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View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Lib. (BC)
moved that Bill C-46, an act to amend the Criminal Code (offences relating to conveyances) and to make consequential amendments to other Acts, be read the second time and referred to a committee.
She said: Madam Speaker, it is my privilege and honour to speak to Bill C-46, an act to amend the Criminal Code (offences relating to conveyances) and to make consequential amendments to other acts
I introduce the bill with the ultimate goal of reducing the significant number of deaths and injuries caused by impaired driving, a crime that continues to claim innocent lives and wreak havoc and devastation on Canadian families. No law is adequate comfort for devastating loss, but I want to stress that this proposed legislation was drafted with all victims of impaired driving in mind.
This includes the three Neville-Lake children and their grandfather killed on a Sunday afternoon on their way home from a sleepover in Vaughan, Ontario. This includes the entire Van de Vorst family, a family of four killed by an impaired driver as they crossed an intersection in rural Saskatchewan. This includes the thousands of people injured because someone else chose to get behind the wheel while impaired.
Every year, drivers impaired by drugs and alcohol cause devastation on our roads and highways. Impaired driving continues to be the leading criminal cause of death and injury in Canada. This is completely unacceptable.
That is why I am proud to have proposed legislation to enact an impaired driving regime that would be among the strongest in the world. It would ensure as much as possible that no one has to live through tragedies like those I have just mentioned. Before I discuss the specific proposals in the legislation, I would like to comment briefly on the structure of the bill, as it takes a unique approach.
Part 1 of the bill proposes new tools to detect drug-impaired drivers at the roadside. It would also create three new driving offences of being over a legal drug limit. I will come back to these proposals in a moment. This part of the bill would come into force upon royal assent to ensure that a more robust drug-impaired driving regime is in place before the legalization and regulation of cannabis.
Part 2 of the bill would repeal all of the transportation-related provisions in the Criminal Code and replace them with a clear, coherent structure. Over time, the Criminal Code provisions have become too complex and difficult to understand. Part 2 also proposes substantial reforms to strengthen the law of alcohol-impaired driving and address existing challenges with detection, enforcement, and prosecution.
Given the substantial reforms in part 2, a longer coming into force date of six months is proposed to ensure that provinces and territories, key stakeholders responsible for the administration of justice, have adequate time to prepare. Over all, the bill proposes to strengthen the criminal law approach to both drug-impaired and alcohol-impaired driving. I would like to spend a few moments outlining key proposals to tackle drug-impaired driving.
The bill would authorize police officers for the first time to use roadside drug screeners in situations where they have reasonable suspicion a driver has drugs in his or her body. A positive reading on such a device would not, on its own, lead to a criminal charge. Instead, it would offer to assist an officer in forming the reasonable grounds necessary to take further investigative steps.
The bill also builds on the existing drug-impaired driving offence by proposing new offences for being over a legal drug limit. This offence structure will be familiar to many, as it is similar to the offence that prohibits driving over the legal limit for alcohol, otherwise known as the “over 80” offence.
Although the proposed offences would apply to several impairing drugs, including cocaine and methamphetamines, I intend to focus on the proposed levels of THC. The legal limits would be set by regulation and proven through blood analysis. The bill would authorize the taking of a blood sample from a driver when an officer has reasonable grounds to believe that either a drug-impaired or legal limit offence has occurred.
These proposed drug offences have been developed in recognition of the differences between alcohol and THC, in particular, the difference in the way that they are absorbed, metabolized, and eliminated by the human body.
This bill takes a precautionary approach by establishing a low level, fine only drug offence for THC that would prohibit having between two and five nanograms of THC per millilitre of blood within two hours of driving. Additionally, Bill C-46 proposes a hybrid offence for a higher level of THC where a driver has five nanograms or more of THC per millilitre of blood.
