The Standing Committee on Health agreed in a meeting Thursday, Sept 21, to begin their ‘clause-by clause’ consideration of the government’s Cannabis Act, Bill C45 the first week of October, meaning the bill will likely be back in the House after Thanksgiving.
After some back-and-forth on the dates, the committee agreed to submit their proposed amendments to the bill to staff by Thursday, Sept 28th, and begin the clause-by-clause analysis of their 150 page bill on Monday, Oct 2 from 3:30-5:30 PM, EDT. The committee will then meet 9am-6pm on Oct 3-5 to complete this work, breaking at 2:00pm for Question Period in the House.
Once they have completed their clause-by-clause breakdown of the bill, the committee is expected to send their recommendations back to the House of Commons for report stage in the House as early as possible. Report stage precedes third reading of the bill in the House of Commons. No date is set and report stage is likely to not occur until after the Thanksgiving break.
The House is sitting for eight full weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas.
The government heard from 108 witnesses over six days of hearings, and has to process 116 briefs from various stakeholders. Committee members have until Thursday, Sept 28th to process all that information and submit their amendments to staff so they can prepare a document by the following day, allowing committee members to study it before their meeting on Monday, Oct 2. This doesn’t preclude any committee members presenting amendments ‘from the floor,’ which is to say as committee goes through the bill Oct 2-5.
While the Conservatives expressed concern that the first week of October was not enough time to go through the entire bill, the sole NDP member on the committee, Don Davies, said he felt committee would get through the bill with time left over. Both Conservative Marilyn Gladu and the NDP’s Don Davies will be gone at least part of the first week of October but can substitute other associate committee members from their party.
The committee also agreed on an amendment to draft a letter to the Minister of Health, highlighting specific issues the committee feels the government needs to address based on witness testimony and public submissions.
The letter suggested by Liberal committee member John Oliver initially included six concerns: 1) the need for a public health education awareness campaign; 2) establishing metrics of baseline measurements to evaluate the success of Bill C-45; 3) collaborate outreach to indigenous, Metis and Inuit communities; 4) legalizing alternatives, especially edibles; 5) pardons for those charged with crimes now made legal by C-45; and 6) addressing concerns with international treaties.
NDP Health Critic Don Davies and Conservative Health Critic Marilyn Gladue both objected that a letter like this would be premature, but Oliver and Ron McKinnon both said the letter would not be sent out until after the clause-by-clause was completed and any amendments had been discussed. Oliver’s motion to draft the letter passed after the removal of the 4th and 5th points, which Davies said he plans to suggest amendments to address in October.
Davies has also said he had intended to present a motion to visit a licensed cannabis producer, a dispensary, a compassion club and an edibles manufacturer, but did not put the motion forward because he felt the Liberals would vote against it.
There was also a motion by Gladue to move the clause-by-clause to the week after Thanksgiving, Oct 16-20, supported by Davies, but it did not pass. Davies also put forward a motion to ensure the meetings will be televised, which passed unanimously.
You can hear the full meeting below.
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