Dalson Chen • Windsor Star – Nov 29, 2016
Did Bill Blair — Justin Trudeau’s point man on marijuana legislation — violate the prime minister’s own ethical guidelines by attending a fundraiser with cannabis advocates?
“There’s nothing on this from my end, I swear,” said Jon Liedtke — co-owner of downtown Windsor medical marijuana lounge Higher Limits and one of the pro-pot people who shook hands with Blair at the event in question.
A Liberal MP and parliamentary secretary to the justice minister, Blair is head of the federal-provincial task force assigned with developing a framework for legal marijuana in Canada.
A recent Globe and Mail article pointed out that Blair may have broken Trudeau’s Open and Accountable Government rules by speaking with members of the Cannabis Friendly Business Association at the offices of a Toronto law firm on April 28.
Trudeau’s rules state that cabinet ministers and parliamentary secretaries must avoid the “appearance of preferential access.”
Blair was photographed at the offices of Aird & Berlis LLP — who have advised clients on medical marijuana issues — with Abi Roach of the CFBA and Windsor’s own Liedtke.
The event was a fundraiser for the Liberal Party. Attendance cost $150 per person.
But Liedtke denied any lobbying took place. He said that the CFBA paid for his ticket — but he’s not a member of the CFBA, nor is he a registered lobbyist.
“I was just a guest,” Liedtke said. “It was a rather long event.”
“There were about four minutes towards the end of it where there was a brief interaction. Abi had a conversation with (Blair), I got to shake hands. That was the extent of it.”
According to the Globe and Mail, a Liberal Party spokesman said the money that CFBA members gave to attend the function will be returned, and the party wasn’t aware of their advocacy efforts prior to the event.
Liedtke said he had been visiting Toronto to see some friends — among them Roach, owner of the Hot Box Cafe.
“She said, ‘Hey, I got an extra ticket. Wanna come with?’ I said, ‘Yep.’ And that was really it,” Liedtke said.
“I’ve attended fundraisers held by political parties across the board. People in power, people in opposition, and third parties.”
“Politics is politics. People can make hay out of things. If the government wants to change the law, that’s their prerogative.”