Finally, I am proposing an offence of low levels of THC in combination with low levels of alcohol. This new offence would convey to Canadians that combining THC and alcohol intensifies impairment. I am proposing that the low level THC offence of between two and five nanograms be punishable by way of a maximum fine of $1,000. The higher drug offence of having five nanograms of THC in the body or more and the combination offence of having a mixture of THC and alcohol in the blood would have escalating penalties that mirror the existing impaired driving penalties: a $1,000 fine for the first offence, 30 days' imprisonment for the second offence, and 120 days' imprisonment for a third or subsequent offence.
It is important to note that drug-impaired driving has been an offence in Canada since 1925. However, our government is committed to strengthening these existing measures before strictly regulating and legalizing cannabis.
The proposed drug levels to be prescribed by regulation are based on the advice of the drugs and driving committee of the Canadian Society of Forensic Science, which has been working tirelessly on a volunteer basis to consolidate existing science on drug-impaired driving and setting legal limits.
In developing this approach, we were mindful of other jurisdictions. In the United Kingdom, where cannabis remains illegal, the legal limit is two nanograms of THC per millilitre of blood. In Colorado and Washington where cannabis is legalized, the legal limit is five nanograms. The approach in Bill C-46 to drug-impaired driving would be among the toughest in the world, particularly in jurisdictions where cannabis is legal.
I would now like to turn to the proposals in Bill C-46 which aim to strengthen our approach to alcohol-impaired driving.
One of the key elements is an important new tool known as mandatory alcohol screening. This would permit the police to demand a preliminary breath sample from a driver who is already subject to a legal traffic stop.
Most people will know that police already have the power to stop vehicles under provincial and common law in order to check, for example, for a vehicle's fitness or driver's licensing. These stops have been upheld by the Supreme Court of Canada on three different occasions, in Dedman v. The Queen from 1985, R. v. Hufsky from 1988, and R. v. Ladouceur from 1990.
After having made a lawful traffic stop, mandatory alcohol screening would simply permit a police officer to demand a preliminary breath sample. Under current law, a police officer must have reasonable suspicion before the officer can demand a breath sample, but research shows that up to as many as 50% of drivers who are over the legal limit are able to escape detection by police.
While a new proposal for Canada, mandatory alcohol screening is already law in Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, and many European countries. It has led to a significant reduction in the number of deaths and injuries related to impaired driving. I am expecting that it will have the same effect in Canada. The reason is simple. Mandatory alcohol screening will change the mindset of drivers. No longer will drivers be able to convince themselves they can evade police detection of their alcohol consumption if stopped.
As Andrew Murie, the chief executive officer of Mothers Against Drunk Driving Canada, has said, mandatory alcohol screening “is going to make the biggest impact. It will drive down the number of deaths and injuries. People will know that they can't play around with officers.”
Ireland presents one of the most compelling examples. In the four years following the enactment of mandatory alcohol screening, fatalities on Irish roads decreased by 40%, and total charges for impaired driving diminished at a similar rate. In short, drivers quit thinking they could beat the system and simply gave up on driving while impaired.
In the face of such compelling evidence, I feel I have an obligation to all Canadians to propose this approach for Canada.
I would like to move on to discuss some of the proposed changes to the existing over 80 offence. One of the most significant changes proposed in this offence relates to the time frame. Currently, the offence is committed while driving. The proposals in Bill C-46 would stretch the time frame so that it would be an offence to be over the legal limit within two hours of driving. This is a common formulation used in many states in the U.S. Its primary purpose is to eliminate risky behaviour associated with bolus drinking, sometimes referred to as drinking and dashing.
Members may be surprised to learn that some people drink, or claim to drink, a significant amount of alcohol immediately before driving in the hopes of arriving at their destination before the alcohol fully absorbs and therefore before they are over the legal limit. The proposed formulation of “within two hours” would capture this reprehensible conduct. It also has the benefit of eliminating what is known as the intervening drink defence. This arises when a driver takes a drink of alcohol after being stopped by the police but before providing a breath sample primarily to frustrate the investigative process.
