If mystery still shrouds federal Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau’s reason to suddenly and forthrightly support legalizing marijuana, one need only check out the CBC story posted to the Corp’s website last week for elucidation.
Scroll down through the statements and declarations, past the partisan reactions and mealy-mouthed disclaimers, and you arrive at the heart of the matter right below the counter that indicates this relatively short item generated a whopping 3,499 comments in less than 48 hours. The temper of many of the remarks tells you all you need to know about Mr. Trudeau’s political acuity.
“I have to give it to Justin Trudeau on this one since he has the guts to stand up and say what people want to hear even if they disagree,” writes STIL SMOKING. “The cons walk that fine line of poll results and reaction then change what they said and say they didn’t say what was printed.”
Adds toothpainpick, “I look forward to legalized marijuana. Legalization of marijuana will open up recruitment into our police forces across the country and allow current members to consume it, should they wish. This should reduce the alcohol driven militarized mentality of our present forces and perhaps lead to a more thoughtful intelligence in the administration of law upon our streets.”
Meanwhile, HS1979 wastes no time getting to the point: “I will be voting Liberal. Well done, Justin Trudeau!”
Well done, indeed. But not for the reason most advocates of legal pot might assume. Until, quite literally just the other day, Mr. Trudeau evinced almost no interest (at least, publicly) in sanctioning soft drugs – certainly not as a plank of Liberal party policy. In fact, his pronouncements tended to fall well within the mainstream of political thinking, which remains far less enlightened than public opinion on the subject of cannabis use.
As recently as last year, Mr. Trudeau say weed is “not great for your health” as it “disconnects you a little bit from the world.” Three years ago, he told a magazine interviewer “It’s not your mother’s pot.” It’s stronger and, he said, “We need all our brain cells to deal with our problems.”
Well, maybe not all our brain cells, after all.
Last week, while in British Columbia (otherwise known as spliff central), Mr. Trudeau declared to assembled members of the media, “Decriminalization is a great first step (but) I’m in favour of legalization as well, because we control it, tax and regulate it, we allow for development of a medical marijuana industry,” before adding carefully, “I certainly wouldn’t want to encourage people to use it. . .but in terms of respecting Canadians and their choices. . .and following where the science leads us is a responsible way of government.”
It’s a line of reasoning from which we may infer that any other position, from any other political party, is disrespectful of “Canadians and their choices”, anti-scientific and an irresponsible “way of government”. Or, as Mr. Trudeau, himself, observed, “The Conservatives base their approach on ideology and fear. I prefer to base my approach on evidence and best practices and I think that is what Canadians will respond to.”
If recent polls are any indication, he’s right. His fellow citizens generally support legalizing marijuana just as they generally disapprove of the hard-line elements in Conservative Party’s social agenda.
Observers on the right of the political spectrum think Mr. Trudeau has given Prime Minister Harper a cudgel with which to beat him. They’re also right. But, in this case, it won’t matter.
By aligning himself with the majority opinion, Mr. Trudeau forces his political enemies to defend the minority position. The more they fall for the bait, the more ridiculous they appear in the eyes of the voting public.
Here’s Justice Minister Peter MacKay sounding like a bewigged, 19th Century barrister, full of bluff and bluster, as he told the CBC last week: “Our government has no intention of legalization. I would think Mr. Trudeau should look at other areas in which we can end violence and drug use and end this societal ill. . . I find it quite strange frankly that Mr. Trudeau would be talking about legalization as a priority at this time.”
Strange? Perhaps. Crazy? You bet – like a fox.