Toronto – OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas says the union intends to make the privatization of cannabis sales a hot-button issue in the upcoming municipal election.
“OPSEU will rally behind progressive candidates who oppose Premier Ford’s half-baked scheme,” said Thomas. “The only people who applaud this trainwreck are former political staffers who stand to make millions and the Tory kids in short pants who taxpayers pay to clap at Ford’s news conferences.”
The government announced on Monday that it’s abandoning the public model Ford promised he would stick with during the election campaign. The government is instead going to allow for a privatized retail system in which municipalities can exercise a one time “opt out.”
“Messing with Toronto City Council and Regional Chair elections wasn’t enough for Ford,” said Thomas. “Now he’s meddling with every single municipality, and the health and safety of every Ontarian.”
Thomas pointed out if municipal councils oppose this dangerous privatized model and opt out, they may fear doing so opens the floodgate to an illicit drug market.
But progressive candidates and councils can send a very different and clear message by uniting against the Ford privatization plan, said Thomas.
“We must make the public sale of cannabis a top municipal election issue. Fight for a sensible safe plan for cannabis sales and just say no to Doug’s,” said Thomas.
“We will be mobilizing in the streets for candidates who support a fully public model.”
Thomas says harm reduction experts and police forces agree with OPSEU that the public model is the safest.
“The real question is why hasn’t Premier Ford listened to them?” Thomas asked.
Next week the Association of Municipalities of Ontario will hold its annual conference. Thomas said it’s a great chance for municipalities to unite and oppose Ford’s heavy-handed tactics.
“With Ford’s drive-by, off-the-cuff style of decision making, we’re headed down a dangerous road,” said Thomas. “It’s going to take highly progressive and principled individuals to stand up to Ford, but that’s exactly who we need on our councils.
Thomas says Ontarians need municipal councilors to be a strong voice who can defend quality public services, and keep our communities safe.
It’s also a perfect opportunity for the City of Toronto to send a clear message as to who runs the joint,” Thomas said. “The fall elections are becoming more and more high stakes and OPSEU will play a leading role.”