Pot talk on the agenda as jus­tice min­is­ters meet

The Daily Press (Timmins) - - NATIONAL NEWS - Geor­don omand

VAN­COU­VER — mar­i­juana le­gal­iza­tion is topping a packed agenda as Jus­tice min­is­ter Jody Wil­son-ray­bould sits down with her pro­vin­cial and ter­ri­to­rial coun­ter­parts for two days of meet­ings in Van­cou­ver.

b.c. So­lic­i­tor Gen­eral mike Farn­worth said he hopes the gath­er­ing, which be­gan thurs­day, of­fers more clarity around how the fed­eral gov­ern­ment in­tends to make good on its am­bi­tious time­line to le­gal­ize pot by next sum­mer.

“Ob­vi­ously, i think the July time frame is a chal­lenge,” he said. “but right now that’s the time­line, that’s the time frame that we’re work­ing to­wards.”

Farn­worth said he also wants to get a bet­ter sense of what other prov­inces are ar­rang­ing be­cause of the im­por­tance of en­sur­ing cer­tain mar­i­juana laws are con­sis­tent across the coun­try.

On­tario Jus­tice min­is­ter yasir Naqvi de­scribed the time­line as tight but added that his prov­ince is work­ing with the fed­eral gov­ern­ment on pre­par­ing for le­gal­iza­tion.

the fed­eral gov­ern­ment has come un­der fire for what ap­pears to be a hands-off ap­proach to reg­u­lat­ing the sale and polic­ing of mar­i­juana once it be­comes legal on Canada day 2018.

brian pat­ter­son, head of the pub­lic safety group On­tario Safety league, said he is shocked by the fed­eral gov­ern­ment’s com­mit­ment to what is an un­re­al­is­tic, po­lit­i­cally mo­ti­vated dead­line that will put Cana­di­ans at risk.

the group re­leased a po­si­tion pa­per ear­lier this month ti­tled “too Far, too Fast” urg­ing the gov­ern­ment to slow down and con­sult with po­lice forces, health agen­cies and pro­vin­cial govern­ments be­fore in­tro­duc­ing leg­is­la­tion.

“be­fore you open the pool you bet­ter check the chlo­rine lev­els and know what’s go­ing on. and we’re just open­ing the pools be­cause it’s Canada day,” pat­ter­son said.

“Spit­balling in the dark seems to be the method be­ing used to stick to that date.”

On­tario be­came the first prov­ince to make pub­lic its plans for le­gal­ized cannabis last week, un­veil­ing a reg­u­la­tory regime that re­stricts sales to its own liquor board op­er­ated stores.

rep­re­sen­ta­tives from sev­eral po­lice forces warned the house of Com­mons health com­mit­tee ear­lier this week that there was zero chance po­lice would be ready in time to en­force new laws for le­gal­ized pot. pub­lic Safety min­is­ter ralph Goodale re­sponded by de­scrib­ing the gov­ern­ment’s timetable as rea­son­able.

youth health ex­perts are urg­ing the fed­eral gov­ern­ment to de­velop ex­ten­sive preven­tion and pub­lice­d­u­ca­tion cam­paigns fo­cus­ing on the harm­ful ef­fect of mar­i­juana on ado­les­cent brains, warn­ing that stronger reg­u­la­tions alone will be in­ef­fec­tive in de­ter­ring kids from smok­ing pot.

Other top­ics up for dis­cus­sion at the two-day meet­ing are how the jus­tice sys­tem deals with hiv non-dis­clo­sure and the fall­out from the Supreme Court of Canada’s de­ci­sion that puts a time limit on how long it takes to pros­e­cute a crim­i­nal charges.

