Pubdate: Thu, 20 Jul 2017
Source: Edmonton Sun (CN AB)
Copyright: 2017 Canoe Limited Partnership.
Author: Emma Graney
Page: 4


Call on federal government to resolve issues around pending
legalization of marijuana

The federal government is leaving provinces and territories hanging
when it comes to legalized marijuana, premiers say, and they want
answers to help them draft cannabis legislation.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau set a July 1 deadline for legal pot, but
premiers at the Council of the Federation meeting Wednesday in
Edmonton worried the timeline is unrealistic.

Earlier in the week, Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister was pushing for
a delay.

He said Wednesday it's "super dooper" that Trudeau wants to stick to
July 1, but the federal government needs to do its part to resolve
issues around road safety, supply, public education, taxation and
preparing a distribution network.

Cannabis talks took most of the morning at the final day of the
premiers' meeting. They agreed to establish a working group, which
will report back on the issues by Nov. 1.

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley, host of this year's summit, is
confident Trudeau will treat the premiers' concerns seriously.

"There is a great depth and breadth to the questions that need to be
answered and the engagement the federal government needs to do,"
Notley told reporters Wednesday.

Talk also turned to the opioid crisis gripping the nation, with
premiers agreeing to use a harm reduction approach.

They also called on the federal government to provide more support to
the RCMP and Canada Border Services Agency, and work directly with
U.S. health officials, to figure out the best ways of combating the

Protest demands health-care action

Around 100 protesters from various unions and health action groups
outside the meeting Wednesday demanded premiers stand up to Ottawa to
secure a national health accord.

Adrienne Silnicki of the Canadian Health Coalition said the federal
government has backtracked on its accord promise, instead making
piecemeal deals with provinces and territories.

Silnicki said the result will be a $33-billion hit to public health
care over the next decade.

"The premiers need to stand up to the federal government; they need to
not accept bilateral deals," she said.

But it didn't seem to be on the agenda.

Instead, premiers agreed to try and find more ways to improve drug
coverage for Canadians, and called on the federal government to
establish a national pharmacare plan.

All but one premier - John Horgan of British Columbia - attended the
summit this year, along with 94 delegates.

The leaders of three Indigenous organizations snubbed this year's
meeting following a letter sent to Trudeau in April by past-Council of
the Federation chairman, Yukon Premier Sandy Silver.

In that letter, Silver, on behalf of the premiers, recommended the
meeting format continue with a separate pre-meeting with Indigenous

As a result, leaders of the Assembly of First Nations, Metis National
Council and Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami held a joint news conference in
Toronto saying they were being left out of too many

Silver said Wednesday he was surprised they didn't attend, but the
premiers stand by the letter.

While it's extremely important to meet with Indigenous leaders, he
said, it's also important for premiers to meet.

"We want more meetings, not less, but we need to have a better
dialogue about what that means when you take a look at our issues, as
well as the Indigenous issues," he said.

Next year's Council of the Federation meeting will be held in St.
Andrews, N.B.
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