Lawyers for disqualified pot shop applicants say process was unfair

TORONTO — A legal battle over Ontario’s licensing system for retail cannabis stores focused Wednesday on the steps taken by the province to contact a number of applicants who were later disqualified for failing to file documents by a certain date.The group of 11 applicants is challenging the rejection and disputing the fairness of the procedures involved in the lottery that has been used to grant all of Ontario’s pot shop licences.At a hearing in Toronto, the group’s lawyers argued Wednesday that under the rules set out by the provincial agency overseeing the process, those who win the chance to apply must submit certain documents within five business days once they are notified of their selection.They said an email alerting their clients of the lottery’s outcome and the application timeline did not go through, and as such, the deadline should have been recalculated based on when the message was actually delivered.The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario “just determined that the attempt-to-notify was sufficient” to trigger the countdown, which is unfair and unreasonable, attorney Michael Lacy told a three-judge panel.As a result, he argued, the commission was not entitled to disqualify the 11 applicants or to select a new slate of applicants to replace them. The group should be allowed to complete the application process and the others returned to the wait list, he said.Lawyers representing the commission, however, said the eliminated applicants were to blame for the email bouncing back since they provided the address and chose that method of communication.What’s more, Judie Im argued, the commission then followed up with telephone calls, posted the list of lottery winners online and eventually sent letters by courier. Many of the calls failed to reach the applicants and three never picked up the packages, she said.When they did receive a letter notifying them of their selection, the applicants should have seen that it was dated Aug. 21 and laid out a deadline of Aug. 28, she added.“The fault… lies with them and not the registrar,” Im said, noting none of the applicants sought to clarify the deadline or obtain an extension.Even if the commission is found to have erred in disqualifying the group, the newly chosen applicants should not be penalized for that mistake, said lawyer Robin Linley, who represents some of them.Linley said his clients have already taken steps to meet the application criteria.The dispute largely revolves over what it means to be notified, and whether delivery or receipt of the message is required, Ontario Superior Court Justice David Corbett said.Earlier this month, Corbett paused the licensing process for the latest round of cannabis stores until the case is resolved. The panel is set to present its decision on Monday.Lawyers representing the commission had contested the stay, saying it would interfere with the integrity of the lottery system. There was also opposition from lawyers representing the applicants selected to replace those eliminated.So far, there have been two rounds of the government lottery to determine who can apply to open cannabis stores. The first involved 25 spots and the second 42.Lottery winners have five business days to turn in their application, along with a $6,000 non-refundable fee and a $50,000 letter of credit.The legal challenge may affect the government’s timeline to increase the number of legal pot shops in the province.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 25, 2019.Paola Loriggio, The Canadian Press read more

SP downgrades Puerto Rico debt says it would have been worse without

by Danica Coto, The Associated Press Posted Feb 4, 2014 2:21 pm MDT S&P downgrades Puerto Rico debt, says it would have been worse without government reforms SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – Credit-rating agency Standard & Poor’s downgraded Puerto Rico’s debt to junk status Tuesday, a decision that frustrated island officials who said they had taken at times painful steps to reduce government spending and boost revenue amid an eight-year recession.Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla said it was not a surprise that S&P cut the rating one notch to “BB+,” one level below investment grade, but he called the move unfair and unnecessary.“Every time we did something they requested, they moved the line further back,” he said. “We have addressed every issue they have brought up.”The announcement comes as the U.S. territory prepares to return to the bond market this month, and S&P said the downgrade would have been more severe without recent reductions in the Puerto Rican government’s budget deficit and its overhaul of strained public pension systems.Eduardo Bhatia, president of Puerto Rico’s senate, expressed anger at S&P and questioned how a credit agency that he said supported a move by the previous Puerto Rico administration to borrow $16 billion now decided to downgrade the island’s debt.“Today, it turns around and stabs us in the back,” he said. “For the past year, we’ve met their demands and our people have made great sacrifices to improve the fiscal situation and honour all that debt they endorsed.”Economists say years of deficits under previous Puerto Rican administrations led to the majority of the government’s outstanding $70 billion debt.S&P’s announcement worried many in Puerto Rico, which has entered its eighth year in recession while struggling with $70 billion in public debt and a 15.4 per cent unemployment rate, higher than any U.S. state.Garcia and other top officials sought to assure Puerto Ricans and bondholders that they would continue to whittle down the debt and present a deficit-free budget next fiscal year.“Decades of fiscal irresponsibility cannot be turned around in 12 months,” Garcia said. “But the truth is, we did everything we could to turn it around in 12 months. My administration is not to blame for this downgrade, but I will take responsibility to pull the island out of it.”He assured Puerto Ricans that the government will be operating as usual and that he will submit legislation on Wednesday to further reduce the deficit this year.Puerto Rico’s bonds are popular with U.S. investors because they are exempt from federal, state and local taxes, and investors have become increasingly concerned about its ability to repay its debt.Treasury Secretary Melba Acosta said the government is disappointed in S&P’s decision, but she stressed that the island has all the liquidity on hand necessary to deal with the fallout.“This did not catch us by surprise,” she said. “We were prepared.”David Chafey, chairman of Puerto Rico’s Government Development Bank, said the government has adequate resources to pay $575 million in debt payments due in 90 days and an additional $375 million in six months.The downgrade had been expected by many in the investment community since the three major credit agencies put Puerto Rico’s debt on watch for a possible downgrade. As a result, bond trading levels already reflected a lower-rating than even the new BB+ grade from Standard & Poor’s, said Alan Schankel, managing director of Janney Capital Markets in Philadelphia.“With three rating agencies having the rating on watch for downgrade, I don’t think anybody will be terribly surprised by the downgrade,” Schankel said. “I’m sure there will be some negative price reaction in the near future, and specifically tomorrow, but I don’t think it will be precipitous.”David Tawil, co-founder and portfolio manager of New York-based Maglan Capital, said it was unclear whether a big sell-off in Puerto Rico bonds might occur Wednesday as a result of the downgrade.“This is a pretty big mountain of debt that could come into the market,” he said. “I don’t think we’ll know the ramifications until we’re given a couple of days of trading activity. Tomorrow will be an interesting day to see how the market reacts.”___Associated Press writer Ben Fox in Miami contributed to this report. AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email read more