Politics Changes Everything
Each time we head to the polls, the potential for real change is at our fingertips. As final ballots are counted on election night, most Canadians may not realize the impact the results can have on their everyday life and the issues they care about.
That’s because, at the end of the day, politics changes everything. A new leader brings new priorities. A new party brings a new ideology. These shifts typically have a profound influence on policy-making, one that permeates the entire government, down to each new law that is created.
Most Canadians would agree that legalization is only occurring because Justin Trudeau was elected Prime Minister, and never would have happened under the former Conservative government.
And, while that was a historic move, the country is still figuring out the legal framework. Canadians are heading to the polls this year in many provincial, territorial and municipal elections, and each one of those events could shape the future of legalization.
These new governments will have the ability to alter existing cannabis policies and enact new laws and bylaws which could have a significant impact at the community level. Whether it’s zoning changes, smoking regulations, production facility and retail store approvals, these decisions matter and are up to the current government of the day.
Case in point, the new leader of the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party. This week a new poll was released showing that Doug Ford is poised to become Premier this year and is currently enjoying a 21 point lead over the governing Liberals.
He wasted no time in making cannabis an election issue, driving a policy wedge between his party and his opponents.
Ford stated that he was open to free-market involvement and the possibility of selling legal cannabis through the private sector instead of the LCBO. Current Premier Kathleen Wynne has unveiled plans for a government monopoly called the Ontario Cannabis Store and is in the process of rolling out the plans.
Allowing the private sector to get involved is no doubt a seismic shift in cannabis policy. And, although Ford has subsequently eased off his comments, it does go to show that our elected officials have more power to affect our lives and businesses than we might think. It’s only when the change directly impacts us that we truly begin to feel the effects of democracy in action.