Madam Speaker, I rise today 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 will address a couple of things with respect to the bill, and one is the timetable for this bill and Bill C-45.
The government is making a mistake, quite frankly, first for even bringing in the marijuana bill and then pushing it forward to try to get it in by Canada Day of next year. Even though I have heard the minister say that the government will try to push through this bill in conjunction with Bill C-45, the whole thing is a mistake.
We heard considerable testimony from different groups that they thought this was being jammed through too quickly. The Canadian police services asked that the legislation be delayed so they would have the ability to train and put resources in place.
I suggest that the government has not done enough to put effective educational campaigns in place, despite statistics showing significant increases in fatalities due to drug-impaired driving. We have a problem already with drug-impaired driving. The Liberals tell us that by legalizing this, they somehow have come up with some solutions to this, but it is the exact opposite.
Mandatory roadside testing, in addition to the large number of officers who still do not have sufficient training to adequately detect drug-impaired driving through drug-recognition training, is another part of this, as well the refusal of the government to mandate proper storage restrictions of cannabis plants in homes. The government, in its excitement, was pleased to announce that everyone would be able to have a small grow-op in the kitchen. We were very much against this, for the reasons I stated at committee and before this. How can we make it any more accessible and easier for kids if the plants are in the kitchen?
I thought I received some good news a couple of weeks ago when a woman in my office, Cheri, said that I would be interested to know that the Liberals had made some changes about grow-ops in kitchens. I thought that was wonderful and that the Liberals had listened to us. However, the government said that the three feet was not high enough, that the plants would have to grow taller than that. Therefore, after getting criticism about this, the Liberals did the exact opposite. They would let people have four-, five-, or 10-foot plants. I guess there would be more joints available the higher these things grew. This is a huge mistake, one that we will hear about in the future if the bill passes.
Canadian police services from across the country have called on the government to delay the legislation beyond 2018 to allow law enforcement time to properly manage the threat of increased drug-impaired driving and the association that this would take place with the legalization of marijuana. The Canadian police services stated that there was zero chance they would be ready by July 2018.
Why are the Liberals so intent on not listening to Canada's law enforcement? They have imposed this deadline, again, with little regard to the health and safety of Canadians.
During the recent meetings our committees had, the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police warned that it needed more time to train officers under the proposed new law and more than double the number of police officers certified to conduct roadside drug-impaired testing. It also called for more time to implement public education. If we look around, officials in Washington State and Colorado have stressed the importance of implementing educational campaigns on drug-impaired driving as soon as possible and long before legalization.
The government's timetable is just too tight. The Liberals say that they will get Bill C-46 in before Bill C-45. However, with the timetable they have insisted upon for Bill C-45, we will not be ready.
The Liberals have not taken the advice of members of the police association or Canadian premiers who have voiced their concerns. The provincial governments need more time to get their rules and regulations in place.
The minister mentioned MADD Canada. It has also called for the government to ensure the legislative framework is in place under the Motor Vehicle Act, giving police the powers to lay drug-impaired charges. Currently, the standard breathalyser will not detect drugs, This was one of the things we heard.
My colleagues mentioned how challenging it was to exactly measure the level of THC and thus measure the level of impairment. It is further complicated now that we are encouraging people to smoke marijuana, especially in combination with alcohol. This is going to become more complicated. In the hearings and testimony on Bill C-46, it became very clear how difficult this would be. We heard different experts say that THC could be in a person's system for days afterwards. The THC level spikes with the first couple of joints and then it goes down. How quickly it goes down is the question and what happens when marijuana is used in combination with alcohol.
Again, we need to have people who are expert in this area. The police services have said that they need at least 2,000 experts to do this. I will quote Ms. MacAskill from Mothers Against Drunk Driving. She said, about the disposable saliva test, “If every officer can have that in their vehicle it will certainly have a positive impact on road safety.”
Unfortunately, the government is not in a position to guarantee that those drug experts will be in place. It has not made the necessary provisions to make this happen. Again, the Liberals are focused on getting this through. Somehow it will be a wonderful that on the next Canada Day, everyone will be smoking a joint. However, this has been a huge mistake.
