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Can the Conservatives reverse cannabis legalization? – National

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Andrew Scheer, leader of the Conservative Party of Canada, hasn’t promised to keep cannabis legal if elected prime minister in 2019.


READ MORE:
How much weed was sold on Canada’s legalization day, province-by-province

“The Conservative Party will do our due diligence, examine the consequences of this decision, and we’ll examine the reality on the ground,” Scheer told CTV Thursday.

“We have to be realistic about what a change like this means for society and all the ramifications.”

Now that cannabis is legal and the nascent industry is being awakened on many different fronts, is there any chance that Conservatives would actually be able to reverse legalization?

WATCH: Becoming a cannabis sommelier






“No, not really,” Jamie Shaw, a partner at cannabis consulting agency Groundwork, said in response to that question.

Shaw highlighted the sheer amount of work that has been put into legalization since the Liberals were elected in the fall of 2015 as one reason the Conservatives might have to reconsider reversing cannabis legalization, especially if the federal government hammered through a reversal in the face of the work already done by the provinces.

“I can’t imagine provinces would be happy, having spent all their time dealing with cannabis legalization,” Shaw said. “Getting their stores up and running, figuring out how it’s going to work, then having the federal government say never mind.”


READ MORE:
Cannabis IQ: Where’s my pot? Backlogs, shortages plague first week of legalization

Rielle Capler, a PhD cannabis policy researcher at University of British Columbia, agrees that it would be a very uphill battle for the Conservatives to reverse cannabis legalization in 2019.

“I think it would be very difficult,” Capler said. “With the current bill, it took two and a half years at warp speed for it to pass and be implemented. That was governments coming together at all levels and working together on it diligently.”

Capler pointed out that for a bill that would re-criminalize cannabis to pass, it would have to go through multiple readings in the House of Commons and the Senate, and she doesn’t think it would get past the first reading.

WATCH: Interview with cannabis advocate Tommy Chong






“They would have to get support,” Capler said. “The question is not so much how but why would you want to do that.

“This is a multi-billion dollar industry that is going to be in full force and employing thousands of Canadians. By that time, I don’t think there would be any support for reversing.”

The Conservatives have been consistent in their opposition to legalized cannabis and almost universally either abstained from voting or voted against the cannabis legalization bill, Bill C-45, at its third reading in the House.


READ MORE:
Cannabis IQ: Here’s how pot legalization will impact the economy

Capler says their opposition is likely a matter of ideology and a way to appeal to their constituents. But by 2019, “their constituents won’t be supportive,” she says.

“I think a lot of (the constituents) will be involved in the industry,” she said. “It’s going to be in every fabric of society. It’s going to be employing thousands and thousands of Canadians so their constituency won’t be supportive of that stance.”

Shaw sees any effort to reverse legalization to ultimately be futile — if there is supply and demand then no amount of enforcement can stop people from getting it.

WATCH: Health minister says cannabis demand being ‘handled well’ despite shortages






“Look at Project Claudia in Toronto,” Shaw said, referring to a police crackdown on illegal cannabis dispensaries. “It seemed to stop more from opening, but it certainly didn’t stop the (dispensaries) that were there; most of them opened the next day.

“It’s a losing strategy.”

Scheer has admitted that he will employ a wait-and-see strategy when it comes to cannabis legalization.

“We’re going to propose changes to the regime based on the feedback we see,” he told Global News.


READ MORE:
Marijuana is legal everywhere across Canada now

In the past, Scheer has stressed being “realistic” when it comes to cannabis legalization, telling Global News in April 2017: “If this is something that has been legal for a period of time, it’s going to be very difficult to say, ‘Hey, we’re going to make this illegal again.’”

If the U.S. is any indication, that “realism” will be in favour of cannabis. Capler said she hasn’t seen any negative consequences from the U.S. states that have legalized cannabis, such as Colorado or Washington in 2012.

“There has been a lot of fearmongering, myths, propaganda around cannabis,” Capler said. “I think once it is legalized and implemented, which it has been, we’ll see that the sky isn’t falling and that it is contributing to society in many ways, and there will be a change of heart for people that had fears and concerns.”

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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‘Business as usual’ for Dorel Industries after terminating go-private deal

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MONTREAL — Dorel Industries Inc. says it will continue to pursue its business strategy going forward after terminating an agreement to go private after discussions with shareholders.

« Moving ahead. Business as usual, » a spokesman for the company said in an email on Monday.

A group led by Cerberus Capital Management had previously agreed to buy outstanding shares of Dorel for $16 apiece, except for shares owned by the family that controls the company’s multiple-voting shares.

