Pubdate: Tue, 10 May 2016
Source: Toronto Sun (CN ON)
Page: 10
Copyright: 2016 Canoe Limited Partnership
Author: Michael MacDonald


Ex-PM, 82, Says Politicians Musts Adjust To Changing

HALIFAX - Jean Chretien says politicians have to adjust to changing
times, as his own views on marijuana, capital punishment and other
contentious issues evolved after he was first elected in the early

Whether it's pot smoking, abortion, gay marriage or the death penalty,
the former prime minister says he's tried to reflect the spirit of the
times - even if his changing politics put him in conflict with his
conservative upbringing in a large, Roman Catholic family in rural

"What were certain values 50 years ago, are not the same today. We
have to live with that. It's not always easy," he said.

When asked Monday about Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's decision to
legalize the sale of marijuana, Chretien said he is in favour of

"What is completely unacceptable, in my judgment, is a young man
smoking marijuana will have a criminal record for the rest of his
life, (and) he can't cross the border - come on,"Chretien said after a
ceremony marking the official opening of a public policy think-tank at
Dalhousie University in Halifax.

"It is the modern thing to do ... You have to adjust to the new

When Chretien was prime minister, his government tried in 2003 to pass
a law decriminalizing simple possession of small amounts of marijuana,
but the bill died when Parliament was prorogued.

Earlier this year, Liberal MP Bill Blair, a former Toronto police
chief, said Criminal Code provisions on marijuana must be upheld until
legalization is in place.

Blair, parliamentary secretary to the justice minister, is the Trudeau
government's point man on the issue.

NDP Leader Tom Mulcair has said the government should decriminalize
marijuana right away.

"I'm glad Mr. Chretien agrees with us, that would be my comment," NDP
justice critic Murray Rankin said Monday.

Chretien, 82, said he has never smoked cigarettes and he's never tried

"I don't know what it is and I never tasted that," he said. "I don't
know what is the effect."

First elected to the House of Commons in 1963, Chretien said his
constituents in Shawinagan, Que., gave him a hard time when he voted
against capital punishment.

"People thought I was wrong," he said, adding that he faced more
opposition from locals after a landmark Supreme Court of Canada ruling
that decriminalized abortion in 1988.

Chretien was in Halifax to officially open the MacEachen Institute for
Public Policy and Governance, a non-partisan think-tank named in
honour of former Liberal cabinet minister and Cape Bretoner Allan
MacEachen, who is now in his 90s.  
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