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Briefly: June 24, 2011

Bill in effect A bill aimed at the production of methamphetamines, such as crystal meth, and ecstasy came into effect on Thursday, June 23.

Bill in effect

A bill aimed at the production of methamphetamines, such as crystal meth, and ecstasy came into effect on Thursday, June 23.

Bill C-475, spearheaded by MP John Weston, who represents West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky Country, criminalizes the procurement, possession and trafficking of precursor materials used in the production of crystal meth and ecstasy. Weston originally introduced his private member’s bill on November 2, 2010. It was passed on the final day of Parliament last March, just before the federal election.

“It was a miracle this bill passed, the very last private member’s bill on the very last day of the last session of Parliament,” Weston said.

He credited the bill’s passage to the strong support of communities across Canada, including most local governments in the riding. Both City of Powell River council and Powell River Regional District board sent a letter of support to Weston. As well, Weston had support from BC Association of Police Chiefs, West Vancouver’s Police Chief Peter Lepine, Squamish First Nation Chief Gibby Jacob and Federation of Canadian Municipalities.

“We needed unanimous support in the Senate, to go from first reading only days before the end of the session, through committee and through expedited second and third readings,” Weston said.

The bill had the support of all parties in the House of Commons, in part because Weston engaged all the Opposition Justice Critics in its drafting, Weston said.

An amendment to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, the bill states that “no person shall possess, produce, sell or import anything knowing that it will be used to produce or traffic in a substance referred to in [the relevant sections of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act].”

The maximum sentence prescribed for the offence is 10 years, less a day.

Service resumes

North Island Princess, the regular BC Ferries vessel on the Texada Island-Powell River route, sailed from Blubber Bay at 3 pm on Wednesday, June 22. The ship had been out of service since Sunday, June 19.

BC Ferries arranged for water taxi service for passengers while the ship was out of commission as well as one barge trip for commercial vehicles.

North Island Princess returned to service on June 10 after undergoing a major refit. But problems with the steering gear soon appeared and Texada Island residents coped with cancelled and late sailings for almost two weeks. BC Ferries first arranged for water taxi service on June 15, but the vessel went back into service the following day. After a series of late sailings, the ship eventually was pulled from service on June 19 as crews scrambled to fix the problem.

The lack of an emergency back-up vessel for the route cast a spotlight on BC Ferries’ aging ships. North Island Princess is the oldest vessel in the fleet.

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