But Dorel chief executive Martin Schwartz said the Montreal-based maker of car seats, strollers, bicycles and home furniture pulled the plug on a deal on the eve of Tuesday’s special meeting after reviewing votes from shareholders.

“Independent shareholders have clearly expressed their confidence in Dorel’s future and the greater potential for Dorel as a public entity, » he said in a news release.

Dorel’s board of directors, with Martin Schwartz, Alan Schwartz, Jeffrey Schwartz and Jeff Segel recused, unanimously approved the deal’s termination upon the recommendation of a special committee.

The transaction required approval by two-thirds of the votes cast, and more than 50 per cent of the votes cast by non-family shareholders.

Schwartz said enhancing shareholder value remains a top priority while it stays focused on growing its brands, which include Schwinn and Mongoose bikes, Safety 1st-brand car seats and DHP Furniture.

Dorel said the move to end the go-private deal was mutual, despite the funds’ increased purchase price offer earlier this year.

It said there is no break fee applicable in this case.

Montreal-based investment firm Letko, Brosseau & Associates Inc. and San Diego’s Brandes Investment Partners LP, which together control more than 19 per cent of Dorel’s outstanding class B subordinate shares voiced their opposition to the amended offer, which was increased from the initial Nov. 2 offer of $14.50 per share.

« We believe that several minority shareholders shared our opinion, » said Letko vice-president Stephane Lebrun, during a phone interview.

« We are confident of the long-term potential of the company and we have confidence in the managers in place.”

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Anglais

Pandemic funds helping Montreal businesses build for a better tomorrow

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Many entrepreneurs have had to tap into government loans during the pandemic, at first just to survive, but now some are using the money to better prepare their businesses for the post-COVID future.

One of those businesses is Del Friscos, a popular family restaurant in Dollard-des-Ormeaux that, like many Montreal-area restaurants, has had to adapt from a sit-down establishment to one that takes orders online for takeout or delivery.

“It was hard going from totally in-house seating,” said Del Friscos co-owner Terry Konstas. “We didn’t have an in-house delivery system, which we quickly added. There were so many of our employees that were laid off that wanted to work so we adapted to a delivery system and added platforms like Uber and DoorDash.”

Helping them through the transition were emergency grants and low-interest loans from the federal and provincial governments, some of which are directly administered by PME MTL, a non-profit business-development organization established to assist the island’s small and medium-sized businesses.

Konstas said he had never even heard of PME MTL until a customer told him about them and when he got in touch, he discovered there were many government programs available to help his business get through the downturn and build for the future. “They’ve been very helpful right from day one,” said Konstas.

“We used some of the funds to catch up on our suppliers and our rents, the part that wasn’t covered from the federal side, and we used some of it for our new virtual concepts,” he said, referring to a virtual kitchen model which the restaurant has since adopted.

The virtual kitchen lets them create completely different menu items from the casual American Italian dishes that Del Friscos is known for and market them under different restaurant brand names. Under the Prasinó Soup & Salad banner, they sell healthy Greek options and their Stallone’s Sub Shop brand offers hearty sandwiches, yet the food from both is created in the same Del Friscos kitchen.

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Anglais

Downtown Montreal office, retail vacancies continue to rise

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Some of downtown Montreal’s key economic indicators are heading in the wrong direction.

Office and retail vacancies in the city’s central core continued to climb in the fourth quarter of 2020, according to a quarterly report released Thursday by the Urban Development Institute of Quebec and the Montréal Centre-Ville merchants association. The report, whose first edition was published in October, aims to paint a socio-economic picture of the downtown area.

The survey also found office space available for sublet had increased during the fourth quarter, which may foreshadow even more vacancies when leases expire. On the residential front, condo sales fell as new listings soared — a sign that the downtown area may be losing some of its appeal to homeowners.

“It’s impossible not to be preoccupied by the rapid increase in office vacancies,” Jean-Marc Fournier, the former Quebec politician who now heads the UDI, said Thursday in an interview.

Still, with COVID-19 vaccinations set to accelerate in the coming months, “the economic picture is bound to improve,” he said. “People will start returning downtown. It’s much too early to say the office market is going to disappear.”

Public health measures implemented since the start of the pandemic almost a year ago — such as caps on office capacity — have deprived downtown Montreal of more than 500,000 workers and students. A mere 4,163 university and CEGEP students attended in-person classes in the second quarter, the most recent period for which figures are available. Border closures and travel restrictions have also brought tourism to a standstill, hurting hotels and thousands of local businesses.

Seventy per cent of downtown workers carried out their professional activities at home more than three days a week during the fourth quarter, the report said, citing an online survey of 1,000 Montreal-area residents conducted last month.

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