Pubdate: Wed, 14 Feb 2018
Source: Victoria Times-Colonist (CN BC)
Copyright: 2018 Times Colonist
Author: Joan Bryden
Page: B5


OTTAWA - The federal government is moving to ensure the Senate doesn't
hold up its plans to legalize recreational marijuana in July.

The government's representative in the upper house, Sen. Peter Harder,
served notice Tuesday that he wants second reading debate on Bill C-45
wrapped up by March 1, after which it would go to committee for
detailed examination before returning to the chamber for a final
debate and vote.

If the various Senate factions won't agree to that timetable, Harder
warned he will move a motion to impose time allocation to cut off
debate - the first time he's threatened to resort to that tactic since
taking on the role of government representative two years ago.

"My fear, quite frankly, is that March 1 would come and we may see the
sort of procedural obstruction we have seen from senators in this
Parliament on multiple items of business," he told his fellow senators.

Harder aimed his remarks primarily at Conservative senators, whom he
said have been instructed by their party's leader, Andrew Scheer, to
use "all the democratic tools" available to "block" the bill.

Conservative Senate Leader Larry Smith last week denied his senators
plan to be "obstructionist" but he said they will insist on a thorough
examination of the legislation.

C-45 has been before the Senate since November and so far only one
Conservative senator has joined the debate.

The Conservative critic for the bill, Sen. Claude Carignan has yet to

Barring the imposition of time allocation, Senate rules allow debate
to be delayed indefinitely as long as a single senator still wants to

Harder's threat to cut off debate comes a week after Health Minister
Ginette Petitpas Taylor told senators that provincial governments will
need two to three months after the bill receives royal assent to
prepare for retail sales of cannabis.

She insisted the government is still on track to legalize weed this
July but didn't clarify whether she meant it would actually be
available for sale at that time or simply that the bill would have
received royal assent by then. Officials later said that would depend
on how quickly C-45 gets through the Senate.

The Senate would have to pass the bill by the end of May at the latest
for marijuana sales to start in July.

Harder's move to speed up the glacial pace of the bill through the
Senate suggests the government is hoping to have cannabis available
for sale in July.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Matt