MP Eglinski voices concern over drug-impaired driving
On October 24th, Jim Eglinski, Member of Parliament for Yellowhead, took part in debate on Bill C-46, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (offences relating to conveyances) and to make consequential amendments to other Acts.
In recognition that marijuana is slated to be legalized by July 2018, Bill C-46 amends the provisions of the Criminal Code that deal with offences and procedures relating to alcohol and drug-impaired driving. Currently at Report Stage, the proposed legislation introduces new and higher mandatory fines and maximum penalties for impaired driving crimes, and it authorizes mandatory roadside screening.
“Science gives us the ability to calculate the effects of alcohol,” stated MP Eglinski in the House of Commons. “I could sit down with any person in this room, and if he or she told me what he or she had to drink I could probably break it down and tell him or her what the [breathalyser] reading would be.”
While law enforcement can detect alcohol in impaired driving, detecting drugs can be much more difficult. Drawing on his 35 years of experience as an RCMP officer, MP Eglinski expressed concern for the lack of scientifically proven instruments that allow officers to detect marijuana in blood levels.
“We are looking at that and testing it right now. . . I do not believe we have enough scientific evidence out there. However, [the Liberals] will be going ahead with this law to make marijuana legal,” he said.
MP Eglinski also criticized the lack of substantial penalties to deter impaired drivers and keep them off the road. Bill C-46 does not increase penalties for the most serious impaired driving offence, namely, impaired driving causing death. The Conservative Party previously put forward an amendment when the bill was at Justice Committee to provide for a five-year mandatory sentence for impaired driving causing death. Individuals convicted of this very serious offence, in some cases, are currently walking free with nothing more than a $1,500 fine. The Liberals voted against the amendment.
“The legislation in Bill C-46 has some good intentions, and I do not disagree with it, but it needs to be reviewed with more scrutiny. It needs to be looked at. We need to get rid of a lot of the ambiguous parts that are written in there because it is going to tie up police officers on the road and make it very difficult for us to enforce impaired driving, especially with respect to drugs,” concluded MP Eglinski.
To read the speech and find more information on Bill C-46, visit the House Publications page at: www.ourcommons.ca/en