Kevin Sorenson Reports
Private Members Business
I want to extend best wishes to all of the students, teachers, parents, and support staff at the beginning of the school year. Students should be encouraged to look forward to the increase in knowledge they experience as they progress year by year through the academic process.
Some of you will know that when the House of Commons reconvenes in September, I am one of the Members of Parliament who can proceed with a Private Members’ Bill (PMB). A PMB provides an MP and his or her constituents the opportunity to change Canada’s laws and present legislation on the floor of the House for consideration and debate by all MPs. Historically, very few Private Members’ items are passed into law.
At the beginning of each Parliament, a list is established for Private Members’ Business. The list is selected randomly – by lottery. Every MP (except the Speaker of the House, the Prime Minister, Cabinet Ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries) is entitled to be on the list. Many MPs never have a PMB opportunity because of the ‘luck of the draw’ or when an election is called before their name comes up on the PMB list. A new Parliament (after the election) causes a new list to be established.
The previous Conservative government set a parliamentary record by passing 43 Pri- vate Members’ Bills (PMB) - over three times as many PMBs passed than under any other Prime Minister in Canada’s history. In fact, the PMBs passed into law almost match the total passed in the five previous Parliaments combined. So far, the passage of PMBs into law by the current Liberal government indicates a return to the historic low-rate of success for PMBs.
I learned of my position on the PMB eligibility list in January of this year and I have spent considerable time and effort preparing a Bill that would have required the drug fentanyl to be “tamper resistant” before being dispensed in Canada. This would have gone a long way to preventing the abuse of the drug. The abuse of fentanyl is at crisis levels in some locations in Canada (and the world). The abuse of this drug is killing Canadians at unprecedented rates. When misused, fentanyl is a deadly synthetic opioid. The RCMP has reported an increase in domestic production of illicit fentanyl.
My Bill would have caused the federal Minister of Health to take action to help prevent the drug being tampered with for the purpose of illicit use. Last week, the Liberal government in Ottawa announced that six chemicals used to produce the drug fentanyl will be made illegal to import or export without authorization. Fentanyl is now subject to the same controls as cocaine, heroin and other illegal drugs under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.
Private Members’ business is an opportunity to shine light on problems in Canada that the federal government should address. Opioid misuse is a complicated issue and there is no single step that is going to win this battle.
If you have any questions or concerns regarding this or previous columns you may write me at 4945-50th Street, Camrose, Alberta, T4V 1P9, call 780-608-4600, toll-free 1-800665-4358, fax 780-608-4603 or e-mail Kevin.Sorenson.c1@ parl.gc.ca.