Pubdate: Thu, 06 Mar 2014
Source: Nanaimo Daily News (CN BC)
Copyright: 2014 Nanaimo Daily News
Author: Lee-Anne Goodman


Move Comes After Tories Mock Trudeau's Stance on Issue

The Conservative government is seriously considering more lenient 
marijuana laws that would allow police to ticket anyone caught with 
small amounts of pot instead of laying charges, Justice Minister 
Peter MacKay said Wednesday.

"We're not talking about decriminalization or legalization," MacKay 
said following the weekly Conservative caucus meeting on Parliament Hill.

"The Criminal Code would still be available to police, but we would 
look at options that would . . . allow police to ticket those types 
of offences."

Prime Minister Stephen Harper is open to such an approach, he added.

MacKay has hinted in the past that such a move was under 
consideration. The country's police chiefs -as well as some Tory 
caucus members - have long called for ticketing people for pot 
possession instead of laying criminal charges.

But MacKay has also been among the Conservatives' fiercest critics of 
Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau's stance on the issue. Trudeau supports 
the legalization of marijuana, a position the Tories have mocked with 
gleeful abandon.

MacKay accused the Liberal leader of promoting drug use to elementary 
schoolchildren last fall after Trudeau answered a question about his 
marijuana policies from First Nations high school students in Sioux 
Valley, Man. There were elementary school kids in the audience at the time.

"Justin Trudeau's comments to elementary school children regarding 
the legalization of marijuana is not only bad policy, but is 
completely unacceptable and grossly inappropriate," MacKay said in a 
statement at the time.

"He's directly delivering a message to children now that recreational 
drug use is OK."

In fact, Trudeau had responded to the question in Sioux Valley by 
saying that marijuana was dangerous for young people. He added that 
he believed that regulating pot would help keep it out of the hands 
of children.

The Liberal leader called on MacKay to retract the comments, calling 
them "shameful."

Trudeau wasn't in the House of Commons on Wednesday, but Liberal MP 
Sean Casey said the Conservative shift "is almost surprising, but it 
really isn't because this government will do or say anything to win" 
as a 2015 federal election looms.

"It's laughable how vicious and fact-free the attacks have been, and 
now this supposedly principled group has apparently read their own 
internal polls that have indicated that Mr. Trudeau is absolutely on 
the same page as most Canadians on this issue," Casey said.

As recently as last Friday, a Tory backbencher railed against 
Trudeau's marijuana stance as he mocked NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair's 
suggestion that he'd be open to forming a coalition with the Liberals.

"Canadians know what a Liberal-led NDP high-tax coalition would mean: 
a soft-on-crime agenda; repealing mandatory prison sentences for 
violent offenders; a reckless plan to legalize marijuana, making it 
easier for children to smoke," David Anderson said in a member's 
statement in the Commons.

Under the Criminal Code as it now stands, anyone convicted of 
possessing small amounts of marijuana can be jailed for up to five years.

First-time offenders can face fines of up to $1,000 or as much as six 
months in jail.
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