Archives for December 9, 2018
“There are a lot of people in my riding who use cannabis and who used cannabis before it became legal.
We all carry out some unofficial polling when we go door to door, and one of the things we noticed when we went door to door in my riding is how many people use cannabis. It is quite a popular thing in my riding. It is not everybody who is doing it. However, we noticed how many people do it. It is not just people of colour or indigenous people, it is everyone, including business people. The whole point of this bill with respect to expungement is that in the past the arrests for the simple possession of marijuana have been disproportionately handed out to marginalized Canadians. By far, young, black and indigenous Canadians are the people who have suffered the most for this. That is one of the reasons why expungement is much more appropriate than a simple pardon.
As other people have said, many people in Canada have a criminal record simply because they were found in possession of marijuana, something that we now say is completely fine as it is legal. That should not have happened before. Therefore, let us get on with it. We are talking about 500,000 Canadians, and some have suggested that it might be as high as over 900,000 Canadians. This is not something that is relegated to the dark criminal backwaters of Canada. Rather, it involves the bulk of Canadian society, and has left people with a criminal record. They cannot cross the border. They have difficulty finding work in many cases. They cannot even volunteer to work. A lot of times, if they want to coach a soccer team for their kid’s school, a criminal record check is required, or they cannot do that. Therefore, it really affects the lives of Canadians, Canadians who we now say have really done nothing wrong.
As I said, the government has had a lot of time leading up to this to prepare its legislation. Other jurisdictions, such as California, Delaware, Vermont, and I think North Dakota is moving this direction, are bringing expungement provisions into their legalization legislation. However, the current government did not. We have been pressing it to have something like this since we began sitting in this Parliament. Now it is saying that it might bring legislation next year that will make it easier for people to apply for a pardon.
Indigenous people are nine times more likely to be arrested on simple possession in Regina and seven times more likely in Vancouver. Black people in Halifax are five times more likely to be arrested and three times more likely in Toronto. Therefore, these simple possession arrests disproportionately affect people of colour, indigenous people and young people.
The Prime Minister said, “People from minority communities, marginalized communities, without economic resources, are not going to have that kind of option to go through and clear their name in the justice system. That’s one of the fundamental unfairnesses of this current system, is that it affects different communities in a different way.”
The Minister of Border Security said, “…the failed system of criminal prohibition has resulted in the criminalization of hundreds of thousands of Canadians and contributed to an unjust disparity and impact on vulnerable communities.” The Minister of Public Safety: “…the law as it stands today has been an abject failure…”. The MP for Hull—Aylmer: “We do know that black Canadians have been disproportionately charged with and are imprisoned for possession of small amounts of cannabis.”
Much of the cabinet is admitting that this is what has been going on, and it can only be justly dealt with through a simple expungement of all those criminal records so these people can get on with their lives, get work or cross the border. In Toronto, 15% of people on social welfare say that a need for record suspension is a key barrier to getting work. We all want those people to work and take part in this economy and society. However, that is the barrier they are facing, and only an expungement would help that.
I am running out of time. ”
edited for brevity, I am running out of time.
Dad, I’m so glad you could come. Our last Christmas dinner together was 35 years ago.
Did you get special permission from the angel Gabriel?
Oh, Dad, I have so many things to tell you! I finally got my degree from UBC –yes, and do you remember how hard it used to be for you to just get me up for elementary school? At first cajoling, then using bribery, and finally resorting to yelling at me. Ah! I see you smiling now.
Your dog, Sporty, lived a long, full life with us but he never stopped looking for you.
I got married, and brother Glenn walked me down the aisle. Afterwards, we had a grand party. You would have loved it! I missed you so much then, as from childhood on you were always going to dance at my wedding. My tall, handsome Daddy, you who taught me how to waltz by my standing on your feet, and round and round we would go – remember?
Oh – and Dad, you are a grandfather twice over. No, not me silly; you know I always preferred dogs. Their mother is your other daughter, Glenda; she has two lovely little girls. One has your blue eyes with the same hint of mischief and laughter lurking there. I look at her and see you.
Dad, I hope you don’t mind, I used some of the money you left me and took a trip to New Zealand. I went there to visit Momma, as she married again and he is a fine English gentleman. You would like him. Momma is happy in her new home and country. I thought you would like to know that.
Another trip closer to home was a drive up to the lake and your old fishing cabin. It’s still standing but nowadays used only by the odd weary hiker. A piece of our boat was lying out back covered in weeds. The sight of it conjured memories of our old blackened frying pan sizzling with fresh trout. Dad, if only we could turn back time and all be together again.
After dinner, I’ll show you my office. We don’t use typewriters anymore; everyone uses electronic machines that can transmit messages anywhere in the world within minutes. Also, telephones are very small now without rotary dials or cables and so light that I just carry mine around.
Looks like dinner is nearly ready. I still use Momma’s recipe for Plum pudding and it is now steaming away for dessert. Dad, I’ll say grace, the simple one that you taught me in childhood. There is so much to be thankful for, especially your being here today.
Bowing my head, I prayed, “Dear Lord, bless this food to our use and us to thy service.”
When I looked up, he was gone. I understood immediately and found myself smiling.
“Ride the rainbow, Dad – until we meet again.”