Pubdate: Thu, 16 Nov 2017
Source: Record, The (Kitchener, CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 Metroland Media Group Ltd.
Author: Luisa D'Amato
Page: B1



Everything is political in the months before an election. And that's
especially true for where the pot stores are going to be located.

Earlier this month, 14 locations were announced for provincially-run
recreational cannabis stores.

One of those will be in Kitchener. Mayor Berry Vrbanovic said he
wasn't surprised "in light of our size, the fact that we're the
eleventh-largest region in the country."

I'm not surprised either, but I think it's about politics, not

Why did the government choose Kitchener instead of Waterloo for the
pot store? Here's my theory: Because Kitchener Centre is a swing
riding that has voted Liberal since 2003, while Waterloo has elected a
Conservative or New Democrat for the past 27 years.

Look at the other places where marijuana stores have been

Toronto, Brampton and Mississauga: Toronto and its suburbs make up the 
biggest metropolitan area in the country, so it makes sense to have 
stores there. But all three of these huge, vote-rich communities are 
also solidly Liberal.

Thunder Bay, Kingston, Sudbury, Ottawa. Liberal, Liberal, Liberal, Liberal.

Vaughan. Really? Why does Vaughan need a pot store when it's so close
to Toronto? Could it be because it is also the home riding of Liberal
Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca? Otherwise, this decision
makes no sense.

Hamilton, London and Windsor. These cities are important supporters
for the New Democratic Party right now, but they have elected Liberals
before. Knowing they won't be left out of the pot parade may help
residents of these places feel better about the government.

Barrie. This is home base for Progressive Conservative party leader
Patrick Brown, but it is also the kind of medium-sized city close to
Toronto that helps elect Liberals.

Sault Ste. Marie. It's held by a Conservative now after a byelection
earlier this year, but the Liberals probably think they can get it
back. Liberal David Orazietti represented the area for 14 years and
enjoyed a comfortable 10,000vote lead over his rival in the 2014 election.

Other stores will open before marijuana becomes legal in July 2018,
and of course the drug can also be ordered online from anywhere.

But that first list is important. It's politically significant that it
includes cities and suburbs, but not even one truly rural centre.

Owen Sound, Woodstock, Simcoe, to name a few, are not on that list.
Like other rural areas, these places tend to vote Conservative.
They're also more ambivalent about having legalized marijuana.

Ted Arnott, the MPP for Wellington-Halton Hills, says he is not upset
by the lack of pot stores in his riding.

"I have spoken against legalizing marijuana every time it comes up,"
he said. "I'm highly skeptical of the government's ability to deliver

But we all know that people use marijuana in the country, just as they
do in the city. If there isn't a store, they will be more likely to
rely on a drug dealer operating outside the law.

To the extent that legalizing and regulating pot protects its
consumers, the government has signalled that urban and suburban people
matter more than rural people do.

That's a shame.
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MAP posted-by: Matt