Liberals are hiding costs of marijuana legalization

Earlier this summer I wrote the Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO) requesting a costing analysis for implementing the Liberal government’s legislation to legalize marijuana. I received a response from the PBO last month describing both a lack of transparency by the Liberal government and an intention to offload costs onto provinces to meet the deadline for legalization of July 1, 2018.

According to the PBO’s letter, Justice Canada responded to its requests for information by stating that the estimated costs of marijuana legalization are a cabinet confidence. Similar responses were provided to the PBO by Public Safety Canada and Health Canada.

“This clearly indicates that the federal government does have access to some cost estimates of Bills C-45 and C-46, but without that information it would be difficult for the Office of the PBO to provide a reasonable cost analysis,” the PBO wrote in response to my letter.

I requested an in-depth costing analysis for several areas of concern for his Westman constituents, including the cost of education campaigns and workplace health and safety regulations. He also requested information about the costs for police to keep Canadians safe from drug impaired drivers. These issues were front and centre at the five townhalls that were held across the constituency and once again brought up with regional ‎municipal leaders at a meeting held yesterday in Brandon. 

At a recent Council of the Federation meeting, Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister requested an extension of the Liberal government’s deadline of July 1, 2018 for marijuana legalization. In response, the premiers established an official working group on marijuana co-chaired by Manitoba Justice Minister Heather Stefanson.

To date, Manitoba has already taken steps to prepare for marijuana legalization, including through legislation that allows police to issue 24-hour driver’s licence suspensions where they have reasonable grounds to believe that a driver cannot safely operate a vehicle due to drug impairment. They have also requested more information from the Liberal government on the resources needed to keep Manitobans safe from drug impaired drivers.

The Liberal government needs to move beyond its politically motivated deadline, disclose the true cost of marijuana legalization, and provide municipalities and provinces with the resources they need to ensure safety for all Canadians.

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