Trudeau’s Senate rep willing to cut off debate on weed legalization bill to meet summer timeline

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s representative in the Senate says he is worried “partisan politics” will interfere in the government’s desired timeline for marijuana legalization — and, if the opposition doesn’t play nicely, he says he is willing to invoke time limits for debate.

As he proposed a schedule to get the bill passed by summer on Tuesday, Sen. Peter Harder ruffled Tory feathers by expressing concern over Conservative leader Andrew Scheer’s “desire to delay Senate proceedings.”

“While I certainly agree we need to take our time to do our job of sober second thought, any potential delay for the sake of delay would do a disservice to Canadians and to the culture here in this chamber,” he said.

Harder made a thinly-veiled reference to the Conservatives’ long filibuster of a private member’s bill that changed two words of the national anthem. “My fear, quite frankly, is … we may see the sort of procedural obstruction we have seen from some senators this Parliament on multiple items of government and non-government business,” Harder said. “I would not want to see our deliberations on a matter of such immense consequence reduced to procedural back-and-forths.”

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The national anthem bill came to a vote, after a year and a half in the Senate, with a so-called “guillotine motion” brought by Independent Sen. Frances Lankin that prevented further delay. As they boycotted the vote in protest at the end of January, Conservatives stood outside the Senate chamber and said they were putting Trudeau’s government “on notice.” This prompted some, including Lankin, to predict the Tories might retaliate by trying to delay the cannabis bill.

The government wants to implement its legal cannabis regime this summer. The House of Commons passed a federal legal framework in November, and provinces and territories have been unveiling their respective plans with that deadline in mind.

Harder is proposing a strict schedule to make it happen.

He said Tuesday he is looking for agreement on a deadline of March 1 for senators to pass second reading of Bill C-45 and send it to committee. In a motion he is expected to raise Wednesday, which would need …read more

Source:: Nationalpost


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