increase the psychotropic effect a drug has on them, so we do see some connection to the gateway concept that is rather controversial.

    We wanted to mention as well that the use rates of other illicit drugs are increasing. Our paper refers to student surveys in Ontario regarding ecstasy or MDMA, and the increases referred to in a 1997 study and in a 1999 study. You'll be able to see the percentages from that research.

    We also want to talk about the rates of use in general of drugs. While we are referring to many of the student surveys, we also want to point something else out to you. The student surveys give an indication of drug use escalation in that population, but we also know drug use has increased in the general population.

    We want to mention the rate of harm as it relates to death. Far too many deaths in this country are related to drug use and drug abuse, and we've made some references to that in our documentation.

    On the social harm from illicit drugs, harm is suffered by our youth in their development. Harm is suffered by our communities. The social harm from illicit drug use is not only suffered by the user, but also by innocent victims, their families, and their communities, as well as by cannabis users.

    We point out the impaired driving that occurs today, along with the operation of vehicles and machinery. We want to mention that it is more prevalent now for young people to consider it acceptable to toke and drive rather than drink and drive—and we're certain that many of you understand the huge problems that we have with drinking and driving in our country today.

    We would also like to refer to the most recently published study by the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse as it relates to the impact of and the connection between crime and drugs and crime and alcohol. These percentages are very startling. The research has just come out within the last couple of weeks. Although the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police has been a partner in that research, we would like to direct your attention to it. We think it may be of benefit to the committee while you are studying the issues.

    I'd like to refer briefly to the economic harm that arises from illicit drug use, and to its general impact on social services. Many times, areas frequented by drug-addicted people will be negatively impacted through lowered property values and by the health costs and socials costs associated with the drug problems in this country.

    The research includes the existing research on the escalating rates of cannabis use in the population of young people. When the rates of use by our street youth, by our youth at risk, are coupled with research and knowledge about the harms associated with drug use, we know our problem is growing. This is no time to consider backing away from the problem. Collectively, it's a time for all of us to work together, to come together, and to lean into the problem in order to do something about it.

    We do not believe legalization is the solution. Policing in Canada needs to maintain the legislative tools in place now in order to attack the drug problem in Canada from both the supply side and the demand side. For us to approach it from one side to the exclusion of the other is not going to help us to really deal with this issue in a serious way. We believe we must not consider legalizing any illicit drugs because some would say the penalty is too harsh or because we are spending too much money. The point to be made is that the cost of not acting is far greater.

¹  +-(1555)  

    Turning to the second message—and I'll move through it quickly because I know time is of the essence—we need to find solutions together. We want to recommend one model that you might want to consider, because it really has not been done before in this country. It's a model that we're using in policing across the country, and it’s called community policing.

    For those agencies that engage in community policing, which is problem-solving policing, we believe there are five categories of groups in society that need to be at the table, working together on the problems. We believe politicians are one important group; that the social and government agencies are a second; that the business and residential communities are a third group; that the media is a fourth group because of the power and influence of communication; and that, last but not least—we hope—the police are the fifth. The police need to be at the table. If we collectively had a game plan whereby we could form a unit together to tackle this most serious issue in this country, we could make a serious improvement in terms of the state of drug use and drug abuse and of all the harms associated with those—the harms that I have made brief reference to, but which are laid out further in the document.

    Moving to my last point, I would like to conclude by talking very briefly about the fact that we need leadership to champion our collective efforts.

    Some people see the issues around illicit drug use and drug abuse as a law enforcement problem. Other people in Canada see the issues as a health problem. Actually, we believe—and I believe personally—that both perspectives are correct. However, each perspective relates to the different aspects of the illicit drug spectrum, and no single leader in this country has yet emerged.

    We need a champion at the federal level in Parliament, someone or some group to see the connection between both perspectives and to form a merger of interests, and someone who will carry the torch and take the leadership role on this issue. We need someone or some group to set the vision for Canada, someone to lead the development of a new Canadian national drug strategy—not a federal strategy, but a new national strategy that provides vision for Canada. It must be a drug policy that targets prevention, a drug strategy that sets clear short-term and long-term goals and makes clear the importance of having the big five groups working together in collaboration. It must be a drug strategy that reinforces the importance of taking a problem-solving approach, and one that is properly funded for action.

    Many of us have come together in partnership already because the need is self-evident. But lately it has appeared to many of the partners that we're beginning to show signs of frustration, and that patience is wearing thin because of the government's lack of leadership, as referred to most recently in the Auditor General's report.

    To conclude, our core theme is that illicit drugs are harmful. Secondly, we need to find solutions together collectively, and we can find them. Thirdly, we need to champion our efforts through leadership.

    Upon concluding, I would like to make three recommendations for your consideration, please. First, the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police recommends that the Government of Canada retain cannabis as an illegal substance. We do not support the legalization of any currently illicit drugs.

    Second, the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police strongly urges and recommends that the Senate Special Committee on Illegal Drugs demonstrate a partnership with the House of Commons Special Committee on Non-Medical Use of Drugs, to set the foundation for a revitalized Canada's Drug Strategy. This must be done by bringing together the federal, provincial, territorial, and municipal levels of government as “partners for a safer and healthier Canada”, championed through federal leadership.

    Third, the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police strongly recommends that a new Canada's Drug Strategy receive the profile and dedicated resources necessary to deal with the illicit drug problems in Canada. It should also reflect a balance of reducing the demand for and the supply of drugs, based on the four pillars of prevention, enforcement, treatment and rehabilitation, and research.

    Thank you very much, members of the committee.

º  +-(1600)  

+-

    The Chair: Thank you very much, Deputy Chief Boyd. We were a little generous with the time.

    I will now turn it over to Mike Niebudek.

+-

    Mr. Mike Niebudek (Vice-President—RCMP Members Association, Canadian Police Association): Thank you, Madam Chair.

    Before I do the introduction in French, I'd like to say that we're very far from the hundred-year experience threshold when compared to our chiefs.

[Translation]

    Good afternoon. My name is Mike Niebudek, and I am a Vice-President with the Canadian Police Association. With me today is Glen Hayden, who is also a Vice-President of the Canadian Police Association and a member of our National Advisory Committee on Illicit Drugs

    Last year, the Canadian Police Association was very involved in the debate on the liberalization of illicit drugs. In May 2001, we appeared before the Special Senate Committee on Illegal Drugs to present a brief setting out our views and our recommendations on this very important subject. We are still finalizing the details of the new version of our brief. The text we distributed to you today is therefore the same as the one that we presented last year to the Senate Committee. We apologize for the delay, but rest assured that the committee will have a copy of our new brief as soon as it is available, within the next few weeks.

    The Canadian Police Association welcomes the opportunity to appear today before the committee to discuss the problem of drug use in our communities. As the national voice for 29,000 front-line police personnel across Canada, the Canadian Police Association promotes community safety by raising awareness on law enforcement and justice issues. As respected professionals responsible for law enforcement and crime prevention in their communities, Canada's front-line police officers bring forward a unique and important perspective on the issue of illicit drug use in Canada and its impact on community safety.

    Police officers are not simply law enforcement officials, but share an active interest in the well-being of their communities outside their working hours as parents, volunteers, coaches, big sisters and brothers, and community leaders.

    We are motivated by a strong desire to:first enhance the safety and quality of life of the citizens in our communities; second, share the valuable experiences of those who are working on the front lines. We seek to promote public policies that reflect the needs and expectations of law-abiding Canadians and, finally, to ensure that Canada's children and young people are protected from the danger and destruction associated with illicit drug use.

    We submit that Canada must resist the deceptive messages and seductive temptations being advanced by a sophisticated drug lobby. We can prove that properly resourced and coordinated strategies have been effective in controlling the scope of illicit drug use in Canada. We will show that the most effective long-term strategy is to reinforce the balanced approach that reduces demand and supply, and includes opportunities for rehabilitation and treatment.

º  +-(1605)  

[English]

+-

    The Chair: [Editor's Note: Inaudible]

+-

    Mr. Mike Niebudek: Not even forty.

+-

    Detective Glen Hayden (Former Drug Investigator, Edmonton Police Service; Vice-President—Alberta, Canadian Police Association): We will begin this presentation by focusing on the dangers of illicit drugs. Drugs are not dangerous because they're illegal. Drugs are illegal because they are dangerous. There's no such thing as a soft drug and a hard drug, nor are there bone fide criteria to differentiate between these terms. People who refer to hard or soft drugs are not at all familiar with drug abuse, or they are seeking to soften attitudes toward the use of certain illicit drugs.

    Marijuana and its derivative products are described in this kind of context in order to distance these drugs from the recognized harm associated with other illegal drugs. This contributes to the misinformation, misunderstanding, and increasing tolerance associated with marijuana use. Marijuana is a powerful drug with a variety of effects. Marijuana users are subject to a variety of adverse health consequences, including but not limited to respiratory damage, impaired physical coordination, problem pregnancy and post-natal deficits, impaired memory and cognition, and psychiatric effects. Marijuana use is associated with poor work and school performance, and with learning problems for younger users.