As well, I have to mention the penalties. The Conservative party is very clear that a $1,000 fine for a person who kills because of drunk driving is unacceptable. Quite frankly, it sends the wrong message. My colleague talked about mothers for justice. They were very clear that it was not enough to say a person was arrested. We want to send a very clear message that if a person is drunk, starts to drive and kills people, that there are serious consequences, not just a $1,000 or $1,500 fine with a slap on the wrist. Our job is to ensure people get the message that they have to take responsibility for the crimes they commit. When we were in government, that message was consistent. There has to be serious consequences for people who commit serious crimes and victimize others.
Statistics show that impaired driving due to drugs is on the rise. This is why we need to have nationwide public education. We know, having looked at Washington State, what will happen in our country. Fatal crashes among drivers who test positive for marijuana went up from 8% in 2013 to 17% in 2014. In Colorado, between 2005 and 2014, the number of drivers in fatal crashes who tested positive for marijuana, without other drugs in their system, went from 3.4% to 12%. It multiplied four times when marijuana was legalized in that state.
Dr. Mark Ware, co-chair of Ottawa's marijuana task force, stated, “Canada should immediately boost spending on intensive public education and research into the impacts of marijuana and not wait until 2018.” I would go beyond that and say not to be forced into putting this in place by next Canada Day.
Dr. Ware told a drug policy conference in Ottawa that a bill to overhaul Canada's marijuana laws was the first step in what he predicted would be an unbelievably deep and tangled web with the provinces, territories, and the municipalities, which would be responsible for much of this scheme.
Here is what is going to happen when this legislation gets enacted. The federal Liberals will blame the provinces when this thing becomes a complete national mess. They will say that they legalized it but it is the responsibility of the provinces. They will point the finger and claim that it is not them who have made the mess. Once they get this off their hands, it will be up to the provinces, or they will say that the police services are screwing this up, that they are not doing enough. That is what is so unfortunate about this.
The government has been warned about the implications of legalizing marijuana and the required safeguards that should be in place. The Canadian Automobile Association has made the case that a public education campaign has to be put in place.
This will complicate our judicial system. It was made very clear that there would be charter challenges. I understand that whenever new legislation is put in, there is always the possibility that people will challenge it. Nonetheless, there will be a lot of cases that will compound the challenge this will have on the courts. We have raised this with the government on many occasions. We have told it to ensure enough judges are appointed. This has been a slow process, and not enough judges will not help the situation. When these cases are before the courts and there are delays, et cetera, it will not help things if the Government of Canada does not move forward as expeditiously as possible in appointing judges.
The other thing we have to worry about is not just people smoking marijuana, but people who will turn marijuana into edibles. The Liberals will again say the that provinces are to blame if this is the case. I understand that, but we all have a responsibility. When this gets turned into an edible product and children have access to that product, it will be a serious problem. I appreciate that not all children will go after the pot plants in the kitchen and nor should they, but edibles will be another danger to young people and a danger that the government does not seem to take with the seriousness it should take.
I do like some sections in the legislation. The minister talked about one section that refers to marijuana tests being taken about two hours afterwards. Among other things, this will go after those individuals who will try to avoid an impaired driving charge by having a couple of drinks after the accident, using the excuse they needed those drinks to calm down. We all know that this is a way of avoiding or complicating an impaired driving charge. I actually agree with that section.
However, when my colleague from St. Albert—Edmonton came forward with a group of reasonable amendments to ensure people would live up to their responsibilities when they finally were convicted of impaired driving and impaired driving which resulted in somebody being killed, those penalties were completely rejected by the Liberals on committee. When somebody kills a child and receives a $1,500 fine, the whole justice system is compromised. It decreases people's confidence in the criminal justice system when people are not given penalties that are commiserate with the crimes they have committed.
My Liberal colleagues do not want to put these tough penalties in the bill because they believe they will not stop people from committing these crimes. However, I think it does send a message to people that there are serious consequences for what they are doing. Yes, there are people who say that they had better be careful because there are serious consequences for their impaired driving.
I appreciate that Bill C-45 and Bill C-46 go together and that the latter bill complements the first, but my colleagues and I want the government to reconsider everything about this, its implementation and the whole question of legalizing marijuana and what it will do to our children. I promise that if the government implements this and the Liberals start to run away from it and say, “I don't know, you better talk to the education department, or the police, or the provinces”, we will hold them accountable for everything, the complete mess this will create. We will not let them off the hook by pointing to someone else.
I have appreciated the opportunity to make comments on this. I know the government has not listened to us up to this point, but I hope it will in the future.