Pubdate: Thu, 09 Nov 2017
Source: Winnipeg Sun (CN MB)
Copyright: 2017 Canoe Limited Partnership
Author: Tom Brodbeck
Page: 5


MGEU off-base when it comes to private pot stores

Manitoba's largest union is accusing the Pallister government of
compromising the safety of Manitobans and foregoing millions in
profits by allowing private retailers to sell marijuana once it
becomes legal next year.

But as usual, the union provides some of the dumbest arguments
possible to try to support its case.

The province announced Tuesday that legal weed would be regulated by

Liquor and Gaming Authority but would be sold through private retail
outlets. It would be much like how beer, wine and other liquor
products are sold through vendors, private wine stores and private
liquor outlets in rural Manitoba. The outlets are private but the
products must be purchased through Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries Corp.

In the case of marijuana, products will be secured and tracked by MLLC
and will be bought from federally regulated sources.

So the model isn't new.

The province is keeping close tabs on the sale and regulation of pot,
but they're letting private retailers come up with the start-up
capital to open brick-and-mortar stores.

The unions don't like that because in all likelihood those stores
won't be staffed by unionized workers. At least not by Manitoba
Government and General Employees' Union members. And when it's your
job to grow your union base, you balk at that kind of loss of market
share. Instead of just telling the truth, though, about losing market
share, the MGEU pretends this is about something else, like safety and
a loss of government revenues.

MGEU boss Michelle Gawronsky says weed should only be sold through
stand-alone government stores because MGEU staff are already trained
to ID patrons and to refuse sales to intoxicated persons. Yeah, you
have to be a "trained" union worker to do that.

Non-union staff in beer vendors, private wine stores and NON-MLLC
outlets already sell beer, wine and booze to people. Pretty sure you
don't need to pay union dues to be capable of checking someone's ID.

The MGEU also claims private retail outlets will make off with all the
profits from the sale of weed and taxpayers will get stuck with the
the costs of regulating and policing the industry. Last time I
checked, MLLC stores don't pay taxes (nor do unions). But private
retail outlets do. So under the Pallister government's plan, not only
are taxpayers spared the startup costs of opening stores, government
will also collect business taxes they wouldn't otherwise get from
Crown corporation outlets.

Besides, no matter who sells the weed, the product will be taxed, the
proceeds of which will not only cover whatever regulatory, policing
and health care costs that may arise, but will also line government
coffers with millions in additional taxation revenue.

The MGEU won't let those facts get in the way of a good story, though.
Their job is to protect their members and to grow their union
business. They want to maximize revenues. That's what union executives
are paid to do. And there's nothing wrong with that. That's their
business. It would just be nice if they were honest about their motives.

Of course there's nothing stopping unions from putting in a bid
themselves to open pot stores. They're free to go through the RFP
process like anyone else, put a business plan together, raise their
own capital and submit a proposal.

If they truly believe unionized workers are the best ones to sell
weed, they should put in a bid.

Meanwhile, not even opposition members at the legislature are opposed
to the general framework of the plan. While they complain there are
still unanswered "questions" about the pot roll-out, neither the NDP,
the Liberals nor Manitoba's two independent MLAS have come out against
the principle of selling cannabis through private retail outlets.

That's because it's the sensible way to proceed.
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MAP posted-by: Matt