OTTAWA ? In a vote in the House of Commons today, Members of Parliament endorsed legislation, proposed by Prince George-Peace River MP Jay Hill, to impose mandatory sentences for those convicted of drug trafficking near schools.
Hill, who is also Official Opposition House Leader, said the clear demonstration of all-party support for his private member?s bill, C-248, by a margin of 218 to 31, is a signal that most MPs want to put the needs of children and teens first.
?Over the objections of the justice minister and the health minister who feared my bill might infringe upon the rights of drug dealers, the majority of MPs from all parties obviously felt we must provide real deterrence to prevent adult drug dealers from preying upon our children at the very place where they should be focused upon building prosperous and healthy futures,? said Hill. ?Though the bill has now only passed second reading, meaning its days are as numbered as this minority parliament?s, this substantial vote of support means the legislation is worthy of consideration by the next parliament.?
Bill C-248 proposes to enact mandatory sentences of one year for a first offence and two years for a subsequent offence in cases where a person is convicted of trafficking in a controlled or restricted drug or narcotic within five hundred meters of an elementary or high school.
Hill cited enforcement as a critical component in efforts to reduce drug use among children, to be used in conjunction with ongoing education and drug awareness campaigns. ?I particularly welcome my colleagues? support for this legislation because during debate in the House of Commons, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Justice Minister actually argued the bill was a bad idea since drug dealers might not plead guilty if they knew they would be sent to prison for pushing drugs on kids!?
Hill concluded, ?I believe it is our duty as legislators to provide parents, educators, community workers and police officers with every tool available to help them combat drug use among children and teens. Following the next election, should I be fortunate enough to win the trust of my constituents once again, I will re-introduce this legislation.?