The Alberta government is blasting Ottawa for its proposed tax on pot.
Provincial Finance Minister Joe Ceci said it’s clear the 50-50 tax sharing proposal isn’t going to work.
“The federal government must be smoking something to think it will work for the provinces and Alberta. It’s not (going to work). It’s unacceptable.”
On Friday, the federal Liberal government proposed a $1 per gram tax on pot when it becomes legal in 2018. Ottawa is suggesting it split the tax 50-50 with the provinces but Alberta isn’t buying in.
“I will be sending a letter immediately on behalf of all the provinces saying that’s unacceptable and we need to get into a room together to work it out,” Ceci said.
Ceci said the $1 per gram tax isn’t the problem. Instead, he said the problem is how much Ottawa is proposing it keep for itself, potentially billions each year.
Ceci said those dollars need to stay in the province.
“Because really, they (the federal government) are not doing anything,” he said.
Ceci said the bulk of the work and the costs associated with legalizing marijuana – from policing to education – rests with the provinces and municipalities.
“I wouldn’t be able to say based on that what’s fair or not — but as far as municipalities go, we’re not alone. Federation of Canadian Municipalities also voiced its concern in that there are going to be substantial costs,” Matt Zabloski, project lead for Legalization of Recreational Cannabis for the City of Calgary, said Friday.
“We’re quite aware of the fact that there is going to be substantial costs to the City of Calgary as far as legalization goes and we’re certainly looking to our peers in other levels of government for tax support.
Zabloski said he’s encouraged to hear talk about a tax regime, but wants to hear more about how municipalities will factor in in the next few months before legalization.
“I know provinces across Canada are advocating for their share but I think it needs to be pointed out that municipalities will be shouldering a lot of the burden on this and need to be included in conversations about tax regimes.”
Alberta is hoping that with enough pressure Ottawa will return the bulk of its pot tax to the provinces.
Watch below: There were some major developments on Friday in terms of what legalized marijuana will look like in Alberta. Tom Vernon reports.
— With files from Global’s Christa Dao