Going a Different Kind of Green

In Canada, there is something new to talk about other than traffic and the weather. The impending legalization of marijuana has been on everyone’s minds, and just like any other big political change, many of us are unsure where we stand on this topic. Surely, there are many things to consider as we can see with the actual legislation in parliament, so let us dive right in.

Marijuana has long been readily available in Canada; this is no secret, but how will making it legally available actually help?

Keeping the dangers of marijuana in mind, it is important to look at how we can reduce them. Research has shown marijuana to affect the cerebral development of teens and adolescents, so an age limit for purchasing it is a must. Even discussions around setting the minimum age at 21 is not far-fetched, allowing us to reduce the negative impact on teenagers and young adults. Although greater research is still required to increase our understanding of marijuana and its use in society, legalization could be the first step.

After legalization, proper investigation and statistical analysis can help to allocate appropriate social resources to addiction and mental health services. By collecting data and information about the sales, usage and health concerns relating to cannabis, we can begin to get a better picture of how to manage this substance and soon-to-be product. Legalization would presumably allow the production of cannabis to become a regulated industry and can thus allow Canada to become one of the top exporters of cannabis products. Having said that, not many countries currently share the same outlook on marijuana, but that could soon change. The establishment of the cannabis industry can help to further regulate these products; by controlling the percentages of active chemicals in cannabis, it’s possible to reduce its health risks even further.

Upon the legalization of marijuana, many public institutions must prepare for its effects on society as a whole. Public institutions, including law enforcement, must create new provisions to ensure public safety; this should include new driving regulations and proper treatment of driving under the influence similar to alcohol. These provisions must also seek to alleviate the burden of small criminal charges laid against individuals using or possessing cannabis products. Many minority groups who are disproportionately affected by such laws are sure to feel the relief.

It’s still unclear how such a big transition will affect us, but the details being hammered-out in Ottawa and at Queen’s Park should be met with careful considerations in the best interest of the public.

Liberals on Course to a Multibillion Dollar Deficit

Ontario Liberals are facing sharp criticism from the Financial Accountability Office. In contrast to the party’s claims to have balanced the budget in 2017, the FAO says that Ontario is on course to a $4 billion deficit in 2017-18.

Though new legislation was announced with the aim of sustaining the province’s finances, Chief Economist David West is sceptical. West says that the government is borrowing money, an astounding $23 billion this year alone, which will “rise to $45 billion in the coming years.” Ontario is the world’s largest subnational borrower to date.

Kathleen Wynne has made promises in preparation for the provincial election in June. While helpful for youth, the new Pharmacare plan will leave many aged 25 and older without adequate prescription coverage. The new makeshift hydro plan will add $3.2 billion to the deficit by 2021-22. One can presume that these temporary changes will eventually result in more hikes than savings.

The province requires feasible systematic long-term investments in order to thrive. Ontarians are continuing to suffer with the rising cost of living. The current Liberal budget is just another series of short-sighted plans – a facade that will result in devastating debt in the near future. The FAO predicts that the deficit will grow to be $9.8 billion in 2021-22. Ontario needs a stronger foundation and leaders who won’t sell us out at Queen’s Park.

What Black History Month in Downsview means to me

Downsview is my home. This is why a few years ago I worked with other neighbours in the community to create The Downsview Advocate. As one of the places that helped to shape me, Downsview has a special place in my life. I have a history in this place. Black History Month reminds us that we have a shared history and that part of that shared story still shapes us today. We celebrate the history of our black predecessors in February and hope to learn a bit more about who we are in that process. Downsview’s black history is still alive!

We often forget some of the progress that were made in recent times. Until the 1950’s and 1960’s, you could not practice certain professions as a black person in Ontario, such as driving a taxi or being a nurse.

Much of the overt discrimination that used to occur has changed, even as we continue to struggle as a society with many other forms of discrimination. The road towards equity in our society has taken many turns and continues to this day. For most of the early black immigrants in Downsview, the everyday struggle to find a new life in a new country doubled up with the unique experience of being black in Canada.

Most of the residential buildings in Downsview were constructed in the 1960’s and 1970’s, and there are still many neighbours living in the area whose history in Downsview dates back to that time. I can remember my grandmother, Nana Lynn, who came to Canada in the 1960’s, telling me how difficult it was to find the basic food she grew up with (they used to give away oxtail for free sometimes if you could find it!). A simple trip to the supermarket could be an adventure as she and her generation struggled with the cultural shock they experienced, as well as the shock of their new neighbours! She tells me that once on the College streetcar, a little girl asked her why her skin was different, to her mother’s mortification. She explained that some people are different and that she was born that way. The child’s mother was relieved that my Nana was patient enough to explain that to her, but we can only imagine how many times that moment was relived.

Many of the black women from the Caribbean that came to Canada in the 1960’s as domestic workers struggled with barriers and lack of opportunities. Some of them settled well and were able to create homes for their families. Others struggled to find footing in their new country. In February, we remember their histories and struggles and hope to make the path towards a more equitable society in Canada easier for the next generation.