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View Bruce Stanton Profile
View Bruce Stanton Profile
2019-06-21 14:54 [p.29473]
I have the honour to inform the House that when this House did attend Her Excellency this day in the Senate chamber, Her Excellency the Governor General was pleased to give, in Her Majesty's name, the royal assent to the following bills:
C-71, An Act to amend certain Acts and Regulations in relation to firearms—Chapter 9.
C-81, An Act to ensure a barrier-free Canada—Chapter 10.
S-203, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and other Acts (ending the captivity of whales and dolphins)—Chapter 11.
C-82, An Act to implement a multilateral convention to implement tax treaty related measures to prevent base erosion and profit shifting—Chapter 12.
C-59, An Act respecting national security matters—Chapter 13.
C-68, An Act to amend the Fisheries Act and other Acts in consequence—Chapter 14.
C-77, An Act to amend the National Defence Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts—Chapter 15.
C-78, An Act to amend the Divorce Act, the Family Orders and Agreements Enforcement Assistance Act and the Garnishment, Attachment and Pension Diversion Act and to make consequential amendments to another Act—Chapter 16.
C-84, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (bestiality and animal fighting)—Chapter 17.
C-58, An Act to amend the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts—Chapter 18.
C-88, An Act to amend the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act and the Canada Petroleum Resources Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts—Chapter 19.
C-93, An Act to provide no-cost, expedited record suspensions for simple possession of cannabis—Chapter 20.
C-102, An Act for granting to Her Majesty certain sums of money for the federal public administration for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2020—Chapter 21.
C-101, An Act to amend the Customs Tariff and the Canadian International Trade Tribunal Act—Chapter 22.
C-91, An Act respecting Indigenous languages—Chapter 23.
C-92, An Act respecting First Nations, Inuit and Métis children, youth and families—Chapter 24.
C-75, An Act to amend the Criminal Code, the Youth Criminal Justice Act and other Acts and to make consequential amendments to other Acts—Chapter 25.
C-48, An Act respecting the regulation of vessels that transport crude oil or persistent oil to or from ports or marine installations located along British Columbia's north coast—Chapter 26.
C-83, An Act to amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act and another Act—Chapter 27.
C-69, An Act to enact the Impact Assessment Act and the Canadian Energy Regulator Act, to amend the Navigation Protection Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts—Chapter 28.
C-97, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 19, 2019 and other measures—Chapter 29.
It being 2:55 p.m., the House stands adjourned until Monday, September 16, 2019, at 11 a.m., pursuant to Standing Orders 28(2) and 24(1).
(The House adjourned at 2:55 p.m.)
The 42nd Parliament was dissolved by Royal Proclamation on September 11, 2019.
Aboriginal languagesAboriginal peoplesAccess for disabled peopleAccess to informationAdjournmentAgriculture, environment and natural res ...British ColumbiaBudget 2019 (March 19, 2019)C-101, An Act to amend the Customs Tarif ...C-102, An Act for granting to Her Majest ...C-48, An Act respecting the regulation o ... ...Show all topics
View Nathaniel Erskine-Smith Profile
Lib. (ON)
moved for leave to introduce Bill C-460, an act to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act and to make consequential amendments to other acts.
He said: Mr. Speaker, thousands of Canadians continue to die because of the ongoing opioid crisis. According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, its most recent numbers indicate that since January 2016, over 11,000 Canadians have died. For the first time in decades, our life expectancy in Canada has stalled, and it is because of the opioid crisis. It is a public health crisis, and public health experts across the country are unanimous in calling for drug use to be treated as a health issue. That means expanding harm reduction and treatment options, which this government has done, but it also means removing the criminal sanction for low-level possession, because we know that the number one stigma associated with seeking treatment is the criminal sanction.
It does not mean removing the criminal sanction for producing or trafficking, but for personal use by the very people we want to help, it means treating patients as patients and not as criminals. That is exactly what this bill seeks to do by removing the criminal sanction for low-level possession. It is a necessary next step in following the evidence to save lives. If I am re-elected, it will be the first bill I reintroduce.
View Jim Eglinski Profile
View Jim Eglinski Profile
2019-06-06 15:39 [p.28710]
Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today to speak once more to Bill C-93, an act to provide no-cost, expedited record suspensions for simple possession of cannabis.
I will be splitting my time with the member for Elgin—Middlesex—London.
