At the biannual Liberal Party convention, on Jan. 15, party delegates voted in favour of the legalization of marijuana and against separation from the British monarchy.
These two proposals were heatedly contested within the party – a party trying to find platforms that will win over Canadians to help pull it back up from the results of the last federal election.
The vote as to whether Canada should separate from the monarchy was close, out of 1,200 delegates who voted, 67 per cent were opposed to separation – a similar split is seen among Canadians, who, according to a National Post survey, are 43 per cent in favour and 43 per cent are opposed, with 14 per cent having no specific opinion.
The vote to potentially put the legalization of marijuana on the party platform was less divisive with 77 per cent of delegates in favour.
According to a statement from Samuel Lavoie, President of Young Liberals of Canada, while the majority of delegates voted in favour of legalization, that does not necessarily mean that the proposal will become part of the Official Party Platform for 2015.
Emily Miller, third year Brock University Political Science major, said that she believes that by advocating the legalization of marijuana the Liberal Party is attempting to regain followers after a poor showing in the last federal election.
“It is being advertised as a measure against the ‘war on drugs’, [however] it is a much more effective wedge issue with which the Liberals can gain support,” said Miller.
Since 2001, when Canada legalized marijuana for medical purposes, the Liberal party has been in favour of the decriminalization of marijuana, however, this vote may put them alongside the NDP in the out right legalization of the drug.
So far the only party which includes legalization in its platform and also has members in the House of Commons is the Green Party.
Liberal Party officials have said that abolishing the monarchy is far more divisive than the legalization of marijuana.
“The vote to maintain the connection with the monarchy says to me that those voting have some respect for the integral part that the monarchy played in Canadian history,” said Miller.
Miller also pointed out that Aboriginal treaties are typically with the crown, and separating could then therefor nullify these treaties.
“[They] are trying to avoid the complications that would stem from abolishing the monarchy including Aboriginal treaties […] and the possibility of a politicized head of state.”
Although the votes have been cast by the Liberal delegates, whether or not either of these propositions make it into the next party platform is still up for debate and rests on the party leader.