I did not intend to make that statement, but since it has been drawn from me, I do make it. I want to bring this to the attention of the committee, that it has been proven beyond question that a man's ability to come to a quick decision is affected the minute he takes a drink of alcoholic liquor.
My hon. friend has made a very serious statement, something that many of us never heard of before. We desire greatly to have the authority.
I know the tests have been made again and again; just at the moment they are not under my hand but there is no question that as long as magistrates refuse to recognize a man as being under the influence of intoxicating liquor as long as he is able to walk, any statistics we have as to the connection between alcohol and motor accidents are absolutely valueless.
This section is drawn for the purpose of clearing up any difficulty which may have arisen in respect to penalties imposed under section 285, subsection 4 of the criminal code, which provides:
Everyone who while intoxicated or under the influence of narcotics drives any motor vehicle or automobile or has the care or control of a motor vehicle or automobile whether it is in motion or not shall be guilty of an offence and liable upon summary conviction for the first offence to a term of imprisonment not exceed-
ing thirty days and not less than seven days, for a second offence to a term of imprisonment not exceeding three months and not less than one month, and for each subsequent offence to a term of imprisonment not exceeding one year and not less than three months.
It has been held by magistrates in various parts of Canada that under the provisions of section 1035 of the act they are still permitted to impose a fine instead of the penalty of imprisonment, and fines have been imposed in some cases that have been brought to the attention of the department. In one part of Canada it has been decided by magistrates that under the provisions of section 1081 they are entitled to suspend sentence altogether in cases arising under section 285, which I have just quoted. I am satisfied that it was not the intention that these sections should apply to the offence mentioned in section 285, subsection 4, and in order to clear up the matter and make it definite this amendment to the criminal code is proposed. If the amendment is adopted it will not lie within the power of magistrates either to impose a pecuniary penalty or to impose what we call suspended sentence. There is no other amendment of the section contemplated.
Mr. MACKENZIE (Vancouver):
May I ask who recommended this amendment?
I think it was the
attorneys general of two provincial governments.
Is there not just this possibility, however, that since a magistrate will be obliged to impose a gaol sentence he will be even a little more lenient in judging as to a man's condition while driving an automobile?
I think our magistrates will carry out the law without fear or favour. We do not appoint them; they are appointed by the provincial governments, but I think on the whole they try to do their duty.
On April 17 I gave notice of an amendment to this bill, which is reported in the votes and proceedings of that date, but in view of the amendment introduced by the minister I wish to withdraw my amendment. But I hope that during the recess something will be done in addition to what is proposed to-day with regard to these motor accidents. Two or three people are killed daily in the larger cities of the country, and I think public opinion demands some further legislation along these lines. I also hope
Currency Act Amendment
that something will be done with regard to level crossings as well, and that this is only the start of modern legislation to help check the great loss of life on our highways throughout Canada.
It seems to me the punishment in regard to these cases is hardly correct. A man who has been convicted once should not be given an opportunity to offend again; I do not think he should be given a licence after the first offence.
That would be a matter for the provinces.
Quite so. I do not agree with the remarks of the hon. member for Lisgar (Mr. Brown); so far as I know the tests are the opposite of what he indicated. A person is first stimulated; then when the depression begins it always takes effect upon those centres which are the latest developed; that is, speech is one of the latest. First the speech is stimulated; then the speech is one of the first faculties to become depressed.
There is one point that has not been dealt with, and that is a definition of just what "under the influence of a narcotic" means. You can easily detect whether or not a man has been using alcohol, whether it is his first or his hundredth drink, but the question of narcotics is a very dangerous matter. A man may have an ordinary dose of a narcotic and suddenly, without any fault on his part, he may become numb and depressed and unable to exercise his mental faculties. I think it would be a very dangerous thing, under this provision, to rule that imprisonment should be the punishment. It is not the same thing as intoxication; there is an absolutely normal dose of a narcotic which will affect different people in different ways. The same may be said about alcohol, but it is a fact that under certain conditions a moderate dose of a narcotic administered even by a doctor may have a very depressing effect upon the man and may cause an accident. It would be very severe to punish a man for something for which he was not responsible. I think every doctor in this house will agree that a dose of a narcotic may have a peculiar effect upon even an ordinary normal man or patient, and that a normal dose may bring about a very abnormal result. I do not say anything in favour of intoxication but I do think it is rather dangerous to sentence a man to imprisonment when suffering from a condition such as I have mentioned.
Section agreed to. On section 3-Making untrue or misleading statements to procure a passport.
I wonder if I might say
a word with regard to section 1, which was passed before I noticed that it was the clause to which I intended to object on the ground that it is another case of delegating to somebody the power to make what is practically a new section of the criminal code. Section 1 provides:
The Minister of Agriculture may make regulations with respect to the carrying out of the provisions of subsection two of this section, and may, by such regulations, impose such penalties, not exceeding in any one case five hundred dollars, for any violation of any such regulations, as he deems necessary for ensuring the observance of the same.
This delegates to the Minister of Agriculture the right to make regulations, without any limitation in this section as to what the regulations may be, the penalty for the violation of any of which may be $500. That is bad legislation, and protest has been made against it before. It is very similar to the clause in the weights and measures legislation to which objection was taken last night. I would suggest to the Minister of Justice that a carte blanche of that kind should not be given to anybody. I should like to hear the minister on the point.
It has been done so often that I believe we might venture once more to do it. It was done by the government in which my hon. friend was a minister, and it has been done by previous Liberal and Conservative administrations. Section 235 of the act already allows the Minister of Agriculture to prescribe certain penalties in connection with pari mutuel betting. This is rather to extend his power.
That is worse.
I believe some one in authority ought to be in a position to regulate these matters and to prescribe penalties. It is not going beyond what we have done in other cases; whether or not the principle is sound I am not prepared to say.
When we are getting up
to a penalty as high as $500 this house should name the offence for which that penalty is indicated.
It is a fact in connection with illegal betting and pool selling.