As I said last week, this is a terrible bill. It reminds me of the NAFTA bill. However, sometimes a bill is better than no bill.
As I have said many times in the House, I was never in favour of the legalization of marijuana, Bill C-45, which was another typically ill-conceived bill brought in by the Liberal government.
I will support the Bill C-93 because there is a common-sense element to it.
Although I did not support legalization, I am not naive enough to say that it was not right to look at the whole cannabis strategy in Canada. Let us face it, we are not the only ones. Many other countries have legalized or decriminalized marijuana. We only have to look at our closest and best trading partners, the good old U.S.A.
The use of marijuana has been legalized and decriminalized in Alaska, California, Colorado, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, Washington, the District of Columbia, Mariana Islands and Guam. Many of these jurisdictions are looking at or have commenced programs to get rid of the old cannabis-related charges for simple possession. There are several different programs being looked at. Some are similar to this bill, Bill C-93. Some are similar to what the NDP has been pushing, which is expungement.
We have heard from many of my colleagues in the House about the injustices that have taken place with respect to Canadians who have records for simple possession of marijuana. Stories have been told about people being turned back at the U.S. border. However, in my research, I have found the same things are happening in the United States. I will provide two cases. We have heard this before with respect to our people, just not south of the border. I will not to give their names to protect their identity.
A 70-year-old retired carpenter in the United States, who once ran for the Senate, was convicted back in 1968 for simple possession. His conviction caused him to be refused entry into Canada and he is unable to purchase a firearm in the United States.
Another gentleman, a professional lighting technician, worked for Willy Nelson for a time. Because of a misdemeanour drug charge as a youth, he was unable to accompany the band on tour to Canada.
Therefore, I strongly believe we need to remove the records for Canadians who were charged with simple possession of marijuana. Clearing people's records can remove barriers to employment and housing.
Many groups in Canada have become victims because of the area they live in and the environment around them. Many are good people who made the wrong choice at the wrong time. That is why I support Bill C-93, although I feel the bill did not go far enough. It should have, and could have, looked at many minor Criminal Code offences, such as public mischief and wilful damage, offences we call misdemeanours in the Criminal Code. There is always room to fix things. Maybe sometime in the future Bill C-93 coanbe fixed.
I spoke about this last week. In California, Code for America has brought out a program called “Clear My Record”. It is a computerized program that allows for the expedient removal of simple criminal code records, such as the simple possession of marijuana.
From the list of states I mentioned previously, nearly every one has passed laws that allow people to clear or change their criminal records. Those states recognize the impact on the economy and on the lives of families when millions are shut out of the workforce or unable to fully reintegrate into their communities because of criminal records from their past. I was shocked to learn, in my research on Bill C-93, that one in three people had a criminal record in the United States.
I also discovered that those states that had a cumbersome, overly complicated system of removing one's record failed in their goals. Only a small fraction of the tens of millions of eligible Americans benefited from these laws, which was directly related to being over-complicated, costly and took too much time to do.
“Code for America”, a computerized system that was adopted by California, is a modern 21st century technology that is quick, efficient and benefits the recipients. “Clear my Record” is a free online tool that assists people in California to navigate the complicate process of clearing their records. People can fill out a short, easy to understand application online that typically takes 10 minutes to get connected to a legal authority.
Jazmyn Latimer and Ben Golder, who co-developed the program, realized there was a problem when they looked into how many people were taking advantage of getting their records expunged. They found that less than 8% of the people who qualified accomplished it, simply because the system was opaque, hard to understand and navigate and costly, both for the people with the records and for the government. Does this sound like Bill C-93? It very much does.
I made recommendations to Bill C-93 during committee that the Canadian Parole Board look at electronic means of modernizing the way we do business. We are still following 20th century technology, trying to do too much by hand. Why? I could not get an answer for that.
The state of California, which has implemented the electronic process, has plans to try to clear over 250,000 cannabis-related convictions by 2020. That is probably as many as we have in Canada, and if not, a lot more. I hope it succeeds.
As well, I hope our Parole Board looks at an electronic process for Canadians with all possession charges and to expand in the future to look at other minor Criminal Code offences. We owe it to Canadians to make this system simple and free so they can get rid of their records, live better lives and be less of a burden on society.
View Sean Casey Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Sean Casey Profile
2019-06-06 15:49 [p.28711]
Madam Speaker, I find it quite fascinating to hear the member for Yellowhead say that Bill C-93 does not go far enough, that it should include some minor offences and that processes should be free and easier to get at.
