Pubdate: Tue, 13 Aug 2002
Source: London Free Press (CN ON)
Copyright: 2002 The London Free Press a division of Sun Media Corporation.
Author: Jane Sims, Free Press Justice Reporter


The federal justice minister has slammed the door on any thoughts marijuana 
may be legalized -- but left it slightly open to having the drug 

"Canada has no plans to legalize marijuana," said Martin Cauchon, speaking 
at the Canadian Bar Association annual meeting in London.

"I believe endorsing marijuana use might inflict harm on society and lead 
to greater problems."

But Cauchon said there should be a close look at drug laws.

"I believe it's time for an open discussion about modernizing the 
criminal-justice system in this regard."

At a later news conference, Cauchon didn't rule out decriminalizing the drug.

Many of his Montreal constituents have told him simple possession should 
not lead to a criminal record, which denies access to borders and makes it 
hard to find a job, he said.

"We have to look at where our society is and to be able to update our 

That issue will be part of a wide-ranging round-table discussion Cauchon 
plans this fall as a "a stock-taking" of Canada's criminal laws.

"We expect out legal system to operate fairly and we demand everyone 
receives equal access to it."

Cauchon touched on his priorities as minister of justice, a portfolio he 
took over in January.

They include a continued examination of child pornography laws, following 
provisions that took effect last month aimed at protecting kids from people 
trying to lure them into the sex trade.

The laws give judges the power to order the deletion of child pornography 
from Canadian computer systems.

But in the wake of a B.C. court decision, Cauchon said the government will 
bring forward new proposals this fall.

In March, the B.C. Supreme Court ruled graphic child sex stories written by 
John Robin Sharpe had artistic merit and should not be considered criminal.

Cauchon also wants cabinet to discuss family law reform in hopes of 
improving access to service to "minimize the damage caused by separation 
and divorce."

He said he hopes to expand the availability of unified family courts and to 
change language in the Divorce Act to ensure "the best interests of the 
child are paramount."

And, after the fiascos in the U.S. with Enron and WorldCom, Cauchon said 
legislation will be looked at, if needed. But he stressed such corporate 
meltdowns have not happened here.
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