    Next to alcohol and cigarettes, many competent international authorities recognize marijuana as the gateway to other drug use. To suggest otherwise is to turn a blind eye to the truth. Risk factors for marijuana dependence are similar to those for other forms of drug abuse. Driving while intoxicated by drugs impairs judgment and motor coordination. On that, there is no argument.

    The consensus of the international community was to put marijuana, as well as other drugs, under international control. That decision was based on evidence of its harmfulness to human health and on its dependence potential.

    Canada is sending conflicting and confusing messages to our children—and we continue to do that to this day—thereby weakening perceptions of risk of harm in drug use, weakening moral disapproval of drug use, and increasing rates of use among secondary-school students. Not surprisingly, increased drug dependency and substance abuse problems are being reported among many young people.

    Marijuana remains the most widely used illicit drug in Canada. Even though alcohol use is more common, problem use and frequent use are much less common with alcohol than with illicit drugs. Students who use drugs are more likely to use drugs repeatedly and more frequently, and they rapidly make drugs a significant part of their lives. Students using drugs are far more likely to go to school intoxicated, play sports while intoxicated, or start their day off intoxicated by drugs.

º  +-(1610)  

+-

    Mr. Mike Niebudek: This section of our presentation will focus on drug investigations and enforcement issues.

    There is an undisputable relationship between organized crime and the illicit drug trade in Canada and abroad. Tens of thousands of growing operations are operating in Canada, and organized crime gangs run 95% of them. Canada has earned a reputation internationally as both a consumer and as a leading supplier of marijuana and methamphetamine precursors to the United States. Increasingly, potent cannabis with a high THC content is appearing on the illicit market.

    Canada is not, nor have we ever been engaged in a war on drugs. Statistics reveal that less than one drug possession charge per Canadian police officer is laid per year in this country. While enforcement efforts focus on drug production, trafficking, and importation, possession-only charges are generally laid as a consequence of other investigations into other crimes and complaints.

    Police officers and justice officials often resort, within our existing legislative framework, to alternative measures in dealing with young offenders, first-time offenders, and minor possession-only types of offences. The new Youth Criminal Justice Act reinforces this approach. Prosecutions for minor crimes, including marijuana possession charges, are done by way of summary conviction, and are often the subject of absolute or conditional discharges, community service, conditional sentences, and/or fines. Convicted offenders are eligible to apply for a pardon a couple of years after conviction if they remain free of other criminal convictions. Jail is reserved for only the most serious and chronic offenders, and it is very rarely used. Canada's approach to such crimes is far from severe, and many young people view our current practices as insignificant. This reinforces the need to instill more effective, meaningful, and proportionate consequences that deter drug use.

    The impact of the efforts by Canadian law enforcement agencies has been limited by our judicial system. Serious offenders such as drug traffickers, importers, growers, and manufacturers receive little or no punishment, and it has been difficult to deter them or others from their profitable, illegal activities.

    Police resources have been subject to physical constraints over the past decade, and enforcement efforts have been limited as a consequence. Perceived tolerance of drug consumption by community leaders, including members of Parliament, Senators, editorial writers, and even within the police community, have all contributed to the elevation of thresholds for drug investigations, arrests, prosecutions, convictions, and sentencing. Ultimately, the effectiveness of enforcement programs and drug prevention strategies will be proportionate to the level of resources and commitment.

+-

    Det Glen Hayden: The facts proving that liberalization experiments in different countries produce negative consequences are overwhelming. In many western European countries, decriminalization of small quantities of cannabis for personal use has either occurred or has been de facto implemented. In examining these experiences, we quickly learn, however, that permissive drug policies fuel the appetite for and consumption of illicit drugs. Not surprisingly, tolerance of drug use has had a proportionate impact on increasing demand and supply. The availability of drugs in Europe has increased. In many countries, the presence and rise of amphetamine-type stimulants is second only to that of cannabis abuse. In countries that have adopted permissive policies toward drug use, violent crime and organized criminal activity have increased proportionately to the drug trade.

    Countries that have liberalized drugs have the highest rate of illicit drug use per capita in Europe. Conversely, Sweden, which has adopted a policy of social refusal and interdiction of drugs, has the lowest incidence of drug abuse in the European Union. Having unsuccessfully experimented with varying permissive drug policies in the 1960s and 1970s, Sweden subsequently concluded that drug abuse is dependent on supply and demand. According to Swedish authorities, if drugs are readily available and society takes a permissive attitude, the number of persons trying drugs will increase. If drugs are very difficult to come by and there is a danger of being arrested and convicted, the number of people trying drugs will be reduced.

    Harm reduction has become the focus of drug strategies in some western European countries, with spillover into other countries. Regrettably, Canada has also shifted from the goal of a drug-free approach toward the harm-reduction fallacy. Of serious concern to the Canadian Police Association are the confusing and often conflicting messages being delivered to our young people, who are the primary target of the illicit drug trade, the new consumers.

    Governments fulfill a legitimate and critical role in establishing laws and policies that define behaviour, standards, and societal values. Legislation and enforcement are proactive strategies required to deter behaviour that places individuals at risk. The success of seatbelt legislation suggests that legislative strategies are effective in supporting change in behaviour. Prior to seatbelt legislation in Canada, only an estimated 15% to 30% of Canadians wore seatbelts. Today, it is estimated that more than 90% of drivers wear seatbelts. Those results reflect the influence that legislative action outside the health sector can have on the health of Canadians.

    Risk of apprehension and meaningful consequences have also been integral components of successful strategies to reduce impaired driving in Canada. While the fight to eliminate impaired driving may never be won, there is no disputing the fact that strategies have been effective in changing behaviour and reducing risk. This is evident in our young folks.

    Other examples of similar initiatives to increase public safety include bicycle and motorcycle helmet laws, school bus stopping laws, and boating safety. Success is determined and measured by the level of sustained commitment to the programs that combine public awareness, education, legislation, and enforcement and treatment.

º  +-(1615)  

+-

    Mr. Mike Niebudek: We'd like to alert the committee members in regard to the cost of drug liberalization. Canadian statistics clearly demonstrate that the cost of alcohol and tobacco use in Canada is more than thirteen times that of illicit drugs. Enforcement for alcohol-related crime costs more than three times that of illicit drugs. Direct health care costs for alcohol and cigarettes are nearly fifty times greater than those for illicit drugs. Law enforcement costs for illicit drugs, including courts, corrections, and border protection, represent only 2% of the total cost to Canadians of alcohol, tobacco, and illicit drugs. The primary reason that costs related to the use of illicit drugs are lower is simply lower usage. But just as legalization and permissiveness will increase drug use and abuse substantially, the cost of health care, prevention, productivity costs, and enforcement will increase proportionately.

    While a balanced drug strategy will not completely eradicate drug use, it is cost-effective and beneficial to society to prevent and deter drug use. Resources for prevention, treatment, and rehabilitation should be focused on those members of the population who have the greatest risks and needs.

+-

    Det Glen Hayden: In conclusion, there is abundant proof that proponents of drug legalization seek to normalize illicit drug use through the promotion of decriminalization, legalization, and philosophies such as harm reduction, over strategies to reduce demand and supply. Yet Canada's balanced approach to drug use continues to have a significant positive effect. Of that, there is no doubt either.

    We should not lose sight of the fact that the overwhelming majority of Canadians have not used illicit drugs in their lifetime. Ninety-three percent of Canadians live illicit-drug-free lives. Unfortunately, it is our youngest and most vulnerable members of society who are at the greatest risk. Organized criminals continue to target young Canadians as the primary market for the sale of illegal drugs in Canada.

    The United Nations Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention has suggested a five-pronged approach to prevent drug use: one, raise awareness; two, reduce demand; three, provide accurate information; four, limit supply; and five, strengthen controls. Prevention is at the core of demand reduction. Sending a message to our young people that marijuana use is not harmful or can be used safely is not consistent with any of these approaches, especially when there is an abundance of scientific proof to the contrary.

    At successive annual general meetings of the Canadian Police Association, our national delegates have unanimously adopted resolutions in support of a balanced approach to illicit drug use in Canada. Most recently, our membership and the executive of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police adopted a joint resolution and statement with respect to illicit drugs. Copies have been made available and have been passed out to you.

    The time has arrived for Canada to adopt a national strategy that focuses resources on the common goal of reducing drug use. Treatment and rehabilitation should be made available to those who have drug dependencies, and they should be mandatory for those convicted of crimes in which drugs are a factor. We need leaders to enter into the debate—persons of stature in the community who will present role models for our young people, raise public awareness about the harms associated with illicit drug use, and put an end to the erosion of public opinion through misinformation and self-interest. We need to reinforce a balanced approach that instills meaningful and proportionate consequences for serious crime, combined with measures to reinforce desired behaviour in our young people.

