Pubdate: Wed, 04 Oct 2017
Source: Winnipeg Free Press (CN MB)
Copyright: 2017 Winnipeg Free Press
Author: Dylan Robertson
Page: B4


Too soon to talk taxation before cost of legalizing marijuana is
clear, Manitoba premier says

OTTAWA - Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister's frosty relationship with
Ottawa was on full display on Tuesday as he ridiculed a proposal to
split a 10 per cent levy on recreational marijuana and blasted
controversial business-tax reforms.

The premiers' meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was meant to
find common ground on issues like bridging Indigenous employment gaps.
But an afternoon press conference showed the rifts to be growing.

Trudeau floated a 10 per cent excise tax on recreational marijuana,
with revenues split between the province and the feds. He told
reporters that prompted "loud and clear" concerns from the premiers.

Pallister said it was premature to be talking about splitting tax
revenue from marijuana without a clear sense of how much it will cost.

"We might be splitting the costs, not a net proceed - we don't know,"
he told reporters. "We do know the lion's share of the work and
expenses will be borne by provinces, though."

He later said Trudeau created an odd vibe in the closed-door

"This proposal took everybody by surprise. Fifty-fifty, seriously? I
know it was floated before, but I don't think anyone thought they were
serious about it," he said.

"It might be a starting point if we were negotiating on a used car,
but it doesn't make sense when it comes to this issue of great
importance to Canadians."

Some of the premiers did say on Tuesday they now have a clearer idea of 
the five concerns they raised in July: road safety and enforcement, 
preparation and training on distribution, taxation, public education, 
and supply and demand and how that might affect the black market.

The premiers rallied around those concerns at an Edmonton meeting in
July after Pallister seemed to be the sole voice pushing for an
extension to the Liberals' commitment to legalize recreational pot by
Canada Day 2018. The premiers have since said they'll only stick to
that timeline if Ottawa adequately addresses those questions.

Some concerns persist, especially around getting enough supply to
counter the black market.

British Columbia Premier John Horgan fretted over "trying to contain
the enthusiasm within the community."

Meanwhile, Trudeau said his government is open to changing its
contentious tax reform, but didn't give any details. Monday marked the
end of a public consultation period that resulted in a reported 20,000

The proposals would clamp down on "loopholes" that have high-income
owners paying a lower tax rate than others. The summertime
consultation period and scope of the changes have upset large and
small business groups, doctors, accountants, lawyers, farmers, shop
owners and even some of Trudeau's Liberal backbenchers.

On Tuesday morning, Pallister urged Trudeau to soften his rhetoric,
suggesting he was instigating "class warfare" between "small,
family-run businesses and everyone else." Pallister said federal
Finance Minister Bill Morneau "dialed down the language" while
briefing the premiers.

But by the afternoon, Trudeau said his focus remains "raise taxes for
the wealthiest one per cent and lower them for the middle class,"
accusing his predecessors of "sending child-benefit cheques to

It remains unclear how the government will change its tax

Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil said he was reassured to hear
farmers won't be financially punished for passing on the family farm
to relatives, but Pallister said there weren't any explicit changes
promised at the meeting.

He said the proposals were creating uncertainty at a time when the
province is trying to balance its books.

"This works counter to our objectives," Pallister said.

"We'll see what real changes come down the pipe," he added with a
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MAP posted-by: Matt