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Report of the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs (Bill C-46, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (offences relating to conveyances)

Report of the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs (Bill C-46, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (offences relating to conveyances)

Report of the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs (Bill C-46, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (offences relating to conveyances)

Hon. Serge Joyal: moved the adoption of the report.

He said: Honourable senators, I want to draw your attention to the work of the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee in a relation to Bill C-46. The committee held 13 meetings on this bill between January 31 and May 23. We spent almost five months studying this bill.

The committee heard from a total of 68 witnesses. I want to draw your attention to this because, with all due respect to the Social Affairs Committee and all the other committees charged to study some aspect of Bill C-45, the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee was the committee that heard the largest cross-section of witnesses in relation to cannabis generally, within the confines of Bill C-46, which is essentially an act that deals with drug-impaired driving.

We also received a very large number of written briefs. Seven amendments to the bill were adopted from a total of 14 amendments proposed during the committee’s clause-by-clause consideration of the bill. I want to list those seven amendments in a very short way.

The first one adds to the preamble that the Parliament of Canada is committed “to adopting a precautionary approach in relation to driving and the consumption of drugs.”

The second amendment removed proposed section 320.27(2) of the Criminal Code, which would have authorized mandatory alcohol screening.

The third amendment was to propose section 320.31(4) of the Criminal Code concerning the legal presumption for alcohol by specifying that the presumption applies with regard to the person’s blood alcohol concentration within two hours after the person ceasing to operate the conveyance; and by specifying that the addition of 5 milligrams of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood for every interval of 30 minutes in excess of those two hours only applies when the person’s blood alcohol concentration is equal to or exceeds 20 milligrams of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood.

The fourth amendment specified a proposed section 320.31(9) of the Criminal Code that a statement made to a peace officer is admissible in evidence for the purpose of justifying a demand made under section 320.27 and section 320.28.

The sixth amendment specifies a proposed section 320.34 of the Criminal Code concerning the disclosure of information by the prosecutor with regard to messages produced by the approved instrument that only error or exception messages must be disclosed.

The seventh amendment specified a clause 31.1, that the review of the bill that must be done within three years must include an evaluation on whether their implementation and operation have resulted in differential treatment of any particular group based on a prohibited ground of discrimination.

Finally, specify at clause 38 that any person designated as an analyst will keep their designation when Part 2 of the bill comes into force.

Honourable senators, in annex to the report, you will find a summary of all the testimony that was heard. I invite you to read those 10 pages because they summarize the bulk of the testimony that we heard.

Again, honourable senators, I will mention that it includes the testimony of more than 68 witnesses during a period of 26 hours of testimony. I don’t want to qualify the work of the committee. I think each and every one of you can understand the work that has been achieved by the committee members. I’m very grateful to the members on both sides of the table of the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee for their cooperation and dedication to that work, which I think will remain a very important element of information for the interpretation of this bill by all the stakeholders who have an interest in drug-impaired driving.

I want to add there was an observation in the report, which is essentially that permanent residents and foreign nationals would be deemed inadmissible to Canada because the charge they would face under drug-impaired driving would be treated in a way that deals with their status. I think there is an amendment in relation to Bill C-45 that is of notice in the report of Senator Eggleton, the Chair of the Social Affairs Committee, which deals with that specific observation. I’m grateful to the Social Affairs Committee for having reflected the concern we have had in relation to Bill C-46.

Honourable senators, I submit that for your consideration. I know that this chamber will certainly want to organize the debate in relation to this bill in a structured manner so that those of you who are interested in taking any part in the discussion of the amendments to this bill will have an opportunity to do so, and then, of course, we could send that bill to the other place for due consideration.

Thank you, honourable senators, for your attention.