BY JOSH BURY
When Justin Trudeau and the Liberal Party of Canada brought the issue of marijuana legalization forward, it initially looked like a gaffe by an inexperienced politician who was riding high on charismatic leadership.
The truth is the opposite. This is a master stroke by Liberal party tacticians which has made the prime minister look out of touch with the electorate.
While the prime minister treated the topic as controversial, the data shows that voters believe otherwise. In an August 2013 poll of over 1,100 Canadians, Forum Research found that the majority of Canadians across the country support either legalization or decriminalization of marijuana.
This isn’t a recent development and it shouldn’t come as a surprise to the prime minister. Since 2003, various polls have shown that a majority of Canadians are in favour of either legalization or decriminalization.
The resulting reaction from Stephen Harper has made him appear out of touch. It’s exactly what the Liberal party wanted.
After deciding in early August to prorogue the September session the majority Conservative party government was effectively in the clear. The genius of the Liberal party’s move is that, despite the government’s best efforts, policy continued to be discussed during the summer break.
Initially reacting to questions about marijuana usage by asking “do I seem like I smoke marijuana?” Harper then claimed that Trudeau is “promoting marijuana use among children.” He said his government’s focus is on job creation and failed to really address the issue.
More recently, Harper made a joke while addressing an audience in Vancouver when, evoking the spirit of our first prime minister, he said that Sir John A. Macdonald believed in “economic growth, not grow-ops.” But Harper’s decision to jokingly compare Macdonald’s legacy with the marijuana issue takes on a potent sense of irony when you recall Macdonald’s very public struggles with alcoholism.
Harper’s comments continue to show he is either not aware or not concerned with the prevailing opinion about marijuana, even among his own party. In that Forum Research poll, 62 per cent of Conservative voters were in favour of either legalizing or decriminalizing marijuana.
Regardless of his personal views, the voters of Canada believe this is a valid issue that should be discussed in a serious and mature manner. It’s time the prime minister started treating it like one.
The views herein represent the position of the newspaper, not necessarily the author.