Nunatsiaq News
NEWS: Nunavut March 28, 2018 - 10:30 am

Fund Nunavut treatment centres, or I’ll vote against Cannabis Act, Patterson says

Senator wants “iron-clad commitments” to fund Nunavut treatment facilities

Nunavut Senator Dennis Patterson said that unless the Liberal government makes
Nunavut Senator Dennis Patterson said that unless the Liberal government makes "iron-clad commitments" to fund substance abuse treatment centres in Nunavut, he will vote against Bill C-45. (PHOTO BY STEVE DUCHARME)

It’s unlikely that the federal government’s plans to legalize recreational cannabis use in Canada will be implemented before this fall, says Nunavut Senator Dennis Patterson.

And unless Ottawa agrees to fund substance abuse treatment centres in Nunavut, Patterson says he will not vote for the bill.

Patterson spoke to Nunatsiaq News in Iqaluit on March 19, after the final leg of a Nunavut-wide consultation tour that included discussion of the Cannabis Act, also known as Bill C-45.

If passed, Bill C-45 would fulfill a key campaign promise by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and legalize the sale and possession of recreational cannabis with a proposed implementation date of July 1, 2018.

But that deadline has all but vanished amid increased scrutiny of the bill driven by the Senate’s 33-member caucus of Conservative-appointed senators.

“I will be trying to get iron-clad commitments from Canada to work with the [Government of Nunavut] to fund the capital and operating costs of treatment facilities in Nunavut, alongside the implementation of the bill,” Patterson said.

“I’ll vote against the bill unless there’s a commitment.”

Bill C-45 successfully passed to its second reading in the Senate March 22.

But prior to the vote there was concern among Independents and Senate Liberals over whether they had enough votes to save the bill, Global News reported.

Patterson said his public tour through the territory revealed similar concerns from many Nunavut residents on the Cannabis Act as it is currently proposed, although he also admitted that others are in favour of the new legislation.

“A lot of people talked about negative mental health impacts, especially on youth,” he said, adding that youth between the ages of 12 and 17 caught with five grams or less of marijuana do not receive criminal charges under Bill C-45.

“That’s what everyone was saying, that it sends a signal to youth that it’s OK [to use cannabis].”

Patterson said it is likely that the Senate will propose amendments to Bill C-45, which will be sent back to the House of Commons for consideration this June.

From there, it will be up to the prime minister to decide if he wants to extend Parliament’s current sitting to finalize the bill by this summer, or reconvene as scheduled during the fall to pass the bill.

Either way, an extended rollout period for cannabis legalization in Canada’s provincial and territorial jurisdictions would likely prevent the law from coming into force before September, Patterson said.

“In either event, the bill will not come into force on July 1, and it could well be delayed until the fall,” he said.

Some of those amendments include revisiting the proposed penalties for youth caught with five grams of marijuana or less, product packaging that includes health warnings, and a mandated review of the bill’s societal impacts after a defined period.

Patterson said Nunavummiut attending his consultations said they want guarantees that revenue generated from cannabis sales will be directed to wellness, treatment and other programs.

Currently profits for cannabis sales will be split, with 75 per cent going to the provincial or territorial government, and 25 per cent to the federal government.

“We have to get treatment centres and community wellness programs and many people [at the consultations] said [they want] recreation facilities for youth out of this money that’s going to be raised from the sale of marijuana,” he said.

Patterson added that Nunavut mayors and hamlet councils he consulted have all raised concerns about effective impairment testing for heavy equipment operators, including those who work at Nunavut mines.

And Patterson said he is pushing for the Government of Nunavut, through the Nunavut Housing Corp., to impose a ban on growing cannabis plants inside social housing units.

Bill C-45 would allow people to grow up to four plants per household, but that rule can be adjusted by territorial regulations.

“Our houses are already crowded. It’s going to aggravate the mould problem, it’s going to use power for lamps, it’s going to be a fire hazard if it’s left unattended,” he said.

A full report on the findings of his Nunavut tour will be presented to the Senate’s Aboriginal Peoples committee in the coming weeks.

The Senate’s aboriginal peoples, national defence, legal and constitutional affairs, and foreign affairs committees are all scheduled to submit their respective reports on Bill C-45 by May 1.

At that point, it will be up to the Senate’s social affairs, science and technology committee to compile and present a consolidated report on the legislation by June 1.

Email this story to a friend... Print this page... Bookmark and Share Comment on this story...

(28) Comments:

#1. Posted by iRoll on March 28, 2018

Vote against bill C-45 and I will vote against you, Patterson!

Oh right, no one votes for senators in this country. That’s why it’s populated by so many backward, uniformed, fearful old rubes.