I invite him to comment on the measures taken by the previous Conservative government, a government of which he was a member. It jacked up application fees, increased the waiting time to the point where the backlog is substantial, as is the hardship for many of the people in the very situations he described. That is the record of the Conservative government.
How does he square that with the position he has taken on this bill?
View Jim Eglinski Profile
View Jim Eglinski Profile
2019-06-06 15:50 [p.28711]
Madam Speaker, the Conservatives' stand was that we were trying to run an efficient government, with a balanced budget. Sometimes, governments must take hard measures, realizing that certain expenses may have to be passed down to the public. It is obvious that not many people are receiving the benefits of our parole program and pardon system.
We would be naive if we did not look at ways of modernizing it. Bill C-93 tries to do that. It should have gone further. It should have been more forceful in looking at electronic means to make it simpler, less costly and more efficient for the government.
View Gord Johns Profile
View Gord Johns Profile
2019-06-06 15:51 [p.28711]
Madam Speaker, as my friend and friend colleague is retiring, I would like to thank him for his service. We have done some work together at the all-party climate caucus, and I appreciate his involvement there.
With respect to the legislation, we have heard the arguments about record suspension and we have talked about expungement. The MP for Victoria put forward a bill on expungement, which was defeated by the government. It just does not make sense to us that everyday Canadians can go ahead now and legally use marijuana recreationally, while their neighbour, who may have been convicted for using marijuana, still holds a criminal record. Now people are being asked to go through a long process in asking for a record suspension, which is very costly. Records could be expunged. We have done this in the past with historical wrongs, such as with Bill C-66.
Does the member agree that we should go to full expungement, save a ton of money and move on so people, especially those who are vulnerable, do not have to go through this process?
I have 10 first nations communities in my riding. Many of these people are facing huge challenges when it comes to transportation. For them, applying for a record suspension is very unlikely, because of the costs associated with getting to where there is broadband or an office to do that important work.
View Jim Eglinski Profile
View Jim Eglinski Profile
2019-06-06 15:53 [p.28712]
Madam Speaker, I have mixed emotions. Expungement would be a quick and simple way of doing it. However, I was a police officer for 35 years. Many times when I charged an individual with possession for the purpose of trafficking, that charge got reduced. There may have been other charges. When that person went to court, the Crown and the defence lawyer would decide to plea bargain and, a lot of times, it went down to the simple possession charge. Therefore, I have a hard time with that.
We need to have a way to clarify if the is the only thing relating to the charge of simple possession. I personally have dealt with hundreds of cases over the years, where I may have made the charge simple possession but it may have been a lot more serious. If the guy was polite and co-operative, I would give him the benefit of the doubt. The chiefs of police have brought that concern forward.
I know that technically we could do it with the press of a button, but I do not know if that would be right. We need to really look in-depth at that aspect. We need some way of clarifying it. It is not as easy as a simple possession. In many cases, there are a lot of other things relating to that charge.
View Karen Vecchio Profile
Madam Speaker, I could just stand here and listen to the member for a few more minutes. There is so much to learn, because this debate does have so many different sides to it. We have people who have spent 35 years in the policing community, who have a voice in here. People who have had a criminal charge against them have a voice in here. There are so many different things that we need to look at, so I do respect the words that the member said. That is what makes a healthy debate in the House of Commons.
I am proud to stand here and speak to Bill C-93, an act to provide no-cost, expedited record suspensions for simple possession of cannabis. Although I am not 100% behind the bill, I do feel that it does what is best for Canadians.
To begin, I am concerned about the cost to taxpayers. There are different ways of looking at this. In the previous Conservative government, the process was a user-pay system. This system was put in, and for many years in my experience as a constituency assistant, I would sit with people who had a criminal record and needed to get a record suspension.
We would go through the list of what they needed to do, everything from going to the police station and to the courthouse and all of those different things that were necessary. In many cases, people were trying to get their criminal record suspended because they were looking for better opportunities, for better jobs, for things that would increase their livelihood. I fully respected that.
For many people, although there are different ways of looking at this, what I found was that sometimes the user-pay system was very difficult. For those people who wanted to have a better life, I found it extremely difficult when I knew that they did not have the means, and all they wanted was to have a job. Sometimes this is a real difficulty.
