Pubdate: Sat, 13 Jan 2018
Source: Victoria Times-Colonist (CN BC)
Copyright: 2018 Times Colonist
Author: Joan Bryden
Page: A8


They won't happen, though, until after July 1 legalization

LONDON, Ont. - Canadians convicted of simple marijuana possession will
have to wait until recreational pot is legalized on July 1 before
learning whether they'll be pardoned for something that will no longer
be a crime.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau ruled out Friday declaring an amnesty
before the new law goes into effect.

"We recognize that anyone who is currently purchasing marijuana is
participating in illegal activity that is funding criminal
organizations and street gangs," he told a news conference wrapping up
a twoday cabinet retreat.

"And, therefore, we do not want to encourage in any way people to
engage in that behaviour until the law is changed."

Trudeau hinted that an amnesty could be declared once the law is
enacted, although he did not commit to one.

"Once the law is changed, we will, of course, reflect on fairness in a
way that is responsible moving forward. I think certainly we know that
the current legislation is hurting Canadians and criminalizing
Canadians who perhaps shouldn't be," he said.

"But that is an engagement we will take once we have a legalized and
controlled regime in place, not before."

Earlier Friday, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said his
department is analyzing all the legal ramifications of pardoning the
thousands of Canadians who have been convicted of possessing small
amounts of marijuana - acquiring criminal records that can hurt their
career prospects or prevent them from crossing the border into the

Goodale said no decision has yet been made.

The legalization of recreational marijuana will be one of the biggest
ticket items on the Trudeau government's agenda for 2018 as the ruling
Liberals tick off as many of their 2015 election campaign promises as
possible in preparation for the next election in 2019.

Government insiders have said the year will be focused primarily on
"relentless implementation" of the Liberals' central promise to invest
in measures to grow the economy, create jobs and bolster the lot of
middle-class Canadians.

"We laid out an ambitious plan for growth during the 2015 election
campaign and that plan for real change for all Canadians is working,"
Trudeau said Friday, noting that unemployment is at its lowest level
since 1976 and that Canada last year boasted the best economic growth
among G7 industrialized countries.

The Liberals are hoping that Canadians' satisfaction with the state of
the economy will trump criticism about other less favourable aspects
of their record.

Just before Christmas, the federal ethics watchdog ruled that Trudeau
violated four sections of the Conflict of Interest Act when he and his
family took vacations on the private Bahamian Island owned by the Aga
Khan, spiritual leader of the world's Ismaili Muslims.

Opposition parties, intent on keeping the ethics lapses front and
centre in the new year, are calling for stricter rules and penalties
for violating them.
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