Pubdate: Wed, 19 Apr 2000
Source: Toronto Star (CN ON)
Copyright: 2000 The Toronto Star
Page: A6
Contact:  One Yonge St., Toronto ON, M5E 1E6
Fax: (416) 869-4322
Author: Tim Harper, Ottawa Bureau


Pot Confession No Big Deal In Caucus

OTTAWA - The news that a one-time dope smoker was in their midst
caused no shock, no shift in support, no sermonizing on the evils of
marijuana in the Canadian Alliance caucus yesterday.

In fact, the collective shrug may mean it's time to finally put the
"did you inhale" question in the closet, for good.

Those backing Stockwell Day in the Canadian Alliance race instead
applauded their man's honesty when he told reporters in Woodstock this
week that he smoked marijuana 30 years ago. And he inhaled.

"I wish I knew. I would've signed on sooner," joked Rod Love, a key
Day strategist.

None of his backers yesterday admitted to similar experimentation, but
no one backing Preston Manning's top Alberta challenger thought such
candour could possibly hurt their candidate.

Even British Columbia MP Randy White, who has crusaded against drug
abuse, was completely unmoved at the news.

"My concern is people who are pushing heroin and crack cocaine," he
said. "It was thirty years ago. Come on.

"I'm sure if you polled all MPs in the House of Commons, you might get
some interesting responses if they were all as honest as Stockwell."

A straw poll of Day backers in the Alliance caucus, however, turned up
only Edmonton MP and House of Commons deputy speaker Ian McClelland
among those who have rolled their own.

"I think people are more interested in honesty than perfection,"
McClelland said. "If they put all of us who had ever smoked pot in
prison, we'd have a good time.

Frontrunner Manning recently told an Ottawa high school audience that
he had never smoked marijuana and had never been tempted.

A spokesperson for Tom Long, who is expected to formally announce his
candidacy next week, said Long will answer such questions next week.

"Never assume," said Sandra Buckler.

Other Day backers conceded their candidate had slipped into territory
alien to them.

"I did a lot of things when I was 19 that I don't particularly want to
share," said Myron Thompson, the Alliance MP (Wild Rose) who backs

"But marijuana wasn't one them. . . . I didn't even know what it

Ian Brodie, a University of Western Ontario student and Alliance party
executive member, said the marijuana question "has become a little

"The Alliance race is all about organization and selling membership
and getting out the vote. It's not about who did or did not smoke a
joint 30 years ago."
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake