On­tario’s pot-sell­ing plan puffs up bu­reau­cracy

The Observer (Sarnia) - - OPINION - Jim­mer­riam@hot­mail.com

JIM MER­RIAM

The On­tario Lib­er­als, who couldn’t or­ga­nize a pee pa­rade at a beer fes­ti­val, are go­ing into the re­tail mar­i­juana busi­ness.

This means an­other in­crease in the size of the al­ready bloated bu­reau­cracy. It also means the prov­ince will steam­roll over en­trepreneurs ready and able to do this right.

In ad­di­tion, Queen’s Park is tak­ing a mealy-mouth ap­proach to sales of a le­gal prod­uct.

A dis­tri­bu­tion strat­egy is not about whether the “Mary Jane” we were warned about in grainy scare films in school in the mid 1900s should or should not be le­gal­ized.

That de­bate has passed, but the brain sur­geons at Queen’s Park seem dis­pleased with le­gal­iza­tion and have come up with a plan that will make it awk­ward, if not dif­fi­cult, for many On­tar­i­ans to ob­tain the weed they need.

Let’s back up a minute and look at some of the rea­sons this gov­ern­ment is not qual­i­fied to in­crease its foot­print on the fore­heads of On­tario res­i­dents.

Here are just some ex­am­ples of poor man­age­ment from Queen’s Park: the Ornge am­bu­lance fi­asco; green en­ergy that en­riched off­shore com­pa­nies while driv­ing On­tario res­i­dents into power poverty; the gas plant boon­dog­gle; end­less scan­dals; eHealth; puff­ing up the health-care bu­reau­cracy while mak­ing life more dif­fi­cult for pa­tients; the eco­nomic pres­sure on ru­ral boards of ed­u­ca­tion to close schools.

The first step of the new plan for pot sales will see 80 stores opened to serve all of On­tario. Ob­vi­ously most of them will be in Toronto.

Al­though op­er­ated by the LCBO, these will be dif­fer­ent lo­ca­tions, since On­tar­i­ans might be tempted to buy both liquor and mar­i­juana in the same place. Heaven for­bid.

But here’s the rub. The gov­ern­ment says the pot sales are ex­pected to cover the costs of set­ting up sales lo­ca­tions, etc.

In other words, hard-pressed On­tario tax­pay­ers will get no re­lief from pot prof­its. The new money will go into new stores and more bu­reau­crats to run them.

All this in a prov­ince where over­gov­ern­ment abounds.

We’ll use my area, about 30 kilo­me­tres from Owen Sound, as an ex­am­ple.

Al­most all of the new con­struc­tion in the more than the past decade has had a ma­jor tax­payer com­po­nent.

This in­cludes court­houses, grand health unit head­quar­ters on the best of­fice land in the city, county and city gov­ern­ment build­ings un­der re­con­struc­tion, schools, a mu­seum and more.

This level of gov­ern­ment in­volve­ment in the econ­omy is not sus­tain­able. Private en­ter­prise needs to flour­ish in this or any other first-world coun­try to en­sure a solid fu­ture.

But the On­tario gov­ern­ment is busy driv­ing private en­ter­prise out of the prov­ince be­cause of sky -high power costs, end­less tax­a­tion, enough red tape to stop a buf­falo stam­pede and more.

By the way, Pre­mier Kath­leen Wynne’s kissin’ cousin Justin Trudeau is now in the busi­ness of mak­ing life even tougher for small busi­ness with a new tax plan.

That plan com­pli­cates the lives of small busi­ness own­ers to the point many of them are likely to wash their hands of the headaches and look for cushy jobs in the bu­reau­cracy. And who could blame them? The tax-and-spend Lib­er­als in both Toronto and Ot­tawa need to change their ways.

Gov­ern­ment has got to be re­duced, free en­ter­prise must be en­cour­aged and ci­ti­zens have to be al­lowed to suc­ceed with­out hav­ing to fork over most of their earn­ings in tax­a­tion.

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