Mitchel Raphael on the Obama cookie and Trudeau's thoughts on pot

One Ottawa bakery is celebrating the President's reelection; and Liberal party hopefuls talk legalization

Mitchel Raphael

The issue that has Justin ‘evolving’

Liberal MP Joyce Murray was giving the thumbs up as the U.S. election unfolded, with Washington and Colorado approving propositions to legalize the recreational use of marijuana. Murray, a former B.C. cabinet minister likely to enter the Liberal leadership race, says that while the party’s official position on pot is legalization, many in her caucus are not supportive. (Young Liberals successfully pushed for approval at recent conventions.) Liberal leadership front-runner Justin Trudeau had been against legalization, but now says, “I’ve certainly evolved from conversations with supporters and Liberals. I am fully a supporter of decriminalization. I think the time has come for that. I am actually very open to legalization and specifically tax and regulation the way they are calling it in the States. It’s something I am looking forward to having a lot of serious discussion about.” Still, Trudeau says smoking marijuana is part of a larger problem: “As a society we are trying to convince people to live healthier lives. Not smoke so much. Not drink so much. I am worried about the message we are sending in that sense.”

Obama and the three cookies

A huge “phew” was heard in Ottawa’s ByWard Market after Barack Obama was re-elected President. Obama made his first international visit to Ottawa in February 2009. He famously stopped in at the historic market, where he purchased three maple-leaf-shaped shortbread cookies from bakery Le Moulin de Provence. Since then, the demand for the cookies has been incredible. Shop owner Claude Bonnet says before the visit he maybe sold 800 a month. At the post-Obama peak, he was turning out 20,000. It is now steady at 5,000 a month. The “Obama cookies,” as they are now called, are made from one custom-made copper cookie cutter and each one is hand-painted with red icing. Several government agencies buy the cookies in bulk to take to the U.S. to promote Canadian tourism. The cookies can also be purchased with a metal container, which includes a Barack Obama coaster and comes in a box that says “Ottawa.”

Back in 2009, that Obama visit was a blessing for the shop. A local bus strike had hurt business dramatically. Afterwards, Bonnet had to hire more staff to meet demand. Bonnet never thought he would sell this many cookies in his life. But even if Mitt Romney had won, he claims he still would have kept making the Obama cookies and maintaining his photo shrine to the U.S. President. Says Bonnet: “He made history by being the first black President. This situation is special. He is something unique. It’s the first time we saw a U.S. President on the street here.” The cookies sell for $2.45 each—the same price Obama paid for them in 2009.