One of Canada’s best-known marijuana activists says she’s ready to make a leap into mainstream politics with the federal Liberal Party.
In a telephone interview, Jodie Emery was quick to note she has yet to file nomination papers, but she said it’s her understanding that she’s in the running for Vancouver East.
“They approached me,” she said. “I am officially a member of the Liberal Party of Canada and I have been asked to put my name in to take a shot at it.”
If she does receive the Liberal nomination for the election scheduled for October 2015, Emery conceded that she would stand little chance of defeating NDP MP Libby Davies, who has represented Vancouver East since 1997. Emery explained that her candidacy would instead serve to signal that the Liberals are serious about changing the way that Canada deals with cannabis.
“The Emerys are synonymous with marijuana legalization, so this would be like an endorsement,” she explained. “It would basically be to say, ‘The Liberals support legalization.’ ”
The entrepreneur and former candidate for the B.C. Green Party spoke to the Georgia Straight less than one month ahead of the scheduled release of her husband, Marc Emery, from Yazoo City Prison in Mississippi, where he’s serving the final month of a five-year sentence for selling cannabis seeds.
In a telephone interview, Marc told the Straight that he’s ruled out running for office himself and instead will throw his full support behind Jodie and Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau.
“I’m sure she’ll be seeking the nomination,” Marc said. “The Liberals need someone with Jodie’s national profile on that issue [marijuana] to point out that they are totally serious.”
The Liberal Party would only say that it’s too early to comment on possible candidates for 2015. According to B.C. campaign cochair Bruce Young, details will likely begin to be made public in the fall.
In November 2012, Trudeau revealed that he was a “huge supporter of decriminalization”. According to Jodie, the Liberal Party has since proven that it’s ready to see Canada legalize and regulate the drug.
Marc described Trudeau’s position as “courageous and unprecedented”.
“Normally, they all wait until they’ve retired out of politics before they advocate the legalization route,” he explained. “Justin Trudeau is the only leader of a Canadian political party with any chance of forming the government who’s ever done this. I thought it was pretty brave of him.”
Marc is scheduled for release on July 10. On that day, prison officials will turn him over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) ahead of his pending return to Canada. It’s unknown how long he’ll remain in ICE custody. Marc said it could take days, weeks, or more than a month, depending on the pace at which his case is processed.
His return to Canada will therefore likely happen in the late summer. Public parties are planned for Toronto and then Vancouver, he said, after which he and Jodie will travel abroad for speaking engagements and a vacation.
By late 2014, Marc said, he’ll be back at work in Vancouver at Cannabis Culture Headquarters on West Hastings Street. And by mid 2015, he and Jodie will be in full campaign mode heading into the federal election .
In addition to Jodie’s possible run for Vancouver East, Marc said he has planned a 30-day cross-country tour beginning September 5, 2015.
“We’ll be trying to get young people out,” Marc emphasized. “It’s really important to motivate them to go out and vote for the Liberal Party, because they could also split the vote between the Greens and the NDP, and I really don’t want to see that happen.”
Marc argued that people need to vote strategically to defeat Stephen Harper and the Conservatives and that the best way to do that is to back Trudeau and the Liberals.
“There is a time when you have to make decisions about what’s really important, and stopping Stephen Harper and replacing his government is the ultimate priority,” he said.
Asked if he’s at all concerned that the marijuana issue could backfire and become a liability for the Liberals, Marc argued that Trudeau has taken a position that has growing support from the public.
“For the first time in 40 years, the majority of Canadians are highly sympathetic to my point of view,” he said. “So, hopefully, Jodie will be able to bring voters from across Canada into the Liberal Party and see people vote for them.”