Gov't rep in Senate makes case for accepting marijuana bill as is
OTTAWA -- The government representative in the Senate is imploring his colleagues to accept the federal Liberals’ rejection of several substantive amendments to the marijuana legalization legislation, arguing the Upper Chamber has done its due diligence.
“The Senate has done a thorough job of conducting sober second thought in reviewing this legislation… on a social change of such significance, the Senate has been on the thorough end of thorough,” Sen. Peter Harder told his colleagues in the Senate Tuesday night.
Harder’s speech and motion to accept the government’s position, came as the Senate began debating the government’s message about accepting some, but not all, of the Senate’s proposed amendments to Bill C-45.
Earlier Monday MPs voted 205 to 82 to send the Cannabis Act back to the Senate.
The bill is now in the hands of senators to debate how they feel about the government saying thanks but no thanks to some of the Senate's more robust recommendations.
During the debate Harder defended the government’s position and highlighted the key moments for Bill C-45 as it moved through the House and Senate, including having the government commit to enhancing its ongoing study and reporting on the impacts of legalization.
“If we concur with the House of Commons, I think we will find most Canadians pleased with the manner in which we’ve discharged our constitutional role,” Harder said, in recommending the Senate pass Bill C-45 as is.
Senators agreed around 9:30 p.m. Monday to adjourn debate on Bill C-45 for the day, and will resume on Tuesday.
Last week, Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor announced that the government accepts 26 largely technical proposed amendments to the legislation.
However, the Senate's attempts to change the bill to give the provinces and territories the power to ban home-grown marijuana; to prohibit pot producers from distributing branded merchandise; and setting up a registry for shareholders involved in marijuana companies were among 13 amendments the government says it "respectfully disagrees" with.
Early on in the debate Monday evening, already questions came up about the resistance to allow provinces to ban home-grow.
“Given the exceptional amount of work that went in to the Senate’s study of this bill, I understand that some of these outcomes are frustrating for some. I know that some of these frustrations are rooted in deeply held policy views and personal values and that much disagreement will not end with our vote on this message, whatever its result,” Harder said.
Bill C-45 sets out the parameters for the production, possession, and sale of legal recreational marijuana for Canadians over the age of 18.
On CTV’s Power Play last week, Leader of the Independent Senators Group Sen. Yuen Pau Woo said the Senate Independents are "disappointed" the government didn’t accept its consequential changes, citing the home-grow as "important" to many of his colleagues.
Government House Leader Bardish Chagger told reporters Monday that she's hopeful Bill C-45 will pass soon.
"What we've seen in this place is that anything is possible…. Most members that want to speak on it have been able to speak on it so I believe we can find a way forward," she said.
This legislative back and forth is all that stands between Bill C-45 and royal assent. Once it passes, the government will declare the date that legalization will come into force.
On CTV's Question Period, parliamentary secretary Bill Blair said he expects the date to be sometime this September.