    Thank you, and we welcome your questions.

º  +-(1620)  

+-

    The Chair: Thank you very much. At least I was consistently generous with the time.

    I will now turn to questions from members of Parliament.

[Translation]

    Mr. Réal Ménard, you have 10 minutes.

+-

    Mr. Réal Ménard (Hochelaga--Maisonneuve, BQ): I'm sure, Madame Chair, that you will be just as generous in the time you allow for questions as you were for the testimony, because you are a generous person.

    There is one thing that we are going to have to establish at the outset. I think it is very important as a premise to our discussions. When we began our work, we were told that there had been no national survey done in Canada. The researchers will correct me if I'm wrong, but we were told that there had not been a national survey on drug use in Canada for a good 10 years.

    Therefore, when you say that cannabis use is increasing in Canadian society, I would like to know exactly what the source of your information is.

[English]

+-

    D/Chief Michael Boyd: The most prevalent studies that I have referred to, and to which most people are limited to referring, are the Ontario student surveys done throughout the 1990s. These are the ones most commonly referred to, but they reflect the prevalence in the increase in drug use in the schools. Based upon those, we believe it is above those figures in the general population, but I believe you are right that no national survey of the general population has been done. It's sad that we are in this situation right now in terms of not knowing.

[Translation]

+-

    Mr. Réal Ménard: So we agree on that. We agree that, on the basis of strict scientific studies, no one around this table can maintain that Canadians consume more cannabis than others. We might have an intuitive sense about this, but there has not been any rigorous studies to demonstrate it.

+-

    Mr. Mike Niebudek: Madame Chair, I would like to make a comment. Mr. Ménard you are talking about quantities. What we are saying is that there have been many changes in the quality of products.

+-

    Mr. Réal Ménard: Right. That is something else.

+-

    Mr. Mike Niebudek: No, it is not really something else, because it does have the effect of increasing consumption. Instead of smoking 10 joints to get a significant result, the user now needs to smoke only one joint. I think that this is directly related to the amount of THC injected into the body. With respect to quantity, we would therefore need the figures, as you say. If we do not have updated figures, we need to obtain them.

+-

    Mr. Réal Ménard: But we are talking about two completely different phenomena. The statement you make can be supported by scientific data, and is quantified in the working papers brought by our colleague, Senator Nolin. These statements can be supported, because pharmacological studies have shown that THC concentration is much higher than it used to be in the cannabis smoked by people in the 1960s. That can be said unequivocally, without any need for interpretation. The figures are in. You are quite right to remind us of that fact, a fact that we must take into account in our recommendations.

    We must be careful about the two statements you have made. If someone has sources, we will appropriate them, but no studies on consumption in Canada has been carried since the early 1990s.

    You also state that there is higher consumption in countries where the use of cannabis is decriminalized than there is in other countries. However, I would like to point out that many witnesses have told us the opposite. What I'm saying is that, when one makes statements like those...

    I know that you have a great deal of expert knowledge on seizures and organized crime. That is the work you do. You are police officers, and no one in Canada knows the situation better than you do. However, before I can agree with two of the statements you have made, I would like to know where you got your information.

º  +-(1625)  

+-

    Staff Sergeant Michel Pelletier (National Coordinator, Drug Awareness, RCMP; Technical Advisor,Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police): I believe that Ontario's Addiction Research Foundation is now known as the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. For over 25 years, it has been studying drug use among young people. Therefore its statistics on use among students are reliable. I quite agree that Health Canada has not done a national study for at least 10 years, but the Addiction Research Foundation—now the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, and known throughout the world—has been conducting such studies among students in Ontario for over 20 or 25 years. They are studies on drug use among young people, and they are very reliable.

+-

    Mr. Réal Ménard: So we can have those studies.

+-

    S/Sgt Michel Pelletier: Yes.

+-

    Mr. Réal Ménard: It would be advantageous for all of us to use data on which we can all agree.

+-

    S/Sgt Michel Pelletier: Yes, of course.

+-

    Mr. Réal Ménard: On the basis of your expert knowledge and of what you have seen in the field and scientifically, do you consider cannabis as a gateway drug? When I say gateway drug I mean that if my neighbour uses cannabis twice a week, he won't be able to stop there and from cannabis he will move on to harder drugs. So do you consider cannabis as a gateway drug?

+-

    Mr. Mike Niebudek: For some people, yes; but obviously not for everyone. We believe that it is a kind of front door, if I can put it that way, for some people who want to experiment with different drugs, like designer drugs, that can be more damaging and are all illegal. Then, we do see cannabis as a gateway drug. This is noted in the documents we brought with us today.

+-

    Mr. Réal Ménard: Right. Now here is why I am asking the question. You saw the working papers issued by the Nolin committee, which is to table its report in August. We have to make no mistake. The Nolin committee does not consider cannabis as a gateway drug, on the basis of National Institute of Health data. If we assume that cannabis is a gateway drug, your reasoning is sound and defensible, and the committee should accept it, since we do not want to live in a society where people are increasingly drug-dependent. However, many people feel that cannabis is a gateway drug, on the basis of scientific data.

    Let us return to the smuggling issue, which is obviously something you know a great deal about. Could we say that, in the structure of organized crime... We hear that there are some 40 criminal gangs operating in Canada. In 1995, there were 36; today, there are about 40. The Hell's Angels are making inroads in Ontario. I don't know whether you saw the TV series The Last Chapter. I was riveted from beginning to end. In your view, what percentage of the money made by criminal organizations, like biker gangs, comes from cannabis sales? I don't need a scientific answer, just a ballpark figure.

[English]

+-

    Detective Superintendent Jim Hutchinson (Director, Drug Enforcement, Investigation Bureau, Investigation/Organized Crime, Ontario Provincial Police; Member, Drug Abuse Committee, Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police): There is no doubt that the great majority—we've used the figure of perhaps 95%—of indoor growing operations are run by organized crime, as are the outdoor growing operations. With the profits from indoor marijuana, with the quality of marijuana today, and with the quantity that we have, when we talk about increased use, there is no doubt that we do not have enough customers to absorb the amount of marijuana being grown in Ontario and B.C., so it's being exported to the United States.

    Clearly, when we go to these locations, we find that puppets are put in place to look after the growing operations and they then go back to the different organized crime groups. The same thing has been happening over the last two or three years with our sophisticated outdoor growing operations in the marshes of Muskoka or Bancroft. We see that clearly when we come across these circumstances.

º  +-(1630)  

[Translation]

+-

    Mr. Réal Ménard: There is an interesting connection. I was on the subcommittee which studied organized crime—not for long enough, in my opinion, but anyway—and we had irrefutable evidence of hydroponic greenhouses. I saw photographs of such facilities in British Columbia, Toronto and Montreal. We saw the statistics for the port. You believe that decriminalizing cannabis would have a direct impact, and we would see more cannabis cultivation in Canada. If I understand correctly, you are linking decriminalization in this country with an increase in cannabis cultivation in various parts of Canada. Is that so?

+-

    Mr. Mike Niebudek: Definitely, and let me explain why. When we remove the criminal consequence of the possession of cannabis or any other drug that the committee will be studying, this has the effect of trivializing its use and its possession. There is no doubt in our mind—and with the experience noted in Sweden, we see the confirmation of this trend—that young people, particularly young people... When we talk to you about drugs, we emphasize our young people because both the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police and the Canadian Police Association which represent front-line policemen, consider our young people to be our most precious resource, more important than our forests, our mines or any other resource in the country. This is the approach we take when we study this problem, namely the phenomenon of the use of illegal drugs. So if we send out the message to our young people that the possession of drugs will have less serious consequences, this will result in a proportional increase in their use. If we increase the demand, then there is a greater likelihood of seeing the groups such as you mentioned get involved in the production of these drugs and their sale.

    You know very well, Mr. Ménard, that if any province has been affected by organized crime in the past five or six years, it is Quebec. We see this phenomenon now taking place in Ontario, something that was already observed in British Columbia, and we now have very specialized groups for the growing of marijuana who are taking advantage of this phenomenon.

    So in our opinion, lowering the level, that is decriminalizing or legalizing would amount to trivalizing the use of drugs such as cannabis or any other drug, and this would definitely increase the demand. The only people to profit from such a policy would be criminal organizations.

+-

    Mr. Réal Ménard: Do I have time to ask one last question?

+-

    The Chair: You can come back to it during the next round.

+-

    Mr. Réal Ménard: Good enough.

[English]

+-

    The Chair: I think Mr. Sorenson wanted to beg the committee's indulgence.

+-

    Mr. Kevin Sorenson (Crowfoot, Canadian Alliance): Yes, Madam Chair. Thank you.

    Like some of the other members of Parliament from other parties, I'm finding myself somewhat caught between two committees and speaking in the House. I'm on the justice committee, and we will be bringing a motion forward to have a review of statutory release and some other things I know the Canadian Police Association has been asking for. I will therefore be leaving, so I would thank my colleagues for indulging me in my request to be permitted to ask my question. I know we're going out of rotation here.

