Pubdate: Wed, 14 Feb 2018
Source: Globe and Mail (Canada)
Copyright: 2018 The Globe and Mail Company
Author: Daniel Leblanc
Page: A10


The federal government is threatening to force a vote in the Senate to
speed up the adoption of the marijuana-legalization bill, stating
industry and governments need a clear timeline to a legal-cannabis

This government has never imposed time allocation in the Senate, but
it says it will have no choice if Conservative senators use procedural
tricks to delay the legislation.

In a speech on Tuesday, the government's representative in the Senate,
Peter Harder, said he wants a vote to send Bill C-45 to committee
before the start of a two week break on March 1. He said that if he
does not obtain all-party support for his proposal, he will move a
motion to force a vote.

"I do, frankly, have some concern that partisan politics could affect
our proceedings," Mr. Harder said. "While I certainly agree we need to
take our time to do our job of sober second thought, any potential
delay for the sake of delay would do a disservice to Canadians and to
the culture here in this chamber."

The Senate is currently comprised of 41 independents, 33
Conservatives, 12 members of the independent Liberal caucus and five
non-affiliated senators. It remains unknown whether the government has
majority support for a time-allocation motion.

The government is publicly stating it wants to legalize cannabis by
July. However, it has also said that industry and governments will
need eight to 12 weeks to get ready after Bill C-45 is adopted in 

To meet the July deadline, Mr. Harder said the bill would have to go
through the committee process in March and April before returning to
the Senate for a final stage of debates and votes in May. Under this
timeline, he said that "implementation [of Bill C-45] is possible this

"The Senate is not bound by the government's publicly discussed
timeline," he added. "However, I would urge this chamber to factor
that approximate timeline into consideration in its deliberations, as
the many stakeholders involved in cannabis legalization will
reasonably want to prepare for implementation in an organized and
deliberate fashion."

As he made his speech, Mr. Harder was interrupted on a number of
occasions by Conservative senators who called on him to defend Bill
C-45 instead of talking about his proposed timeline for the

"I would have preferred to hear the meat of the bill discussed rather
than why we must proceed quickly or the threat of time allocation,"
Conservative Senator Carolyn Stewart Olsen said.

The Conservatives have rejected attempts to move Bill C-45 quickly to
committee, stating that a number of their members want to speak on the
principle of the bill at the second reading stage.

"Usually, there are fewer people who want to speak at this stage, but
given the importance of the legislation, there are many people who
have something to say," Conservative Senator Claude Carignan said.

Independent Senator Tony Dean, who is sponsoring the bill in the
Senate, has accused Conservatives of using procedural tricks to drag
out the debate.

"It seems to me, through a political lens, that the Conservatives
wouldn't mind seeing time allocation because they could accuse the
government of cutting off debate. It really is that silly," he said
last week.

Mr. Harder is proposing that the bill be studied simultaneously by
three Senate committees: social affairs, legal affairs and aboriginal
peoples. Social affairs would be the lead committee and would set its
own timeline. The two other committees would be asked to finish their
work by April 19.

"I would anticipate senators on all three committees would stay in
constructive communication regarding their respective timelines going
forward and as they would no doubt share ongoing findings and perhaps
attend each other's hearings," Mr. Harder said.
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