Harper on Marijuana

I had to laugh when I read this article, and the associated quote (see below). In a single statement it sums up a lot of the difficulty I have with our current crop of Canadian leaders and politicians, particularly conservative. Our Prime Minister seems very far from the pulse of the average Canadian. He is connected to an image of who the top Canadians might think they are, but in a democracy that myth should have no bearing on our actions as a country.

There’s been significant debate over the last year or so about the legalization of marijuana in Canada, since the Liberal party added to their platform the legalization of cannabis products (Liberal Convention, 2012). I’m fully supportive of the initiative, even though (maybe because?) I’m hardly a heavy user. I agree that “decriminalization” is not enough; it will not prevent problem users, or problem uses. (CBC, 2013) I rather like the idea of a “wine” model, where people can grow/make their own, or buy it from an approved dealer. Taxation for those who buy it will provide government income.

Several of our political leaders have “come out” as using, or having used, marijuana in their lives. It’s funny; a few years ago (or a few km to the south: Macleans, 2013) any such admission would have been political suicide. But here in Canada, it’s not only not damaging to one’s career, it seems to be absolutely helpful. Rather like having a drink with supporters, having a joint doesn’t seem to be a big deal any more. So lots of our leaders have been asked if they’ve participated: including our current Prime Minister. His answer was expectedly disappointing.

“Do I seem like I smoke marijuana?” Harper returned question for question in response to a reporter’s enquiry. (CTV News)

No. Absolutely not.You don’t seem like it at all.

Not that I necessarily respect people who do: either way, actually. I’m not affected very much by the answer, either way, but I do care about how the answer comes across. One thing I do respect in people is those who are comfortable enough with themselves to be honest about it. I also respect people who don’t smoke up because they don’t feel a desire or a need to. I, for instance, cannot say that I “do” it much at all. I consider neither to be particularly weighty with regard to the outward display of my character.

The one thing I don’t respect is those who don’t smoke up (or don’t admit to smoking up) because of perceived character flaws in those who do: those who try to separate themselves from a segment of the population because of their negative perception.

That’s why I thought this quote was so… ironic. I would have been perfectly fine with an answer of “No” from the PM; that would have been honest, completely expected, and would not have sparked enough interest to generate a post on this blog. But that’s not the way he answered. In fact, as far as I could tell, he never did really answer the question at all (hardly a surprise). So he still might. He asked, instead, whether he was perceived to be the kind of person who smokes up. Whatever that means. But I think his answer says a lot about our PM’s opinion of those who use marijuana: even if he does smoke it, he doesn’t want to be associated with that crowd. As though they’re beneath him. And the fact that he doesn’t want to be understand any part of the Canadian people is more disturbing to me than any of our other leaders who just smoke the occasional joint.

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