Justin Trudeau, weed, statistics and the law - Macleans.ca

Justin Trudeau, weed, statistics and the law

The Liberal leader fails to meet his own standard

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Justin Trudeau said he would pursue an agenda based on evidence and facts, but now he has been busted playing loose with the numbers around marijuana laws. The most charitable reading seems to be that he has conflated “arrests” with “police-reported crimes.” (After thoroughly frisking Mr. Trudeau’s numbers, David Akin notes that Mr. Trudeau voted in favour of the Harper government’s marijuana laws in 2009. I have noted that, after those laws failed to pass Parliament, Mr. Trudeau then voted against them in 2011.)

This is where the Harper government is on surer footing: when you generally dismiss the guidance that statistics and analysis might provide, you are much freer to speak and act according to your own preferred agenda.

But this discussion about statistics does lead us to an anecdote that might render the statistics here somewhat moot.

Tom Stamatakis, president of the Canadian Police Association, can’t remember ever charging someone with pot possession or showing up at court for a possession charge. “Before police would charge someone (with possession), there would have to be some other aggravating factor,” he said. Stamatakis said, in most cases, possession charges are often the result of more serious charges being downgraded through plea bargaining.

So perhaps the discussion could start there. Is the law against possession of marijuana being enforced? And, if not, why do we bother with maintaining that law?