Hay River South
Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Last week, I spoke about addictions and the need for additional supports to combat the disease. My statement today will focus on the drug trade and drug enforcement in the NWT. We often hear that drug dealers are well-known in the community and that nothing is being done to round them up or lock them up. We hear all too often that the RCMP and government are not doing their part to curb drugs entering the NWT.
Mr. Speaker, when we reflect on the impact illegal drugs have on individuals and families, it is easy to understand the frustration of our residents. We have a justice system that more often places restraints on those officers enforcing the law to curb distribution, sale, or use than it does on drug dealers. There is a substantial difference between someone possessing for personal use and possessing with the intent to distribute or sell. To prove someone guilty is not a simple task. It requires a substantial number of investigative hours by police and many more by others as it winds through the court system, and then there is no guarantee of a successful conviction.
Mr. Speaker, the criminal justice system is complex, and the players are many. Players include the police, defendants, Crown prosecutors, lawyers, judges, correctional officers, parole officers, victims, complainants, witnesses, informants, and others. One can see how information can be overlooked and a matter thrown out of court because of a technicality. The reality is that we find ourselves fighting a battle, and a battle that we appear to be losing. Our opponent is well-funded, well-organized, adapts quickly to change, and when we remove a piece, it is quickly replaced by another. If this government expects to lessen the impact of the drug trade in the NWT, it must be a collaborative and interdepartmental approach with additional federal support. The million-dollar question is: do we have sufficient resources in the NWT and in each community to deal with not only drug enforcement, but the many issues that show up daily on the desk of an RCMP officer? As drugs kill off our residents, many question why our justice system appears to be failing the same people it is meant to protect.
Mr. Speaker, although this is a complex matter, it remains our responsibility to ensure that we not allow another person in the NWT to die because of the illicit drug trade. I will have questions for the Minister of Justice at the appropriate time. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.