Ontario Politicians Weigh in on Legalization

The Ontario government, which collected $1.163 billion off tobacco and $3 billion off alcohol taxes last year, is watching the federal Liberal government’s promise to regulate cannabis closely.

“It’s going to be a national conversation and I’m not going to speculate about what this will mean,” said Finance Minister Charles Sousa. “The federal government hasn’t even been formed. Once that is established, once they start to proceed, we will be at the table, we’ll listen,”

“So let them formulate, let’s determine what this really means, what’s the social impact as well and we’ll go from there. I see this as something bigger than a provincial issue and we’ll work closely with the federal government to determine how … they’re going to proceed.”

The Liberal government has promised to regulate cannabis and “create new, stronger laws to punish more severely those who provide it to minors, those who operate a motor vehicle while under its influence.”

Ontario Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca said, in June, province recently passed legislation to increase penalties for those driving under the influence of cannabis.

“They will continue to be tough and we’ll consistently look for ways to make sure that we have the toughest laws in place,” said Del Duca. “We’re also looking at technology, because we want to make sure that we’re able to provide certainty to those who may be driving under the influence of drugs. That work is ongoing.”

Progressive Conservative Leader Patrick Brown said the sale of cannabis needs to be tightly controlled by the government, but favours decriminalization over legalization.

“We certainly wouldn’t want to see a free-for-all but … there’s going to be an opportunity for experts on all sides, and the government has a duty to listen and make sure that they find the best possible regulation for Canada,” said Brown.

The Liberals have given no timeline for legalization, but members of the party have speculated it will take place within leader Justin Trudeau’s first term in office.