‘Ottawa’ Police Looking for Answers to Coming Marijuana Enforcement Issues
Ottawa police Chief Charles Bordeleau says federal marijuana legislation continues to leave law enforcement officials in the dark about what officers are expected to police and how.
“What we’re concerned about is having access to the tools, the education and the funding in order to train our officers to apply this new law,” Bordeleau said Monday, before a police board meeting, in his first public comments on the legislation.
Bordeleau said that he and other police chiefs across the country are still reviewing the legislation, which was unveiled on April 13.
Chiefs are pleased to see “a strengthening of the impaired driving laws” which will give police more powers, Bordeleau said, calling it “good news.”
But there are hurdles, too. Mainly, what will be the role of the police and what will fall to other state controls.
Chiefs had been opposed to allowing any residential marijuana plant growth. Instead, the legislation has set a cap of four plants per household.
“We’re pleased to see, at least, that there’s been a limit to those plant, s but from an enforcement perspective we’re still waiting to hear how (the government is) going to operationalize these laws,” Bordeleau said.
“There’s a lot of downloading that’s going to take place to the provinces. How the distribution network is going to be set up is still a big question.
“Who’s going to do the enforcement of these distribution centres? We don’t know that yet. So there are still a lot of questions that have yet to be answered.”
Monday’s meeting also saw police board members question Bordeleau on allegations that the police service is not doing enough to stop what an abortion clinic on Bank Street says have been years of harassment and intimidation from protesters.
Bordeleau reiterated that a city bylaw enacted in 2001 for “special events” demonstrations that require a permit does spell out that protesters are supposed to be across the street from locations targeted by the demonstration. But that bylaw was meant to refer to places such as embassies where mass demonstrations would occur.
The protests at the Morgentaler Clinic, which occur right outside the front door, typically consist of much smaller numbers and don’t require a permit, and are therefore not regulated by the bylaw.
Bordeleau said there were 19 calls for service at the Morgentaler Clinic last year and six, so far, this year. He said that the police force has to balance the clinic’s request for police assistance with constitutional rights to expression and assembly.
Board member Sandy Smallwood asked if the chief would go so far as to call the allegations against the service unfounded. Bordeleau said that the force has reached out to the clinic to discuss their allegations but has not heard back.