I understand there are many concerns that the proposed offences would criminalize people who have done nothing wrong. I share this concern, and that is why the bill proposes an exception that is intended to apply in cases of innocent intervening drinking. This could apply in cases where a driver consumes alcohol after driving but has no reason to expect he or she would be asked to provide a breath sample. If the results of the driver's breath test are consistent with the individual having a blood alcohol concentration under the legal limit at the time of driving, the offence would not be made out and the driver would not be convicted. I feel very strongly that this proposed offence structure would reduce the incentive of people to mix alcohol and driving.
Finally, Bill C-46 also proposes a formula to calculate blood alcohol concentration at the time of the offence where the driver's breath is tested outside of the two-hour period. The formula would be the concentration at the time of testing, plus five milligrams per complete half hour. This is a very conservative dissipation rate for alcohol and so would not be unfair to the driver. It is supported by the alcohol test committee of the Canadian Society of Forensic Science and would eliminate the need to call an expert toxicologist at trial.
I would now like to discuss some of the proposals in Bill C-46 which would strengthen the law, while also creating much needed court efficiencies. Impaired driving is one of the most litigated offences in the Criminal Code and takes up a disproportionate amount of time in courts. This is all the more important since the Supreme Court of Canada's decision in R. v. Jordan last July.
One proposal is to limit crown disclosure obligations to scientifically relevant information about breathalyzers and blood alcohol concentration without unfairly limiting access to relevant disclosure. Another is to simplify proof of blood alcohol concentration by setting out in the code what the crown must specifically prove.
I would like to turn briefly to the penalties proposed in the bill. The mandatory minimum penalties for impaired driving would not change where there is no death or injury. Those are a $1,000 fine for the first offence, 30 days' imprisonment for a second offence, and 120 days' imprisonment for the third or subsequent offence. While the minimums would not change, the bill proposes to raise the mandatory fines for first-time offenders with high blood alcohol concentrations and for refusing a breath test.
I want to be clear that I have carefully reviewed the mandatory minimum penalties for impaired driving. I am confident that they are charter compliant and necessary. The mandatory terms of imprisonment for repeat drunk drivers have been shown to serve a deterrent function. A first-time impaired driver leaves the criminal justice system knowing that if he or she reoffends, the next stop is jail. This has a real, psychological impact.
The bill would also increase the maximum sentences for these offences from 18 months to two years for a summary conviction, and from five years to 10 years for more serious indictable offences. The maximum for dangerous driving causing death would be raised to life, as is already the case in impaired driving causing death.
The impaired driving causing bodily harm offence would also be amended. Currently, it can only be prosecuted by indictment. The bill proposes to hybridize it to allow the crown, in appropriate cases, to proceed summarily, such as for minor injuries.
The bill would also respond to calls to shorten the time an offender must wait before driving within the Criminal Code's driving prohibition period, where the driver uses an ignition interlock device under a provincial program. Allowing this earlier access has been shown to reduce recidivism and save lives.
Since the introduction of this bill last month, there has been a lot of commentary regarding the constitutionality of some of the proposals, with particular attention being paid to mandatory alcohol screening. I am confident that all the proposals in Bill C-46 will withstand charter scrutiny, as explained in the charter statement I was pleased to introduce on May 11.
In conclusion, it is my hope and expectation that the combined effects of the many reforms proposed in Bill C-46 will be enormously effective in deterring drug and alcohol impaired driving. No more Canadian families should have to suffer the devastation caused by impaired driving.
I ask all members to consider the benefits in terms of the effectiveness and efficiency this major reform to the criminal law would achieve. I ask all members to join me in supporting Bill C-46.
View Alistair MacGregor Profile
Madam Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. Minister of Justice for her presentation today and for tabling the bill last month. I am also thankful that I had departmental officials come by my office for a private meeting about the specifics of this bill.
I appreciate that there has been a charter statement tabled and that none other than the great Prof. Peter Hogg has expressed support for this in previous years. The section I am referring to is specifically section 320.27. While we want to see this bill go to committee to examine the constitutional provisions in it, I want to bring the minister's attention to some statistics we have from other police agencies.
