Kevin Waugh (Saskatoon—Grasswood)
Madam Speaker, I rise today to speak to the amendments to Bill C-45, respecting the legalization of cannabis. I will be sharing my time with the member for Markham—Unionville.
There is no question that the current Liberal government is intent on pushing this bill through, despite numerous concerns voiced by experts, by law enforcement, and by Canadians across this country, including school boards, from coast to coast to coast. This is not a bill that should be forced through Parliament on a whim. As Parliament has spent many months studying the implications of this bill, many concerns and problems with the bill have been brought forward, as we have heard continuously in the last hour or so in the House. It is critically important for all Canadians that the current Liberal government work to resolve these problems, and that it listen to these concerns rather than try to push this bill through at all costs.
The Senate, as we know, has returned Bill C-45 to the House with 45 amendments, but the government has agreed to only 29 of them. The government has no plans to resolve any of the problems, which are still left unaddressed given its rejection of other crucial amendments. However, notably, the Liberals are refusing to allow provinces to determine on their own whether to ban cultivation of marijuana in individual homes. This is a big issue. Provinces such as Manitoba and Quebec have already signalled their deep concern with the negative social impacts that would occur as a result of allowing households to grow up to four marijuana plants. These provinces have concerns and they want to have the power to ban homegrown marijuana cultivation, but the current Liberal government has blatantly ignored these concerns and has said, “absolutely not”.
Most of the medical groups and the police services that have appeared before the House committees studying this bill have said they are against the provision in Bill C-45 to allow homegrown marijuana. Even if these households contain small children, even if this provision would allow organized crime to exploit homegrown marijuana production, and even if the police have said they will have serious difficulty monitoring whether people are growing no more than four plants in their homes, the government has said no to those provisions. The Liberals have shown that they care more about pushing through this bill as soon as possible than they care about public safety or about fixing the significant flaws in the bill. This action is totally unacceptable, and it also demonstrates clearly that the Liberals have their priorities backwards.
I spoke to many real estate people in my province of Saskatchewan, and actually on lobby day many of them came through our offices here, representing the Canadian real estate boards. They are also concerned. There are no landlord-tenant regulations for growing four plants in a home that maybe somebody is renting. This is something that needs to be discussed with the Canadian real estate board, and it has yet to do so.
In March of this year, I spent eight days touring various communities in Nunavut. I visited eight or nine schools on our trip, and that was really enjoyable. While I was meeting with the people of these communities, I heard many serious concerns with this bill, and how it would negatively impact the well-being of these northern communities. We should say right off the bat that there are no health centres in Nunavut for people struggling with addictions. I heard time and again there is not one facility in Nunavut that handles addictions, so when people have a problem they will be flown either to Winnipeg or all the way to Montreal. These people want to stay in their communities, yet they have no addiction facilities. Perhaps we should start there with at least one addiction facility in Nunavut and work out from there, but no, this bill will pass and we will see the horrific incidents that will happen time and again in Nunavut because of this. While the Liberals are taking no steps to mitigate the negative consequences that this bill would have in these communities in Nunavut, many of the elders are really concerned with this cannabis bill and they have not been consulted.
I found that first-hand when I toured each village up in Nunavut. Many of the elders are really concerned with this cannabis bill, and they have not been consulted. The government claims it consults indigenous peoples, and yet seven or eight of the Inuit communities I saw had not been consulted on this bill as of March.
The government wants to make sure at all costs that provincial and territorial governments will not be able to ban the homegrown marijuana plants within their own jurisdictions. This is not at all helpful, and it does nothing to address the many concerns I heard during my visits to these communities in late February and March. These people are being ignored by this Liberal government, because the Liberals’ priority is to push this bill through at any cost.
The role of Parliament, of course, is to ensure that bills passed are for the betterment of all Canadians and do not cause harm to people across the country. Actually, the way in which Bill C-45 is being handled by the current government suggests in no way, shape, or form that the best interests of Canadians are being attended to.
We have talked to many people in this country about the bill. The number one consideration is the education aspect of it. In December, the government began its advertising about cannabis legislation. Where should it have started? I would think it should have contacted the Canadian school boards for a start. Does the government not think we should be in every classroom in this country talking about the good and the bad about cannabis? The government has not done anything at the school board level in this country.
I know this because I have a daughter in the city of Saskatoon who is a teacher. She is teaching grades 7 and 8. They have not even discussed this bill, and it is coming forth right away. I also have a son in Alberta who teaches at a junior college in Lethbridge. They have not even talked about this. These are kids in grade 9, 10, and 11, yet these schools have not talked about this bill and how it will be worked out in the provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan.
When the minister brought this bill forward, we were told that a vast education program would come with it. We have seen one or two ads on television, but let us get to the grassroots and to the kids who are in grade 6, 7, 8, and beyond. Why would we not talk about this bill in schools? Why would we not give each school in this country some literature so they can talk about the harmful effects of cannabis? The government has done none of it.
I was a school board trustee for nine and a half years. I asked the government questions time and time again about the education of this bill. Representatives told me it had hundreds of thousands of dollars to spend on education. It has done next to nothing.
Schools are petrified that come September, they are the ones that will have to deal with this. They will have to deal with seven-year-olds coming to school with cannabis in their pocket, and yet none of the education has been done.
An hon. member: Oh, come on.
Mr. Kevin Waugh: What does the member mean by “Come on”, Madam Speaker? In our schools in Saskatoon that has happened already. That is how much members know about this. They have no idea what goes on in our communities, that we are trying to give our students in elementary school and secondary school better lives. Instead, the government is just pushing Bill C-45 ahead without any consultation with the people who it affects most of all, which is our young people.
Shame on the government. It has not done the consultation it said it was going to do. It has not reached out to the Canadian School Boards Association. I know this because I have talked to the Saskatchewan school boards. The government has done nothing. Shame on it for pushing Bill C-45 without talking to the people who it affects the most, which is our kids. They are our future.
I cannot support this bill without the consultation that the government said it was starting months ago. The government has done nothing and it should be ashamed. There is no way those on this side are going to support Bill C-45.
Kevin Waugh (Saskatoon—Grasswood)
Madam Speaker, not everybody follows Facebook; not everyone follows Twitter. What does the member think this government should have done back in December, as it was proposing this bill to come forward this year?
Does the member not think it should have reached out to the Canadian School Boards Association? Does the member not think it should have reached out to all school divisions in this country, with some literature, with some pamphlets, with some education on it, or maybe even a video or two?
That would seem to be the wise thing to do. We just heard from the hon. member that the government has done none of this. It is relying on Facebook and Twitter. Is that not disgusting, that the government has never once gone into the schools in this country to tell people about the effects of this cannabis bill, Bill C-45?
Kevin Waugh (Saskatoon—Grasswood)
Madam Speaker, I would acknowledge that there is marijuana in every school in this country. There is no question about that. Does that make it right? Of course it does not make it right.
What are we going to do to talk about the health of the cannabis bill that is coming forward? I question it. I still think we will have an underground economy in marijuana in our country, and I do not think this bill talks about that at all. We have some issues here with this bill. It has been fast-tracked. We all know that. I just do not think the government has done its due diligence.
One of the questions I would like to ask the hon. member is about reserves in this country that control their own police forces. They have not been consulted at all. These are police forces within indigenous communities. They do not have the money to do training on cannabis, and yet the government is going through with this. First nations, on reserves, have said loudly that they wanted in on this. They want training, and yet there is nothing from the public services minister. There is nothing that will give police on reserves, that are run by indigenous people, the right to do this.