Hay River North
Thank you, Mr. Chair. Mr. Chair, this motion is what some would call a compromise, what some would call better than nothing, and what some may call nothing more than a smokescreen.
Many Members of this House and many members of the public have expressed a desire for private sales of cannabis and the opportunity to sell cannabis in all communities in the NWT. However, as the bill is written, it gives the Minister of Finance broad discretion, seemingly the broadest discretion available under the law, as to who he designates as a cannabis vendor, and this government has made it clear that it wishes to limit cannabis sales to liquor stores.
Unlike the motion that just failed, this one would not force the Minister's hand, and that is why some may consider this motion a farce. What this motion would do, if successful, is require the government to make regulations prescribing criteria to guide the Minister when considering whether it is in the public interest to designate a person as a vendor.
This does little to fetter the Minister's discretion as it will be the department that develops the regulations, but it at least provides clarity to entrepreneurs so they know what criteria their applications will be based on, and it allows for much more transparent decision-making process. The motion also ensures that one of those criteria will not be that a cannabis vendor must already be a liquor vendor, which addresses the concern raised by some that such a regulation would be made, and it mirrored the provision in the motion that just failed.
The motion states that the criteria must be developed within six months. If this motion is successful, I will move another one later that would see that six-month provision come into force on assent, meaning tomorrow, in all likelihood. Thank you, Mr. Chair.