Conservatives MPs across Canada are expressing their disdain for Liberal Party Leader Justin Trudeau after his public admission to smoking marijuana while holding elected office.
Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo MP Cathy McLeod added her voice to the chorus on Thursday.
“There are laws in place; if people don’t believe them, there’s a system and a process whereby you change them,” she said. “Mr. Trudeau was very aware of the laws in place. I think as a member of Parliament he shouldn’t be breaking those laws.”
Trudeau laid out his past marijuana use in a lengthy interview and in an exchange with reporters Thursday in which he made no apologies.
He said he’s smoked pot five or six times in his life – including three years ago during a backyard get-together – and never really liked it much.
Now that he’s come clean about using pot, he said, he’d like to move on and talk about the hundreds of thousands of people who have a criminal record for it.
What’s important, Trudeau said, is ending a marijuana prohibition policy that he says costs law enforcement $500 million a year and has left 475,000 people with criminal records since the Conservatives took office in 2006.
McLeod reiterated the Conservative Party’s position that the medical marijuana laws, including production and distribution, need an overhaul. But that’s the extent of it.
“Our government has repeatedly indicated that we have no intention of legalizing marijuana,” she said.
Trudeau sought to shift the focus onto his policy of legalizing marijuana when asked by reporters about his drug use and whether it had been a mistake.
“No, it wasn’t a mistake,” Trudeau told journalists in Quebec City.
“I do not consume cannabis. I am not a big consumer at all. I tried it . . . . “I’ve never tried other types of hard drugs. I am not a consumer of marijuana but, yes, I’ve already tried it. I used it – maybe five or six times in my life.”
He said he believes public opinion has moved on and he’s confident that Canadians will judge him less harshly than his political opponents.
McLeod was non-committal when asked whether Trudeau’s admission will hurt him politically.
“I think each person will judge it according to their own values and beliefs,” she said.
Trudeau originally made the marijuana admission in a candid interview with the Huffington Post, in which he also revealed that his youngest brother, Michel, was charged with marijuana possession shortly before his 1998 death in an avalanche.
Trudeau said he was never the one among his group of friends to buy the weed and he last smoked marijuana about three years ago at his house in Montreal when his children were away.
Trudeau was elected to Parliament in 2008.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper, asked about the admission Thursday, said Trudeau’s actions “speak for themselves.”
The prime minister has said he’s never tried pot but attributes that to his asthma, which would make it painful to smoke anything including cigarettes.
The Huffington Post said the NDP leader’s office confirmed that Tom Mulcair has smoked pot “but sent strongly worded emails refusing to say when he last used the drug or where he procured it.”
Trudeau cracked a joke about it.
He said on Twitter that he had indeed made a mistake in being so open and was now coming under “vicious attacks” over his other admission in the Huffington Post interview: that he doesn’t drink coffee.
More seriously, he said, he doesn’t want children to use pot, which is why he plans to squash the black market and replace it with a highly regulated trade.
He was forced to admit, however, that in his early days in Parliament his private actions were inconsistent with the drug prohibition policies he espoused at the time.
“Yes,” he replied, when asked whether he had done one thing and said another in the past. He said his beliefs on drug policy had changed over time.