Perspectives — March 27-29, 2018

The implications of legalizing marijuana are serious and wide-ranging. Last week, the National Security and Defense Committee heard U.S. immigration lawyer Len Saunders, reminding senators that Canadians who admit to having used marijuana risk being banned for life from entering the United States even after marijuana becomes legal in Canada.

Last week, Minister Ralph Goodale appeared before the committee, giving senators the opportunity to ask questions regarding border laws. Senators expected that Minister Goodale would reassure Canadians. Unfortunately, he only committed to “working with the U.S. on this matter” after legalization has taken place. Senator Paul E. McIntyreasked the Minister why Canada hasn’t secured assurances from the US to protect Canadians at the border. The Minister responded that he “doesn’t know” if formal assurances or an agreement are a realistic request.

To have such blatant ambiguity at this late stage before C-45 becomes law is unacceptable. Is Minister Goodale forgetting that over $2 billion in goods and services are traded across the Canada-United States border every single day? In fact, according to Statistics Canada, in 2017 overnight trips to the US by Canadian increased to 20.2 million. Witness Lorne Waldman, who practices immigration law, noted that parents could also be held legally responsible if their minor children are found in possession of marijuana at the border.

Without assurances from the U.S, millions of Canadians could face the prospect of being legally barred from entering the U.S.

Canadians deserve clear answers from Minister Goodale before this bill becomes law.