Can Doug Ford Make Cannabis an Ontario Election Issue?

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Can Doug Ford make cannabis an Ontario election issue? If so, the Progressive Conservatives and the NDP will need to present alternatives to the Liberals plan

Doug Ford surprised absolutely no one when he announced he’d consider amending the Liberal plan to distribute recreational cannabis through a government monopoly to include private shops. The Ontario Progressive Conservative leader – who is alleged to have sold hash when he was in high school – made the cannabis comments this week on CBC Ottawa after narrowly winning the leadership race last weekend.

“I have been open to a fair market and letting the markets dictate,” Ford said. “I don’t like the government controlling anything no matter what it is… I’m open to a free market and I’m going to consult with our caucus…. I don’t believe in the government sticking their hands in our lives all the time. I believe in letting the market dictate.”

But the statement felt more like market research than a declaration – could pro-dispensary cannabis consumers who voted for the Ontario Liberals or Ontario NDP in the past be convinced to vote for the PCs? Could they ignore other important issues, such as the hotly debated sex-ed curriculum and precarious employment?

When the Ontario Liberals passed their recreational cannabis legislation last fall, the PCs weren’t critical of government intervention in the free market. Rather, they were concerned about a potential increase in impaired driving and youth usage.

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