As members from Toronto will know, the carding statistics from that city show that while blacks make up 8.3% of the population, they actually have been subjected to 25% of the carding. If we take those very same statistics and apply them to visible minorities being subjected to random breath testing, that may be a cause for concern. If visible minorities are receiving a disproportionate amount of the testing at these lawful stops, is it allowing non-minorities to get through? I am wondering if the minister can comment on that specific concern some people in our society have.
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Lib. (BC)
Madam Speaker, I very much appreciate my hon. colleague taking the opportunity to sit down and engage with my officials and staff and would offer that to any other hon. members in the House.
I was pleased to table the charter statement, as I said, earlier this month. I want to acknowledge that the concern about racial profiling in terms of stops has been brought to my attention many times since the introduction of Bill C-46, and I will say a number of things.
A law enforcement officer, as the member quite rightly pointed out, would have to lawfully stop someone on the roadside. However, I want to distinguish the issue of racial profiling, which is an important one that needs to be addressed, from the objectives of this particular piece of legislation. The objectives of Bill C-46 are to keep our roads safe. That is not to say that in the exercise of the duties of law enforcement officers they will not continue to benefit from training and oversight in terms of fairness and appropriateness in the application of the law. We are very mindful of this, and we will certainly continue to have discussions on the important issue the member brought up.
View Martin Shields Profile
View Martin Shields Profile
2017-05-19 10:25 [p.11468]
Madam Speaker, one of the issues I have addressed with many municipalities in my constituency, of which there are many, is implementation at the municipal level. It will cover many areas, from inspection costs to licensing costs to enforcement. The municipalities foresee a tremendous number of costs being downloaded onto them with this legislation. How would the costs that will be incurred by the municipalities be dealt with on the government side?
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Lib. (BC)
Madam Speaker, as I noted in my remarks, part 1, on drug-impaired driving, will come into force upon royal assent. In terms of alcohol-impaired driving, the proposed changes will have a delayed coming into force. We will continue to work with municipalities, provinces, and territories on the application of the reforms proposed in Bill C-46.
I have been working very closely with the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness in testing the devices on the roadside in various municipalities across the country. He and I want to and will ensure that the necessary resources are in place to provide the appropriate training and necessary tools for police officers to comply with the legislation.
View David Anderson Profile
View David Anderson Profile
2017-05-19 10:27 [p.11468]
Madam Speaker, I know this bill touches on a number of issues that are very important to Canadians. I was struck by some of the complicated situations we find in this bill. The minister talked about criminalizing intervening drinking, but there would be innocent intervening drinking and guilty intervening drinking. There are some complications we really need to look at, but I think the biggest one is reasonable suspicion.
The minister has told us that there is no charter violation of personal rights in taking away the right to expect that police must have a reasonable suspicion before pulling anyone over, but we know that the majority of Canadians actually oppose mandatory screening. The legal community has said that the ruling she has lacks depth and does not reference any case law. I am wondering why the government is putting so much weight on such a lightweight judgment from her justice department.
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Lib. (BC)
Madam Speaker, again, I was very pleased to table the charter statement. The statement speaks to where there may be charter implications. It is not a legal opinion. It is something the Department of Justice has committed to introducing with every piece of legislation to assist the public in understanding the reasons and rationale behind what we are doing, in this case with respect to alcohol and drug-impaired driving.
The reasonable suspicion requirement still exists within part 1 for drug-impaired driving. I believe the member opposite is referring to mandatory roadside screening, which would not require a police officer to have a reasonable suspicion but would enable the officer to do mandatory screening at the roadside. The reason for this, and I am confident in its charter compliance, is that the purpose of this bill is to protect safety and make our roads safe. I am confident that this is a justifiable public policy purpose, the results of which would significantly reduce the number of deaths on the road and the number of people convicted of alcohol-impaired driving.
