Pubdate: Thu, 06 Apr 2017
Source: Hamilton Spectator (CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 The Hamilton Spectator
Author: Kristy Kirkup
Page: A8


OTTAWA - The Liberal government's point man on pot says Canada Day
2018 should not be about legalizing marijuana but about recognizing
the country's history.

Bill Blair, the parliamentary secretary to Justice Minister Jody
Wilson-Raybould, said Wednesday he's a proud Canadian who believes
July 1 is a day to celebrate the country's birth "for that reason and
that reason alone."

"I believe that ... a reasonable goal is to have all this work done by
the beginning of July, but by that date and on that date are very
different things," Blair said in an interview.

"I don't think that's an appropriate date. That's my

Blair was responding to recent headlines saying marijuana would be
legal by Canada Day next year after legislation to do so is introduced
next week in the House of Commons.

There are other dates by which the new law could be enacted, he

"I'm probably out on a limb on this one but ... I don't believe July 1
should be an implementation date for anything; it is a day of
celebration for the anniversary and founding of our country."

Blair would not confirm that the legislation would be introduced next
week - only that the government will live up to its pledge to bring
forward legislation this spring.

"I don't want to be obtuse with you but I have no authority to confirm
that date."

Beyond legislation, the government's plan must include building a
regulatory framework with the provinces and territories to ensure
appropriate tools, technology and regulations are in place, Blair added.

The timing of the legislation, if it indeed comes next week, would
provide a dramatically different context for 4/20, the annual April 20
celebration of pot culture that culminates in a massive - and
decidedly hazy - gathering on Parliament Hill.

Without the bill, the gathering likely would have become a massive
protest against a Liberal government already known for breaking or
stalling a number of high-profile campaign promises, including
electoral reform.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Matt