COLLINGWOOD - The Ontario Premier was in town today to talk cannabis with cops.
Premier Doug Ford gave a speech at the Ontario Provincial Police Association AGM, which took place at Blue Mountain Village today.
Ford’s speech touched on things like repealing Bill 175 (The Safer Ontario Act) passed last spring as an update to the province’s Police Services Act. One part of the bill included an expansion to the mandate of Ontario’s three police oversight agencies to increase the scope of what they can investigate. The Kathleen Wynne government claimed the bill brought greater transparency to policing in Ontario. The Attorney General was quoted by national media saying the bill strengthened trust and respect between police and the communities they serve.
At first mention of the bill the crowd at the AGM was quiet.
“I thought you’d be happy that I mentioned Bill 175,” said the Premier. Applause followed.
“When a police officer is forced to make a life or death decision in a blink of an eye, you deserve to know we have your back, and we will always have your back,” said Ford. “That’s why we decided to put the brakes on Bill 175. The only police reform we will consider is a reform that works for police officers themselves.”
The largest talking point in Ford’s speech was cannabis legalization, which will hit all of Canada tomorrow.
“Nobody in this room asked for cannabis legalization to be thrust upon us,” said Ford, adding it was a campaign promise of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Ford went on to suggest the Prime Minister was nowhere to be found on the eve of legalization.
“When it comes to defending his cannabis plan, he might as well be in the witness protection program,” quipped Ford.
“It will be OPP officers and other law enforcement professionals around Ontario who will be keeping organized crime and the illegal market out of our communities following October 17,” said Ford.
The premier also touched on the ways “Ontario’s Government for the People” is supporting police including an investment of $182 million to build nine new OPP detachments with one of them in Orillia, and an overhaul of the Public Safety Radio Network, which he called the “largest investment ever in the history of Ontario for the OPP.”
“No matter what lies ahead, Ontario will be ready,” concluded Ford.
Members of the media were not permitted interviews during Ford's visit.
The Ontario Provincial Police Association (OPPA) represents officers and civilians in the OPP, and has been doing so since the 1950s. They have been hosting the annual general meeting at Blue Mountain Village for a number of years and often have the sitting premier or official opposition speak at the AGM.