The internet has been in an uproar after a Brampton city councillor suggested earlier this week that the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) “build a wall” to keep cannabis retail stores out. Not a real wall, but a political one.

Councillor Charmaine Williams (Ward 7/8) has been a staunch opponent of allowing pot shops in Brampton since before she was elected on October 22.

Since being elected Williams has levelled up her fight against legal pot shops in the city. She launched a campaign in December to oppose marijuana businesses, but it’s her recent remarks that are getting attention.

Williams held a rally at her council office Tuesday. As part of the event, she used actual bricks with GTA municipalities’ names listed to act as a symbolic gesture for blocking cannabis stores in the area.

Williams wants all GTA cities to stand in solidarity against cannabis stores, but her “build a wall” metaphor has eyebrows raising.

While some Brampton residents have voiced their support for Williams’ stance on the issue and her unusual tactics, the majority of comments online haven’t been favourable.

As for city councillors, none of them are publicly standing behind Williams and some have spoken out against her tactics.

“It doesn’t demonstrate what we are all trying to do which is include people in a healthy debate,” said Councillor Rowena Santos in an interview Wednesday.

“We passed a motion as a council to have a healthy debate on this very controversial issue. Councillor Williams voted in favour of doing that. If she has a bias on this issue and has already decided we should opt out, then she should not have supported that motion in December.”

Williams’ actions have had a ripple effect: on Wednesday the majority of councillors voted against allowing Williams to sit on the city’s Citizen Advisory and the Citizen Awards committees.

Santos says the decision was made because of Williams’ decision to use Trump-like tactics in her war against cannabis, and that such behaviour isn’t reflective of what they want on committees dealing with the public.

The City of Brampton is still conducting public consultations on the issue. Residents can share their thoughts on cannabis stores in Brampton by emailing cannabis@brampton.ca or by attending and delegating at a special council meeting on January 21, 2019.

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