Tensions Flare in Senate Over Marijuana-Legalization Bill

Article by Daniel LeBlanc, Globe and Mail

Tensions flare in Senate over marijuana-legalization bill. The senator who is shepherding the federal bill to legalize cannabis through the Senate is growing impatient with the slow pace of debate, alleging the Conservative are holding up the process for partisan purposes.

The senator who is shepherding the federal bill to legalize cannabis through the Senate is growing impatient with the slow pace of debate, alleging the Conservative are holding up the process for partisan purposes.

“There is a sensible way [to proceed] which is that we all sit down and talk about the time frame for the debate and we bring our adult selves to the table,” said Independent Senator Tony Dean, who is sponsoring the legislation in the Senate. “That is what I have been arguing for two or three months. Obviously, people prefer the traditional way that will unfold more slowly.”

He said there is an increasing likelihood the government would use time allocation – also known as closure – at some point to speed up the legislative process.

The Trudeau government has yet to impose time allocation in the Senate since taking office, but it is seen as a growing possibility in this case. Bill C-45 is currently stuck at second reading in the Senate, with no timetable for its referral to committee for in-depth review.

Mr. Dean, a former senior civil servant in Ontario, said Conservative senators seem intent on using procedural tricks to drag out the debate and irk the Liberal government.

“It seems to me, through a political lens, that the Conservatives wouldn’t mind seeing time allocation because they could accuse the government of cutting off debate. It really is that silly,” he said. “Will it be used? I have no idea, but it may be necessary. If we in the Senate confront delay for the sake of partisan politics and not due diligence, I would support it.”

The Liberal government wants Bill C-45 to be passed this spring. Once the bill receives royal assent, there will be a transition period of eight to 12 weeks before the market for recreational cannabis officially opens up, with the government aiming for legalization to occur in July.

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