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Remarks in Senate Chamber - June 7, 2018

Hon. Lynn Beyak: Honourable senators, I rise today to address Bill C-45. I want to thank Senator Frances Lankin for mentioning that she had spoken to her hometown folks earlier. I think nothing is more important to us and our work here in the Senate than talking to the people.

In my own region, the Indigenous and non-Indigenous population alike are now visibly nervous as the unintended consequences of this bill become known through all the media reports and the many witnesses who have come and testified to us that they are simply not ready.

Most importantly, I think we’re missing something in that we have a mandate from this Liberal government. There are 36 million Canadians. Almost seven million voted Liberal, six million voted Conservative, four million voted others, and 10 million children under 18 had no vote at all.

To say that the Liberals have a mandate to do something that is going to fundamentally change the face of Canada is simply not true. Voters voted for decriminalization, no record, no jail time. They voted to protect children. They didn’t vote for broken international drug treaties; difficult drug transportation enforcement on our roads, rails and in the sky; a blemish on our stellar international reputation; and probable travel restrictions to the USA, our closest neighbour on the longest undefended border in the world and federally enforced laws prohibiting marijuana use there.

The number of amendments to clauses with obvious harm to children should give us all pause. Those children have no voice. The amendments have been proposed or adopted and should be carefully considered in the other place, but before that, I would like us to exercise our sober second thought.

What is the rush? Canada has survived without legal recreational marijuana and thrived for 150 years. Medicinal marijuana is already available for anyone who needs it.

Colleagues should consider, in all good conscience, simply defeating this divisive, complicated, costly, harmful bill and, instead, ask the other place to decriminalize marijuana immediately and then craft a bill that is worthy of the concerns that Canadians have brought to us over these last few weeks.

I think that would be much more suitable than this. Craft a bill that has zero defects, that strives to do it right the first time for our precious children.