Opinion

Blog: So, What's the Big Deal with Justin Trudeau's Pot Confession?

Justin Trudeau, seen here in 2009 – a year after he was elected MP for the riding of Papineau, in Quebec. - Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Justin Trudeau, seen here in 2009 – a year after he was elected MP for the riding of Papineau, in Quebec.
— image credit: Photo: Wikimedia Commons

So, Justin Trudeau smoked pot.

Forgive me, but... so what?

So, he broke the law. Right? Since becoming an MP in 2008.

Again, I say, and forgive me, but... so what?

"I have not taken other drugs, I have been in my past a very rare user of marijuana, I think five or six times in my life that I've taken a puff — it's not my thing," the Liberal leader told Althia Raj of the Huffington Post. "I think I'm in more trouble for admitting that I don't drink coffee on social media today."

I'm not a Trudeau loyalist and I'm really not as cavalier as those first four lines may suggest. I just don't feel any personal anger or confusion – or dissent, at all – that many think could or should come from knowing that Justin Trudeau toked as recently as it matters.

Even though he was an MP, I almost admire him more for doubling down. (And, really, I think it was a pretty weak confession, anyway.)

It doesn't bother me in any way whatsoever, and when that happens, you tend to react with eye rolls and lip biting whenever you hear those who it does bother try to pretend to be outraged by some confession as minimal as Trudeau's Thursday flap.

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I find humour in politics, mostly because I believe you have to to vote for anyone, but also because politicians are no different than us and they are forced to act like they are.

So, I laugh at Trudeau's opposition who judge him for saying he's participated in an activity so many others also have.

It was an open moment from a family that has been historically known for them. When Justin's father Pierre Trudeau told a newsman in 1967, "There's no place for the state in the bedrooms of the nation," he must have irked some people. He was talking about criminal law and homosexuality, and too many bigoted souls still aren't comfortable with the idea of Man on Man or Woman on Woman (or even several combinations of each and the other), but he was not wrong in the eyes of history.

Eventually, same-sex marriage will be as conventionally legal as same-sex sex is, and that's absolutely great. (Can you hear me, Russia?) You could say the same for marijuana, and the two subjects and their legality are currently intertwined by time and era.

Marijuana use may be illegal (right? Is it? Does anyone really know?) but it's not immoral. It's not a sin (if you believe in that kind of thing) and it's nothing to lose sleep over, especially when nobody can really remember why it's illegal anyway.

Trudeau's comments are nothing to lose sleep over. Unless you're in another political party, of course.

NDP leader Thomas Mulcair also said he had smoked dope, but then stamped it by saying he hadn't smoked it since taking office. Really, Tommy, you couldn't hop off the fence just a little? Did you really need to hedge your bets, just because you know most kids on Canadian college campuses with orange stickers on their backpacks have sucked a joint? Mulcair's confession reads like a Vancouver sports analyst concluding, "I think Cory Schneider is an excellent goalie, but I think Roberto Luongo is an excellent goalie, too."

I'd have taken, "Pot is for losers and hippies" over cowardice any day.

Stephen Harper said he's never smoked weed because he has asthma, which (forgive me, again) basically makes him the kid who always got nosebleeds in gym class. You're sympathetic to illness, yeah, but politics is a game of cool kids vs. the rest, and Harper's the rest.

The Prime Minister then responded by telling a group of reporters in Nunavut that Trudeau's "actions speak for themselves."

Yawn. Forgive me (again) but I'm going to need something else to really feel ya, Harps.

Let's ask Peter MacKay. He's normally good for a lobbed arrow or two.

"By flouting the laws of Canada while holding elected office, he shows he is a poor example for all Canadians, particularly young ones," said MacKay, Conservative Party MP and Canadian Justice Minister, on Thursday.

"Justin Trudeau is simply not the kind of leader our country needs."

Good effort, Peter, but really... all that firepower and grandstanding for one little toke?

MacKay's response sounds like something your father tells you about the kid with long hair at school. He sounds like Newt Gingrich watching a movie starring Zach Galifianakis.

The fact is, MacKay's response – and Harper's – read more like terrified barbs delivered by an establishment that finally realizes, for better or worse for Canada (that decision rests with each and every one of us over 18), that Justin Trudeau is somehow maturing into a powerful and dangerous political asset.

In much the same way his father solidified supporters and stole votes with his always-candid and brazen attitude from 1967 to 1980-something, the junior Trudeau has perhaps unintentionally channeled that same charisma and lit a similar fire beneath our butts 30-plus years later.

You may not like him or his platforms, and you certainly wouldn't be alone if you didn't. In fact, Trudeau's opponents would be better served to attack how the young Liberal leader has flip-flopped on the pot issue in the past.

That said, yesterday's comments don't come down to experience or aptitude, and that's what MacKay either completely misses or refuses to acknowledge.

Trudeau's stance on pot and his practice and personal history with it is experience in dealing with a legal system that seems to be largely built – in the case of marijuana use and same-sex marriage – on the "It doesn't feel right factor", which we know is dangerous because that all comes down to who the people in charge are.

No logic. Just a loyalty to ancient ideals for reasons unknown.

How can we expect Stephen Harper to have any logical argument for either side of the pot parade when he's never smoked the chronic? (To borrow a line from Chris Rock, if that's all right.)

The Conservative Party should fear Trudeau and his transparency. They should give their opponents the credit they deserve, because the NDP and Jack Layton proved in 2011 that any party can take your momentum if you underestimate them.

In the same way Obama's rally in Berlin in 2008 destroyed anything John McCain or Sarah Palin could muster up on Custer's frontier, and in the same way his defence of same-sex marriage in 2011 tossed Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum and anyone else into a burning rubble of Bibles and irrelevancy (leading even FOX News anchor Shep Smith to denounce the beliefs of the American right wing), Trudeau's desire and his success to represent the progressive generation of Canadians will overcome the rest.

Too many of us – be they politicians, cheesy news anchors, or even high school teachers who fumble through lines of Tennyson with no passion for the prose – go through our entire lives without saying anything we truly want or believe in.

On Thursday, Justin Trudeau did. And now, it's Harper's move.

The good news for the Tories? At least Junior Pierre isn't that funny...

Oh.

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