º  +-(1635)  

+-

    Mr. Derek Lee (Scarborough--Rouge River, Lib.): No problem.

+-

    Mr. Kevin Sorenson: Thank you very much for coming.

    As we've travelled throughout this country as the drug committee, we have met with different police agencies, police enforcement agencies, the RCMP, and other policing individuals who are involved in…I guess we don't call it a “war on drugs”, because some suggest we haven't had a war on drugs. But these individuals have seen the results, so to speak, of what some of the illicit drugs, the non-medical drugs, do to our society.

    The picture hasn't been a pretty one. It has been a picture of the effects on families, the effects on communities, and the effects on children, as you've mentioned. Yet, through this, we've had frustration on the part of some members that the police are involved in programs such as DARE. Some members of the committee would suggest that it is not the place of police officers to be involved in an education process because that isn't their job. This week, I'm going to be speaking to 240 students who have been through the DARE program and would refute those claims, and who would say that when the police officers come in, they provide a very realistic picture of what drugs are doing to our society, whether they're in downtown Vancouver, downtown Toronto, or even in some of our smaller, rural areas.

    I'm going to ask a couple of questions, but the first one comes out of the 2001 report by the Auditor General. She points out that 95% of the moneys allocated to the drug problem are given to supply reduction—that is, to enforcement or the policing of the drug problem. Her suggestion is that perhaps we are not as careful when it comes to giving funds to the demand side of the equation.

    In your opinion, has Canada's drug strategy met the government's commitment to achieve a balance between supply reduction and demand reduction? We know that, over the last year, or even the last ten years, we've seen a huge reduction in the commitment to policing, the commitment to the RCMP, and the commitment to police across Canada. Since September 11, we've seen police forces putting more people into fighting terrorism while pulling them off of other files, so some of that has been juggled around. But has there been enough commitment to supply reduction?

    My other question is a question that has been posed by other members of this committee as we've travelled throughout this country: If you were to draw up the new Canadian drug strategy, what would be the two key priorities that you would like to see put down on paper, in the book, so to speak, in terms of how we can reduce the harmful effects of illicit drugs?

+-

    S/Sgt Michel Pelletier: If I may, Mr. Sorenson, you have before you a Mountie who has over thirty years' service, and I demonstrate that balanced approach. For the first fifteen years of my career, I worked operationally in drugs, undercover in organized crime. I then initiated a drug awareness program for Canada. I was very proud to appear before the parliamentary committee in 1987, and to say that Canada was a leader in demand reduction. When we entered the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs, I think Canada and Australia were the leaders at the time, but I think we've long been on a downslide on demand reduction.

    On your remark on DARE, I would like to remind members of the committee that the police are involved in prevention because we are part of the community. Also, the most important reminder that I would like to give you is that the communities themselves are asking for the police to do prevention because of our credibility and because of the work we've done in both demand reduction and enforcement.

    On the issue of DARE, if you've talked to students who have graduated from the DARE program, DARE is only one of many initiatives that we have. Very sorrily, I think we should also be ashamed that most of the funding for training our officers in this particular program has come from DARE America. That’s only because the other programs that we've had and developed in Canada, in partnership with addiction foundations in the provinces, have not had continued funding. So, again, most of those 500 to 900 police officers who deliver DARE are also delivering it voluntarily to the communities across Canada that are asking for it. Above and beyond their call of duty at the enforcement level, they think it's important for them to do this prevention work.

    As for the second part of your question, I'll leave it to Deputy Chief Boyd to answer you on what we would like to see as the two main issues for Canada as we go forward.

+-

    The Chair: Just before you speak, Deputy Chief Boyd, I think Mr. Sorenson is about to say he has to unfortunately run out of the room, so he will be reading your answer in the transcripts of this committee.

+-

    Mr. Kevin Sorenson: I really would like to get on record exactly what those priorities would be, and I assure you that when those blues come out tomorrow morning or whenever, I will be going through them. In other words, even though I'm going to the justice committee, I would really appreciate your responses to that question.

    And thank you for coming.

º  +-(1640)  

+-

    The Chair: And thank your colleagues, too.

+-

    Mr. Kevin Sorenson: Yes, thank you.

+-

    D/Chief Michael Boyd: Speaking for the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, if we're limited to two recommendations here, I believe all of Canadian society would be better served by a new Canadian drug strategy that has the vision and capability of bringing those partners together. I know that would include prevention, but I would specifically ask that you give consideration to our need for more prevention efforts in this country. Yes, it would be great if we had more police officers and more dollars to put into supply reduction, but, in our view, there are greater gains to be made by bringing the groups in society together, getting focused on the right vision, and accomplishing so much more by putting something into our prevention efforts.

    If you think about who in this country is actually standing up to say drugs are harmful—and we've asked ourselves this many times—the police community in this country is standing up and is making it clear that drugs are harmful, and you have some of the medical community saying that as well. Beyond those, we're looking around to see who else in this country is actually standing up and stating that clear position. I submit to you that no one else is actually saying that. Maybe they think it's understood, but it's clearly not understood.

+-

    The Chair: Thank you, Deputy Chief Boyd.

    Mr. Niebudek.

+-

    Mr. Mike Niebudek: One thing in our joint presentation document—it’s in the second bullet point—is in regard to the third red book that the Liberals put forth. It stated that the government was putting in place $420 million over four years to help to reduce demand. To date, we have not seen one cent of that money, and I think we're into year two right now. This is one of the issues we would like to see followed up as far as paying for front-line resources is concerned, but there is also a need for money for equipment and other costs related to convicting importers, growers, and traffickers.

    Another issue, of course, is education, as Mr. Sorenson indicated. My colleague Mr. Pelletier is also well aware of that, because he has been involved with the DARE program since the beginning. There has to be a meaningful education process by police officers, yes, but also by all levels of intervention in our society, including the teachers and other people who have an influence on our youth.

+-

    The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Niebudek.

    Detective Hayden.

+-

    Det Glen Hayden: I just wanted to add something really basic in follow-up to Mr. Sorenson's question. When probably most of us in the room went through high school, there were no drug education programs. I had none, and I don't know that anyone sitting at the table had one. Right now, there's an optional program called DARE, which we've spoken about, but there’s a need for something mandatory in the education curriculum. That would give the young people in this country an informed background or some kind of education by which they can make an informed decision. If they're going to experiment with drugs, they need to know what they're getting into. Right now, nothing occurs in schools in Canada to allow them to take such a course.

+-

    The Chair: Just on that point, Detective Hayden, are you still with the Edmonton Police Service?

+-

    Det Glen Hayden: Yes. I've been with the Edmonton Police Service for 22 years, with eight years in the drug control section. I just transferred out a month ago.

+-

    The Chair: But in Alberta and in a couple of other provinces, there's a specific program called PARTY that's delivered to grade 9 students, is there not? Doesn't that focus on risks, healthy choices, and better choices? Are you aware of it?

º  +-(1645)  

+-

    Det Glen Hayden: I've never heard of it.

+-

    The Chair: Oh, okay.

    Has anybody else from Alberta? No?

    Alberta definitely is running that program for grade 9 students, and DARE is not run in all parts of the country. I agree that there is a need for better education, and I was particularly pleased to hear the last part of your statement, which was that they need to have full information and make informed choices. But there are different programs, and you're absolutely right that things are not consistent across the country.

+-

    Det Glen Hayden: I just want to finish up on that before I shut up.

    Students are offered sex education and safe sex education, which are no-brainers. But they're not offered this kind of education when, like I was saying before, a poor choice ultimately could not only affect their life, it could end their life. It has and it does, on a regular and daily basis.

+-

    The Chair: Sergeant Pelletier.

+-

    S/Sgt Michel Pelletier: Madam Chair, DARE is only one of several programs that we're involved with, but I would like to clarify for you that we have the first national report on DARE, as it is offered across the country now. But we would certainly support a program—a revised DARE, for instance—that would allow us to work more in concert with teachers, parents, and others, as we've done in other programs that we offer.

+-

    The Chair: I'm sure my colleagues might pursue this issue, but DARE is not being run in every school in the country.

+-

    S/Sgt Michel Pelletier: Oh, no, not every school. You're absolutely right.

+-

    The Chair: We visited British Columbia in December. It appeared that there was a serious lack of education amongst students. In different parts of the country, it's very inconsistent. Unfortunately, because it's another interest of mine, sex education isn't necessarily consistent across the country either. And although we don't control education at the federal level, it's certainly something this committee has been interested in.

    Dr. Fry and Mr. Lee.

+-

    Ms. Hedy Fry (Vancouver Centre, Lib.): Thank you very much, Madam Chair.

    I first want to thank you for coming and for giving a fairly comprehensive presentation.