#2. Posted by Ahh, that's so cute on March 28, 2018

1. Substance abuse issues are of concern with or without the legalization of cannabis. 2. Senator Patterson of Vancouver did nothing about this when the Conservatives were in power.

#3. Posted by Ms. T on March 28, 2018

Substance abuse will happen, has happen with or without the Bill. We should be glad for anyone trying to help Nunavut for a treatment Center. Right now Nunavut doesn’t have a voice through the MP. All we really have is Dennis Patterson to be a voice for the concerned mothers and fathers. Where’s Pauktutit? You guys will smoke up all you want but there’s some of us who would like to see a treatment center.

#4. Posted by Northern mom on March 28, 2018

Thank you senator Patterson!!!  Protect us from this reckless Liberal government that is rushing this cannibus legislation through.  The reprocissions are going to be disasterous if we don’t take the time to get it right. Weed today is NOT what it used to be.  That is my biggest concern. Is there something in the legislation that will ensure suppliers marijuana is being tested for potency, effects, etc?? Not all marijuana is the same.  And yes we also need treatment facilities stat.  Please keep up the good work!  Don’t listen to these pot heads that try to bully you or put you down.  You’re doing a great job.  We need your wisdom in the sentate.

#5. Posted by Whoa on March 28, 2018

Kids are kids, their brains are not developed enough to make good choices. 
The last great brain surge in terms of development is between 21-25. 
How can we expect them to know it will hurt them?

#6. Posted by on March 28, 2018

Well done Senator. I for one appreciate the fact that there is at least one person in our federal political sysytem that supports what many of us in Nunavut believe in. Our children need protection, our population that is affected need treatment. Treatment in Nunavut. Thank you Sir.

#7. Posted by Clean canniabis on March 28, 2018

A lot of people are afraid or unsure of legalization of cannabis because we see many people who smoke it, abuses it. If the legalization happens, it will be clean, not mixed with other drugs and possibly limited to buying it. The drug dealers are not afraid to sell it to anyone including under age, as long as they make good money. Once it’s sold under the government, there will be age limits, it will be monitored of how it is grown etc. Looking at how of a good start the beer and wine store started, the government can make so much more money and if they have more money, they could possibility looking into having treatment centres. With the limited money governments get and with so many communities need new infrastructure for example housing, building a couple of new schools, with programming, all the money going to different departments, we have not enough money to get what we want. We cry about not having such and such but not appreciate the government for trying.

#8. Posted by The Old Trapper on March 28, 2018

Senator Patterson, while this may come as a surprise to you I am okay with the Liberal government treating me as an adult who has the ability to weigh the pros and cons in regards to recreational cannabis use.

In reference to addiction treatment services, is this not the responsibility of the provincial and territorial governments? The GN has discussed this in the past and various ministers have had ample opportunity to make this a priority.

It is clearly the will of the majority of Canadians to have cannabis leagalized. You can either vote for the legislation or suffer the repercussions.

#9. Posted by Northern Inuit on March 28, 2018

very glad to hear this Mr Patterson and we support you on this.

I’m tired of hearing the arguments from the pro dope side, it’s medicine, dope doesn’t hurt you, it’s a pain free substance.

it’s a drug.  have you seen how much of this harms people, how they spend a lot of their money on this and then when they run out of money they expect you to help them buy food and borrow more money to support their habit?  how they can get so irritated and angry at you when they can’t smoke their weed and then take out their anger on you because you won’t lend them money?  we need substance abuse centres through out our Territory.  before legalizing this drug we need more discussions and help for our People. 

nevermind the Liberal promise of legalizing weed.  look at the recent Liberal Release on how they are now holding back 450 BILLION dollars into the next Budget past 2020, which was promised before, conveniently after the next Federal Election! bait and switch!

#10. Posted by Crusty old dude on March 28, 2018

According to the voting record you abstained from the Vote on March 22. Please see attached. Sick? In Vancouver? It seems like you want to take a stand Dennis but surely you make the vote?

#11. Posted by secret on March 28, 2018

C’mon Dennis, We want you as our representative in the Senate to vote in favor of the bill.  But, you make a good point.  Hope this doesn’t hold up the vote to legalize it. Its time.

#12. Posted by Dennis Patterson on March 28, 2018

To #10. In March 22, I was on duty travel with the Aboriginal Peoples’ Committee on a fact finding tour in western Canada as part of our study in ‘the new relationship’ between Canada and Aboriginal Peoples and also our study on the Impact of Bill C 45 to legalize recreational marijuana. Details of this work can be found at - Aboriginal Peoples’ Committee. As for the vote you referred to on March 22 in the Senate, it was a bite on Second Reading of the Bill, which saw the Bill officially referred to four Committees of the Senate for detailed study. This is our duty as Senators. We will be asking important questions, many of which have been suggested by Nunavummiut during my recent consultations. I will soon be publishing a report on what I learned during those consultations. We could also suggest amendments to the Bill. The important vote on the Bill will be on Third Reading, not Second Reading. Be assured I will be present for the Important Third Reading vote in June.