View Alistair MacGregor Profile
Madam Speaker, I have another question for the Minister of Justice regarding the nanogram limits for THC that have been established. It has been noted in much scientific literature that when cannabis is inhaled versus when it is ingested, the peak periods when someone is impaired vary considerably, and they vary considerably when comparing first time users versus habitual users.
What plans does the Department of Justice have for a public awareness campaign so that when marijuana becomes legalized, people are aware of how much different amounts affect them before they can take the wheel?
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Lib. (BC)
Madam Speaker, in terms of our intentions around moving forward with the legalization of cannabis and the strict regulations, there has to necessarily be, and we are committed to continuing to have, an extremely engaged, robust educational rollout to ensure that we assist in informing Canadians about the impact of cannabis.
In terms of impairment with respect to cannabis and what the levels are to get behind the wheel of a car, we are taking a precautionary approach in this legislation, a precautionary approach amounting to a zero-tolerance approach to ensure that if people have consumed a drug, they are deterred from thinking they can get behind the wheel.
View David Lametti Profile
Lib. (QC)
View David Lametti Profile
2017-05-19 10:31 [p.11469]
Madam Speaker, I congratulate the minister on what is a very important initiative for this country.
I first of all think the bill passes constitutional muster, and I would invite the minister to comment on the underlying change, which is that we have come to realize that people do not have a right to drink and drive or to consume and drive.
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Lib. (BC)
Madam Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for the statement in terms of constitutionality. The purpose of this legislation is to ensure that people are deterred from thinking they can consume any level of drug or alcohol and think it is reasonable to get behind the wheel of a car. The intention, in terms of the mandatory breath screening, is to change the thought processes of individuals who think they can get behind the wheel of a car and to ensure that police officers have the opportunity to increase their ability to catch people who are impaired by drugs. That would increase by 50%, according to the evidence we have.
View Luc Berthold Profile
View Luc Berthold Profile
2017-05-19 10:32 [p.11469]
Madam Speaker, I am pleased to talk about Bill C-46, which was introduced in the House on April 13.
I think a little context is in order. This bill is one component of the government's plan to legalize marijuana. Changes to the rules for drivers are called for because of concerns about more drug-impaired drivers getting behind the wheel once marijuana is legal.
Before I talk about the bill specifically, I would like to share my concerns and some general observations about the government's overarching plan to legalize marijuana.
I just want to point out that I am not a legal expert, so I did not look at Bill C-46 through that lens. I looked at it as a resident of the riding of Mégantic—L'Érable who is concerned about the negative repercussions of legal marijuana. Normalizing drug use is sure to have an impact on our roads.
The two arguments the government has given to justify legalizing marijuana and making it more accessible to Canadians consist in keeping it out of the hands of youth and keeping profits from the sale of marijuana out of the hands of criminals. Those are the two main arguments we kept hearing during the last election campaign. They were also reiterated when that bill was introduced, which was at the same time as this one was introduced. That was a big day, a day on which we had to respond to a whole series of measures. It seemed as though the government was in a hurry to introduce everything at the same time.
I cannot help but question not the government's intentions, but the statements it made when this legislation was announced. Is it any wonder that we on this side of the House are worried?
I spoke with some students at a high school in my riding about plans to legalize marijuana, and even they are worried. At least two-thirds of them are opposed to legalizing marijuana. It is important to remember that. One of my colleagues also had the opportunity to meet with some young people in his riding who oppose it too. What worries me is keeping our kids safe, of course, as well as keeping our roads and workplaces safe.
I believe this is all about normalizing marijuana and if we do that it will have an impact on society as a whole. The marijuana legalization bill and Bill C-46 have one thing in common: there is not a single word on how much it will cost the other levels of government or where their responsibilities lie in implementing these measures.
What will it cost the municipalities to increase monitoring or to train their police officers to be able to detect drug impaired driving? What will it cost the provinces in terms of the application of justice? How will these new laws and new rules be enforced? What will it cost the federal government? We have no answer. We are told that this will take money out of the hands of organized crime, but there is no word on government revenues or how those will be used.
