Justin Trudeau's federal Liberal leadership bid doesn’t thrill B.C. marijuana activists
Cannabis activists don’t see a friend in Justin Trudeau, the presumptive frontrunner in the race for the federal Liberal leadership.
“There are some people in the marijuana movement who say he’s [Pierre] Trudeau’s son, and he’s our best hope,” Jodie Emery told the Georgia Straight in a phone interview. “But personally, I don’t find him appealing.”
“Besides being a pretty boy”, she said that there’s not much to be said about the popular politician.
Emery recalled that, in 2009, Trudeau voted in support of Bill C-15, Conservative legislation that sought to impose mandatory minimum jail time for pot-related offences.
For this, Trudeau was slammed as a “fuckin’ hypocrite” by Emery’s husband, Marc Emery.
Speaking at a Toronto event in July 2009, Marc Emery said that Trudeau smoked cannabis with him on more than one occasion. The self-styled Prince of Pot is currently serving a five-year sentence at a U.S. federal prison for selling marijuana seeds.
Marc Emery claims he smoked pot with Justin Trudeau.
Delegates at a federal Liberal convention in January adopted marijuana legalization as a party policy. This was strongly endorsed by interim leader Bob Rae. “Let’s face up to it, Canada, the war on drugs has been a complete bust,” Rae declared in a speech closing the convention.
But at the sidelines of this convention, Trudeau indicated in a interview posted on YouTube that he’s not sold on legalization. “One of the things that pot does is it disconnects you a little bit from the world,” Trudeau said in that interview. “It’s not great for your health.”
Justin Trudeau discusses marijuana prohibition, polarization, and youth politics at the 2012 federal Liberal convention.
Results of a survey released by Toronto-based Forum Research days after the Liberal convention showed that 66 percent of adult Canadians believed that pot should be legalized. This had the highest support in B.C. with 73 percent saying they were in favour of such reform.
On October 2, Trudeau announced in Montreal that he wants to become the next leader of the federal Liberal party.
In his speech, the 40-year-old politician touched on a number of topics, from the economy to the environment. “This will be a campaign about the future, not the past,” he said. But he made no mention about revisiting cannabis laws.
Trudeau’s camp didn’t make the Quebec MP available for an interview with the Straight before deadline.
According to Jodie Emery, Trudeau has a chance to clear the air about his position on the cannabis question during his leadership drive.
“The majority of Canadians want marijuana to be legal, and if the Liberal party wants to appeal to the majority of Canadians, taking that stand would be a wise thing to do,” she said.
Federal Liberals in B.C. plan to invite and quiz leadership candidates on issues when they hold their biennial policy conference in Surrey from November 23 to 25. The agenda includes a review of “priority” resolutions, which came out of the province and were approved at the 2012 national party convention, regarding a federal housing strategy and marijuana legalization.
Last month, delegates at the annual meeting of the Union of B.C. Municipalities voted to support of the decriminalization of cannabis. Local-government politicians also want Ottawa to study the benefits of taxing and regulating pot.
Dana Larsen is spearheading an initiative campaign for a referendum on the decriminalization of marijuana in B.C.
According to Larsen, the last he heard about Trudeau’s position on marijuana was that he isn’t a fan of legalization.
“A majority of Liberals and a majority of Canadians support changing the cannabis laws, and I think he’ll find himself out of step with his own party and with Canadians,” Larsen told the Straight by phone.
A New Democrat, Larsen noted that the federal NDP has also struggled with the cannabis issue. “But I think as a party, we’ve been pretty steadfast over the years in terms of our support federally for decriminalizing marijuana,” he said.
NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair has said that he wants a commission to study the country’s cannabis laws.
A close associate of Marc Emery, Larsen said that he wouldn’t be surprised if the imprisoned activist smoked pot with Trudeau in the past. “I know that Marc smoked cannabis with a lot of interesting people,” Larsen said. “But I wasn’t there. So I don’t know what happened.”