Kevin Waugh (Saskatoon—Grasswood)
2017-10-24 13:33 [p.14481]
Mr. Speaker, once again, I rise to speak about the shortfalls and the negative consequences of Bill C-46.
When I last voiced my concern about the bill back in May, I brought to the attention of the House a devastating tragedy that was suffered by the Van de Vorst family in my city of Saskatoon. Early last year, they lost four members of their family to an impaired driver. It is an unimaginable tragedy. Some say it was the worst accident in the city of Saskatoon’s history. Linda and Lou Van de Vorst lost their son, their daughter-in-law, and their two grandchildren when an impaired driver blew through the intersection of Wanuskewin Road and Highway 11. Four members of their family were wiped out on that January night. Two nights ago, the first official roadside memorial sign, with the names of the Van de Vorst family, was put up at this intersection as a reminder.
I am sure all of us have driven through an intersection where we spot flowers, a white cross, and teddy bears from time to time, but this is the first sign with actual names in my province of Saskatchewan. The names are Jordan, Chanda, Kamryn, and Miguire Van de Vorst. I ask members this. Will Linda and Lou Van de Vorst be able to drive that road again, or will they look for an extra-grid road so that they do not have to pass by that sign? The impaired driver was three times over the legal limit. The sentence then for killing all four innocent people was a mere 10 years.
I have another story of Melanie and Allan Kerpan, another family that has suffered a tragic loss. Just a week ago today, the Kerpan family unveiled a sign on Highway 11 that reads “In memory of Danille Brooke Kerpan”. Three years ago this month, their daughter, Danille, was driving on a double-lane highway when a drunk driver going the wrong way—we understand for many kilometres and many minutes—ran into her vehicle, taking her young life. Allan Kerpan came to Ottawa about a year and a half ago and spoke on this.
I mentioned Kerpan’s name, because Allan is a very good friend of ours and he is also a former member of Parliament for Blackstrap. The Kerpans’ entire family have been outspoken about the changing attitude toward drinking and driving, the need for awareness, and the need for education.
There was a province-wide campaign led by Saskatchewan Government Insurance, or SGI, showing real-life victims of impaired driving crashes. Let us imagine on the television set that one by one these faces disappear. We lose one and then another and then another. It is a 30-second spot on Saskatchewan television.
Again I ask, every time Melanie and Allan Kerpan leave their family farm in Kenaston to go south on Highway 11, as they approach Bladworth, where this accident occurred, will they be reminded now of this tragedy, because of a sign?
Unfortunately, my province of Saskatchewan has one of the highest rates, if not the highest, of impaired driving in this country, as per Statistics Canada 2015, and families suffer as a result. I just talked about two of many families in my province. In 2016 alone, there were 6,377 incidents of impaired driving in our province of Saskatchewan. In my city of Saskatoon, with a population of under 300,000, we had 649 incidents of impaired driving.
This is an unacceptable statistic, which represents serious harm to the lives and the well-being of people not only in my constituency but in our province and certainly our country.
We are left here with Bill C-46, a bill concerning driving under the influence of drugs, notably marijuana. It is a bill with substantial flaws, which the Liberal government refuses to address.
Actually, the motivating force for Bill C-46 would be Bill C-45. The claim that this legislation will keep marijuana out of the hands of children and drive criminals out of the business of profiting from the sale of marijuana is simply ridiculous. I have stated before in this House that this is simply not true. It is fake news, if I could say that. A legal age for consuming alcohol has not stopped underage children and teenagers from consuming alcohol if they want it. Criminals will always be able to profit from a black market for illegal marijuana and will find more desirable targets in underage youth because of this Bill C-46.
We have talked about the burdens on police and the justice system due to this Bill C-46. When we look at statistics from 2015, we see that drug-impaired driving is on the rise nationally, even before marijuana becomes legalized. That should be deeply troubling to all members, combined with the fact that cases of drug-impaired driving take longer to resolve before the courts when compared to drunk driving, and are less likely to result in a guilty finding.
With an increase of people using marijuana or trying it out for the first time, we can only expect that these stats will become much worse after it becomes legalized. The government does not appear to be considering how difficult it will be and how many resources it will need to properly police drug-impaired driving. Unlike drunk driving, which we can predict will peak at times such as Friday and Saturday nights, drug-impaired driving is a problem, I think, which will occur any time of the day, any day of the week. Stats Canada reports:
What this suggests is that drug-impaired driving may be more difficult to combat than alcohol-impaired driving since research has indicated that targeting known peak periods is one of the most effective ways to combat drinking and driving.
The Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, including my own Saskatoon police service, told the federal committee they need more time to properly train officers about the new cannabis laws, and they need more than double the number of police officers who are certified to conduct roadside drug-impaired driving tests. Police have asked the Liberal government to postpone the date for legal pot because there is zero chance they will be ready by July 1.
We also have the issue of growing marijuana plants. That is going to be a major issue. Just last week I had a delegation from the Association of Saskatchewan Realtors wondering about landlords’ rights when renting out their property. Do they have any rights? This is an issue on which they have not been consulted.
As I mentioned, this issue is a burden that police face in response to how rushed we are now on this Bill C-46. In my last speech I talked about it. However, I wonder if the Liberal government is even listening to these concerns.
The most important issue is education. We have not even started that. The Liberal government claims it is going to start it in the month of December, which is six or seven months prior to when we legalize pot on July 1. It has not even contacted the Canadian School Boards Association, yet these are the vulnerable people, age 15 and up, whom we are talking about, and they have not been educated on drinking and driving or the effects of marijuana. We are deeply concerned about the lack of education, and that the government has not progressed at all.
In conclusion, there are many glaring shortcomings that are present in Bill C-46, which need to be addressed in order to improve the safety and well-being of my constituents and others in this country.
Kevin Waugh (Saskatoon—Grasswood)
2017-10-24 13:44 [p.14482]
Mr. Speaker, of course they are not going to be ready when July 1, 2018, hits. I talked about the lack of education the government has done. It has not consulted the premiers or the provinces. I have the attorney general of Saskatchewan in my riding, and he is scared to death about July 1, 2018. They have no idea how they are going to progress with the bill. They have been told, “Here it is, you deal with it”. What are the resources needed? We talked about the lack of police force and training to detect marijuana in someone.
Yes, there is great concern because my province, unfortunately, leads the country in impaired driving. I cannot wait to see the stats once marijuana is legalized on July 1.
Kevin Waugh (Saskatoon—Grasswood)
2017-10-24 13:47 [p.14482]
Mr. Speaker, it will not make our roads safer in this country. I gave some statistics from my province of Saskatchewan: 6,377 incidents of impaired driving alone in my province. With the Liberals legalizing marijuana we could double those numbers. We have no police protection right now. There is no training.
We heard from the Saskatoon police commission, who came to Ottawa to testify. They are not ready for this. What more do the Liberals need to be told, when outgoing police chief Clive Weighill stood and told the committee they were not ready to even look at the legislation? However, even though we do not want it, the government seems hell-bent on bringing it forward to Canadians.