THE AMBROSE AGENDA – An Indepth Look
The last year for Canadians, ahead of their Federal Election in the fall of 2015, has been one of dismay, disappointment, and quite frankly, down right dirty politics. What do we mean?
MMJ.today has written a number of articles pertaining to the company, CEN Biotech Inc, a company established solely to pursue a license under Health Canada’s MMPR. A company that brought with it a number of investors, die hard shareholders, and exciting opportunities for the area around Lakeshore, Ontario Canada for desperately needed jobs, and an opportunity for diversification into a new industry.
But…..why did the tables turn on CEN Biotech Inc. so drastically, along with dozens of other applicants? These applicants brought millions of investment dollars into Canada to pursue what Health Canada calls the ‘only’ legal avenue to gain access to medical marijuana and brought with them some impressive talents.
In a recent rant by the Health Minister Rona Ambrose, after the Supreme Court ruling in R v Smith, which essentially allowed patients appropriate and legal access to all forms of cannabis derivatives, she clearly declared she will continue to fight against a Court ordered regime that allows legal access of medical marijuana for patients whom have been prescribed by their physician.
How can a Member of Parliament in a senior Cabinet role make such a declaration?
They fear no repercussions.
Allow us to illustrate how Canadian law sits in respect to politicians at the Federal Level…
Currently, Members of Parliament remain, unless drastic actions are taken to remove a member from the House, such as a motion being tabled due to criminal activity (an example). Some argue, and I also agree, that MP’s have a new class of fiduciary duty to their citizens and constituents to act ethically, and within the scope of reason as articulated in Robert Flannigan’s, “The Boundaries of Fiduciary Accountability” (2004) 83 Canadian Bar Review; or in Leonard Ian Rotman, Fiduciary Law, (Toronto: Carswell, 2005) at 13; Rt. Hon. Beverley McLachlin, “The Place of Equity and Equitable Doctrines in the Contemporary Common Law World: A Canadian Perspective”, in Donovan W.M. Waters Ed., Equity, Fiduciaries and Trusts (Toronto: Thompson Canada Limited, 1993) 37 -55 at 39.
But in the Minister’s case, her outright defiance of the Courts landed her one of the most unprecedented messages from the Supreme Court in Canada in quite some time. A 7-0 unanimous ruling, signed by ‘The Court’, with Health Canada also not being given an opportunity to address the constitutional deficiencies in a typical 1 year ‘stay’ after a ruling from Canada’s top court. As they wrote, the court made their decision immediate. A clear message to Health Canada, Minister Ambrose and also their Prime Minister Stephen Harper, that the rule of law has spoken overwhelmingly against their administration.
The Political Agenda Unfolding…..
During the last 9 months, the company CEN Biotech Inc seems to be in complete conflict with the agenda of the ruling Conservatives. The irony of course is that CEN is located in a Conservative held riding, and applied in a federal program also ruled by Conservatives. But initially, everyone including local and federal governments supported the buildout of a multi million dollar facility, which from a political point of view would weigh well with voters as; ‘building jobs and an economy’. That support drastically changed late last year when CEN Biotech Inc knew something was awry in the program…..after months and months of waiting for a license, and an inspection that yielded no major issues that would deny their operation, they became the centre of an unprecedented attack.
In December of 2014, given publicly released documents, CEN Biotech Inc appeared to be working with Health Canada officials to issue at the very least, a provisional license. Their requests were simply denied. Then, after senior officials finally felt they had no choice but to apply to Federal Court to have their license issued, did CEN find themselves in a political salvo of attack after attack. Let’s dig into the army that infiltrated and defamed CEN. Only ONE news agency was after CEN…..
The Globe and Mail…..
The once mighty newspaper in Canada finds themselves more interested in thier alignment with the Conservatives than with ethical reporting. Their agenda was a bit too obvious that anyone observing would frequently scratch their head. Articles, we might add, that continue to change on their own website, possibly in an attempt to avoid any class action of defamation, or at the very least to mitigate damages. This alignment now shows through as the Harper Government announced a few months ago that they will not contribute to any nationally televised debate with such juggernauts as Global TV, CTV, etc ahead of the next Federal Election. BUT…..a few weeks ago the Harper Government announced that they “will” contribute to a debate sponsored by….you guessed it, The Globe and Mail. Not to mention that the Globe and Mail were quick to implicate their two opposing parties and senior members to substantiate their articles as ‘calls for halt to a license application’, when Parliament wasn’t even back in session yet from the Christmas break. Stories that now look, in hindsight, more like tabloid journalism than anything else.
Let’s not forget also the about face the Town of Lakeshore made on it’s own local residents. From issuing permits to build, then a complete 180 to retaining counsel in the form of William Sasso, is also….shocker, a former Conservative friendly backer. Ironic how a local resident seemed to be completely oblivious to the facility being built next door, but didn’t ‘complain’ until CEN Biotech was on the cusp of being issued a license… Not a year before when permits were issued, and surely not during construction.
Parts of the leadership team of the Pathway Group, including it’s president and two advisors that insisted on working with CEN for months were also most notably Conservatives. Some worked at the provincial level of the PC Party, and in fact one former advisor that pushed their way into CEN Biotech Inc are also previous Health Canada employees; surely with some connections to this day still as one of thier selling points to clients. It’s not a far stretch to assume now that this alignment could have led to a scheme in attempting to destroy CEN Biotech Inc, by attacking it’s CEO – a tactic that would surely be devastating to any company. But when Pathway decided to throw more under the bus, the Globe and Mail was sure to jump on that bandwagon of writing even more articles to try and tie the now former advisors of Pathway Group, to CEN Biotech Inc in an alleged land deal over a year ago; a media assertion that bears no relevance whatsoever.
