Stephen Harper draws Canada's first prime minister into marijuana debate -

Stephen Harper draws Canada’s first prime minister into marijuana debate


WEST KELOWNA, B.C. – Prime Minister Stephen Harper called upon the ghost of Sir John A. Macdonald during a comic but partisan foray into British Columbia’s marijuana debate.

Harper cracked some jokes Friday evening during a barbecue attended by about 600 people at the Quails’ Gate winery in West Kelowna, not far from where Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau announced in late July that he supported the legalization, taxation and regulation of marijuana.

A debate on marijuana legalization is currently taking place in the province. Pot activist Dana Larsen is trying to use initiative legislation to propose a law that would decriminalize marijuana by preventing police from enforcing simple possession laws.

Just minutes into his speech, Harper referred to Macdonald who, according to the Parliament of Canada’s website, was elected to represent Victoria, B.C., in Ottawa in September 1878.

“Sir John A. spoke to British Columbians about the things that matter, about jobs and prosperity, about a Canada united and strong, about economic growth not grow-ops, about a national dream, not a pipe dream.”

The crack drew applause and laughter from the crowd.

Yet, Macdonald’s reputation was far from pure, as anecdotes abounded in the 19th Century of the politician swilling gin in the Commons and vomiting on the hustings. “Better John A. drunk than George Brown sober” was a political slogan of his day.

Still, Harper thanked fellow Conservatives who were behind a bill that will allow him to bring B.C. wine back to Ottawa.

“Now of course, I don’t, you know, I don’t drink alcohol, but I have lots of friends who do,” said Harper.

The barbecue wasn’t the first time Harper has entered the marijuana debate. In late August he hammered Trudeau, accusing the federal Liberals of promoting pot use among children.

“Do I seem like I smoke marijuana?” Harper asked in response to a reporter’s question during a media scrum.

Trudeau, however, has said he has received “almost universal” praise for his admission that he smoked pot after being elected to Parliament.

“The conversations I’ve had with Canadians have almost universally been about people pleased with the level of openness and transparency that a Canadian politician is demonstrating,” Trudeau said in late August.

The push for decriminalization has gained steam in B.C. over the past few years, with several prominent former politicians, including former provincial Liberal attorney general Geoff Plant and former NDP premier Ujjal Dosanjh, calling for the legalization and regulation of marijuana.

Their group, the Stop The Violence B.C. Coalition, has pointed to opinion polls that suggest a majority of British Columbians agree with them.

But the provincial Liberal government has largely opted to ignore marijuana reform, pointing out that drug laws are in the federal government’s jurisdiction.

During the most-recent provincial election campaign, Premier Christy Clark ridiculed her NDP opponent for even taking a position on the issue.

Meantime, Elections BC announced in July that Larsen could begin collecting signatures for his Sensible BC campaign on Sept. 9.

To succeed, Larsen must collect the signatures of 10 per cent of registered voters in each of the province’s 85 ridings by November. That would either force a vote in the legislature or a provincewide, non-binding referendum.

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Stephen Harper draws Canada’s first prime minister into marijuana debate

  1. That the current prime minister fails to see how we may reap economic benefits from legalizing marijuana makes me wonder about his economic credentials. Surely there would be huge economic, justice and health benefits for many Canadians. Don’t be scared a plant, steve. Just such an uptight hardass jerk — no wonder Canadians have taken a liking to Justin Trudeau — it’s tough listening to harper and his minions all the time, so negative and old school.

    • Well, it’s pretty hard to see the benefits when you’re….uh…delivering your speech standing in the middle of a successful drug “grow op” and processing facility?

    • Lots of economic benefits to legalization. First is less taxes to enforce the unenforceable laws. Less organized crime too. Less costs to the taxpayers. Maybe even lower home insurance rates as cheap weed isn’t worth B&E.

      But the big benefit in economics is that it keeps more money in the country for currency trade balances that benefit us all. Less will go to organized crime and weed smokers no longer fund a drug cartel in Mexico or BC that kills people for an added humanistic benefit.

      And cops almost never get the money. It is rare they score the billions going to weed.

      But like you say, Harper has his head into liberal statism, and why he supports criminals and LE/judicial/prison bloat. Having lots of cops has advantages in controlling citizens in protests, like the G8/20. Harper is a government manages us type.

  2. patchouli, if it is legalized, the flood gates will open. Kids will be first in line. Not a good decision. Especially the admission by the Liberal Leader that he has smoked pot during his time as a MP. He could be stopped from entering other countries now i.e. the US has already mentioned this and also it is presently illegal in Canada – he should even be charged now here.

    • That’s foolish stuff, Albertan. If we can regulate alcohol and ciggies, we can regulate pot. I appreciate someone of Trudeau’s stature coming out and admitting he’s done it and it didn’t harm him or make him love it; it’s an honest and open thing to do. And many Canadian adults who have enjoyed the weed over many years are too frightened to be open about their usage — and I mean professional people who pay taxes. It’s ‘high’ time someone acknowledged this plant has many wonderful uses, including mellowing out, nothing wrong with that, and is in many cases, credible medicine.

