Ford suggests opening sale of cannabis, alcohol to private sector; will scrap 'People's Guarantee'
Ted Raymond, Newstalk 580 CFRA
Published Tuesday, March 13, 2018 5:20PM EDT
Ontario Progressive Conservative Leader Doug Ford says he’s not a fan of monopolies and is considering getting the government out of the business of selling alcohol, and cannabis when it’s legalized later this year.
He made the comments on Newstalk 580 CFRA’s The Evan Solomon Show Tuesday afternoon.
“I don’t like monopolies; I don’t like government being involved in something that the private sector can handle,” he says. “I feel that way about anything. Let the market dictate.”
However, he does admit legalizing cannabis is a new challenge for the province.
“Let’s move forward very carefully on this because it’s something that we’ve never done before.”
The current Liberal plan to sell recreational cannabis is to establish government-run brick-and-mortar and online stores, in a fashion similar to the LCBO. It will be called the Ontario Cannabis Store.
It’s a model that Ontario Public Service Employees’ Union president Warren “Smokey” Thomas believes is the correct one.
Thomas was on CFRA’s News and Views with Rob Snow Tuesday, before Ford's interview, and had a blunt response when asked about Ford’s suggestion to other media that cannabis sales should be given over to the private sector.
“That’s stupid,” Thomas says. “Every expert in the field of addictions, harm reduction, public safety has come around to believe that Kathleen Wynne got it right. I look forward to the opportunity to convince [Ford] otherwise.”
But Ford wouldn’t stop at pot. His admitted dislike of monopolies and government interference extends to alcohol sales as well.
“Again, let the market dictate,” Ford tells Solomon. “If the LCBO can compete, that’s great, but do you know what’s happened? They’ve hand-picked certain retailers. I’ve never seen a more unfair process in my entire life. You pick ABC company but DEF doesn’t get to distribute.”
The Ontario government says there are over 200 grocery stores that allow the sale of beer and cider in the province. 70 of those are also allowed to sell wine.
“Do you think it’s fair that we just hand-pick a couple of stores and let them do it instead of let everyone do it? It’s unfair competition to other retailers,” Ford says.
Ford also says he’s scrapping the PC Party’s election platform and starting fresh.
The “People’s Guarantee” was the document the party planned on heading into the election with, but the man whose face is on the cover, Patrick Brown, is no longer leader, and was even removed from the party caucus.
The platform included a major tax cut, funding for mental health, child care refunds, and lower hydro bills. It was funded, in large part, through opting in to the federal government’s carbon pricing program.
Ford promised to scrap the carbon tax on the leadership campaign trail, but told Solomon the whole platform is going out the window.
“We aren’t using Patrick Brown’s ‘People’s Guarantee,’ that’s eighty-some-odd pages,” Ford says. “I’ll tell you, we’re putting out a shorter, more precise platform. We’re going to keep it very simple, five simple points that we’re going to focus on and those five points are from the grassroots.”
Ford did not say when his new platform will be made available.
Election Day in Ontario is June 7.