The irony of the attitude of senior political officials in Canada is their insistence in continuing to violate and interfere in Charter protected rights. For years, citizens and their legal advocates have been fighting against an absolute prohibition against medical patients and their caregivers, like Owen Smith whom was criminally charged for merely trying to provide to patients he cared about a form of medical marijuana that they could consume, such as an edible or cream. The now absolute policy seen by various levels of Courts, from Federal to the Supreme Court, now sees most of the reigning governments policies, if we dare call them that, continue to infringe on the rights of citizens at all levels, from compassion groups, to companies trying to provide a legal and safe method of accessing medical marijuana.
Health Canada’s response to the Supreme Court ruling in R v Smith, as lawyer Kirk Tousaw states, and as the bare minimum, appears to be consistent with the Government’s appearance to really not comply with the Courts. And unless a party change is made, I doubt that attitude will change at Health Canada, or in the Prime Minister’s office.
Get on the Bus or get Run Over by it……
So as we look back at a clear Conservative agenda to delay or destroy any capable company in the medical marijuana space, against Charter values of patients in Canada, it’s not difficult to comprehend that all this drama actually exists in order to deal a major blow to the current government’s own citizens. We must confess, we have never seen such a public display of an agenda to discredit or harm citizens by their own public officials… perhaps indirectly. But albeit, a fiduciary duty of a member of Parliament would be to protect and be respectful to citizens. After CEN Biotech Inc made the decision to proceed to Federal Court, is only when the media attack, by a clearly loyal media organization to the reigning government, was had. Only when CEN Biotech Inc was willing to bring in a PR firm whom now we can clearly see had ties into Health Canada (some being previous employees), did the company face an incredible attack to destroy it’s market value and reputation.
As a citizen of Canada, I would be embarrassed and disgraced. Canada’s political landscape now appears to be littered with playground antics, as if to be tattling to the RCMP as the Conservative Government’s school ground supervisor, if someone doesn’t play ball. Politicians today in Canada appear to be more concerned with maintaining political alignment than they are in the rule of law, negating their duty to citizens and distancing themselves from anyone at all costs who appears not to agree with their political agenda. One could argue that perhaps Minister Ambrose does not even remember her own local constituents that helped contribute at a local level.
We also worry about how media impacts its own citizens in driving political agenda, hence why we know that no ethical media organization would pick up this story and run with it. News outlets such as Global News report on the facts of say, the Senate Scandal that allegedly appears to have implicated the Prime Minister’s Office with demands to alter audit documents to protect the PMO. If that is proven in court when proceedings resume in a month or so, it would be devastating to the level of trust citizens in Canada would have in their government. Shameful… and dare we say, bordering on criminal, just to harm yet another group of Conservative supporters like Mike Duffy or Pamela Wallen. Maybe the RCMP should open up the expenses of MP’s and see what they find.
That is a double edged sword, as the latest audit cost taxpayers over $20M, over $900,000 in questionable expenses. One with any reason can easily argue that they couldnt manage themselves without again calling in the school ground supervisor, the RCMP, and begin to point fingers. Lawsuits that are due to the Health Ministers actions in the MMPR unfortunately would rest solely at the expense of taxpayers; something any company would struggle with, as the endless ‘fighting’ the Health Minister declares, won’t stop… and undoubtly just hammers the budget of the Justice Minister.
Will Canada start to lead by example…..
We hope so. But we are concerned about which example will be chosen. The current government seems to be focused on controlling their debate ahead of the Federal election, rather than on an appropriate forum where all parties are on nationalized television for all Canadians to see. Or an approach to it’s citizens that bares little reasoning such as a continued loop to blockade patient rights.
With the current government’s dissension by the dozens, with nearly a third of their senior Members of Parliament that will not run in the next election, and the recent resignation of the Minister of Justice, Peter McKay whom co-founded the now Conservative Party of Canada, there appears to be some difference of opinion in Ottawa, and not just with citizens. With current polls showing the New Democrat Party of Canada leading by nearly 10%, and still parading from an overwhelming victory at the provincial level in Alberta, Canada (which used to be THE Conservative stronghold in Canada), a changing of the guard really seems evident in Canada.
There are calls for, and also hope that the new government will stop hurting their citizens, against the rule of the Courts, and begin to help them. Ministers may believe they have authority over the Courts, but the reality is that they have discretion that can easily be overruled under Section 24(1) of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms when Charter rights are infringed. Sure they have to go to Court, but when will Ministers , and any public official with administrative power that can be abused, be held personally responsible for these continuous malicious actions that frequently go before the Courts? Case law on a similar situation in the US, recently suggested by the Superior Court that they will not allow a medical marijuana company that was blockaded, possibly by means of politics, to eat their sunk costs.
Canadians deserve an honest government, attuned to progressing society at the pace the 21st century demands. Politicians can’t infringe on rights of their citizens, and surely shouldn’t be criticizing their own. Someone needs to take the high road and lead. In Canada, we see a ship without a Captain, and Members of Parliament insisting that anyone who disagrees with them must begin walking the plank.
The MMJ.TODAY News Desk.
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