WASH­ING­TON — the U.S. is seek­ing to in­sert a so-called sun­set clause into a new Nafta deal, a con­tro­ver­sial pro­posal that would au­to­mat­i­cally ter­mi­nate the agree­ment af­ter five years un­less all three mem­ber coun­tries agree to ex­tend it.

that idea has been qui­etly floated for months by U.S. of­fi­cials who fi­nally made it pub­lic thurs­day. it prompted swift re­sis­tance. Cana­dian and mex­i­can of­fi­cials brushed it off al­most as soon as it was pub­licly re­vealed, call­ing it a bad idea that would cre­ate eco­nomic in­sta­bil­ity and scare busi­nesses away from long-term in­vest­ments.

the pri­or­ity was an­nounced by U.S. president don­ald trump’s com­merce sec­re­tary, Wil­bur ross. he con­firmed the U.S. will seek some au­to­matic-ter­mi­na­tion clause to en­sure the agree­ment can be con­stantly re-eval­u­ated and im­proved.

“the five-year thing is a real thing that would force a sys­tem­atic re­ex­am­i­na­tion,” ross told a fo­rum or­ga­nized by the web­site politico.

“you’d have a fo­rum for try­ing to fix things.”

ross said U.S. trade czar robert lighthizer, who is lead­ing the Nafta talks for his coun­try, agrees with him that it’s a good idea. but ross con­ceded it’s un­clear the other Nafta coun­tries will ever ac­cept it.

he re­it­er­ated his goal of reach­ing a deal by the end of the year. af­ter­wards, he said, it will be­come harder to nail down a deal in 2018 as mex­ico and the U.S. have na­tional elec­tions, the U.S. fast-track law is up for re­newal and Canada has pro­vin­cial elec­tions. if there’s no deal, he said the president is se­ri­ous that he might ter­mi­nate Nafta.

“it’s a very real thing,” ross said of the president’s threat.

“but it is not the pre­ferred op­tion.”

The five-year thing is a real thing that would force a sys­tem­atic re-ex­am­i­na­tion.”

Wil­bur Ross, Com­merce sec­re­tary

the idea of an au­to­matic sun­set ap­pears to be a non-starter.

Shortly af­ter ross left the stage, the U.S. am­bas­sadors of Canada and mex­ico ap­peared for a panel dis­cus­sion. both strongly re­jected the idea, and said the U.S. busi­ness com­mu­nity would never ac­cept it ei­ther.

Canada’s david macnaughton told re­porters he has been hear­ing this idea for months in closed-door chats. he said he has never un­der­stood the logic be­hind it, since Nafta al­ready has a clause al­low­ing any coun­try to with­draw if it re­ally wants to.

but an au­to­matic-sun­set clause is de­signed for some­thing you in­tend to end, like a law de­signed to ex­pire, macnaughton said. that’s the op­po­site of a trade agree­ment — whose in­her­ent goal, he said, is to pro­ject long-term pre­dictabil­ity.

“One of rea­sons you do (a trade agree­ment) is to cre­ate an en­vi­ron­ment within which busi­ness can make in­vest­ments. (in) many of those in­vest­ments peo­ple will look to 20 years’, 25 years’ pay­back,” macnaughton said. “if you have to do it every five years, the pric­ing of po­lit­i­cal risk is very high.”

he il­lus­trated his point with a more home­spun metaphor: “if every mar­riage had a five-year sun­set clause on it, i think our di­vorce rate would be a heck of a lot higher than it is.” mex­ico’s am­bas­sador agreed. “Ourview­sex­actly,”saidgeron­imo Gu­tier­rez. “it would prob­a­bly have very detri­men­tal con­se­quences for the busi­ness com­mu­nity of the United States, mex­ico and Canada... Cer­tainty is the key word here.”

Dar­ryl dyck/the CANA­DIAN PRESS

Fed­eral Min­is­ter of Jus­tice and At­tor­ney Gen­eral Jody Wil­son-ray­bould, cen­tre left, is flanked by Deputy Min­is­ter of Jus­tice Nathalie Drouin, left, and Al­berta Min­is­ter of Jus­tice and So­lic­i­tor Gen­eral Kath­leen Gan­ley, right, at the start of a meet­ing of fed­eral, pro­vin­cial and ter­ri­to­rial min­is­ters re­spon­si­ble for jus­tice and pub­lic safety, in Van­cou­ver, B.C., on Thurs­day.

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