Cannabis Act


Madam Speaker, I would like to thank my friends on this side of the House, although I did not hear any applause on the other side of the House. I know I am standing in the way of the House leader introducing another closure motion, so I am going to use my time judiciously.

As I said last night, the record of incompetence of the government is truly astounding. Only 19 bills have reached royal assent, yet it has now used closure 25 times. The Liberals have limited debate more than they have passed legislation in this House. This is setting records in our parliamentary democracy.

What I said is that this is actually a good thing, because if we look at the government’s economic performance in taking Canada from a $1-billion surplus to an almost $30-billion structural deficit, we see that even though it raised taxes on people, on job creators, on small businesses, on payroll, on carbon tax, on excise tax, on the sharing economy, on beer, and on wine, it still cannot balance the budget.

Perhaps I should take it as a blessing that the Liberals have only been able to get 19 pieces of legislation through this House. Our country could potentially be in ruins if they were a little more ambitious in Parliament.

I am going to speak tonight, late at night, on the tyranny of the progressives. That is what we see with the government. It has an attitude that it knows what is best for us. If we dare criticize what it is doing, we are not supporting Canada’s future, or if it does disagree with our position, it simply says we do not understand. It is a put-down to debate in this House.

I have listened to the standard speeches talking about organized crime and providing ridiculous arguments. We have tobacco, and organized crime is still involved in contraband tobacco, so I am shocked that the member for Scarborough Southwest and other members in the Liberal caucus would suggest that once this bill has passed, suddenly organized crime will not have any role in the sale of cannabis. These arguments are actually detracting from a serious debate on this issue.

Last night I spoke a little about my friend the parliamentary secretary to the government House leader, the member for Winnipeg North. He has given us a treasure trove of quotes, because he used to stand in this place with outrage any time there was an omnibus bill or closure was used. Now he is the quarterback for the government House leader. That gives me a treasure trove of hubris, as I called it last night.

This bill is the biggest example of how the government seems to have forgotten one of its old siren calls, “evidence-based decision-making”. Do members remember, in the last Parliament, how they rallied around that as the third party?

Let me remind my friend from Winnipeg North what he said in 2012:

Good government policy is made when you have evidence-based policy decisions.

What did the Treasury Board secretary, who was then in opposition, say? He even turned a witty phrase on it. On a public health issue, he said:

There was a time when governments were guided by evidence-based decision-making; this government seems to be guided by decision-based evidence-making.

That is what I just sat through in this rushed debate on marijuana. The government is failing with this legislation on a public health front, on a public safety front, and on the mobility of our citizens with Bill C-23, which I think is the example of the biggest act of incompetence of the government that I have seen in my time in office.

The Liberals have negotiated a bill on preclearance at customs. They are giving immigration and customs enforcement officials from the United States the ability to search Canadians on Canadian soil, yet our government, the Liberal government, could not even get one simple preclearance question taken out of the U.S. repertoire: “Have you ever used marijuana?” If a Canadian says yes, they can be banned from travelling to the United States.

When the government had its state dinner, when the Prime Minister was so busy bringing his family and the public safety minister was so gosh-darned excited to get a tour of the Oval Office, the Liberals negotiated the most one-sided preclearance customs deal in the history of this country.

The Liberals are legalizing marijuana, yet they can not even ask the U.S. to remove that one question from pre-clearing. They are allowing the U.S. to come on our soil and search and interrogate our citizens. If that is not the biggest example of failure of the interests of Canadians in an international treaty, I do not know what is.

I will also speak about the other two fronts, public health and public safety. Perhaps the best quote is the editorial by the Canadian Medical Association, which condemns the bill. Its editorial, which was released a few weeks ago, said:

The purported purpose of the act is to protect public health and safety, yet some of the act’s provisions appear starkly at odds with this objective, particularly for Canada’s youth.

Simply put, cannabis should not be used by young people. It is toxic to their cortical neuronal networks, with both functional and structural changes seen in the brains of youth who use cannabis regularly.

That is an evidence-based opinion of cannabis doctors.

In recent weeks, Quebec and Manitoba have asked the government to slow down. There is no ability to ensure youth are protected right now in provincial regimes. There is no court approved test for roadside impairment from THC. Law enforcement is not ready and is asking the Liberals to stop. Our physicians are asking them to stop. However, once again, it is the tyranny of the progressives; they know what is better.

How dare we disagree? In fact, the Liberals are limiting debate on this again. How dare we share some of the concerns that families have about exposure of marijuana to their children. We know it harms IQ development. It can harm brain size development. The government likes to quote Colorado’s example. Colorado is using 21 and is already experiencing incredible problems, where young children are seeing edibles in households and are being rushed to emergency rooms.

The Canadian Medical Association also decries the use of home-based growing, where the THC, the medicinal benefit, is not secured and rates of use can skyrocket. Organized crime can infiltrate this home-based portion of this legislation.

We have a government that made a promise when its leader was the third party leader, with no sound evidence behind implementing the promise, in full knowledge of the fact it would violate international treaties and, I hope, with some knowledge of the fact that they would limit the mobility rights of Canadians who wanted to travel to the United States. If they say they have used marijuana, they can be banned from travel.

Since I was in high school, when Mothers Against Drunk Driving was set up some 30 years ago, we have been fighting alcohol impairment. Law enforcement has been on the front lines of that. We do not have reliable measures and law enforcement has said it is not ready for the increase in impairment in cannabis it will see. The government is not only rushing this through blindly, but it is disregarding the opinions of our physicians and the positions of law enforcement, including the chiefs of police of Canada, of which the parliamentary secretary used to be a member. It is also disregarding provincial partners.

As a lawyer, as a dad, I want to know that we are debating these serious issues completely in the House, relying on evidence-based decision-making. When our physicians and others are telling us to slow down, we should listen. The Liberals used closure on the assisted dying bill. In The Globe and Mail on the weekend, I saw how the Canadian Medical Association and doctors across the country were having trouble interpreting that law. The Liberals are rushing out of this sense that they know better for Canadians. It is a condescension toward our parliamentary democracy that is unparalleled. All we are asking for is a little more debate. All we are asking for is evidence-based decision-making, but we are still waiting.



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