    I am pleased to hear you using what are, for me, certain very key words, like “balanced” and “partners”. I really do believe there is no way we can address this issue unless we look at a comprehensive approach. That means involving, as you said, all three levels of government in a national as opposed to federal strategy, and looking at working with stakeholders, residents, business, communities, etc. I think that is very true.

    If there is a perception that many people on this committee do not support education by the police, I just wanted to correct that. I really believe the people on the spot are the best people to do the education, and you're on the spot. You're front-line people, so I think it's really an important thing. Besides, young people, regardless of what they do, still take the police seriously. If the police say something causes harm, people listen to them. So I think education by the police is a very important part of any kind of strategy that one would look at.

    But there are a couple of things. I like the four-pillar approach, the whole concept of prevention and promotion, and the concepts of education and of treatment, so this is one of the questions: For me, treatment includes harm reduction. In other words, how do you reduce the harm while you're treating a person who is ill? I think people who are on drugs and people who use drugs are addicts and therefore suffer from a chronic, debilitating, relapsing disease. Therefore, while you're treating them, you want to minimize their harm to themselves and to their community while you're treating them. Harm reduction, for me, is an integral part of treatment—and I'm talking as a physician now. And then there’s rehabilitation and moving into helping them to get back into society. I think that's a nice, broad approach, so I like a lot of the things you say. A couple of things interest me, though, so the question I wanted to ask is what you think of harm reduction as part of a treatment complex.

    Secondly, there’s the question about whether drugs are legal or illegal. I just want to cite something very quickly for you from the American Society of Addiction Medicine and the Canadian Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. They have both said that the distinction between legal and illegal drugs is a misleading one, because legality and illegality are not related to harm at all. In alcohol and tobacco, we have two very legal drugs that cause a great deal of harm. In fact, they create a large body of harm, yet they're legal. But there are those people who have presented to us who have said that one of the reasons they think decriminalization may be an answer for the currently illegal drugs is that the prohibition against alcohol didn't work during its time. In fact, it increased crime, criminal activity, the underworld, and all those kinds of things, in terms of occurrence. And we also know many legal drugs are being abused on the street. You can name a lot of drugs that are being used now, especially among youths, like the amphetamines and Ritalin, etc. These are all “legal” drugs. So I want to ask you if you see a place for decriminalizing the illegal drugs and treating them like we treat prescription drugs and other narcotics?

    Heroin is an opiate, but then there are opiates like Dilaudid and all of those. In certain parts of the country, we've heard that Dilaudid, MS Contin, and some of those drugs have been abused very regularly. So would one consider a model in which we medicalize illicit drugs, decriminalize them, put them in the narcotics control segment, and deal with them from that perspective, in the way we deal with other kinds of prescription drugs? Do you see a place for that?

    I'm also concerned about what Mr. Sorensen was saying. We hear that 75% of the money spent now on dealing with drugs is spent on enforcement, and 8% is spent on the medical care of the “patient”, but only 2% goes to education. Should we balance that out a little bit more? I don't know, so that's why I want to ask you.

º  +-(1650)  

+-

    D/Chief Michael Boyd: I'd be prepared to start the answer on this.

    The policing community has a problem with the expression “harm reduction”. We have a problem with using that terminology or that expression because it means many different things to many different people. We therefore stay away from the use of that expression.

    We are interested in participating in things that will reduce harm to individuals, and we would include an array of things. For example, abstinence is something that would reduce the harm. On the other hand, some people feel that part of the harm is the police trying to get involved in order to help the situation. They describe that involvement as part of the harm, and we have great difficulty in understanding that.

    We would agree that the legalization and illegalization issue does cloud the issue, because when you think about what you want to achieve, about what your goal is, you need to look at the initiative and to see whether all of the things in the plan are there to achieve what you want to achieve. So the criminalization and decriminalization issue has been on the table, but we like to focus on the results.

    If everything were to stay the same right now, without any changes, and if we were to implement some of what are referred to as the harm reduction initiatives, that might improve the aspect of the drug continuum involving health. But it might also hurt a number of other things by sending confusing messages out to our young people about the use of illicit drugs, and that's why we're very careful.

    We believe in the present system of laws in this country, but adding a mechanism already built into the legislation—like alternative justice measures—needs to be explored so that people coming into the system can be assessed for the appropriate alternative justice measure to suit their particular case. One example, and one example only, is the drug courts. They are only set up in two jurisdictions, with one in Toronto, and now one in Vancouver. We believe that, as an alternative justice measure, the drug courts have the effect of taking individuals and streaming them into the right mechanism for, perhaps, treatment. There is some onus on the individual to participate in that type of measure without turning a blind eye to the treatment and walking away from it.

    Vancouver has now implemented a drug court. The drug court is just one example of many that are out there should we decide to explore the alternative justice measures. We need to explore such measures to see if we can truly deal with the treatment of people who would benefit from treatment, to help them to get out of the cycle of the drugs-and-crime syndrome.

    I don't know whether or not my answer has been helpful.

º  +-(1655)  

+-

    Ms. Hedy Fry: No, your answer was helpful. I think you made a very important point about the terminology of “harm reduction” and about no one having a clear definition. That may be something for the committee to note: what “harm reduction” means. We may find ourselves arguing semantics here, but we're all in agreement about some of the actual meaning of what we do. The language and definitions, however, are difficult ones.

    Thank you.

+-

    Mr. Mike Niebudek: That is an excellent point. If I may, when you're looking at harm, if you back up and look at the big picture of the phenomenon of marijuana growing, for example, if you look at the types of groups that profit from growing it and from selling it to our kids on the street and in the schools, you'll find that there are indirect victims in this whole phenomenon. I talked about the example in Quebec over the last few years. There have been 160 murders in the last four years, including 13 innocent bystanders, one of whom was a 10-year-old boy. That's harm. And why is that harm? Because there's a market. Decriminalizing the possession of marijuana will not eliminate the demand for it. It will escalate the demand and will therefore give these groups more opportunities to make profit, more opportunities to take territory, and more opportunity to fight each other, thus leading to more murders.

    We already have alternative measures in the judicial system right now. They're being used for non-violent, minor crimes, such as shoplifting, for example. People don't have to have criminal records as a consequence of possessing marijuana. That's what we would like to see used more often by the interveners after our people have arrested these individuals. The tools to deal with this are out there, but they're not being used to their capacity.

    I'll let my colleague finish.

+-

    Det Glen Hayden: If I could just turn your attention to the brief that we've provided—in English, this is on page 62, and in French it's on page 45—it is our position that Canada's existing laws have been successful in limiting the harm caused by illicit drug use. I refer you to a very simple graph illustrating the cost of alcohol to Canada as being $7.5 billion—and these figures are from a 1992 study completed by the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse—the cost of tobacco as being $9.6 billion, and the cost of illicit drugs in Canada as being $1.4 billion.

    Although things can be enhanced and we can do a lot more, we say to look at the effect that we're having. We've kept that figure down because of the effect that we're having. Law enforcement is having a positive effect on keeping those figures down, but we can do better. We'd therefore be very concerned about any decriminalization or liberalization, just because of the right side of that graph. Illicit drugs could crawl up and exceed alcohol and tobacco on that graph.

+-

    Det/Supt Jim Hutchinson: On legalization, you talked about prohibition through the 1930s. I really don't believe use of alcohol increased during that time. There was violence around that, but now that alcohol is legal per se, certainly over 80% of the population drinks, and that factor has led to the health issues that we have. I would say that with cannabis legalization, more people would be using cannabis and we'd have the same health issues involved with it.

+-

    The Chair: Dr. Fry, I'll come back to you if there's some time.

    Mr. Lee.

+-

    Mr. Derek Lee: Thank you.

    Earlier, somebody made a comment in reference to the red book, which has been the Liberal Party's campaign document for each of the last three election campaigns. You said we haven't seen a cent of the money. There was also a comment earlier about the drug courts in Toronto and Vancouver. It's my understanding that those courts are funded substantially with new federal moneys from the Department of Justice. In fact, the Toronto court wants to ensure that the federal money continues, or we may lose that court. But I suspect that the money is part of that money either Detective Hayden or Officer Niebudek couldn't find. I'm not certain, but I believe those moneys are targeted at demand reduction.

    In any event, you'll all be aware that there's a certain—how shall I say this?—restlessness out there in the general population. That's not a surprise to you, and as a politician, I have certainly been aware of it for some time now. That restlessness says to me that the population is concerned that we may not be doing things right in terms of a drug strategy. We've had suggestions here that we fortify the resources of the drug strategy with more money, with more tax dollars, or that we tweak the strategy by changing it a little bit here and there. But that restlessness has also caused many of us on this committee—and apparently legislators in other countries—to approach a radical rethinking of these drug strategies. I think we're headed in that direction.

    In your own way, each of you has urged caution, and that's quite legitimate. I think all of the members at the table sense that caution, so we're certainly listening to it. But caution isn't going to get us a reworked policy. It's not going to get us a national drug strategy that works. I don't expect you to come forward with more than that. The police across the country are probably the front line on this issue. As much as many of us believe it's not just a criminal law issue but is also many other things, the police have been and continue to be the front line.