What is at the end of the day for taxpayers? The border security minister indicated that there could be up to 400,000 Canadians who have a criminal record for simple possession, but the government expects between 70,000 and 80,000 are eligible to apply. According to public safety, the cost would be approximately $2.5 million, equalling approximately 10,000 applicants.
There are ways of doing this. I believe that when someone breaks the law, there needs to be some sort of penalty, but sometimes the penalties can live on forever if people do not have the opportunity to have their record suspended, because it is not going away. If people do not have the means to pay for that record suspension, they are going to continue to have that record.
That is why I wish I could see that the government looked at a possible means test. The Liberals talk about means tests all the time, and about not helping the millionaires or the people who do not need it, so I do not know why they did not consider having means tests. Those people who cannot afford it could pay what they can—pay a small portion or pay for the court documents or the records or whatever it is they need. It could be very difficult, but instead we will have people who are making zero dollars and people who are making $500,000 all paying the same to make it universal.
We know that this is an expensive program, so if we are looking it as a poverty reduction measure, let us make sure we are actually helping those in poverty by reducing the cost to them so that those people can have a better life.
One of the discussions we had was whether it was necessary, the idea being that people would say getting a job was not a big deal and having a criminal record was okay. I lived during an economic downturn, and people who had lost their job at Ford in St. Thomas or lost their job at Sterling or a variety of other places were now looking to get a foot in another door. One of the things stopping them was their criminal record.
Many people would say it is against human rights. If there is no reason to worry about that criminal record and it has nothing to do with their job, it should not matter to the employer whether they have a criminal record or not, but let us be honest: When a company is receiving 200 applications and notices there is a criminal record, it is very easy to put it into the “later” pile, because those are issues it does not want to deal with. Companies do not know that it may be a simple possession of marijuana, but it is a simple way of separating the good from the bad, even though the best employee may be lost in that later pile. Those are some of the things we have to understand.
One of the key elements to this issue is poverty reduction. I believe giving every Canadian a chance to better themselves is extremely important, and now that we have legislation that allows for the possession of cannabis and the use of cannabis for people over the age of 18 in Canada, we need to be able to make sure that nothing is holding them back. Having this record suspension so that they can have better lives is key when it comes to a poverty reduction strategy, and it is one of the things that should be implemented for that strategy.
Law enforcement seems to be somewhat supportive. It is off and on. However, as we just heard from the previous speaker, sometimes people had reduced charges. For instance, people trafficking on the streets or who had something else in their possession may have had a reduced charge. There may have been other petty crimes like that, but the possession of cannabis was seen and may have been the only charge laid.
As the previous speaker said, it would be really nice if we could find out more, but what more do we need to do? At the end of the day, it would definitely slow down the process and would not make the process as expedient as people would wish. However, it is important, because sometimes people who have committed much greater crimes have only this possession conviction on their record. In some cases, it was the only offence for which a person could be found guilty, or it may have been a plea deal or a variety of things like that.
Some Canadians, like the NDP, are asking for full expungement. However, I question full expungement because of those cases in which a person has been able to get the charges reduced to simple possession.
There were several common sense amendments put forward by the Conservative Party that were defeated.
Those who had fines and had never paid them would still be eligible for this program, which defeats the whole purpose of having a fine. This is one thing that I am really concerned with. If, let us say, a person has a fine from 20 years ago sitting on their record, it would also be expunged. However, if my mom had a fine, for example, she would be at the station paying it the very next day, because that is who she is. She is a very honourable person. There are some people who may forget, which is one thing, but there are people who just choose not to pay the fine, and they would have this service as well, so at the end of the day, was there any penalty? The answer would be no.
I also think that the surcharge should be up to those individuals with unpaid fines and should not be laid upon the taxpayer.
One thing I like is the amendment that would allow the swearing of an affidavit. Many times I have helped people who have tried to get their records. They have gone to the courthouses and police stations, but sometimes getting those records has been extremely difficult, so the opportunity to swear an affidavit is a very positive amendment. I congratulate all parties who supported it.
Turning back to the legislation, a criminal record showing that charges were withdrawn or that there was an acquittal can have negative effects and can be an obstacle for people wanting to volunteer at their child's school. For years I volunteered at my children's schools in reading programs or on school trips, although not so much now that I am a member of Parliament. However, if a person has been charged with simple possession in the past—which, let us be honest, has happened to a lot of Canadians—that person is not allowed to volunteer at their child's school or for a school trip. If this was something that happened when they were 18 years old and now they are taking their 10-year-old on a school trip, it is just really out there.
