This is the new politics of our era–say the opposite of what people expect, they will elect you because they think you are a fresh and contrary voice. Lie if you want to, obfuscate and misdirect. From Rob Ford to Justin Trudeau to Donald Trump to Nigel Farage…these guys seem to have re-written the liberal democracy playbook.
Trump and the late Ford have garnered much attention because of their behaviour and shoot-from-the-hip comments. What was once considered outrageous and crass has become almost common place. But Trudeau is really another species of fish. The Liberals offered legalized marijuana and large-scale infrastructure spending as cornerstones to their electoral policy—and in a normal world either initiative should have been enough to deny them a victory let alone a majority government.
The whys and the wherefores of the recent election are best left to the pundits, but legalizing recreational pot use opens a huge drum of worms for the feds. Decriminalization of simple possession might have been a better alternative. Instead poor Billy Blair, the former beleaguered Toronto police chief and newly-minted Scarborough MP, has been given the task of bringing about this legalization pipe dream.
Just trying to determine whether a driver is “impaired” after having consumed THC is a difficult matter. Government agencies are busily testing a variety of products, from saliva swabs to breathalyzers. Some 50,000 alcohol impaired driving charges are laid every year in Canada but only about 1,000 for drug impairment.
Full disclosure: I own some shares in Canopy Growth Inc. I couldn’t resist the delicious irony of a legal grow-op located in the former Hershey’s chocolate factory in Smith Falls, Ont. It’s also the best Canadian equity I own, performing much better than Blackberry, Bombardier and SNC Lavalin.
Canopy knows it’s up against a lot of independent growers who don’t want to be regulated. The corporation’s stock surged briefly after Toronto cops raided dozens of marijuana “dispensaries” that had been popping up like weeds in Hogtown–no pun intended. Immediately after the Toronto raids Canopy announced that it was selling cannabis at $5 per gram and offered same day delivery in the GTA to anyone with a prescription (under-cutting the storefront dealers by several dollars).
Regardless, I don’t think the government should become the neighbourhood pot dealer. I understand the Fed’s interest in collecting taxes and regulating the production and security. Regulation is fine for medical users, but recreational use of this herb has been around for generations in Canada without causing any lasting societal harm. As an adult activity its consequences are indeed minimal compared to the legalized scourges of alcohol and tobacco.
Cannabis aficionados long ago learned that discretion is important. And these days hardly anyone really cares if they catch a whiff of the sweet herb emanating from a backyard barbeque or wafting from the parking lot of the legion during a rock concert. By all means, let’s keep it away from children and youths, and I have no sympathy with the criminal element making huge profits from this plant.
But busting people for possession of small amounts of pot is a useless waste of taxpayers money, ties up the courts and doesn’t solve anything. And as former chief Blair has discovered, legalization is problematic. Decriminalization of this victimless crime is a better way forward.
Harry Rudolfs has worked as a dishwasher, apprentice mechanic, editor, trucker, foreign correspondent and taxi driver. He's written hundreds of articles for North American and European journals and newspapers, including features for the Ottawa Citizen, Toronto Life and CBC radio.
With over 30 years experience in the trucking industry he's hauled cars, steel, lumber, chemicals, auto parts and general freight as well as B-trains. He holds an honours BA in creative writing and humanities, summa cum laude. All posts by Harry Rudolfs