These are legitimate questions that came to my mind when the marijuana legalization process was announced. This process was announced and launched even though the majority of public health stakeholders are opposed to normalizing and legalizing marijuana, including the Canadian Medical Association and the Canadian Psychiatric Association.
This bill does not have unanimous support in our ridings, and its intention has even less. When we ask people, those living in rural ridings like mine are firmly opposed to the government's plan to legalize marijuana.
Again, it would no longer be illegal for youth 12 and over to possess a small quantity of marijuana.
Youth 18 years of age and over would be able to legally possess a certain quantity of marijuana and to consume it. People will even be able to grow it in their homes. How is the government going to decide who will have access to it? It is not the same as buying cigarettes at a corner store. If there are cannabis plants all over the place, in every residence, will the parents, neighbours, uncles, or aunts have to oversee access to the drug? We do not know. These are grey areas.
This only makes us more concerned about who is going to have access to marijuana and then make the bad decision, after consuming it, to drive their car, motorcycle, or even their bicycle under the influence of drugs.
The other myth I want to dispel before addressing Bill C-46 is the argument that this will no longer be a revenue stream for organized crime because the government will be pocketing the profits instead. The term “organized crime” is made up of two words: “organized” and “crime”. I can tell you right now that the criminal element has organized to profit even more. That is the most worrisome aspect, because if the criminal world is preparing to make even more profits and not with marijuana, then with what? Will it be with other things?
We have already taken alcohol out of the hands of organized crime. Did organized crime cease to exist? It is still there, and it gave up on alcohol to focus on drugs. What is next? That is what worries me the most, and we have no answer to that question.
Bill C-46 was introduced because the government realized that it had to take action. The government also realized, in light of its promise to legalize and normalize marijuana, that it had to find a way to ensure that this law does not cause even more deaths on our roads, whether it be from alcohol- or drug-impaired driving. The government also used Bill C-46 to add some amendments regarding drunk driving. The government had to act because it knew it would be causing an even bigger problem on our roads. That is what the government did with Bill C-46.
Bill C-46 has two parts. Part 1 amends the provisions of the Criminal Code that deal with offences and procedures relating to drug-impaired driving; enacts new criminal offences for driving with a blood drug concentration that is equal to or higher than the permitted concentration; authorizes the government to establish blood drug concentrations; and authorizes peace officers who suspect a driver has a drug in their body to demand that the driver provide a sample of a bodily substance for analysis by drug screening equipment that is approved by the Attorney General of Canada.
Part 2 is more general, but it also makes a number of amendments, which are likely designed to improve the current situation. We will surely have the opportunity to talk about this in committee. A very active committee that is familiar with legal issues will ask excellent questions. I am sure that, if the government is aware of the situation and is acting in good faith, the suggestions made by the official opposition have a good chance of being incorporated into the next iteration of the bill.
The way we see it, this bill is not quite perfect. We have some questions. Will all of this stand up to court challenges? A law with strict provisions is all well and good, but if it does not hold up in court, that could create even bigger problems. Once this bill is passed and brought into force, the other bill on marijuana legalization will be too.
What we really want to avoid is having these new measures and penalties end up in court and finding ourselves in an unfortunate legal void. Think of the Jordan decision, which is causing serious problems now. I will talk more about that a bit later.
Part 2 repeals the transportation-related offences and replaces them with a structure that is supposedly modern, simpler, and coherent. It authorizes mandatory roadside screening for alcohol once a police officer has stopped a driver. It increases certain minimum fines and certain maximum penalties. It also facilitates detection of blood alcohol concentration and the ensuing investigation. Lastly, it eliminates or limits defences that promote risky conduct and that frustrate the enforcement of drunk driving laws. There are also other measures.
At first glace, these measures are designed to discourage people from getting behind the wheel while drunk or high. I am sure all members on this side of the House agree that we must put an end to this scourge that causes hundreds of deaths every year in this country.
