Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Tax on Pot, Cleaner Fuel and Sexual Assault: How Politics Mattered This Week

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Tax on Pot, Cleaner Fuel and Sexual Assault: How Politics Mattered This Week

Article excerpt

Three ways politics touched us this week

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OTTAWA - Parliament Hill's busiest social week of the year started with Liberals basking in byelection victories and culminated in a celebration of the Supreme Court's chief justice, who is retiring after almost three decades at the high court.

Hundreds of lawyers, three prime ministers -- current and former -- and a Who's Who of Canadian politicos toasted Beverley McLachlin at a glittery tribute on Thursday night, reflecting on the advances of Indigenous rights, access to justice and women in public life.

Notably absent was Stephen Harper, who chafed at the top court's perceived activism under McLachlin and who once publicly rebuked her for inappropriately trying to speak to him about an appointment to the court -- an allegation McLachlin vehemently denied.

Even as the MPs left town for Christmas and were replaced by former NHLers and other fans of the Canada 150 skating rink on the Hill, measures towards a tax on pot, a standard for cleaner fuel and an RCMP revisit of sexual assault files made their mark.

Here's how federal politics touched our lives this week:

TAX ON POT

Federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau met with his provincial counterparts on Monday and, after months of back and forth, they reached a broad agreement on how to divvy up the proceeds of a federal excise tax on marijuana when the drug becomes legal next year.

Instead of the 50-50 split the federal government had proposed earlier this year, Morneau agreed to a federal share of just 25 per cent and said he would cap the federal take at $100-million a year.

The arrangement breaks the log jam the provinces had been facing in terms of setting retail prices and calculating expenses for enforcement of the new regime.

The hope is that retail prices will be low enough to put an end to the black market and its associated criminality.

But the 75-25 split is certainly not the only thing left to figure out on the mechanics of legalizing pot. Among other issues, municipalities say they need a cut of the proceeds too, since their responsibilities are heavy as well.

Negotiating with the cities will be left to provincial governments. …

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