    I think I may have been one of the members Mr. Sorensen referred to in terms of those who questioned why police are the front line teaching students in the classroom when we have professional teachers who, with their curricula, should be fully capable of teaching students these important things. And by the way, we have been told why police officers do this. It's because there are other reasons for police officers to go into the classrooms to meet with youths. Payback is gained in the community by bridging relationships with youths, so we do understand that.

    Are you urging the status quo but with more resources?

»  +-(1700)  

+-

    D/Chief Michael Boyd: No.

+-

    Mr. Derek Lee: You're not? Then I must have missed something. Could you just focus on what element of your suggestions to us now does not involve the status quo with more resources?

+-

    D/Chief Michael Boyd: If I did suggest using caution, I'd like to state right out that I and many others in the policing community believe we need a new national drug strategy. We need the right vision, we need the right partners at the table at the federal, provincial, municipal, and territorial levels, and we need the right groups in society—and I listed those five groups as examples. We believe that, with the right leadership and the right vision, those groups can be brought together to make a significant difference by working as partners on the front lines on this issue of drug use and drug abuse in this country.

    We also think appropriate funding would be needed to give the strategy some effect, to put it into action. But right now, while we see a number of groups in society working away at the problem—and they would describe themselves as working away—we are working in isolation, if I can make a generalization. We are not really working in partnership, and we're not really collaborating to act on the various parts of the drug continuum that I've referred to, examples of which would be awareness or education in schools and in communities.

    Different mechanisms are in place. As they relate to tobacco smoking, we are now seeing some very powerful advertisements out there. Through the power of communication, people are hearing that message about cigarette smoking. We're not hearing it in relation to drugs, but we could hear it. That power of communication could be one part of the overall drug strategy. Of course, we believe you will always need to have enforcement, but we certainly see policing as being more than enforcement, as we've described here. And we also see the benefits of treatment, rehabilitation, and further research.

    We think that if the strategy is laid out using a multifaceted, multi-partner, multilevel approach, the groups in society will have the will to work together. I make that statement because we in the policing community are working with several partners right now. We're right at the table, working together. So we believe there is that will, but we need that leadership that we think should come from the federal level and that we think would work best from the federal level.

»  +-(1705)  

+-

    Mr. Derek Lee: Does the Canadian Police Association have any comment? My question was awfully rhetorical, but....

+-

    Mr. Mike Niebudek: Yes, awfully.

    Some people have said in the past that the police want the status quo legislatively because they don't want to lose their jobs in enforcing drug laws. That's absolutely false. It's actually the opposite. We believe that if legalization is permitted, it will increase the number of police positions needed to fight this phenomenon on the front line.

    We believe there should be a national strategy, and one probably quarterbacked by the federal government, by someone, by some entity that doesn't exist right now. It would be a national strategy that would include federal, provincial, municipal, and social groups, to successfully fight the use of illegal drugs in the country, starting at the youth level.

    That's our message. We need a national strategy to fight this. That's not status quo, because we don't have a national strategy right now.

+-

    Mr. Derek Lee: In actual fact, on paper, we do. In fact, we spend money on it, and the provinces spend money not necessarily on the national strategy, but on components of it and on education. But I do have to accept that a strategy that isn't very visible, that you can't see, and that's under-resourced—and the Auditor General has picked it apart pretty well too, in terms of cost-benefit and focus—is really not much of a strategy. So although it's there on paper, let’s assume we have to rebuild it and rework it. I accept that, and I respect your contribution to that element of the debate and your desire to build something that works better than what we have now.

    The restlessness out there suggests that we have to free ourselves of some of the existing paradigms, if I can put it that way, in order to make a bigger dent and in order to get more benefits for society. That's why the harm-reduction concepts are inserted. I'm making a speech, but harm reduction is a band-aid to remediate the deficiencies and dysfunctions of the current strategy.

+-

    Det/Supt Jim Hutchinson: The police are part of that restlessness that you talk about, though. We're not really urging caution. We want a strategy. And I don't like the term “new”, because I don't believe there is a strategy. We want a clear direction. The public is restless because there are too many mixed messages in front of the community right now.

+-

    Mr. Derek Lee: Are the people on the street who are addicts the biggest problem for the police? Are other types of people a problem, like youths who are experimenting? When you think of the visibility of the drug problem that we're trying to address, is it the person with the broken life, the one you don't see very visibly, or is it the addict who is stealing to support a habit and is actually in the back of the police cruiser once every couple of months?

+-

    D/Chief Michael Boyd: The police are seeing various people within the drug spectrum as being problems, but they are different in many ways. For example, the traffickers are obviously a group we focus our attention on because that group deals with the supply. But, yes, we're concerned about communities and neighbourhoods that are suffering from the crime and disorder associated with the drug problems.

    We're out there in communities across this country every day. Communities are calling us in, pleading with us and asking us what we're doing to help them with their problems. We're trying to respond to that crime and victimization. Again, on this new research that has been recently released by the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse, I really think you'd find it enlightening to see that information. But it's a question of getting at the individuals who the communities find to be a problem as they relate to the quality of life. I think they include people in those communities who are addicted to drugs.

»  +-(1710)  

+-

    Mr. Derek Lee: Just to mess up the paradigm a little bit, we were in eastern Canada, in Halifax. I hope I'm not wrong in generalizing, but the perception of a lot of the members of the committee who were there was that the apparent, big drug problem was not classic cocaine or heroin, it was prescription drugs. The bad guys were the drug companies, the doctors, and pharmacists.

+-

    Ms. Hedy Fry: Careful.

+-

    Mr. Derek Lee: I understand what Dr. Fry is saying, but I'm suggesting to you, as front-line police, that the big line problem—none of you is from Halifax—was the establishment on the health care side. When are we going to get some arrests there? Obviously, we're not, but there's a huge, apparent condonation of huge leaks in the control mechanisms for prescription drugs that make their way onto the street. So the bad guys…well, they're not really bad guys. The problem is a dysfunction in the control of those drugs. And there are new drugs coming on the market every year. They just keep getting better and better.

    When was the last time…instead of targeting the biker gangs—forgive me, Dr. Fry—

    An hon. member: Oh, oh!

    Mr. Derek Lee: Why don't we target something a little more establishment, like the doctors who are a little too careless?

+-

    Mr. Mike Niebudek: But we do. There are provisions in our drug laws and in the Criminal Code with regard to double-doctoring and other infractions committed by professionals or pharmaceuticals.

+-

    Mr. Derek Lee: That’s true, but I never see a bust.

+-

    Mr. Mike Niebudek: We don't advertise all the people we arrest.

+-

    The Chair: Maybe you should.

+-

    Mr. Mike Niebudek: Maybe we should.

+-

    Mr. Derek Lee: That's my point.

+-

    Mr. Mike Niebudek: But legal substances are also being abused. From my experience working in northern Canada, I can tell you that I remember being in a classroom of second-graders. When I asked how many people there had never sniffed plastic model glue or gasoline, nobody lifted a hand. Everybody in that second grade had done that—and was doing it, in fact. So what do you do? Do you arrest the person who works at Canadian Tire and sells a box of glue?

    Of course, there is a social responsibility involved here, depending on the region we are looking at. But there are a lot of abuses, by our children especially, and they have to be looked at from a policing point of view as well as from a social point of view.

+-

    Det/Supt Jim Hutchinson: Substance abuse is regional, and different trends occur around the country. The reason out east is that there’s not enough money out there to buy illicit drugs. If there were more money in the community, they would be out buying cocaine, heroin, or ecstasy, but it's easier for them to divert the legal drugs because they don't have any money.

    Here in Ontario, we have the same problem in Toronto. We have officers assigned to double-doctoring. We do double-doctoring investigations, and the fact is that arrests are being made and health fraud charges are being laid on a regular basis.

    So it is a recognized problem, but, again, it's unique to that area. If you move through the communities, then depending on what the economics are and what the demand is, you'll see the different trends that develop.

»  +-(1715)  

+-

    The Chair: That finishes that round, and I'm glad it does, because I have to disagree with you quite vehemently. It is not unique to eastern Canada. It occurs where conditions are more rural, so there is some availability. But on price, it's $40 a pill. That is hardly an insignificant amount. The people we encountered in Halifax who were abusing prescription drugs were up to $200 and $300 a day anyway, so it's no different in terms of cost. The issue was availability. Heroin comes in on the west coast of Canada instead of the east coast of Canada. If they controlled the Dilaudid, there probably would be a market for the heroin. For some reason, people have the need to alter their state of mind. Children do it when they spin or turn their heads upside down to look at you. As they grow older, people seem to try different things to intoxicate themselves.

