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Weston’s bill squeaks through Parliament

Until last week, someone could be found with a press for making pills and all the ingredients for crystal meth or ecstasy without worrying too much about what would happen if a police officer walked into the room.

Until last week, someone could be found with a press for making pills and all the ingredients for crystal meth or ecstasy without worrying too much about what would happen if a police officer walked into the room.

All the ingredients, and the pill press, are legal commodities.

But in the last remaining hours of the 40th Parliament, local MP John Weston was able to ensure that his legislation against the production of these illegal drugs became law. His Bill-C-475, which was the first private member's bill to receive unanimous support in the House of Commons, was the last bill to receive the Senate's blessing before Prime Minister Stephen Harper called the federal election.

It was a huge relief for Weston, who has been working on the bill ever since a chance meeting on the Queen of Capilano two years ago.

Someone on the ferry introduced him to Bowen Islander Richard De Jong, a member of the RCMP's drugs and organized crime section. De Jong told Weston of the police officers' frustration in being unable to stop the production of crystal meth and ecstasy. Finding a way to support the police's efforts and make it hard to produce the two drugs became Weston's mission.

Bill C-475, now on its way to becoming law, criminalizes the possession of precursors to the production of crystal meth and ecstasy. "It was a very exciting culmination to the 40th Parliament. I'm humbled it made it through," Weston says.

"As a father of three kids, to hear reports of kids on these drugs I think it chills the blood of any parent. This was very much a personal mission as a parent to prevent kids from becoming addicted."

De Jong says the passage of the bill "is very significant. Without it there hasn't been any teeth if you have a room full of the chemicals to make crystal meth and ectasy.

"[This bill] is not the be all and end all. It's one more part of the puzzle. It speaks to the concerns the police have for our community. These drugs are destroying our community."

When passed through the House of Commons in june, Bill C-475 became the first private members bill to receive unanimous support. Upon its third reading in the Senate, the bill one again received no dissent.

Squamish Nation chief Gibby Jacob, West Vancouver police chief Peter Lepine and Kash Heed - during his stint as B.C.'s solicitor general - all supported the bill.

Weston also worked with the justice critics from all three opposition parties in drafting the bill.

De Jong says, "The unanimity speaks to the heart of what governments want to do."

With files from Sean Kolenko

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