Impaired driving bill headed to Senate

The Liberal government’s legislation to strengthen impaired driving laws is headed to the Senate.

Bill C-46 passed third reading in the House of Commons Tuesday after MPs voted 186 to 126 to send it off to the Red Chamber – the same day the Liberals announced $36.4 million in new funding for cannabis education and awareness campaigns.

The funding will be spread out over the next five years for campaigns the Liberals said would target “priority populations,” including youth, Indigenous people and pregnant women, to talk about health and safety risks associated with consuming cannabis.  Part of that work will involve warning Canadians about risks associated with drug-impaired driving.

That $36.4 million is part of a bigger chunk of funding announced in the supplementary estimates last week, amounting to $526 million to be spent over the next five years on cannabis-related programming.

Bill C-46 and its accompanying regulations would introduce new limits to cannabis-impaired driving in Canada – something that some have warned could lead to unimpaired Canadian drivers receiving criminal charges.  Critics of the bill have expressed concerns that it could lead to racial profiling and could infringe on Charter rights because of mandatory screening. Others have argued that the new laws don’t go far enough in punishing impaired drivers.

The Liberals have said the bill will create one of the strongest impaired driving regimes in the world.

The Liberal government wants to legalize recreational use of cannabis in Canada by July 1, 2018.

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