#13. Posted by No Fool Like an Old Fool on March 28, 2018

Dennis the people of Nunavut want legalization, we aren’t interested in your grandstanding.

#14. Posted by The Old Trapper on March 28, 2018

Well Senator, glad to see that you are reading the comments section. How about answering the points I raised?

I’m 60 years old, no wife or kids that I’m currently supporting, not on social assistance, live in my own home. Is there any reason why I should not be able to smoke marijuana legally if that is the choice I make?

Is it not also the GN’s responsibility to set-up addiction centres if they are needed? Has this not been discussed before by the GN? And before you make the arguments about dollars and priorities, let me offer up the amount spent on the new airport in Iqaluit by both the GN and the Feds as a counter.

Waiting for your reply Senator.

#15. Posted by IceClass on March 28, 2018

Hunter Too Who?

#16. Posted by change is coming on March 28, 2018

Treatment and healing centres are needed for yesterday, today and tomorrow.

#17. Posted by Senator from Vancouver on March 29, 2018

I recall your party cut funding to any program Inuit had to heal and move away from substance abuse and you said nothing to support us in the Senate then.  Now you pretend to care about us.  Get lost and leave us alone!

#18. Posted by Form the Society! on March 29, 2018

It was my understanding that any treatment centre funding has to flow through a responsible Society.

It’s time for residents to take the initiative and form this Society, so that we can get at least one treatment centre.  We are all aware of the need, so step up and start something.

#19. Posted by North some of the time on March 29, 2018

I thought the territories would get a good chuck of the profits from the trade of pot now. Wouldn’t it make sense to have those funds directed to help support treatment centers?

I wonder why Dennis didn’t push for treatment centers when the Harper Party was in power?

#20. Posted by Speak for yourself Dennis on March 29, 2018

What?????, treatment centers should have been here already you politic retards because of the bars and bootleggers, im sick of hearing these aholes who think they help from behind a pen/computer screen. Unqualified people in charge is the problem here.

#21. Posted by Jobi on March 29, 2018

I agree with #20. Except for the name calling. For sure need treatment centers in NU for people with addictions. There may be some already but not many. NU has so many needs and not enough money.

#22. Posted by Uphere on March 29, 2018

Same stance as our former Premier who had it in his power to CLOSE the only addiction centre and then later steps down because there is no addiction centre. Also we got the beer and wine store despite that fact.  I agree with Denis but I wanted to point that out.

#23. Posted by Please read this Senator on March 29, 2018

The Liberal Party ran in the last federal election on a platform to legalize cannabis. It was one of their first policy announcements and they won the election with a large and resounding majority. Therefore, whether we support cannnabis legalization or not, we live in a democracy and that means that we will not obstruct the implementation of policies introduced by our democratically elected government. I implore you to be a good example to our young people and respect democracy. Speaking of our youth, I find it simply appalling that your main objection to the law is that it does not seek to criminalize young people who are caught with small amounts of cannabis. How on earth is it consistent with Inuit traditional knowledge to make criminals of your young people. What is a matter with you Senator!?!?!?!

#24. Posted by Angry Guy on March 29, 2018

#23. Right on. SEnator?

#25. Posted by Got lost Dennis on March 30, 2018

We voted liberal and you, who campaigned for your Cons lost.  Accept the democratic free vote and shut up already!  Better yet, just go away to your weed infested province of BC.

#26. Posted by Colin on March 30, 2018

Young people of any background or culture get into trouble including drugs and binge drinking when they don’t have enough to do.

Several Indian communities have shown that that organizing activities for kids like soccer, baseball cross- country skiing and camping expeditions solve most of the problems of suicide, teenage pregnancy and addictions.

Every community needs an activities organizer to make things happen, especially for marginalized children in troubled households. One model for dealing with causation for community problems is what’s happening in Salliut. Never mind Minister Jane Philpott’s psychobabble initiatives when confronted with a suicide crisis. That’s like putting a band-aid on an amputation.

Youth Minister Trudeau—you’d never know he had that portfolio—could set that in motion with little more than a stroke of the pen.

#27. Posted by Maxwell on March 30, 2018

Typical CONservative. Ill-informed and out of touch.

#28. Posted by iWonder on March 30, 2018

What do alcohol, nicotine and Tylenol all have in common?

All are more harmful than cannabis.

Mr. Patterson, where is the indignation over the legal status of all these drugs? Are you prepared to introduce legislation to illegalize them if no treatment centers are built to deal with their effects?

If not, why not?

Your constituents would like to know.

Remember my personal information

Notify me of follow-up comments?