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

Opinion Ohio State should be on its way to becoming a hockey

Ohio State junior forward Dakota Joshua celebrates his second period goal against Denver in the NCAA Tournament on March 25, 2018. Credit: Nick Hudak | Lantern photographerBoston College. Minnesota. Wisconsin. Three established hockey programs, three established “hockey schools” and the only three programs to have both a men’s and women’s team in the Frozen Four in the same season.The only three, that is, until last Sunday, when Ohio State joined the list.This season, the women’s hockey team swept the No. 1 team in the country in Wisconsin, and the men’s hockey team beat Michigan five times, more than any team in the program’s history.The teams are performing as the school’s top programs, and they both should only get better next year. So, with football and basketball usually in the spotlight, how can Ohio State build on its success and become a hockey school?Success in the upcoming seasons will definitely help, however it only goes so far — as the pistol and synchronized swimming teams will tell you. It would take a shift in the culture for Ohio State to resemble anything of a “hockey school,” but it could be well on its way.Football will always be king at Ohio State. But there’s no reason to think Ohio State hockey should not be spoken in the same breathe as Boston College, Minnesota and Wisconsin.There are already plans on the table for a new hockey arena that would allow Ohio State’s attendance — which finished eighth in the NCAA, but bottom five in percent of arena capacity — to create more of a fan-friendly atmosphere than it does in the massive Schottenstein Center where it plays now.On the other side, the proposed capacity of 4,000 and the ability to have an established hockey-specific location would help the women’s hockey team, which plays in one of the smallest and most outdated venues in the nation.And with hype around the two programs at a high level, it’s convenient a new arena is on the horizon.When the project is completed, it will be up to the respective teams to continue the success they have shown this season.Fortunately for Ohio State, both teams look to be strong in both depth and coaching. Steve Rohlik and Nadine Muzerall both earned coach of the year honors in their respective conferences, and both teams were led in points by underclassmen. The women’s hockey team has two freshmen stars in Emma Maltais and Tatum Skaggs and still has redshirt junior goalie Kassidy Sauve for another season.The accolades don’t stop at the college level. Eleven players from Ohio State are currently playing in the NHL, which only helps to shift attention to a program that has made only two Frozen Fours.The future is more than bright for the hockey programs — it’s glowing, and a new hockey arena would bring more attention to a sport that is undeservedly flying under the radar. Even with the most successful year of hockey Ohio State — and Columbus, for that matter — has ever seen, it takes more than good seasons to shine at a school with a football team that is expected to contend for a title every season. Oh yeah, a basketball team rising faster than anyone predicted doesn’t help shifting focus toward the hockey programs and getting students into seats, either.You know what does help? A national championship, a new arena, a new reason to care and a new sense of consistency that’s never been there before. The talent is there for the future, but if the men’s hockey team can make history on April 7 with a national championship, the establishment of Ohio State as a hockey powerhouse might be coming sooner rather than later. read more