Canada’s Prime Minister Trudeau Submits Bill To Legalize Recreational Marijuana

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

(CNN) Will Canada be known for another kind of leaf — other than its iconic maple?

On Thursday, the Canadian government under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau unveiled its plans to legalize recreational marijuana.
If the Cannabis Act passes Parliament, Canada would become the second nation in the world, after Uruguay, to regulate a legal marijuana market.
The government’s new policy had been expected for some time as Trudeau had endorsed legalizing marijuana on the campaign trail.
“It’s too easy for our kids to get marijuana. We’re going to change that,” according to a tweet from his official account.
The legislation “seeks to legalize, strictly regulate and restrict access to cannabis, and it will make Canada safer,” said Bill Blair, parliamentary secretary to the minister of justice, on Thursday.
Here are five things to know about Canada’s proposed marijuana policy, which officials hope to have in place by July 2018.

1. Government regulates marijuana sales

The Canadian government would create a system to regulate marijuana production, distribution and sale. It would also collect licensing fees and taxes on marijuana sales, which officials say takes profits away from criminals and organized crime.
“Criminals pocket between $7 and $8 billion in illicit proceeds. We simply have to do better,” said Ralph Goodale, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness.
Producing or distributing marijuana outside the government regulation would be considered serious offenses, officials said.
The federal government will provide minimum conditions, but the provinces could set more rules about distribution and sale on top of those.
But many issues remain for government officials to figure out, including how much to charge for marijuana, reported CNN’s partner CBC.

2. Adults can have marijuana and grow them too

Adults would be able to have up to 30 grams of legal marijuana in public and be permitted to grow up to four plants per household.
Under the Cannabis Act, Canadians would be able to buy marijuana at legal retail outlets or receive them through a licensed producer in the mail.
However, marijuana will remain illegal until the new law is approved and goes into effect.

3. But kids and teens can’t have marijuana

Teens and minors under the age of 18, would be prohibited from having or buying marijuana. Canadian provinces can raise that minimum age higher if they’d like.
Authorities envision regulating marijuana like alcohol.
“By providing a highly regulated system of distribution, we can be much more successful as we have been with alcohol,” Blair said. “It’s not an absolute guarantee that kids won’t get access to it, but it will be far more difficult for kids to get access to it when this new regime is in place than it is today.”
Officials lamented that the current policy of banning marijuana hasn’t deterred kids from drug use. Despite about $2-6 billion spent by the Canadian police to deal with marijuana use, Canadian teens are among “the heaviest users in the Western world,” Goodale said.
“If your objective is to protect public health and safety, and keep cannabis out of the hands of minors and stop the flow of illegal profits to organized crime, the law as it stands today, has been an abject failure,” Goodale said.
The new policy would create tougher criminal offenses for selling marijuana to a minor — punishable by as much as 14 years in prison.

4. No, you can’t drive while high

The bill would add new offenses prohibiting people from driving while they’re drunk or impaired by marijuana and other drugs.
It would create three new offenses and allow police to require saliva tests for drivers whom they suspect of being high, reported the CBC. A positive test could result to more testing including a blood test.

5. Don’t bring it over the border

Bringing marijuana across borders would remain a serious criminal offense — especially as marijuana laws differ depending on countries.
“Each country establishes its own rules,” Goodale said.
“The laws of the United States are the responsibilities of the United States. The laws of Canada are the responsibility of Canada.”

Canada to phase out coal-fired electricity by 2030 to reduce carbon emission

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES NEWS PAPER)

Canada to phase out coal-fired electricity by 2030 to reduce carbon emission

    • AFP, Ottawa

|Updated: Nov 22, 2016 01:09 IST

Canada phase out its coal-fired power plants by 2030 to reduce greenhouse gas emission. (Reuters/Representational image)

Canada will shutter its coal-fired power plants by 2030 as part of its strategy to cut greenhouse gas emission under the Paris climate accord, Environment Minister Catherine McKenna announced Monday.

The plants, located in four provinces, produce about 10 percent of Canada’s total CO2 emissions, and closing them will remove the equivalent in emissions of 1.3 million cars from roads, or five megatons of greenhouse gas emissions, she told a press conference.

“As part of our government’s vision for a clean growth economy, we will be accelerating the transition from traditional coal power to clean energy by 2030,” she said.

With an abundance of hydroelectric power, as well as nuclear, solar and wind power, 80 percent of Canada’s electricity production emits no air pollution.

McKenna said she aims to ramp that up to 90 percent by 2030. Citing National Energy Board figures, she noted that wind power-generating capacity increased twenty-fold in the past decade while solar capacity rose 125 percent.

The minister, however, added that carbon capture would be an acceptable substitute to closing a plant if Alberta, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia or Saskatchewan province wished to continue burning coal.

Saskatchewan has resisted strong climate action, which it says would harm its vast agricultural and burgeoning oil sectors.

It is testing the world’s first large-scale carbon capture and storage, built into a SaskPower coal-fired plant in the Canadian prairies.

Ottawa economics professor and energy policy expert Jean-Thomas Bernard, however, said efforts to capture and store coal have proven to be costly — Can $1.4 billion for the SaskPower Boundary Dam pilot project to produce 115 megawatts of electricity.

“We’ve been talking about clean coal for 20 years and it’s not yet realized commercially so there must be major difficulties with the technology,” he opined.

“Coal is a relatively small part” of Canada’s energy mix, he added.

Most of the coal plants in Canada are “quite old” and could be replaced with clean alternatives at “very reasonable costs,” he told AFP.

Hastening to clean economy

McKenna also set a new more ambitious goal of reducing total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 80 percent by 2050, from 2005 levels.

Environmental activists and opposition parties had until now criticized the Liberal government for having kept the previous administration’s GHG emissions reduction target of 30 percent by 2030.

The move to accelerate weaning Canada off coal comes as Austria, Britain, Denmark, France and the Netherlands do the same.

It could, however, put Canada on a divergent path from the United States, its neighbor and largest trading partner.

Last year’s Paris Agreement set a goal of limiting average global warming to 2.0 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) over pre-Industrial Revolution levels by cutting greenhouse gas emissions from burning fossil fuels.

Countries including the United States have pledged to curb emissions under the deal by moving to renewable energy sources.

But US President-elect Donald Trump has vowed to “cancel” the pact and boost oil, gas and coal, dismissing climate change as a “hoax” perpetrated by China.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s cabinet is due to announce in the coming weeks whether it will greenlight the construction of two new pipelines to bring oil and gas to tidewater in order to ship Canada’s abundant energy resources to new overseas markets.

Most of Canada’s energy exports currently go to the United States.

Critics questioned the government’s paradoxical support for the construction of new pipelines while championing climate action.

“It is our hope that Canada’s climate action plan will include corresponding measures to address emissions from oil and gas,” Citizens for Public Justice policy analyst Karri Munn-Venn said in a statement.

Trudeau has already spoken out publicly against the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline for crossing the world’s largest coastal temperate rain forest in British Columbia.

Observers, however, believe the cabinet will support building a second pipeline alongside the existing Trans Mountain pipeline from Edmonton to Vancouver, as it looks to balance economic and environmental interests.