Article by Marie-Danielle Smith, National Post
A Liberal government bill that adjusts impaired driving laws in tandem with plans to legalize marijuana is facing delays in the Senate, despite growing concerns over its urgency.
The upper chamber’s legal committee has hit the pause button on a review of Bill C-46 until early May so it can focus on meeting a May 1 deadline to report on cannabis legislation, Bill C-45.
But some senators, and groups such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving, are urging the committee to do everything it can not to delay the impaired driving bill, saying lives are at stake and police need to see a final version of the bill in order to prepare.
Liberal Sen. Serge Joyal, the committee’s chair, said the committee is switching focus on “order” from the Senate, which agreed on a set of deadlines. He added that senators shouldn’t be rushed out of taking the time to understand the consequences and impact of the legislation. “I can understand those who are in a hurry to say let’s finish with this as soon as possible. I have great receptivity for the urgency to go with that. But on the other hand not at the expense of doing the things right, and, I should say, responsibly.”
This should not be seen as a filibuster, Joyal said, although some Senate sources perceive the delay to be orchestrated by the Tories. The committee’s vice-chair, Conservative Sen. Pierre-Hughes Boisvenu, said “there’s no partisanship in what we’re doing.”
Joyal explained that according to testimony heard in committee, the justice department will likely approve drug screening devices around the end of March. Then these still need to be procured and distributed to police forces. “It’s not as if everything was ready to unfold and we were waiting for the bill,” he said.