In his year-end address, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau touched on a number of major political events from the past year, though the upcoming legalization of cannabis across the country was the question on everyone’s lips.
“Parliament has now passed Bill C-45, which will legalize and regulate access to cannabis. We will soon have a new system in place, one that keeps cannabis out of the hands of our kids and keeps profits out of the hands of organized crime,” Trudeau said in his address.
When asked about the Oct. 17 legalization date, Trudeau suggested that the date was selected upon consulting with the provinces, who need more time to prepare.
“One thing that we’ve been hearing from the provinces is that they need a certain amount of time to get the bricks and mortar stores ready and their online sales ready,” Trudeau responded.
In addition, the prime minister told reporters that the government is confident that upon legalization, legal pot sales will take a “significant portion” of the market share away from organized crime, which he estimated currently take up almost 100 per cent of the market share.
However, when asked about pardoning those already charged with cannabis-related crimes, Trudeau shot down the notion, saying it would have to wait until the old laws are no longer on the books.
“There’s no point looking at pardons while the old law is on the books. We will look at next steps when that happens,” he said.
He also touched on several other subjects, including the Trump administration’s zero-tolerance policy of separating families attempting to cross the U.S-Mexico border for the purpose of prosecuting the adults.
Earlier on Wednesday, Trudeau said “what’s going on in the United States is wrong. I can’t imagine what the families living through this are enduring. Obviously, this is not the way we do things in Canada.”
During his address later on Wednesday, the prime minister called the practice “unacceptable,” and added that “this situation cannot last.”
Trudeau was asked several times about his relationship with U.S. President Donald Trump since the falling out between the two over the weekend of the G7 Summit. A few days ahead of the G7 Summit this month, Trump announced tariffs on aluminum and steel imports from Canada, Mexico and several other countries.
Following his departure from the G7, Trudeau said in a press conference that Canada would be going ahead with placing CDN$16.5 billion in retaliatory tariffs on American goods beginning July 1, as he had said upon Trump’s announcement.
However, this unleashed a storm of insults from the president directed at Trudeau, which have been the subject of discussion across the country in recent weeks.
In his address Wednesday, the prime minister largely repeated the points he’s already made, reiterating that the Canadian and American industries are tightly linked, meaning that any trade policies impacting Canada will also impact American workers.
“One of the things we’ve seen from the president is he prides himself on unpredictability. We know it will hurt the Americans. I have to believe leaders would continue to act in the interests of their own country and have trouble believing a leader would go through with tariffs given the integration,” said Trudeau.
“I have a hard time accepting that any leader would do the kind of damage to his own industry,” he added.
In addition, when asked about his decision to push forward on the Trans Mountain Pipeline, Trudeau commented on the trading relationship between Canada and the United States as it relates to Canadian oil and gas products.
Beyond managing the transition to clean energy while supporting the economy, Trudeau cited the pipeline as a way to diversify Canada’s export portfolio.
“We lose $15 billion every year because we are the prisoners, the captive, of one market – the United States – for our oil resources,” he said.
Trudeau confirmed that he has not spoken directly with Trump since the incident.