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With cannabis legalization approaching, Pallister urges cabinet and staff to declare potential conflicts of interest





Premier Brian Pallister ordered cabinet ministers, their legislative assistants, and senior civil servants on Wednesday to declare any possible conflicts of interest they may have with legalized marijuana --- as he prepares to ramp up its implementation next July 1.

Pallister told reporters he'll issue a request for proposals next Tuesday for anyone interested in being involved in the production, storage, and sale of legalized marijuana.

Meanwhile, Pallister said he wants real or apparent conflicts declared, and any minister or senior bureaucrat with a conflict must recuse himself or herself.

"Recusal must be made," Pallister said. "It's really important --- it's a new and emerging issue. Recusal is the appropriate action to take."

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Premier Brian Pallister ordered cabinet ministers, their legislative assistants, and senior civil servants on Wednesday to declare any possible conflicts of interest they may have with legalized marijuana —- as he prepares to ramp up its implementation next July 1.

Pallister told reporters he'll issue a request for proposals next Tuesday for anyone interested in being involved in the production, storage, and sale of legalized marijuana.

Meanwhile, Pallister said he wants real or apparent conflicts declared, and any minister or senior bureaucrat with a conflict must recuse himself or herself.

"Recusal must be made," Pallister said. "It's really important —- it's a new and emerging issue. Recusal is the appropriate action to take."

Pallister said he does not see any potential of conflict for himself. And he made it clear that he's only talking about potential business interests.

"I'm not asking them to declare if they have a personal interest in consumption," the premier said. 

Pallister told his ministers and senior bureaucrats involved in the cannabis file that they'll meet with conflict of interest commisisoner Jeffrey Schnoor in the next few weeks.

"The legalization of cannabis is a significant and unprecedented social policy development with far reaching health, public safety, social and economic implications," Pallister said in his directive, which his office released to the media.

"Because of the far reaching policy implications and impacts associated with the legalization of cannabis, it is imperative that all ministers and legislative assistants carefully review and disclose any real or potential conflicts of interest they may have related to cannabis legalization," the premier said.  "We must be proactive on this issue because the consequences are real and go to the heart of our commitment to being the most transparent and ethical government in Canada."

Opposition Leader Wab Kinew said he’s not opposed to reviewing whether provincial conflict of interest rules require updating.

But he’s unclear why the premier felt he needed to single out potential conflicts of interest involving cannabis, the NDP leader said.

"It’s my understanding of the rules that we are already required to disclose any holdings we would have in a business involved in cannabis. So an announcement/press release put out to direct cabinet members to make a disclosure they probably should already be making strikes me as odd," Kinew said.

Liberal Leader Dougald Lamont was also puzzled by the premier’s directive.

"It’s one of these curve balls from Mr. Pallister that it’s not entirely clear what he is trying to achieve," Lamont said, noting that in the past the premier has failed to disclose assets in Costa Rica.

nick.martin@freepress.mb.ca

Read more by Nick Martin and Larry Kusch.


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