Pubdate: Fri, 14 Apr 2017
Source: Edmonton Sun (CN AB)
Copyright: 2017 Canoe Limited Partnership.
Author: Mark Bonokoski
Page: 21


The Liberals' hot-boxing of a marijuana smokescreen

It was a brilliant if not cynical move on the part of the Trudeau
Liberals to table their marijuana legislation during the same week
they thumped down a 294-page omnibus budget document like those
contemptible Harperites were so prone to doing.

After all, if a smokescreen was ever needed for a touchy topic, such
as the Liberals' breaking a promise to never table the kind of
all-encompassing omnibus bill that riled them up during the
Conservatives' years, then what better way than to hot-box it in the
progressive hipsterism of legalizing pot?

The flak over the Liberals' omnibus bill, most of it delivered in the
low-ratings setting of the Commons' Question Period, lasted all of a

Perhaps that was all it deserved. Compared to the 880-page tome the
government of Stephen Harper dropped in 2010, Trudeau's budget
implementation bill was downright skeletal.

But it was a broken promise nonetheless.

Buried in its pages, for example, were items far removed from
financial and economic considerations, including changes to the Judges
Act, the Veterans Affairs Act, among others, as well as proposals to
limit the reach of the independent Parliamentary Budget Officer in
holding government to account.

For all intents and purposes, it met the definition of an omnibus
bill, even if less than half the weight of Harper's weightiest.

The public, however, had its attention quickly distracted by the
Liberals' much-anticipated and long-outed pot legislation.

In other words, rightful criticism of the Liberal's omnibus
legislation got quickly overrun by weed.

The legislation tabled Thursday, however, is still in its diapers. It
still has to be widely consulted, make its way through the Senate, and
see negotiations with the provinces at many levels, and with the U.S.
government over border security.

The Trudeau Liberals may lay claim to the baby but it will be the
provinces who will be left with the bath water - to do the
down-and-dirty work of regulation and distribution, pricing and
packaging, as well as the policing and enforcement of a nascent pot

The idea that the Liberals can have everything in place for its
preferred launch date of Canada Day 2018 - Cannabis Day from that day
onward? - is a long shot at best.

There are still obstacles aplenty.

On Thursday, the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police urged the
Liberals to back off a recommendation from the government's task force
on legalization to allow home grows of marijuana limited to four
plants, arguing it would run counter to the stated goal of a
highly-regulated and controlled system.

The association also raised the issue of the challenges police will
face in enforcing impaired driving under the influence of marijuana,
saying limits thus far are neither "defined" nor "supported by
science." And it is still early days. Yesterday, as an example of more
and more critical eyes on the process, the chair of the government
task force cited by the chiefs, former Liberal cabinet minister Anne
McLellan, was questioned in a Globe and Mail article for being a
senior advisor for Bennett Jones LLP, which promotes itself as the
"go-to" advisory firm in the burgeoning marijuana sector.

Health Canada, which struck the task force, responded to the Globe
that McLellan, as well as the other eight panelists, declared their
interests before assuming their duties and signed confidentiality
agreements limiting their use of government documents.

As for the omnibus bill, and the Trudeau Liberals pulling a move more
reminiscent of the Harper Conservatives?

It was there one minute, and then it was gone - hot-boxed and lost in
a marijuana smokescreen.

It was brilliant strategy, cynical but brilliant.
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MAP posted-by: Matt