Pubdate: Wed, 25 Oct 2017
Source: Calgary Herald (CN AB)
Copyright: 2017 Postmedia Network
Page: A11


Did anyone expect the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees to decide
the sale of legal marijuana is best put in the hands of private
enterprise? Delegates to the union's convention in Edmonton on the
weekend passed a resolution that - gasp - "all cannabis retail outlets
be publicly owned and operated by the Government of Alberta or one of
its regulated agencies."

Union members - or more precisely, their executive and the employees
they hire - rely on dues to keep the lights on at the AUPE office. The
addition of a few thousand card-carrying marijuana retail workers
would add a shine to the AUPE's ledgers.

"We're concerned about the health, safety and well-being of Albertans,
and feel a public retail process would protect that," says AUPE
president Guy Smith.

The union's resolution is tantamount to asking other employees if they
deserve a wage increase, a longer lunch break, more paid vacation days
and a better pension - not that perks such as pensions are common
outside of the public sector. Obviously, AUPE members think it's a
grand idea for the NDP government to build or lease space to sell pot,
then hire public workers to dole out the drugs.

It's a similar position to the government's itself. Rather than follow
a recommendation to contract out hospital laundry services and save
precious health-care dollars, the NDP decided to replace aging
equipment so it could preserve the jobs of unionized workers.

Smith expresses concern about the safety and well-being of Albertans
when it comes to access to marijuana, but he chooses to overlook the
fact liquor sales have been conducted by private business in this
province since 1994.

An indication of the toll of publicly owned pot stores was provided by
Alberta Party Leader Greg Clark on Monday. He conservatively estimates
it would cost the government $168.4 million to establish a network of
retail outlets, based on the same number of stores per capita as in
Colorado, where marijuana has been legal for three years.

"The idea the government would establish a new bureaucracy to do
something the private sector is already doing well is ridiculous,"
said Clark, referring to private industry's responsible handling of
liquor retailing. "It makes no financial sense, it doesn't help keep
product out of the hands of teenagers, and I think most importantly,
it undercuts Alberta entrepreneurs."

Clark, who has a deserved reputation for being fair minded, is right.
The NDP should follow the advice of the Alberta Party leader and
ignore the self-interest of the AUPE.
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MAP posted-by: Matt