It’s not often the Quebec’s political parties are in agreement about something, but when it comes to new pot legislation, they say the federal government has set them up for failure.
The federal government has promised marijuana will be legal by next Canada Day. Quebec is expected to table provincial legislation Thursday, but they want Ottawa to know they’re doing it begrudgingly.
“It’s the first bill concerning cannabis. I don’t think we can pretend it’s perfect,” said Public Health Minister Lucie Charlebois.
The government says, not only have the feds dumped them with the work of drafting a bill to regulate the sale of pot and protect public health, they say Justin Trudeau’s government is also being stingy with sharing the tax revenue.
The federal Liberals have proposed an excise tax to split 50-50 between the two governments.
“We view that the taxation revenue should come almost entirely to the provinces,” said Finance Minister Carlos Leitao.
“Obviously, if we need to purchase additional equipment for testing, obviously, if we need to do training for our police officers, that’s all part of the additional costs that the provinces have to incur,” Transport Minister André Fortin added.
So far, Ottawa has been firm on the date of July 1, 2018, but the opposition parties say Quebec should try again to push for more time.
“We’re asking for a delay of one year. Right now, we’re not ready — we’re not ready for such an important change in our society,” said CAQ leader, François Legault.
The Parti Quebecois (PQ) said they agree with the CAQ: “We are really in a mode of collaboration,” said Sylvain Pagé, the PQ public health critic.
The government says Ottawa has really forced its hand.
“If we had not put something in place, well, the federal legislation would then have applied entirely to Quebec, and Quebecers would have been able to buy the product online, from other sources in other provinces and that’s not what we wanted,” Leitao said.
The details of the bill will be released once it’s tabled in the National Assembly, however, the government made it clear Wednesday that private distributors will not be allowed. Quebec plans to sell marijuana products through an affiliate of the SAQ.