Pubdate: Fri, 16 Feb 2018
Source: Globe and Mail (Canada)
Copyright: 2018 The Globe and Mail Company
Author: Daniel Leblanc
Page: A6


With target date pushed back twice, government spokesman says there is
no need to impose time allocation in the Senate to speed up process

Ottawa is acknowledging for the first time that legal recreational
marijuana will not be for sale until August or September.

The federal government initially promised to legalize cannabis before
July 1, before giving itself until the end of July. Bill C-45 makes it
clear that cannabis will become legal at a date set by cabinet, not
when the legislation passes.

However, it became clear two weeks ago that even the revised target
would be hard to meet. Speaking to the Senate then, Health Minister
Ginette Petitpas Taylor said provinces and producers will need two to
three months to get ready for legalization after Parliament officially
approves Bill C-45, making it likely at that point that legal pot
would not arrive until late summer.

Earlier this week, the Liberal government's representative in the
Senate, Peter Harder, threatened to cut off debate to ensure the
passage of legislation in May. This would have been the only way for
legalization to occur in July.

However, Mr. Harder's motion was opposed by independent and
Conservative senators. Under a deal that was negotiated by Mr. Harder,
the Senate will hold its final vote on Bill C-45 by June 7.

"The provinces and the territories have made it very clear to us that
they will need eight to 12 weeks for implementation. Therefore, if you
do the math, you can see that it certainly won't be July, 2018," Ms.
Petitpas Taylor told reporters on Thursday.

She added that legalization was "a process, not a date."

"We will make sure we have a very appropriate roll-out of this
process, we want to get this done right," she said. "There is no exact
date [for legalization] that I can tell you."

In a statement, Mr. Harder said there is no need at this point to
impose time allocation in the Senate to speed up the approval of the
legislation. He said the new timeline

offers greater clarity to all Canadians with an interest in the
legalization debate, as well as time for in-depth scrutiny of the

"This should give stakeholders, governments, businesses,
law-enforcement agencies and other Canadians a timeline for how and
when the bill will be ultimately dealt with by the Upper Chamber," Mr.
Harder said.

The Conservative Leader in the Senate, Larry Smith, said the new
calendar will allow for "critical analysis" of the legislation and its
widespread impacts on Canadian society. Among other things, he wants
to ensure the government conducts a wide-ranging public awareness
campaign on the dangers of cannabis before legalization comes into

"Our objective was always to have an opportunity to have the proper
amount of time to do the in-depth evaluation and represent the voice
of Canadians who have serious questions about the legislation," Mr.
Smith said in an interview.

If the Senate votes to amend Bill C-45 in June, the proposed
legislation will return to the House of Commons where MPs will have
their say on the amendments. If the

MPs reject some or all of the Senate's amendments, the bill will have
to go back to the Senate for approval.

To this point, senators have raised concerns about a potential
increase in drugimpaired driving after legalization, the availability
of the drug to young Canadians under the new regime, and the controls
that will be in place on advertising and marketing of cannabis.

Bill C-45 is currently at the second-reading stage of the legislative
process in the Senate, with a number of senators still wanting to
speak on the principle of legalization.

Starting in March, Bill C-45 will be studied by five Senate
committees: social affairs, legal affairs, aboriginal peoples, foreign
affairs and national security. The work of all committees is expected
to be completed by May 29.

The Senate is currently composed of 41 members of the independent
Senate group, 33 Conservatives, 12 members of the independent Liberal
caucus and five non-affiliated senators. The Conservatives have been
the most vocal opponents of legalization.

On Thursday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the appointment of 
two new senators from Ontario: educator Martha Deacon and former civil 
servant Robert Black.
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