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Debates of the Senate (Hansard)

2nd Session, 35th Parliament Volume 135, Issue 5

Thursday, March 21, 1996

(Note: On Monday, March 19, 1996, Canada's Senate gave first reading to Bill C-8, the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (formerly called Bill C-7). On March 21, 1996, the Bill was given second reading and referred to the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs for hearings. The following excerpts from Hansard are the comments made in the Senate when the Bill was given second reading.

         -- Canadian Foundation for Drug Policy)

Controlled Drugs and Substances Bill

Second Reading

Hon. Marie-P. Poulin moved that Bill C-8, an Act respecting the control of certain drugs, their precursors and other substances and to amend certain other Acts and repeal the Narcotic Control Act in consequence thereof, be read a second time.

She said: Honourable senators, this bill which I have the honour to introduce today addresses one of the urgent issues facing our modern society: drug abuse and drug trafficking.

This is a very serious problem on both the individual and the societal levels. Drug abuse, and the indescribable suffering that it causes, knows no boundaries, no socio-economic distinctions. Drug abuse spares no one.

Illicit drug trafficking, and those who live off its avails, have left huge numbers of victims in their wake. And the ravages continue, particularly in one of our most vulnerable segments of society: our young people.

Drug traffickers target our youth first and foremost.

We must not lose sight of the fact that illicit drugs are nothing less than a scourge on our modern society. They destroy families, careers, and prospects for the future; worse yet, they destroy lives.

[English]

(1550)

Honourable senators, Bill C-8 is intended to consolidate, modernize, enhance and streamline the government's drug control legislation as found in two current acts of Parliament. These are the Narcotic Control Act as well as Parts III and IV of the Food and Drugs Act. It is also intended to fulfil Canada's obligations under three international conventions: the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, the Convention on Psychotropic Substances, and parts of the United Nations Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychoactive Substances.

[Translation]

These international conventions are designed to ensure that the use of controlled drugs is confined to medical and scientific purposes. They are also designed to help governments in their drug abuse prevention efforts and to mitigate adverse effects resulting from it.

For international conventions to be effective, autonomous governments must decide on their own to enforce the provisions of these conventions and to fulfil their obligations toward other governments and international organizations.

It is therefore essential to limit the production, manufacturing, export, import, distribution, stocking, trafficking, use and possession of controlled substances to medical and scientific purposes.

[English]

Let me describe the principal provisions of the bill: a more comprehensive regime of controlled substances; a capability to deal with so-called designer drugs; an improved scheme for handling controlled substances before and after convictions; safeguards for the legitimate use of controlled substances for medical, scientific and industrial purposes; new control provisions for precursors, that is, substances used to produce controlled substances; new enhanced provisions enabling the seizure and forfeiture of property used or intended to be used in committing offences; a comprehensive search and seizure scheme; directions on aggravating factors to be considered by the courts when rendering sentences; clarified powers for inspectors; the creation of an arbitration scheme dealing with health professions having committed designated regulation offences; the creation of a new offence for trafficking in marijuana and hashish; the creation of a new offence for possessing marijuana and hashish.

Honourable senators, this comprehensive piece of legislation, the controlled drugs and substances bill, is designed to achieve three main goals: to provide the government with the flexibility to better control import, production, export, distribution and the use of controlled substances; to provide the mechanisms needed to implement our obligations under the international agreements that I mentioned earlier; to enhance the ability of the police and the courts to enforce our laws.

In this respect, the bill provides for the seizure and forfeiture of property used in offences involving controlled substances. It also allows for the restraint and forfeiture of fortified drug houses. These are generally family dwellings which have been modified for use as centres for drug trafficking. The purpose for building such houses, of course, is to delay or prevent entry by the police.

[Translation]

Honourable senators, our legislative framework relating to the general issue of drugs is more than 30 years old. Thorough reform is required to enable the government to properly discharge its responsibilities in the current situation and to anticipate future needs as far as practical.

That is what the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act is all about. We have a duty to take action in the face of a situation that is getting worse by the minute. That is why I urge you to support this bill.

[English]

Hon. Eric Arthur Berntson (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators, Bill C-8 is, in fact, a reincarnation of what was before us prior to prorogation as Bill C-7. I understand it is identical to Bill C-7, and we did, in fact, study that bill in committee prior to prorogation. I understand that, since it is identical, and since for all intents and purposes we have put our views on the record as it relates to second reading and the principles of the bill, there is not much to be heard in terms of evidence from witnesses who will be coming before the committee. Therefore, we do not object to it going to committee at this time.

Motion agreed to and bill read second time.

Referred to Committee

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, when shall this bill be read the third time?

On motion of Senator Poulin, bill referred to the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs.

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