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Ministers coming to Senate for televised Cannabis Act hearing

The Senate will sit as Committee of the Whole on February 6 to question three ministers and a parliamentary secretary on the Cannabis Act.

The Senate will open its doors to three ministers and a parliamentary secretary for a televised hearing on legislation that sets the framework for legalizing, regulating and restricting access to cannabis.

Bill C-45—the Cannabis Act—sets out controls for the production, distribution, sale and possession of cannabis. The legislation aims to restrict youth access to cannabis; protect the health and safety of the public through strict product safety and quality requirements; and deter criminal activity by imposing serious criminal penalties for those operating outside the legal framework.

The Cannabis Act arrived in the Senate on November 28 after being adopted in the House of Commons. Senator Tony Dean, who is sponsoring the legislation in the Upper Chamber, started debate at second reading on November 30.

On December 14, Senators approved a Government motion that the Senate sit as Committee of the Whole on February 6 at 3:30 p.m. to receive:

  • Ginette Petitpas Taylor, Minister of Health;
  • Jody Wilson-Raybould, Minister of Justice and Attorney General;
  • Ralph Goodale, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness; and
  • Bill Blair, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and the Attorney General, and the Minister of Health.

The motion, moved by Government Representative in the Senate Peter Harder, specified that television cameras and photographers be allowed in the Senate Chamber during the proceedings.

“This is an attempt to ensure that on an issue of such importance to the Senate, we hear from ministers early. It is also an opportunity for Canadians to see the Senate in action on such an important bill,” Senator Harder said in the Red Chamber before the Senate rose for a six-week break.

Senate proceedings are currently available in audio, but plans are in the works to ensure that the Government Conference Centre, which will become the Senate’s temporary home during the renovation of Centre Block, will be equipped with cameras, facilities and resources to enable the broadcasting or webcasting of proceedings.

Ministers coming to Senate for televised Cannabis Act hearing