We have these screenings because children are vulnerable and we want to make sure that the children have the best opportunity to be with the best role models, but a simple possession charge does not make a person a horrific human being. It is so important that we allow those people to also be involved, whether it is volunteering at food banks, schools, or churches, or at many organizations where a person's criminal record must be clean. These are big concerns.
This goes to the idea of where the NDP would go. What would happen if there was expungement? There are a lot of issues with that. People with a criminal record would be unable to work at a bank, at most government jobs, as insurance or real estate brokers, taxi drivers, police officers, or private investigators. They would be unable to work at restaurants where alcohol is served and, as I said, as volunteers.
We have to give people opportunities, and sometimes it is as simple as giving them a second chance.
Therefore, I am pleased to support the bill before us. As with any other piece of legislation, we will have to look at it and make sure that it is doing exactly what it is supposed to be doing. We have to make sure that it does what it is supposed to do for the people who are supposed to gain the ability to have their sentences removed.
Let us do this while looking ahead and also looking behind to make sure that we have done it properly.
View Karen McCrimmon Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Karen McCrimmon Profile
2019-06-06 16:04 [p.28713]
Madam Speaker, I appreciate the very balanced perspective that the hon. member for Elgin—Middlesex—London put forward, showing what some of the advantages are and what some of the disadvantages are. That is the kind of conversation we should be having, and I appreciate that. However, this is not finished. Everything is not done here. There is more to do.
I would like to ask the hon. member this. If she could pick one thing that we were to look at in the next Parliament to make this even more effective, what would it be?
View Karen Vecchio Profile
Madam Speaker, I think part of it is making sure that those records are all compiled, because people have to go here, here and here. We need to make it user-friendly. That is one of the biggest things we have to lean towards, making it user-friendly.
View Gord Johns Profile
View Gord Johns Profile
2019-06-06 16:05 [p.28713]
Madam Speaker, it is actually nice to see the spirit of the House as we are trying to move forward collectively in a way that is going to help those people who have been convicted for small possession of marijuana, especially the most marginalized persons.
We hear in Regina that indigenous people are nine times more likely than non-indigenous people to be charged with small possession of marijuana or carry a charge of small possession. Clearly, that is a fundamental wrong.
If we look at historical wrongs, homosexuality was illegal until 1969. There were charges laid until 1969. It took us 49 years to pass Bill C-66 to expunge the convictions of those who were charged under what was clearly a historical wrong in our society. We do not want to wait another 49 years to fix this historical wrong. We can fix it right now, and record suspension is just not enough. It is going to be a long, onerous and expensive process.
I call on my colleague to support us in calling for expungement. I know she has talked about some of the rationale behind it, but this is just a much easier way. Let us not wait to fix this historical wrong, because we know that it clearly is one.
View Karen Vecchio Profile
Madam Speaker, I was fully supportive of Bill C-66 and the expungement. Being an ally of the LGBTQ+ community, I look at people and who they are. This is something I look at differently. When comparing cannabis to a person's sexual diversity, I find the issues to be very different.
That being said, we need to make sure that we are actually focusing on people charged with simple possession. The thing is, I am concerned that we can come to an administrative barrier. Part of it is that I know the drug dealers on the street. I know there is a big issue happening here.
Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
Mrs. Karen Vecchio: I do not know them all by name.
Part of the issue is that there are some bad people out there, and I do not want to just say, “Forget about it. It was a simple charge.” Some of those people have caused great angst for many families.
View Paul Manly Profile
View Paul Manly Profile
2019-06-06 16:08 [p.28714]
Madam Speaker, I support this bill. I think that there could be improvements, and I know that the Green Party requested some amendments, including expungement. We have a lot of people in this country who have criminal records based on simple possession. It has ruined a lot of good people's lives and opportunities, and it creates problems for people who want to cross the border.
I think expungement is the best solution. Finding a way to make it very affordable for people to have their records removed so that they can carry on with their lives and not carry this with them for the rest of their days is very important as well.
I would ask the hon. member whether she think that the bill is good enough as it is to support it. What changes would she make otherwise?
View Karen Vecchio Profile
Madam Speaker, I look at this and I am just not there yet with expungement. I need more facts to show that we are getting only the people who have had simple possession. I think that is where my breaking point is, simple possession versus trafficking. That is where the line is.
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