Video: Interim Conservative leader Rona Ambrose cracks zingers at Stephen Harper's expense

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      Last night's parliamentary press gallery dinner marked the first time that a leader of the Conservative leader had made an appearance on-stage.

      And by most accounts, Rona Ambrose's jokes went off well, especially those that involved her former leader, Stephen Harper.

      One of the most quoted afterward was her line about Harper being misunderstood.

      "Stephen Harper loved humanity," Ambrose declared. "It was just the people he couldn't stand."

      Rona Ambrose refashioned her image at last night's dinner.

      A year ago, Ambrose herself was on the receiving end of many jokes after solemnly declaring that marijuana was not medicine. It made her a laughingstock within Vancouver's pro-cannabis movement.

      She also didn't endear herself to harm-reduction advocates when, as health minister, she was a hardline opponent to prescibing heroin on a limited basis to patients who didn't respond to other addiction treatments. Vancouver physician Gabor Maté dubbed her the "minister of disease".

      With Ambrose's recent outspoken support for same-sex marriage and her quips about Harper, she's starting to make inroads on updating the Conservative brand. But in the end, the proof will come in how the Conservatives approach addiction.

      Are they prepared to listen to the best evidence from peer-reviewed journals? Or will they continue pandering to the Old Testament fire-and-brimstone literalists who are part of the Conservative base?

      In this regard, voters will have to wait for the outcome of the party's leadership race.