Article by Amanda Siebert, The Georgia Straight
Think Justin Trudeau is fulfilling his promise of legalizing cannabis with Bill C-45? According to Vancouver Kingsway MP Don Davies, you might want to think again.
Following five consecutive days of hearings by the standing committee on health in Ottawa, its vice chair and sole member representing the NDP told the Straight earlier this week that, in his eyes, the Liberal government purposely scheduled hearings for the bill so it would receive as little attention from Canadians as possible.
“They conducted the hearings, quite curiously, the week before Parliament resumes,” Davies said.
Normally, parliamentary committees sit twice per week for two hours at a time. Instead, Liberals suggested four back-to-back sessions per day for an entire week.
For Davies, cramming multiple hearings into five days meant that it was “over before Canadians were even engaged”.
“From the beginning, I felt that their whole strategy was to minimize exposure and comment and criticism of this bill,” he said.
Prior to the hearings, he’d argued that the plan for a week of hearings was not sufficient, and he said he convinced Liberal members of the committee to lift their insistence on not exceeding five days of testimony.
At the final hearings on Friday, Davies tabled a motion to extend them by two days to hear from 32 additional witnesses who represented Canadians that he felt were left out of the conversation.
“Most of the evidence we heard was directed in some fashion at cannabis use and young people…so I was flabbergasted when I pointed out that we hadn’t heard from a single Canadian between the ages of 16 and 24,” he said. “It became apparent to me that there were at least five major stakeholder groups that we hadn’t heard from.”
Despite hearing from 100 different witnesses who discussed a variety of topics, Davies said, no young Canadians, ordinary cannabis users, licensed producers, dispensary operators, or edibles manufacturers addressed the committee. (While speakers like Dana Larsen, Hilary Black, and Marc and Jodie Emery might be associated with dispensaries, their testimonies were slated to address other topics.)