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No federal party will turn back the clock on the legalization of marijuana

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OTTAWA—It is not a drill. When legal cannabis hits the shelves in Canada on Wednesday, it will be there to stay.

Come next year’s federal election, no party will be committing to turn back the clock on Justin Trudeau’s signature policy; not even the Conservatives who spent the last campaign painting nightmare scenarios about the legal sale of marijuana and who would have no qualms about doing away with other major parts of the Liberal legacy.

Marijuana plants are shown at a cultivation facility in Olds, Alta., on Oct. 10, 2018. Considering the amount of money and labour that has gone into the new market for marijuana, it was never a political policy that could or would be reversed on a dime, Chantal Hébert writes.
Marijuana plants are shown at a cultivation facility in Olds, Alta., on Oct. 10, 2018. Considering the amount of money and labour that has gone into the new market for marijuana, it was never a political policy that could or would be reversed on a dime, Chantal Hébert writes.  (Jeff McIntosh / THE CANADIAN PRESS)

If Andrew Scheer became prime minister, he would waste no time in dismantling the Liberal climate change infrastructure. A Conservative federal government would turn its back on carbon pricing and lighten the regulatory burden on pipeline owners.

It would reverse the bid to make the Senate more independent and resume appointing partisan members committed to supporting the government agenda to the Upper House.

But Scheer would not kill the nascent legal cannabis market..

It would of course be hard for the Conservatives to continue to prosecute the legalization of cannabis with a minimum of credibility when some of those who toiled on their front bench or in their government’s backrooms have now become poster people for the cannabis industry.

Given the significant amount of money and labour that has gone into the opening and the operation of this new market, this was never a policy that could or would be reversed on a dime.

When the Liberals first adopted a resolution in support of the legalization of cannabis at the party’s 2012 convention, few believed it had the potential to become a fait accompli a mere half-a-dozen years later.

The party was leaderless and languishing in third place in the House of Commons. The best some Liberal strategists could think of saying about the cannabis resolution was that it sent a signal that there was still some policy life on their political planet. The worst was that it could lead scores of voters to dismiss their party as too irresponsible to be returned to government.

Yet support for the legalization of marijuana among the Liberal delegates cut right across the age spectrum. That was a rare clue that the proposal might turn out to be more than a one-convention wonder.

Over the past few years, there has been a lot of talk about the need for governments to acquire a so-called social licence for the projects and the policies they support.

But in the case of the legalization of cannabis — as in that of assisted dying — the federal government of the day did not so much create the circumstances for social acceptability as take advantage of its existence.

An Abacus poll published on Monday reported little public resistance to the new status of cannabis. Most Canadians will not be dancing in the streets when marijuana stores open for business on Wednesday, nor will they be rushing to the barricades to protest.

Read more:

Opinion | Walkom: Legalizing pot is about politics — and big business

Investing in cannabis will be hazy in the short run

I was 14 when I first realized how readily available cannabis was. The fact that it was an illegal substance did not factor in my decision to take a pass on trying it. By all accounts, my experience is par for the course for most adult Canadians.

It won’t be easier to purchase cannabis under the new regime; at first in fact it will often be harder. The main change is that it will no longer be illegal. And as a result, scores of people, many of them young, will no longer risk being saddled with a criminal record. Over time, smoking weed may become as uncool as smoking tobacco.

That is not to say that the politics of marijuana will fall right off the radar. But much of the action — at least over the first few years — will be taking place in the provinces.

As it is now configured, the legal cannabis market is really a patchwork system featuring almost as many approaches as there are provinces.

That is not necessarily a bad thing. At some point, best practices will surface and — in an ideal world — be replicated.

For instance, Quebec — under its incoming CAQ government — is planning to take as close to a prohibitionist approach as possible. Premier-elect François Legault would raise the legal age to buy cannabis from 18 to 21 and make it illegal to smoke weed in public places. Ontario is taking a more liberal approach.

The next few years will tell which of the two comes closest to meeting the policy objectives of eradicating the black market and ensuring that less cannabis finds its way into the hands of Canadian teenagers.

But under any scenario, getting an informed take on the big post-legalization picture will take longer than the 10 or so months between now and the next federal election.

Chantal Hébert is a columnist based in Ottawa covering politics. Follow her on Twitter: @ChantalHbert



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Toronto officer pleads guilty to misconduct for using database for personal gain – Toronto

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TORONTO – A Toronto police officer has pleaded guilty to misconduct at a tribunal hearing for using his position to obtain a woman’s information for personal gain.

Const. Vincenzo Bonazza admits to using his authority and police databases to search information about a woman who approached him in 2008 asking for help.


READ MORE:
New video appears to show on-duty Toronto police officers partying; conduct investigation continues

Bonazza first admitted to the misconduct during a criminal trial in 2018 where the woman accused him of raping her shortly after the two met 10 years earlier.

He denied the sexual assault allegations saying the two had consensual sex.


READ MORE:
Pot-eating former Toronto cop gets 9-month conditional sentence

Bonazza was acquitted of the charge after the judge found the complainant’s testimony to be inconsistent.

The tribunal’s prosecutor and Bonazza’s lawyer have made a joint submission of four days docked pay.



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Canada’s wholesale and manufacturing sales fell slightly in November: StatsCan

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The Canadian economy showed signs of weakness in November as both wholesale and manufacturing sales fell.

Statistics Canada said Tuesday wholesale trade fell one per cent in November to $63.0 billion, more than offsetting the 0.7 per cent increase in October.

Meanwhile, manufacturing sales fell 1.4 per cent to $57.3 billion in November, the second consecutive monthly decrease.

Economists had expected no change in wholesale sales and a drop of 0.9 per cent in manufacturing sales, according to Thomson Reuters Eikon.