    To both groups, both of you focus on this gateway drug issue, with marijuana being the one. But the statistics you have provided really suggest that alcohol is the gateway drug. And Officer Niebudek, you just identified gasoline and airplane glue as others. Those children in grade 2 probably hadn't smoked marijuana yet, but those substances that they're abusing are still having a very harmful effect on their little bodies.

    In both CPA documents, you refer to the Quebec studies and the Ontario ones. In Quebec, around 80% of boys and girls drank alcohol. Only about 44% had done drugs, most of those being marijuana. In Ontario, it was about 67% on average. Cannabis was at 29% and cigarettes were at 29%, so they were quite similar.

    In your presentation, Deputy Chief Boyd, you referred to the Manitoba study that showed that 81% drank alcohol, while only 40% used drugs.

    So isn't alcohol really the gateway drug? Shouldn't we be more concerned about people using cigarettes and alcohol than we are about them using illicit drugs?

+-

    D/Chief Michael Boyd: I very much think we need to be concerned about any of the substances. Furthermore, if government knew back in history what it now knows about the dangers of alcohol, I submit to you that it might rethink what it would do with alcohol.

    We clearly feel cannabis certainly is a gateway drug, and we think there is some evidence to support that. Certainly, if you go at the issue from the other end and interview heroin addicts, cocaine addicts, and crack cocaine addicts, etc., and if you ask them where they began, I think you would find that they didn't begin with heroin or cocaine.

+-

    The Chair: They probably began with alcohol. Or maybe they began with cornflakes. What is the commonality for all of them? They all—

+-

    Mr. Mike Niebudek: Exactly.

+-

    The Chair: So is that relevant?

+-

    D/Chief Michael Boyd: I think they would probably include cannabis.

+-

    The Chair: Of course.

+-

    D/Chief Michael Boyd: If they also included alcohol, it wouldn't be a surprise to me, but they would certainly include cannabis and marijuana.

+-

    The Chair: Somebody referred to the fact that 93% of Canadians lead illicit-drug-free lives. However, over-the-counter use of Robaxacet and other products for pain relief are misused without the intervention of a doctor or a dentist, and that misuse still causes accidents on our highways and still destroys families. There are still issues with substance abuse. In fact, when it comes to children, the issue is risk-taking behaviour.

    We had a fantastic presentation—and I encourage both of your organizations to find out more about this—by Dr. Christiane Poulin, who is doing research at Dalhousie University. She’s talking about high-risk-behaviour kids. It's not that cannabis is a gateway. It's the same kids, and it's a small group within that subset who wind up being heroin users. They're using drugs, using alcohol, engaging in sexual activity, and using tobacco, and it's about their high-risk behaviour. My hope is that more people will be educating people about health choices, because ultimately we can't control the sale of gasoline or the access to gasoline. We can't bring in laws and additional police forces to control everything. Goodness knows, maybe people will figure out that if you eat enough rhubarb from people's gardens, it will intoxicate you.

    We have to find a way to educate people about what's appropriate for them in their life, in their job, given their conditions and their body makeup, and what's appropriate for me; and about how we can reduce the harms appropriate to our choices while ensuring that we get to live the lives we want to live. With you being a police officer, a criminal record would be a big problem, just as it would be for a politician. But it's not just about the record.

    In the same way, you identified the seatbelt example. It wasn't that people began to comply just because the police could give them a ticket. They did it because they started to understand that they might get really hurt if they don't wear a seat belt. I want to make sure my kids are in a car seat not because some officer is going to get me, because I'm going to pay a fine, or because I want to do something in my future life. I do it because I want to keep my kids safe. It's those kinds of messages—and I think you alluded to this idea, Detective Hayden—that are perhaps more successful. It takes a lot more work in turning society with an education program, but surely we would get further ahead if we stopped siphoning off different messages. Ultimately, the same officers, the same parents, and the same teachers who are saying to kids that they shouldn't use various drugs because they're bad, are the ones who are going home and having a beer, and maybe even too many beers.

»  +-(1720)  

+-

    Mr. Mike Niebudek: I think you've summarized it very well. The message we're giving the committee is that we have enough damaging, legally obtainable substances out there, so let's not add one by legalizing marijuana or cannabis, for example.

+-

    The Chair: Okay, that's a great message for the Senate committee, which is only focusing on marijuana. This committee is trying to figure out a wholly new drug strategy.

+-

    Mr. Mike Niebudek: That’s as an example.

+-

    The Chair: I appreciate that you're focusing on one drug, but we're trying to figure out a strategy going forward for how we approach this issue in our country, and not just laws or anything else.

+-

    Det Glen Hayden: If I could just speak briefly on the seatbelt example that I used, that wasn't an education program funded and run by the police. That was done by the medical community. The media were on board, and everyone else was on board. That's why we think it had success. It was the same for motorcycle helmet laws.

    You referred to the multi- or poly-drug use by these people. We're asking for a new drug strategy to address exactly what your concerns are. And it’s not just for the illicit drugs. Legal drugs are being used illicitly, and therefore they're illicit drugs.

+-

    The Chair: And all those teenagers who are drinking alcohol, which is a legal substance under certain conditions, are clearly using a legal substance illegally. They're too young to be engaging in that activity. I'm sure most of us around this table had some access to it when we were too young.

+-

    D/Chief Michael Boyd: Madam Chair, I'm not sure we would disagree with the points you're making about the other substances and healthy lifestyles. As a matter of fact, we have a book that we update annually or biannually about healthy choices, healthy lifestyles, and making the right kinds of decisions. It's just that we thought the focus of your special committee was on the non-medical use of drugs. We have therefore been speaking certainly from that perspective, knowing that the Senate committee is focusing a little bit more on marijuana or cannabis. But I don't think we would disagree with you. We hope we haven't left you with that impression.

+-

    The Chair: No, you haven't necessarily. I would be interested in that booklet, and I'm sure all the members would be interested in seeing those kinds of programs.

    You're absolutely correct that our mandate is the non-medical use of drugs, which, as some people have pointed out, is so broad that it's unmanageable. Frankly, in our first outreach hearings, someone brought the issue of prescription drug misuse to us, and we all thought it was not our area. But when we got to different parts of the country, we realized that because some of the illicit drugs aren't available, people are very much misusing prescription drugs, so we recognize that as the scope of the problem in different parts of the country. Often, for people who use illicit drugs, they're also using prescription drugs illegally or inappropriately.

    We've certainly heard about the ravages of alcohol and the overlap with it. So when your presentation goes off on the gateway thing, some of us are thinking that it's not about that. That's not why it's just about legality for marijuana, because legal drugs are a gateway for some of that activity as well for some people.

    A just-say-no message doesn't seem to work, because it's inconsistent. On the DARE program, I talked to one pretty savvy kid in my own constituency who said, “Come on, they told me I'm supposed to tell my friends I'm allergic. That's a pretty stupid answer. I need to have a better answer for why I don't want to take that toke. I have to figure out something that's going to work for me”. I had to agree with him that he needed to figure out a better message. The allergy thing wasn't necessarily where he wanted to be.

    On the other hand, the concept of teaching him the skills is not so bad, but it has to be followed up along the way. I think that’s the challenge that we have with the DARE program. While it works really well for some kids, it doesn't necessarily follow up in those years when the peer pressure gets to be much tougher.

    Dr. Fry, you wanted to ask something.

»  +-(1725)  

+-

    Ms. Hedy Fry: Madam Chair, I thought you expressed pretty well what a lot of us are hearing and grappling with from all of the things that we've been hearing in our travels. As a physician, the thing for me is that no drug does not have a side effect. The abuse of any drug is what we're talking about, and I think education about the abuse and use of drugs is probably the most important thing we can do.

    As you know, in about the 1970s, certain states in the United States decriminalized the use of cannabis. California was one of them. In the 1980s, they showed a sharp decrease in the use of cannabis, so they wanted to see if it was simply the decriminalization that did it, because in states that were criminalizing it, it was going up at the same time theirs was going down. They found it wasn't any one thing. It wasn't just decriminalization. The reason was that when they decriminalized it, they coupled that decriminalization with a huge education blitz. They started to educate young people about the fact that marijuana was not a safe and easy drug, that it did in fact carry problems with it. We now know marijuana smoke carries 55% more tar than cigarettes, as well as 70% more benzopyrenes, and that you can be impaired by it when driving. When kids suddenly realized that they could get heart disease, have strokes, get lung cancer, and all that kind of stuff, they began to start decreasing their use of it.

    Let's look at alcohol. There is a responsible use of alcohol. That is what we mean when we talk about harm reduction. For me, harm reduction is saying not to have more than two drinks on a full stomach if you're going to drive. And there is a responsible use of certain drugs. When a doctor gives you a prescription and says to use the drug in a certain way, there is a responsible use. But as the chair said, you can buy Robaxacet across the counter. You can take it and be absolutely wandering around in a daze on it. You can take an antihistamine for hay fever, get into a car and drive, and have a huge car accident.

