Tackling Contraband Tobacco Act (Bill S-16)

Elizabeth May: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca for his excellent speech. We are friends and neighbours in southern Vancouver Island.

He talked about the front-line cuts with respect to border service agents. That is a key component as we look at this bill.

The other piece that I am looking at is the cuts that have taken place in tobacco awareness, addiction awareness and working on a preventative health basis. I am going on memory, but I believe that one of the first round of cuts was in the spring of 2006. There were cuts to tobacco awareness and addiction programs in first nations communities. There have been other cuts as well on this.

I wonder if my hon. colleague has some thoughts about a more holistic response. We have to reduce the problem of addiction to cigarettes while we also fight the contraband cigarettes.

Randall Garrison: Mr. Speaker, I do not have the figures in front of me, but I too remember there were lots of cuts in the preventative health measures. That is a great concern.

Again, I cite the example of Prince Albert, which has this hub model, where they bring addictions counsellors to the table with the police and other social service agencies. Instead of imprisoning people, let us get them into a treatment or addiction program.

The same kind of parallel applies with contraband tobacco. If we reduce the demand for tobacco, we obviously are going to make the battle against contraband tobacco easier, and we are going to have a healthier population as well.