OTTAWA -- Canada's new pot bill came under continued attack yesterday, with
some backbench Liberal MPs questioning their own government's priorities.

A handful of frustrated Liberals lashed out against the plan to
decriminalize small amounts of marijuana, a move they say sends mixed
messages and fails to address the dangers of drug-impaired drivers.

A fuming Scarborough Liberal MP Jim Karygiannis suggested the marijuana
bill is one more signal that Prime Minister Jean Chretien should vacate his
post early -- and "the sooner the better."

"After 10 years of being in power, he's forgotten the dynamics of
democracy, the dynamics of listening to the caucus," he said.

In the House of Commons, Justice Minister Martin Cauchon was grilled again
by opposition members as well as a colleague in his own Liberal caucus.

His plan to decriminalize up to 15 grams of weed would result in fines of
$150 for adults and $100 for youth.

London MP Joe Fontana called drug-impaired driving a "serious concern" for
Canadians and raised concerns the bill would encourage marijuana users to
toke and drive.

Cauchon stressed that drug-impaired driving is already a serious criminal
offence, but admitted there is no valid test to measure impairment.

"Work-in-progress" tests are under way in British Columbia and will be
speeded up to result in amendments to the Criminal Code, he said. Tests on
blood and physical behaviour will help enforce the law, but Cauchon
couldn't say if they would be in place by the time legislation is passed.

"I don't want to commit myself to a time frame," he said. "Tests have
already been tested in B.C. before some courts.

"We need fine tuning, we need to work with police organizations on the
training side as well, and I will table a proposal to my colleagues this fall."

Pubdate: Thu, 29 May 2003
Source: Toronto Sun (CN ON)
Copyright: 2003, Canoe Limited Partnership.