Pubdate: Sat, 02 Aug 2014
Source: National Post (Canada)
Copyright: 2014 Canwest Publishing Inc.
Author: Kelly McParland:
Page: A17


Depending on your point of view, Marc Emery could be styled a valiant
crusader against injustice who has devoted his working life to
battling the intrusive activities of an overbearing state, or a
self-absorbed troublemaker and self-promoter who ensures his regular
space in the spotlight by breaking the law.

Either way, Mr. Emery has been released from U.S. custody after
serving a five-year sentence for conspiracy to manufacture marijuana
and is expected to return to Canada within weeks. He has already
declared himself a victim - once again - and announced plans to seek
revenge on the Conservatives in Ottawa by campaigning hard for Justin
Trudeau's Liberals in the 2015 election.

"My own government betrayed me and I'm going to wreak an appropriate
amount of political revenge when I get home and campaign against the
Conservative government," Mr. Emery told the CBC from Louisiana, where
he is waiting for the details of his return home to be finalized. He
and his wife Jodie hope to hold rallies in 30 Canadian cities on
Trudeau's behalf.

So far the Liberals have been restrained in their enthusiasm for Mr.
Emery, wary at being linked to his record as a lifelong agitator and
political gadfly. While Trudeau has supported legalizing pot, arguing
that controlling and taxing its use would fight crime while producing
revenue and reducing abuse, Emery does not fit every Canadian's idea
of a hero.

"We are not aware of Mr. Emery's plans and he is not affiliated with
us in any way," a Liberal spokesperson told the CBC. Earlier, another
Liberal official said the party "does not endorse the Emerys' plans in
any way. They are not affiliated with the party and we haven't had any
hand in planning these events at all."

That seems clear enough, but has apparently failed to impress Mr.
Emery. He is identified as a "fervent Liberal supporter," though in
previous incarnations he has also been a fervent Libertarian, an
organizer for the Unparty, and a candidate for the Freedom Party and
the B.C. Marijuana Party.

He has been arrested several times and spent time in jail prior to his
spell in a U.S. prison, which came after then-Justice Minister Rob
Nicholson agreed to his extradition. It was that decision that
apparently convinced Emery the government had "betrayed" him, though
he had been subject to regular raids, investigations and efforts to
shut down his various pot-related activities under the Liberal
government of Jean Chretien as well.

Mr. Trudeau can be forgiven his prudence in distancing himself from
Mr. Emery. A skilled rabble-rouser who displays classic baby-boomer
sense of his own righteousness, Mr. Emery has opposed everything from
sidewalk signs to Sunday shopping laws, regularly defying police in
hopes of arrest as a means of attracting attention to his personal
causes. His activities moved into more dangerous legal territory when
he became involved in a large-scale marijuana seed-selling business,
sending his product across the border into the U.S. in defiance of
American law. At his trial in Seattle - in a state where marijuana has
since been legalized - Judge Ricardo Martinez ruled: "There is no
question your actions were illegal and criminal and your actions
ensured that others broke the law and suffered the

Mr. Emery's activities might have sat better with the Liberal party of
Mr. Trudeau's father, with his noted affinity for convention-challenging
and his taste for provoking the U.S., but his son is seeking to
establish the party as an organization that can be trusted to handle
Canada's affairs in a mature manner. Liberal support under Mr. Trudeau
has strengthened, but he has yet to convince a majority of Canadians
he has the gravitas to represent the country's interests. And while
polls suggest Canadian public opinion is moving towards relaxation of
drug laws, underlying concern remains about the potential impact on
health and young people.

Nothing would make the Conservatives happier than more ammunition with
which to portray the Liberal leader as shallow and ill-prepared for
the job of prime minister. Tory candidates have already sought to
portray him as a dangerous pothead who, according to one leaflet,
"[wants] to make smoking marijuana a normal, everyday activity for

Their efforts so far have had little traction. A Conservative flyer
accusing the Liberals of wanting to sell pot in corner stores, "like
alcohol and cigarettes," did not halt Mr. Trudeau's candidate from a
runaway victory in a Toronto by-election, outpacing the Conservatives
by 30 percentage points.

But that is unlikely to dissuade the Tories from trying again. If
nothing else, Conservative tactics are persistent. Mr. Trudeau is well
advised to keep a healthy distance from Marc Emery. After the bashing
he took over his ill-considered edict on abortion, a Liberal embrace
of Canada's "prince of pot" is not what his party needs.
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