    The question isn't whether you criminalize or decriminalize. The brain doesn't really recognize the difference between heroin and Dilaudid. All it knows is that it has an opiate and it feels really good. So this is where this message comes down. We now know a lot more about the systems, the whole dopamine explosion in the brain, the limbic system in which it goes on, etc. We know about those things, so we know there is a high-risk group of people, as the chair said. That’s the group Christiane Poulin is doing the work on.

    Let's be honest here. When we were young, we all wanted to drink. Getting a drink was the big thing to do when we were 15. But we all grew up, and we now use alcohol appropriately. You may have a glass of wine, but if you have two glasses or three glasses, you will not get into a car and drive. You will get a taxi home. People are doing that now because of education, not because we decriminalized alcohol. With the decriminalization of alcohol, people began using alcohol more appropriately, and education was a piece of that.

    So I don't think it's an either/or. I think the question is whether or not the criminalization of certain drugs has worked. We've been looking at decriminalization of these drugs. We've been looking at enforcement. We've been looking at throwing people in jail. I think the statistic is that 30,000 people have been arrested in any one year just for simple possession of marijuana. It hasn't changed anything, so the question is whether or not there are other things we can do. There's no one answer. It's not an either/or question.

    Decriminalizing it does not in fact create an inconsistency with the message that it's bad for you. We decriminalized alcohol, but we're not saying it's bad for people if they're using it appropriately. Probably the only drug that I know of that can still kill you if you use it appropriately is tobacco.

    We have to talk about how we look at a combination and whole comprehensive range of measures that we can take, but I don't see any one of those measures as being inconsistent with this comprehensive strategy that you're talking about. I think the question the chair asked is a really important one. If we've been using a particular strategy for a long enough time and we've seen that it has not really resulted in a change in the use of certain drugs, then what do we do? What do we try?

»  +-(1730)  

    Maybe we've unbalanced our message, and maybe we need to look at a better balance. Maybe we need to ask ourselves if we should continue to do things that are making a difference. Maybe we need to look at jurisdictions where they may be making a difference by using other things. Maybe some of the money could be diverted into education, prevention, and all those things you spoke so eloquently about earlier, those things that you see making a difference. Maybe we can focus ourselves on the at-risk group of people who are going to use whatever, whether it’s glue or whatever. Maybe we can focus on why they use, how we can prevent them from using, and what we can do about at-risk people to identify them early enough and deal with them. I think those are the sorts of questions we have to ask ourselves.

    I just want to say one final thing. You said nobody has been talking about the harm caused by substance abuse, except for the police and the medical profession. I disagree. I think the setting up of this committee is a way of looking at the harm to individuals in society that's being created by this, and of looking at finding a way to deal with that harm effectively. I think you've made some good points to us on that one.

+-

    The Chair: Thank you Dr. Fry.

    Just before I turn to you—and I will—I'll just ask Mr. Lee to put his question. I'll then ask you guys to sum up. Otherwise, we'll lose some time.

+-

    Mr. Derek Lee: I'm going to put a real question here.

    It's great to have both of your groups here today. To go back into the harm reduction envelope, without getting technical on what harm reduction is, we've seen at least three components. We've seen needle exchanges, we've seen methadone maintenance programs, and we have the suggestion of supervised injection sites. A recent proposal of the Federal/Provincial/Territorial Advisory Committee on Population Health recommended a feasibility study of that for an urban area somewhere in Canada. Do your groups have views on any one of those three separate harm reduction concepts that are now being applied or considered?

»  +-(1735)  

+-

    D/Chief Michael Boyd: The Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police has supported the needle exchange program since the 1980s.

+-

    A witness: It was 1995.

+-

    D/Chief Michael Boyd: Was it? I know some police agencies in Toronto were supportive of it in the late 1980s, certainly, but I'm reminded now that the CACP had a resolution about that in 1995.

    We also have been at the table with various groups in society to look at what are referred to as “safe injection sites” or “supervised injection sites,” which we think more accurately describes what is being proposed.

+-

    The Chair: They're also called shooting galleries.

+-

    D/Chief Michael Boyd: Yes.

    Our organization has taken no position of support at this time, but we are very much interested in working with our partners to look at the idea. We have looked at some of the data coming out of Australia. There are some mixed messages there, and we have some concerns at this point.

    And we're also looking at Frankfurt, Germany. We understand your committee is going to be going there to have a look. We know the reviews on Frankfurt, Germany, are mixed as well. We've sent police people over there to look at and talk about some of the issues. On that issue, I would recommend that if you do go, you might look at the big picture when you're looking at supervised injections sites in those centres where they have them. Depending on what you look at, you can look at the small picture and see something that looks positive, but when you look at the bigger picture in the bigger context, you may see something a little different from what you see in the smaller context. I'll leave it at that.

    I think it's important for you to understand that the policing community is at the table and is working with other groups in society to look at these various methods of harm reduction now being discussed.

    Thank you.

+-

    The Chair: Mr. Niebudek.

+-

    Mr. Mike Niebudek: On the issue of the needle exchange programs, we don't have a position at the Canadian Police Association, but we realize that there are needle exchange programs across the country that have had some limited success. The methadone maintenance programs have also been going on for some time in certain areas.

    As for the supervised injection sites, we see a lot of problems with them. First of all, they're intended to take care of the symptom, not the disease—which is the addiction itself—to heroin, for example. They would reduce the number of illnesses transmitted through blood and through tainted needles, obviously, but it's certainly scary to see that a person could inject himself or herself with an illegal substance while under supervision and could die of an overdose. That would be quite difficult to deal with.

    I think we have to realize that when heroin addicts, for example, need their fix, they will fix where they purchase the drug. They won't wait until they get to an injection site. When they need it, they need it now. Normally, it's in the washroom of a bar or, more recently, we've seen that they do it right in the bar itself. So in our view, we need to address the illness itself, the addiction itself, not just some peripheral impact of it.

+-

    The Chair: Thank you.

    Did anyone else wish to comment? Sergeant Pelletier.

+-

    S/Sgt Michel Pelletier: Yes, just to reiterate something on the 1995 needle exchange program, the chiefs of police were asked to support a needle exchange model for the National AIDS Strategy. We looked at it from a position that included outreach, education, counselling, testing, and provisions for condoms and the exchange of needles. It was a comprehensive program, or it had different provisions that went with it. I think that probably also summarizes our position when we talk about harm reduction or the drug strategy.

    Excuse the analogy, but there is no magic bullet. We can't drop everything else and say we're going to do this now. There still has to be a continued balance. When we look at harm reduction or treatment, we have to make sure treatment beds are available.

    The police have a role in every one of the pillars, if you want, of the drug strategy. The first pillar for a police officer is to apply prevention. That's what our role is. If that doesn't work, then you have to go to enforcement. But that doesn't mean you drop one for the other. In the late 1980s and 1990s, the police became involved in diverting to treatment and alternative measures. We also are involved in the community, and we want to stop the infections of AIDS, HIV, and hepatitis C as well.

    Just to summarize, then, there is no magic bullet. We have to get involved in all areas, and the police are willing to do that. We're willing to listen to and cooperate with partners.

+-

    The Chair: Thank you.

    Just before we wrap up, can I just ask everybody where they actually police? That would help us to understand some of your perspectives.

    Let’s start with you, Superintendent Hutchinson.

+-

    Det/Supt Jim Hutchinson: I police the Province of Ontario, in the rural areas of Ontario outside of the large urban areas.

+-

    D/Chief Michael Boyd: I police the city of Toronto.

+-

    S/Sgt Michel Pelletier: I'm the national coordinator for drug awareness, but when I did policing, I policed in Montreal, and I also worked undercover in Vancouver and in the Maritimes as well. I'm well aware of prescription drugs, and I did double-doctoring in false prescriptions in my youth…as an officer.

    Voices: Oh, oh!

    The Chair: Thank you for that clarification.

+-

    Mr. Mike Niebudek: I've worked here in Ontario, especially in the national capital region, and I've also had the opportunity to police in northern Quebec.

»  -(1740)  

+-

    Det Glen Hayden: In Edmonton, Alberta.

-

    The Chair: Thank you. That's very helpful.

    On behalf of all committee members, both those who are here and those who unfortunately have to read the transcript blues…. We don't double-doctor, but we certainly double-committee, and many people are caught in other meetings. Nonetheless, they will appreciate the dedication with which you came to us today to address us, and the effort that you put into your presentations. It's a lot of work, and I'm sure a nice team of staff members behind you has helped as well. We appreciate that, and we hope you will give them our thanks. To each of you in the areas in which you're continuing to work so hard, on behalf of all Canadians, we appreciate that. It makes a big difference and we appreciate your efforts.

    If you have anything else to say to this committee over the next couple of months, we would be very much appreciative of that. Carol Chafe is our clerk, and you can just e-mail her at snud@parl.gc.ca. This committee is interested in hearing from a wide variety of people so that we can benefit from what they have to say.

    Have a good afternoon, and drive carefully.

    The meeting is adjourned.