    • Yup, good idea. Then they should get to work charging the other 14 million Canadians.

      But shouldn’t we also change the law so that we can lock up users of the drug that Harper was implicitly endorsing in his speech? You know, the one that costs us more than all the others combined, in crime, death, violence and social dysfunction?

    • Kids are getting it anyways and they walk stoned right by cops at the LRT. Say about 30-45 minutes after school see them on the LRT. Lots of times you can spot the kids that are stoned.

      What might happen is kids stop using it as it is legal. It no longer would be rebellious and “cool” to smoke weed. Same issue with booze. Kids want it, they will have it. But most prefer pot as is the rebel part. But booze is legal for adults, so it isn’t as cool as doing weed.

      But I agree in this, needs to be a 18 and above thing.

      • . . . which is what it is in the Netherlands. You can’t go into a coffeeshop in the Netherlands if you’re a minor.

    • Umm, Albertan, I’m going to assume you’re not a lawyer. Cuz admitting to past marijuana use is not a crime. Strictly speaking, admitting to current marijuana use is not a crime. The crimes currently relate to possession (which means actual physical possession of the stuff) or trafficking. JT is guilty of neither. Grab a brain.

    • Where I go to school it’s easier to buy weed than liqour

  3. Better JT high then SH straight.

    • Better JT dead, he’d still run the country smoother.

  4. I don’t smoke it but I support making marijuana 100% legal. Reasons are simple, with a price collapse of legal weed to grow and smoke, there is no money for crime to make money off it. Crime around weed exists because making it illegal drives up the costs and profits. Last thing organized crime wants is legal weed as it eliminates profits. And it would be real effective at eliminating the organized criminal element.

    Second is police state, judicial bloat and union jails. A lot of profits to generate a lot of bloated government. Why solve a real murder or prosecute a real violent criminal when you can get quick PR on a weed bust? So when people protest government, they have lots of police to crack heads. Ever notice how government cracks G8/20 heads if you protest government but if you protest for more of other peoples money they don’t get involved? Job one for police isn’t to protect or serve us, it is to protect government. We simply don’t need the billions of police, lawyers, judges, parole, shrinks, jail guard bloat.

    Really makes no sense to have weed illegal unless you want police state and a virtual support of organized crime. In fact, cops/CBSA will not ever catch all the weed, as letting most through anyways. Its a law they can’t enforce efficiently nor economically.

    Reality and rationality says legalize it. And why 2 states now officially recognise the legal right to grow and consume weed for personal use. Organized crime and police state bloat are decreasing.

  5. Sir John A was a known drunk. Send Scotch, will rule the colony type. But good joke in above.

  6. For Harper not be prepared and to respond to this debate as a joke – is in itself a joke and the liberals are going to laugh their way to a victory with it. This is a ‘real topic’ that will massively impact many aspects of Canadian lives and has the opportunity to drive in massive tax revenues enabling liberals to propose a budget the conservatives could never dream to.

    As a Conservative i was frankly embarrassed when they called asking for donations. The fund raiser specifically asking me to ‘help them fight the Justin’s move to legalize marijuana.’ I was like – seriously – that is your platform and you expect me to fund you for that type of platform? Sorry, not this year and further, this request just demonstrates how out dated your party is in regards to what Canadians want – perhaps you guys should read prior Maclean’s arcticle that delivered stats and perspective on timing?

    Prohibition does not work as proven in USA with alcohol (a much more dangerous substance). We can ONLY control distribution of this via government control. It is by far easier for YOUR teen to get pot then it is for them to get booze (no speak easy required). Further, if they do steal some from your fridge, are you paranoid about what is in it? Prohibition has never worked and has always funded crime and done far more damage to society then when a government controls distribution and ensures quality.

    After 30 years of voting conservative (federal and provincial) given that type of lack of attention to what Canadian’s are asking for this could be the first year i vote liberal. Yes Mr. Harper – based on this topic alone I will vote Liberal after 30 years – for it really does show how disconnected you are to Canadians – this topic is timely and not a joke and the Liberals are moving in the right direction where as the conservatives appear to want to put on blinders.

  7. I’m a 14 boy living in alberta and I smoke marijuana on a regular basis. Now I realize that it is unhealthy for teenagers and it hurts your brain etc. But to be honest it is much easier for me to buy pot than to get alcohol. To get weed I just text a friend or a dealer and ask him to come meet me at a 711 or somthing, but with alcohol I have to get someone to go to a liquer store and buy some which is almost immposible because I have no 18 year old friends or even close, so if its harder for a kid to get a legal drug than to get an illegal one, there must be a problem.

  8. Am wondring if pot laws have ever been challenged based on discrimination.for choice of intoxicant.Some people choose alchol some choose pot etc..Just curious.