Unfortunately, as I mentioned earlier, the government's coming marijuana legislation will probably create more opportunities for people to drive while impaired not by alcohol but by marijuana.
Let me share some reactions from those in the know. The Canadian Automobile Association issued some comments on marijuana legalization and the impaired driving regulations:
CAA believes three issues need to be addressed for an effective drugs driving regime: clear law, tools for law enforcement and public education. Today’s announcement deals with the law but leaves questions around funding and public education.
The vice president of public affairs at CAA National said, “We’re still waiting for the details on additional funding to make the legislation enforceable. This needs to happen sooner rather than later.”
This article came out on April 13, 2017, and we still have no answers to CAA's very legitimate questions. The article goes on:
The government also reiterated a Budget 2017 commitment to spend less than $2 million a year over five years on public education—a sum that is clearly inadequate, given the misconceptions about marijuana’s effect on driving.
Here is another passage, for information:
CAA polling has found almost two thirds of Canadians (63 per cent) are concerned that roads will become more dangerous with the legalization of marijuana, and that 26 per cent of Canadians between the ages of 18 and 34 believe a driver is either the same or better on the road under the influence of marijuana.
While 26% of young Canadians do not believe that marijuana negatively affects their driving, the government is saying that it will invest $2 million a year to educate them. There is a serious problem here. If the government really wants the opposition parties' support, it needs to present us with a clear plan to promote public awareness immediately, so that we will know what Canadians can expect on July 1, 2018, the deadline that has been set for legalizing marijuana. The government must not wait until then to announce prevention and awareness programs. We need to know this now, because Canadians are worried.
Here is one last quotation regarding CAA's concerns. According to Jeff Walker, “...law enforcement is not sufficiently equipped to enforce the law and the cost to train them is high.”
The other reaction I would like to highlight comes from the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction, and it specifically concerns the screening devices mentioned in Bill C-46:
At present, there is a limited number of drugs that can be accurately detected by oral fluid screening devices: cannabis, cocaine, methamphetamine and opioids.
...Although the accuracy of oral fluid screening devices has been improving, they are not perfect. Some drivers who have used drugs will test negative and there remains a small probability that some drug-free drivers will test positive. When a driver who has used drugs is missed by the screening procedure, it has implications for road safety [and for all Canadians].
Is the technology ready for the implementation of Bill C-46? That is a question from the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction.
I have other sources. On April 28, 2017, the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police also commented on impaired driving: “A primary concern of policing in Canada is impaired driving. This is an issue today. It will become an even greater issue with legalization.”
The Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police went on to say:
Will adequate and ongoing funding be provided in advance of the stated goal of legalization ... [as I mentioned earlier] to train officers and drug recognition evaluators (DREs), purchase and maintain [oral fluid] devices, increase forensic laboratory capacity to process bodily fluids and sustain our ability to enforce this legislation?
Are the per se limits supported by scientific evidence and will they stand up to potential challenges within our judicial system [so we do not find ourselves once more with a legal void that would allow criminals to take to the road, because henceforth they will be criminals]?
Will the provinces/territories be introducing complimentary enforcement regimes to discourage drug impaired driving...
These are very legitimate questions. I believe that we should listen to these people. Some of these people enforce the law and some are automobile experts. In short, these are comments and questions that we will surely have an opportunity to address, and I hope that the government will have answers when we study this bill in committee.
However, Bill C-46 will not do any good if the courts cannot enforce the law. I am referring to the Jordan decision. Here are a few statistics. In nine months, no fewer than 134 accused whose cases have been taking too long to filter through the Quebec court system were released before being tried, not at their own request, but at the request of the crown. Another 59 accused were released after their defence filed a request with the crown. That means 193 people did not stand trial. According to Annick Murphy, the director of criminal and penal prosecutions in Quebec, the majority of the cases that were dropped had to do with impaired driving. We are talking about 100 out of 193 cases. These 100 people got behind the wheel and endangered their own lives and the lives of others. All that because the government is taking too long to appoint judges in Quebec and to stop the Jordan decision from unfairly favouring criminals.
