Canada's Original Think Tank

Third reading of Bill C-45, Cannabis Bill (debate on amendment of Senator Seidman)

Third reading of Bill C-45, Cannabis Bill (debate on amendment of Senator Seidman)

Third reading of Bill C-45, Cannabis Bill (debate on amendment of Senator Seidman)

Hon. Art Eggleton: 

Colleagues, I think the proponents of this motion have it wrong, because in clause 17, in fact, there is an absolute prohibition on advertising, promotion, all of these things that are very similar to what is done now on tobacco. Subclause 6 then walks back a bit on that to allow for reasonable provision of information so that people who are legally buying in a store or by mail can get the information they need as to the kind of product involved.

Our committee was very clear — very clear — that it did not want anything that was going to appeal to youth; it did not want anything that was going to promote lifestyle changes. And that’s what we have in this bill.

Ball caps and T-shirts are not going to be allowed because they are part of lifestyle changes. They are not going to be allowed in the general public domain. They could wear T-shirts and ball caps inside the stores, but the only people that can shop in the stores are adults that are legally able to buy the product. If there is promotion within a store, it is not, in fact, going to affect youth. It is not marketed to youth.

However, if you go with this amendment, it will take away even that possibility. Stores, for example, in Ontario are going to be operated by the LCBO. You see their logo all the time on liquor and wine stores. They wouldn’t be able to put one on if we pass this amendment. Goodness knows what would be on the stores. It will be a big question mark, so you wouldn’t know what it was.

However, even allowing a government agency to put its logo on would be something that gets caught up in this. That’s why we didn’t support it. Yes, we agree in principle that we don’t want the lifestyle advertising and we don’t want the advertising to youth, but we don’t want to be so restrictive in how we do that that it affects freedom of expression and freedom of providing the kind of information that adults legally buying this would require. The way they’re putting all this together, they are mischaracterizing this.

Senator Patterson, I found your admonishment of us in terms of what you call the mantra of the federal government wanting to have this — I know you’re not listening. You never do.

Some Hon. Senators: Oh, oh!

Senator Eggleton: Sorry about that. You are right. I agree.

But do you know what I remember about you and the rest of your colleagues? During the last Parliament, you voted for absolutely everything Stephen Harper wanted. You wouldn’t even consider an amendment to anything at any time, no matter what the argument was.

Some Hon. Senators: Oh, oh!

Senator Eggleton: Sorry, I roused them all up.

Anyway, we have what I think is the right balance that protects our youth; the right balance that allows for very limited kinds of information being provided about the product so that people can make choices on the different brands in terms of the quality of the product. But that’s only to adults. We have to keep it away from children. We have to ensure that we don’t allow lifestyle promotion, ball caps, rock stars or anybody else being a part of that. Yes, some of them wanted to do that, but they’re not going to be allowed. The regulations, when they come out, will cover this to a greater extent than what we see now in terms of the bill.

I think the amendment is wrong, and that’s why the Social Affairs Committee came to the conclusion that it is tight enough to accomplish what 100 per cent of us want to be accomplished in this chamber.

The Hon. the Speaker: Do you have a question, Senator Seidman?

Senator Seidman: Yes, I do.

The Hon. the Speaker: You have a couple of minutes.

Senator Eggleton, will you take a question?

Senator Eggleton: Yes.

Senator Seidman: I think we should be careful not to get caught in a red herring here. I don’t think we’re talking about the logo on the Ontario Cannabis Store. It’s very clear in its current form, Bill C-45 contains an exception, and that is the clause I’m asking to remove. The exception allows for companies to distribute promotional products with their brand logo, with vague prohibitions on products that “could be appealing to young persons.”

So who will decide what is appealing to young people? That is what the clause that is required to be removed, according to this amendment, says:

(b) a thing that there are reasonable grounds to believe could be appealing to young persons . . . .

It is the only kind of exception that could be made to a company promoting, displaying their brand element on any kind of accessory, a T-shirt, a ball cap, whatever it is.

So who is going to decide? You tell me how it is going to be decided that something is appealing to young persons.

Senator Eggleton: It is the same as tobacco or alcohol. Those kinds of challenges exist. Health Canada is going to give the advice. In fact, it has been collecting a lot of information in its consultation on the regulations. The regulations are going to get into that kind of detail. It is formally part of the regulations, and that’s where you’re going to see it. I think the instructions that are given in this legislation are very sound to that effect.

The Hon. the Speaker: We have time for one more question.

Hon. Mary Coyle: Thank you very much, Senator Eggleton. I, too, am very concerned about advertising and promotion, particularly to young people.

And thank you, Senator Seidman. I think everybody in this room shares your concerns.

When I look at paragraphs (a), (b), and (c) in this clause of the legislation, I hear two things. Will this prohibit the distribution, either by sale or by gifting, of swag, T-shirts, hats, you name it, things that will be cool for young people? Will this prohibit the distribution of those things? That’s my first question.

My second question is in regard to sponsorship, which was also mentioned. Is it possible that there will be a Canopy Growth jazz festival? Just so we clarify these things, where do these appear in the legislation?

Senator Eggleton: No, I don’t think there will be. I think you have to look at the regulations. There won’t be. The regulations are where I think you will see the detail of how that is prohibited.