Pubdate: Sat, 24 Aug 2013
Source: Expositor, The (CN ON)
Copyright: 2013 Brantford Expositor
Author: Peter Epp
Page: 8


Justin Trudeau may have overplayed his hand this week when he admitted
in an interview that he has smoked marijuana since being elected MP.

While Canadians' attitudes toward marijuana use have greatly shifted
in the past 10 years, with many believing that use should be
decriminalized, those same folks may be uncomfortable with the idea
that people invested with a measure of authority - surgeons, bankers,
judges, school principals and police officers... and perhaps even
Members of Parliament - would use marijuana. They'd be even more
uncomfortable if that use was publicly admitted.

And so Canada's federal leader is taking a bit of a risk, entering
into uncharted political waters. Only a few weeks ago, he announced he
would be in favour of marijuana's decriminalization. And his admission
to using the narcotic since election as MP was obviously in response
to a supplementary question from a reporter, based on earlier comments
about decriminalization.

Trudeau's views on decriminalization make sense on a few levels. Even
Canada's police chiefs appear to agree... somewhat. Earlier this week,
while meeting in Winnipeg, police chief delegates agreed to a
resolution that would seek marijuana's decriminalization, to the point
that offenders of marijuana drug laws would be issued a fine, just
like a speeding ticket, rather than having to make a formal court 

The chiefs' resolution comes from a practical perspective. It's more
cost-effective to issue a speeding ticket to a motorist than to drag
that same motorist into a courtroom, while tying up the arresting
officer's time. Ditto for marijuana use. But marijuana use would still
be illegal, just as driving a vehicle too fast is illegal.

We don't know if Justin Trudeau has been driving too fast since being
elected MP. Most of us stand convicted of that periodic offence. But
the fact that he used marijuana since being elected to federal office
isn't as easy to forget, nor easy to put aside.

Even Bill Clinton, a master of the political game, had to be careful
when asked the same question while seeking the U.S. presidency.
Clinton admitted he had "tried marijuana", but... incredulously...
said he never inhaled. Nobody believed him then, and given his later
sexual episode with a White House intern (which Clinton claimed didn't
involve sexual intimacy), his denials about the inhalation of
marijuana smoke became all the more suspect.

For those who suggest there exists a double-standard... well, there
is. We expect our elected politicians to lead lives of quiet decorum.
We expect them to not steal from the public, to remain faithful to
their spouse, and to maintain good judgement about their public and
private conduct.

Even Clinton recognized that he was dangerously close to exceeding the
limits of public acceptance when asked about his marijuana use.
Perhaps we're beyond that today, but perhaps we're not.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Matt