The government could do something about this, but unfortunately it is not doing so. Instead, it is going to ask the Quebec justice system to deal with more cases. The government is going to ask the Quebec justice system to do even more, when it does not even have the resources to deal with the cases currently before its courts. That is worrisome.
The director of criminal and penal prosecutions for Quebec stated the following: “We are certainly prioritizing cases...involving crimes against persons, which we see as the most serious.”
I understand that all crimes against the person are serious, but we need to talk to victims who have lost a loved one in a car accident because someone was driving while impaired, and not just once, but perhaps for the second or third time. We need to ask those victims whether impaired driving is a serious crime. Personally, I see it as a very serious crime, and we cannot pretend that being impaired is not a serious factor. We would be making the problem worse.
In closing, I still do not trust this government's process for legalizing marijuana. The measures presented might seem fine at first glance, but they do include any means or budget to promote prevention, to train police officers, or to support prevention among young people. We will support this bill so that it can be sent to committee for further study. I would hope that the government will find some way to properly enforce this legislation once it passes.
View Bill Blair Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Bill Blair Profile
2017-05-19 10:52 [p.11471]
Madam Speaker, I listened very carefully to the member's speech. I remain mystified as to what the member's position is with respect to the bill. It appears the member does not like two things: the way things are and any change.
First, in the beginning of his speech, he implied that the issue of impaired by drug was an issue only created by the government's intent to remove the criminal prohibition and replace criminal penalties with a system of strict regulation for the production, distribution, and consumption of cannabis.
Is the member aware these statistics? Up to 40% of Canadians between the ages of 18 and 35 report they are occasional or frequent users of cannabis. Almost a third of our young people believe cannabis has no effect on their ability to drive, and that is clearly wrong. Even more bizarre is that 15% have suggested this makes them drive better. More than half of our young people have suggested they have driven with another individual who is high.
This has been problem for decades and nothing has been done. Given that this is clearly a serious problem in today's society, does the member suggest we should continue to do nothing to deal with this very serious problem with impaired by drugs on our roadways?
View Luc Berthold Profile
View Luc Berthold Profile
2017-05-19 10:54 [p.11471]
Madam Speaker, as I said at the very end of my speech, we will support this bill so it goes to committee. That is very clear. The bill is going to committee, and we can talk about it there. However, my colleague's arguments about marijuana legalization support what I have been saying since the beginning.
He is talking about a process to legalize marijuana. I am talking about a process to normalize it. The government has not announced any prevention or education measures. There is barely $2 million for the whole country. That is unbelievable. This budget does not even cover a television ad campaign. They think they can reach our youth with this pittance? I just want to point out that some young people are against marijuana legalization.
I am not sure who the Liberals are trying to please. I hope they are not just trying to fill government coffers. We know the Liberals need a lot of money now to pay the interest on the enormous deficit they are handing down to those same young people who disagree with legalizing marijuana.
View Alistair MacGregor Profile
Madam Speaker, I am glad the member wants to see the bill come to the justice committee, because we need to delve into it.
He spent a lot of his time speaking about Bill C-45, and that is legitimate since both bills were introduced together. However, when we look at the war on drugs, by any measure, it has been a complete and abject failure. We have spent billions of dollars and we have ruined countless lives, all for something that a large segment of our society continues to do. It ties up our court resources. We could direct that money into better programs.
If someone is going to use the public health arguments against marijuana, then we should also be criminalizing alcohol and tobacco because they also cost our health care system billions of dollars every year.
I have heard a variety of messages from the Conservative Party. I would like to know the hon. member's position on marijuana. If he is very critical of what the Liberals have proposed, what would he like to see? Is he in favour of the status quo? Would he like to see decriminalization? I would like him to explain to the House what his view is on marijuana legalization.
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