The Senate came to a negotiated decision around the marijuana legalization bill timeline yesterday, and there is a bit of good news, and a bit of bad news if you’re waiting for its passage. On the one hand, the new timeline has the benefit of an end date – that it aims for third reading vote by June 7th, but that also moves a vote on second reading until March 22nd, and from then on, it will go to five different committees instead of just three. It does, however, mean that the government’s timeline of July is now out of the water, because even if it passes in June (because there is the possibility of amendments, but there should be enough time to deal with those), there will still be an eight-to-twelve week lag time between royal assent and when the stores can open their doors given production and distribution timelines, and the likes. So, it likely means no legal weed over the summer, if you’re so inclined.
— Dale Smith (@journo_dale) February 15, 2018
A couple of additional notes: I keep hearing this concern trolling that keeping the legal age below 25 is terrible because youth shouldn’t smoke it because of brain development and so on. The problem with setting the legal age too high is that it remains the forbidden fruit for those youth, which encourages use, but it also ignores the reams of data that we have on what happens when drinking ages are set too high, especially in states where it’s 21 instead of 18 or 19. What happens if you have young adults who binge drink to the point of alcohol poisoning because there is no way to build a culture of moderation – not to mention, it will continue to be an active driver for the black market if young adults can still get it that way. At least by setting it to the provincial drinking age, you have a better chance of reaching them through education programs (which will hopefully be better than the current “don’t do drugs” scare tactics that governments repeatedly try and fail at) than simple prohibition. In other words, I hope that senators (and in particular Conservative ones) don’t make this a hill to die on.
The other note is that in the lead up to this negotiated timetable, Government Leader in the Senate – err, “government representative” Senator Peter Harder took the CBC to proclaim his concerns with the pace of the bill, and lamenting that it had been in the Senate since November – err, except it was really only there for a couple of weeks before the Christmas break, during which time the Senate was busy dealing with a glut of other bills from the Commons, and that they rose a week before they planned to, and this is only the third week back after the break, during which it has received several second reading speeches. He was utterly disingenuous about how much time it had been in the Senate to date, and I suspect that this is all part of his play to continue casting the partisan gamesmanship (or threats thereof) by the Conservatives in order to push through his reforms to the chamber that would delegitimise structured opposition, which is a very big deal, and one that Senators shouldn’t let him sneak by them by playing up concerns over this particular bill’s progress.
- Justin Trudeau heads off to India today, and here’s a look at the state of relations between our two countries, and what challenges lay ahead for Trudeau.
- The government announced their five supercluster winners yesterday. Paul Wells recounts the scene and the meaning of it all.
- The government plans to open free trade talks with the Mercosur trade bloc in South America, but services could be a stumbling block.
- After Chrystia Freeland met with Robert Lighthizer in Washington, we’re back to signals that Trump wants to renegotiate and not tear up NAFTA.
- The National Energy Board has granted three new approvals for the Trans Mountain pipeline.
- The Royal Canadian Legion is pushing back against a bill that would make Remembrance Day a “legal holiday,” arguing structure helps schoolkids mark it.
- Police are arguing that the new impaired driving legislation will lead to a spike in court and Charter challenges of the law.
- Here’s a deeper look at what the announced Indigenous Rights framework hopes to accomplish, which includes fewer court challenges against the government.
- The government was forced to bail out its military disability insurance plan with an additional $622 million, after an uptick in claims related to things like PTSD.
- Some 300 Romanians have claimed asylum in Canada after the visa requirement was lifted.
- The government plans to table their plan to undo the policy that bars immigrants with disabilities by April 12th.
- Here’s a look at the man the government tapped to smooth over TPP negotiations after the stumble in Danang during the APEC summit.
- Two new Ontario senators were appointed yesterday.
- Senator Doug Black has tabled an entirely symbolic bill to recognize the Trans Mountain pipeline as being in the national interest, which will do absolutely nothing.
- Kevin Milligan offers a suggestion for how Canada can respond to US tax reforms in order to remain competitive.
- Robert Hiltz reminds us that Patrick Brown got as much due process as anyone in politics is owed, as there is no inalienable right to elected office.
- Jen Gerson looks at Brown’s judgment, especially what the parts of the allegations that he is not contesting demonstrate about his character.
- Surpiya Dwivedi wants people to calm down over Kim Campbell’s tweet about sleeveless broadcasters to focus on the bigger issue.
- Chantal Hébert wonders if the prime minister’s commitment to the new Indigenous rights framework will survive the current pipeline war.
Odds and ends:
The federal government has hired Toronto’s city manager to be the new Treasury Board Secretary.
CBC has hired Vassy Kapelos as the new host of Power & Politics.
Programming note: I’m taking the full long weekend off to recharge. See you Tuesday morning.