TD Bank economist Omar Abdelrahman said the data confirms the moderating growth narrative.

‘Temporary shocks’

« Sub-par manufacturing performance is still expected in the near-term, as Alberta’s production curtailment plan starts to reflect in manufacturing sales volumes, » Abdelrahman wrote in a note to clients.

« It is important, however, to note that these are temporary shocks. As these shocks fade, manufacturing sales should receive support from strong economic performance south of the border, a weaker loonie, and expectations of increases in investment spending in the face of elevated capacity constraints. »

Fabricator Mike Caldarino uses a grinder on a steel stairs being manufactured at George Third & Son Steel Fabricators and Erectors, in Burnaby, B.C., on March 29, 2018. Statistics Canada says manufacturing sales fell 1.4% to $57.3 billion in November, the second consecutive monthly decrease. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)

Royal Bank senior economist Nathan Janzen noted that labour markets still look solid and, notwithstanding recent market volatility, the U.S. industrial sector is continuing to expand.

« We still expect a ‘data-dependent’ Bank of Canada will ultimately view more gradual rate hikes as appropriate this year — but very likely not until confirmation emerges that the expected slow patch over the next couple of quarters is temporary, » Janzen wrote.

Petroleum, coal down 13.8%

Manufacturing sales were down in 13 of 21 industries, representing 45.3 per cent of total manufacturing sales. In volume terms, manufacturing sales fell 0.9 per cent.

The petroleum and coal product industry fell 13.8 per cent due to lower prices for petroleum and coal products as well as maintenance and turnaround work at some refineries and lower production at other refineries.

Partially offsetting the decline was a 1.3 per cent increase in the transportation equipment industry and a 1.5 per cent increase in the food industry.

Meanwhile, wholesale sales were down in five of seven subsectors. In volume terms, wholesale sales fell 1.2 per cent.

The machinery, equipment and supplies subsector fell 2.3 per cent, while sales in the building material and supplies subsector dropped 1.9 per cent.



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Roma, The Favourite lead the Oscar noms with 10 nods each, several Canadians nominated for awards

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Alfonso Cuaron’s Roma and Yorgos Lanthimos’ The Favourite led all films with 10 nominations each to the 91st Academy Awards, while Netflix and Marvel each scored their first best picture nomination.

The nominees for best picture are: A Star Is Born, Roma, Green Book, The Favourite, Black Panther, BlacKkKlansman, Bohemian Rhapsody and Vice.

With Roma, Netflix has scored its first best picture nomination, something the streaming giant has dearly sought. Marvel, too, joined the club with Black Panther, the first superhero movie ever nominated for best picture.

Pixar production Bao by Toronto-raised Domee Shi picked up a nomination for best animated short, as did Animal Behaviour by Vancouver’s David Fine and Alison Snowden. The live action short film category has two finalists from Montreal — Jeremy Comte for Fauve and Marianne Farley for Marguerite. Other Canadians up for the golden statuette this year include sound mixer Paul Massey for Bohemian Rhapsody and set decorator Gordon Sim for Mary Poppins Returns. Shi is the first female director to helm a Pixar short film.

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The nominees for best actor are Cooper, Christian Bale (Vice), Willem Dafoe (At Eternity’s Gate), Rami Malek (Bohemian Rhapsody) and Viggo Mortensen (Green Book).

Up for best actress are Yalitza Aparicio (Roma), Glenn Close (The Wife), Olivia Colman (The Favourite), Lady Gaga and Melissa McCarthy (Can You Ever Forgive Me?).

The nominees for best supporting actress are Amy Adams (Vice), Marina De Tavira (Roma), Regina King (If Beale Street Could Talk), Emma Stone (The Favourite) and Rachel Weisz (The Favourite). Tavira was something a surprise, while Claire Foy of First Man was left out.

Up for best supporting actor are: Mahershala Ali (Green Book), Adam Driver (BlacKkKlansman), Sam Elliott (A Star Is Born), Richard E. Grant (Can You Ever Forgive Me?) and Sam Rockwell (Vice). Notably snubbed was Timothy Chalamet (Beautiful Boy).

The lead-up to Tuesday’s nominations was rocky for both the film academy and some of the contending movies. Shortly after being announced as host, Kevin Hart was forced to withdraw over years-old homophobic tweets that the comedian eventually apologized for. That has left the Oscars, one month before the Feb. 24 ceremony, without an emcee, and likely to stay that way.

Some film contenders, like Peter Farrelly’s Green Book and the Freddie Mercury biopic Bohemian Rhapsody, have suffered waves upon waves of backlash, even as their awards tallies have mounted. On Saturday, Green Book won the top award from the Producers Guild, an honour that has been a reliable Oscar barometer. In the 10 years since the Oscars expanded its best-picture ballot, the PGA winner has gone on to win best picture eight times.

The season’s steadiest contender — Cooper’s A Star Is Born — looked potentially unbeatable until it got beat. Despite an enviable string of awards and more than $400 million in worldwide box office, Cooper’s lauded remake was almost totally ignored at the Golden Globes. Still, A Star Is Born was the sole film to land top nominations from virtually every guild group.

The academy is reportedly planning to go host-less following Hart’s exit, something it has tried only once before in an infamous 1989 telecast that featured a lengthy musical number with Rob Lowe and Snow White.

The Oscars last year hit a new ratings low, declining 20 per cent and averaging 26.5 million viewers. Though ratings for award shows have generally been dropping, the downturn prompted the academy to revamp this year’s telecast. Though initial plans for a new popular film category were scuttled, the academy is planning to present some awards off-air and keep the broadcast to three hours.



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No federal party will turn back the clock on the legalization of marijuana

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