Pubdate: Tue, 28 Mar 2017
Source: Hamilton Spectator (CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 The Hamilton Spectator
Author: Howard Elliott
Page: A11


The Trudeau government is on track to legalize marijuana. If things
unfold smoothly, that should happen about the beginning of July 2018.
That doesn't mean we'll be seeing legal pot first-hand at that point.
Areas under provincial control, including distribution, are not nailed
down yet. Provinces will have some flexibility on implementation
timing. But from the federal perspective, this is one election pledge
that apparently will be kept.

That's not happy news for everyone. A considerable number of Canadians
don't agree with legalization, and another group, possibly larger, has
concerns about key areas that should be resolved before legalized pot
hits our streets. A perfect example is roadside testing. We know how
to test for alcohol, but will there be comparable testing available
for pot consumption? There has to be, otherwise our roads could be
less safe than they are today, and no one wants that.

But even those of us with misgivings have to acknowledge the
government is on solid ground. It campaigned on it. It was elected by
voters who like the idea. And let's not forget there's a solid
rationale for legalization: a courtroom backlog made worse by simple
possession charges; reducing the control of criminal elements in pot
production and distribution; raising new revenue, as in, if people are
going to use pot for recreational purposes, why shouldn't the
government rake in some money as it does with alcohol taxes?

So fair enough. Bring on legalized marijuana. But let's first hear how
it will be distributed and controlled in Ontario, as well as what
means police will have to control impaired driving. Those are key
factors that will go a long way toward determining success or failure.
Particularly from a public health perspective, we can't afford to get
this wrong.

And speaking of election promises, it's not surprising the government
is so adamant about this one. Its track record on others isn't great.
Democratic reform? Scratch. $10-billion deficits? Oops. Small-business
tax cuts from 11 to 9 per cent? Not yet. Maintain military funding?
The government pushed back nearly $4 billion in equipment spending
until 2020. The promise to restore door-to-door mail delivery? Not

There are a lot of promises kept, as well. But here's one more that
hasn't been. It has escaped much scrutiny but is more important than
many realize. Last week, the government announced it is delaying
indefinitely its planned reforms of Canada's obsolete and broken
access-to-information laws. More complicated than they thought,
apparently. This from a prime minister who said "transparent
government is good government." That was the campaign. This is reality.

Not to worry, Stephen Harper did the same thing. But really, is that
where the Trudeau government wants to set the bar on transparency?
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MAP posted-by: Matt