Ontario’s pot plans? Doug Ford wants to tread carefully

Premier-designate Doug Ford says while he is “focusing” on the LCBO to run cannabis stores once the drug is legalized, no decision will be made until he’s consulted with his caucus and municipalities.

“What I said is I’d be focusing on the LCBO,” Ford told reporters Thursday after making an announcement in Pickering. “I’m private sector — I don’t believe government should stick their nose into everything,” however, he added, the Liquor Control Board of Ontario already has the infrastructure in place.

“This is a road that we have to tread carefully,” Ford also said. “… My priority is to make sure we protect the children. That’s a number-one priority.”

Ford also announced that the Green Ontario program, which provides rebates for environmentally friendly home retrofits, will be extended for two months.

“In order to help small businesses and families, our intention is to extend the install date of the GreenON program to Oct. 31, 2018″ instead of the end of August, said PC spokesperson Simon Jefferies, adding that “no new applications will be accepted.”

The GreenON program is funded by proceeds from the cap-and-trade system, which Ford has said Ontario will no longer be a part of.

Jeff Wilder of Certified Windows in Windsor said he breathed a sigh of relief at the extension, and is trying to hire more installers.

“It’s still going to be a little bit tight. A little bit more time would have been nice,” he told the Star. “We’re trying to get up to five or six crews to make everybody happy.”

Wilder said he may have to cancel about $200,000 in orders if they can’t be filled by the deadline, and noted the program was a bonanza for the business because of the $500 subsidy.

“People were getting a $1,200 window for $700.”

The federal government announced Wednesday that the sale of recreational cannabis will be legal as of Oct. 17.

Under outgoing Premier Kathleen Wynne, the province had committed to opening 40 government-controlled stores this year, with a total of 150 by 2020. Her plan was that Ontario Cannabis Store outlets would be run by a subsidiary of the LCBO and operate stand-alone shops as well as online sales.

On Thursday, Ford said “this is a path that the federal government has dumped on all the provinces.”

The NDP says it will “push the Ford Conservatives to rollout legal cannabis sales in Ontario in a way that promotes social responsibility and community safety, while effectively ending demand for illegal sales.”

In Pickering, Ford told employees who gathered outside at the nuclear power plant during their lunch-hour, that “I believe in made-in-Ontario electricity, I believe in made-in-Ontario jobs.”

During the election, the Progressive Conservative leader had pledged to keep the Pickering Nuclear Generating Station open until 2024, saying it supports 7,500 jobs across the province and provides 14 per cent of the Ontario’s electricity.

The NDP had said if elected, it would move to immediately decommission the station, a move that was lauded by some environmental groups because of the cost and poor performance of the plant.

Ontario Power Generation, which operates the plant, has requested a 10-year licence extension to keep it open until 2024 and then into the start of decommissioning.

The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission is holding hearings next week, from June 26 to 28, in nearby Courtice to hear from the public on the decade-long renewal.

The plant’s current operating licence expires at the end of August.

Shawn-Patrick Stensil of Greenpeace said it is “outrageous (that) Ford approved Pickering before the federal regulator has even assessed the safety of these aging reactors and without an independent economic review of the need for station.”

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