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Liberals to release plan today to legalize marijuana

Medical marijuana is ready for shipping is pictured January 21, 2016 at Tweed Inc., one of the marijuana producers lobbying the federal government.

Dave Chan/The Globe and Mail

CANADIAN NEWS YOU SHOULD KNOW

The Liberal government will announce its plan for legalizing marijuana today, shortly after noon Eastern Time. It will not be smooth sailing over the next year, as the government will have to contend with an independent Senate and sort out implementation with the provinces, which will be responsible for how the product is sold. Doctors are warning the recreational drug isn't totally safe, of course, even when it's legal. It remains to be seen, too, what effect legalization will have on organized crime.

The Liberals continue to appoint judges at a slow pace, leaving a near-record list of vacancies.

The enabling legislation for the Canada Infrastructure Bank, which was tabled this week, is raising some concerns about just how independent the bank will be from its political masters. "The really big question that I don't really see [answered] in the legislation is striking the appropriate balance between the democratic oversight of the infrastructure bank's spending decisions with the independence necessary to make sure that this bank is going to be critically evaluating project business cases," said Benjamin Dachis of the C.D. Howe Institute.

The Liberals are also warning the Trump administration that "Buy America" provisions in the building of new oil-and-gas pipelines would violate international law.

The military is going to redo how it helps soldiers transition to civilian life.

And The Globe will argue in court today to release more information from the RCMP search warrant for Vice-Admiral Mark Norman.

B.C. ELECTION BRIEFING

By James Keller (
@ByJamesKeller)

Today, the New Democrats will release their full platform with details about how the party plans to pay for some of its more expensive promises – including $10 per day daycare, cancelling tolls on two major bridges in the Vancouver region, freezing electricity rates, and the rent subsidy. The NDP has previously said it will raise some of that money through tax increases on the wealthy, but the Liberals argue that won't be nearly enough to cover all the New Democrats are offering. The Liberals, who released their platform in full on Monday, have not publicly disclosed Ms. Clark's itinerary for today.

Kinder Morgan's proposed expansion of its Trans Mountain pipeline between Alberta and the B.C. coast was seen as a deciding factor in the 2013 B.C. election, when then-NDP leader Adrian Dix made a surprise mid-campaign announcement opposing the project. The position fed into a narrative that the New Democrats were against resource development – and resource jobs – and provided a clear contrast with the B.C. Liberals, who won re-election. Four years later, B.C. and Ottawa have both approved the project, though Liberal Leader Christy Clark appeared eager to sidestep the issue yesterday. Campaigning in Burnaby, where the pipeline route ends, Ms. Clark insisted the pipeline approval was a federal decision that didn't have much to do with her government. The NDP and the Greens both oppose the Trans Mountain expansion, which could turn into a liability for the Liberals in tight races in Burnaby.

Housing is already emerging as a central theme in the campaign, as the governing Liberals and the NDP offer policies designed to address a growing housing crisis that has priced many out of the market to buy a home, while squeezing renters with high rates and low vacancies. The NDP is promising to help renters with a $400-per-year subsidy to offset housing costs. The party isn't saying how much the program would cost, but with 524,000 renters recorded in the 2011 census (the most recent year available), the bill could exceed $200-million per year. The Liberals say the focus should be on helping low-income renters and building affordable housing, and criticized the plan for applying to all renters – even if they're living in a luxury condo in downtown Vancouver.

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QUOTABLE

From Wednesday's Question Period:

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: "I know there are going to be Canadians all across the country getting onto their mobile phones, accessing their Internet, turning on their TVs, to watch the Stanley Cup playoffs, which start tonight, and I know that everyone across this country will join me in rooting for the Montreal Canadiens over the Maple Leafs, over the New York Rangers --"

Some hon. members: "Oh, oh!"

House of Commons Speaker Geoff Regan: "Now we are getting into dangerous territory."

Some hon. members: "Oh, oh!"

The Speaker: "Order. That is the kind of thing that creates disorder in the House. I know the Prime Minister should realize that."

(Note: no Canadian team did well on opening night of the NHL playoffs, unfortunately.)

SECUREDROP

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WHAT EVERYONE'S TALKING ABOUT

Campbell Clark (The Globe and Mail): "When the Liberal government moves Thursday to table legislation to legalize cannabis, it's going to talk about controlling and regulating and restricting – sending a signal marijuana is bad, making sure it's sold without a lot of branding hoopla to limit the dark arts of temptation, and especially emphasizing measures to stop pot from falling into the hands of minors."

John Ibbitson (The Globe and Mail): "Gerald Butts, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's principal secretary, and Katie Telford, his chief of staff, were young staffers at Queen's Park in the Harris years. Mr. Butts eventually became Liberal Premier Dalton McGuinty's principal secretary. Mr. McGuinty's governments liked cramming all sorts of things into the annual budget-implementation bill. Mr. Butts watched Stephen Harper's majority government routinely employ omnibus bills and closure. Now, it's the Liberals' turn."

Andrew MacDougall (The Globe and Mail): "The Liberals are now learning, just as Stephen Harper's majority government did, that a determined opposition can gum up Parliament. … The opposition's moves, while within the rules, are undoubtedly frustrating for a government that wants to hit the barbecue circuit with a list of results longer than the current haiku. The temptation to strong-arm Parliament thus increases with every legislative obstacle."

Yves Boisvert (The Globe and Mail): "When there are many nations in a single country, the task of constructing one national history is doomed. In any country, in fact, there are many histories. But at least you can try to be honest. Some attempts by groups of Canadian scholars have granted good results in the past. But the CBC's Story of Us did not even try."

Andrew Coyne (National Post): "In the spirit of the times, let me add my own grievance to the gathering national pile. If by some oversight Confederation should somehow be discussed in its 150th anniversary year, it is a safe bet one figure in particular will be mentioned only in passing, if at all: George Brown. Father of Confederation, leader and principal architect of what was to become the Liberal party, founder of The Globe (later the Globe and Mail) newspaper, Brown is the forgotten man of Canadian history."

Written by Chris Hannay.

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