Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise to address Bill C-93 this morning. I found it actually quite excessive listening to my New Democrat friends on this issue. As the parliamentary secretary put it, I think it is important that we recognize that the NDP tends to grossly exaggerate its stand on a wide variety of issues. This is a good example of that.
In the last federal election, the New Democrats, under Mr. Mulcair, actually said that they were not in favour of the legalization of cannabis. That was their position. Now the member says that we should not hold them to account for what the NDP said back in the last federal election, but in the same speech, he said that he wants to hold us to account for what we said in the last election.
Let us talk about the cannabis issue. What did the government say back in 2015? The Liberals were very clear, and our leader was very clear, that we were in favour of the legalization of cannabis, because we wanted to protect our young people. We wanted to bring in strong regulations. We wanted to go after criminal activities. That was our justification for making that commitment to Canadians back in 2015. The Conservatives, on the other hand, wanted the status quo.
The NDP position was very clear. It did not want to legalize cannabis. It wanted to decriminalize cannabis. Reflect on that. I think the NDP is trying to find relevance in society today, because even the Green Party tends to outdo the NDP on the environment file. Many of the positions the NDP is adopting today are going to the Green Party. On this issue, it is following the Liberal Party. That is fine. We do not mind sharing our ideas with our NDP friends.
However, those following this debate should not be fooled by the type of information the New Democrats are providing on this issue. They argue for expungement, because they are grasping. A few years ago, they were not even in favour of the legalization of cannabis. During the 2015 campaign, we made a very strong presentation to Canadians, and Canadians accepted it, and now, through Bill C-45, we actually have cannabis legalized here in Canada.
The Conservatives and the NDP, that unholy alliance, I would argue, at times come together. The last few days, they have been saying, “Here we are with 18 days left to go in this session and the government is wanting to rush things through.” When we were elected, we made a commitment to Canadians to work hard every day. What do they expect us to do, say that with only 18 days left in this session, we are going to stop, as if there is nothing else for us to do?
From day one, with that very first bill, Bill C-2, to reduce taxes for Canada's middle class while at the same time increasing it for Canada's wealthiest 1%, until the last day we sit, this government's intention has been to continue to deliver for Canadians in a real and tangible way.
The legalization of cannabis took us a considerable amount of time. We cannot just bring in legislation and pass it. Legislation of that nature requires a great deal of background work, such as working with the many different stakeholders, provinces and indigenous leaders. We could not bring in this legislation before we even passed the other legislation.
This legislation is before us today because it is good, sound, solid legislation. This is the type of legislation that is going to have a profoundly positive impact on the lives of many Canadians. That is the reason we are debating it today.
Whether there are 16 days, 10 days or five days left does not really matter. At the end of the day, Canadians can know that this government will continue to work every day to advance good, strong social budgetary policies.
For individuals who have been convicted of simple possession of cannabis, this legislation would allow an expedited pardon for that particular conviction. It is as simple as that. This legislation would expedite it and ensure that there was no cost for receiving that pardon.
For those who have an interest in getting a pardon, this government has made it exceptionally easy for them to do. That is why this legislation is important. It is why we challenge all members of the House to support it.
With regard to the expungement argument being brought forward, a pardon is all that is required. It is far more than the NDP was prepared to offer in 2015. When its members say that it should be expungement, they should put an asterisk there to indicate that it is a lot more than what they were prepared to do back in 2015.
I know that the NDP had a change in leadership. I believe that the current leader says that the legalization of heroin and cocaine should be allowed. I believe that could be a potential election platform coming from the NDP. That is what its current leader has talked about in the past. Maybe the NDP might provide some clarity and transparency on that issue. We are glad that the NDP has accepted the idea of the legalization of cannabis.
The NDP had some influence with the Conservatives. Prior to the last election, the Conservative Party was outright against it. I remember the brochures, the propaganda and the myths being created. Even back then, the Conservatives were more focused on being critical of personalities than on substantive policy issues. The Conservatives were against it. They did not want legalization, and I do not believe they even favoured decriminalization. After the election, they started to talk about the decriminalization of cannabis.
A few of them are saying that they started talking about it a bit earlier. In fairness to my Conservative friends, that might be the case. Having said that, who were the biggest benefactors? I argue that it was the gangs and the criminal element that were the biggest benefactors of the Conservative policy on cannabis. Stop and think about that.
Some hon. members: Oh, oh!