The leader of Canada’s Marijuana Party was in Vancouver last November for a special discussion about whether or not the federal Marijuana Party should join or ally itself with Canada’s New Democratic Party (NDP).
Canadian Marijuana Party leader Marc-Boris St-Maurice, who opposes joining the NDP, came to the BC Marijuana Party headquarters for a public debate with Marc Emery, president of the BC Marijuana Party (BCMP). The meeting was broadcast live on Pot-TV.
“It is my belief that the federal Marijuana Party should not run any candidates in the next federal election,” said Emery during the discussion. “The NDP is supporting a very explicit legalization policy, and I see no point in duplicating their efforts.
“I believe that by allying with the NDP in this crucial upcoming federal election, the Canadian cannabis community can effect the election of 40 to 50 NDP Members of Parliament,” added Emery. “The NDP could possibly be part of a minority government, or at least keep the prohibitionist tendencies of the Liberals and Conservatives at bay.”
Although he is a major sponsor of the Canadian Marijuana Party, Emery does not hold a position on the party’s executive and does not have a formal say in the party’s decision on this matter.
NDP on pot
Marc Emery’s support for the NDP blossomed in October 2003, when NDP leader Jack Layton let Emery interview him for Pot-TV (CC#47, Canada’s NDP leader on Pot-TV).
Layton gave a 20-minute interview in which he said the NDP supported “a system that allows people to consume marijuana, particularly marijuana they might grow themselves, but also for there to be some sort of technique that allows them to purchase it safely, knowing what the quality is, knowing what’s there, and to have that all be a legal activity.”
Layton also did a few station identification spots which now run before other Pot-TV shows, in which he introduces himself and encourages viewers to support the NDP. At one point, he even called marijuana a “wonderful substance.”
“I thought it would be 10 years before any major party leader said that kind of stuff,” enthused Emery. “I believe Jack Layton is sincere and intelligent. He identified all the key issues that are relevant to us in the marijuana movement, without sounding like he was reading from a policy statement.”
Canadian Marijuana Party leader Marc-Boris St-Maurice spoke against a merger with the NDP, and was cynical about whether the party would ever follow through with Layton’s pro-legalization comments.
“It smacks of political opportunism on the eve of an election,” said St-Maurice. “They will promise you the Earth before the election, but try to get a phone call afterward.” He also complained that the NDP has never tried to contact him or asked him for his support.
Furthermore, St-Maurice was concerned about the NDP’s historical lack of support in his home province of Quebec.
“The NDP are not even on the map in Quebec,” said St-Maurice. “The Marijuana Party beat them in virtually every Quebec riding. I don’t want the job of rebuilding the NDP in Quebec.”
St-Maurice warned that Marijuana Party members who switch to the NDP might find themselves disillusioned and betrayed. “I will keep the Marijuana Party alive,” he said, “and should this bubble burst, I will be glad to be there to greet people back to the fold.”
Dana Larsen, editor of Cannabis Culture magazine since its first issue in 1995, was a founding member of both the Canadian and BC Marijuana Parties, and he has served as leader of the BCMP since shortly after the 2001 election. In November 2003, Larsen announced his resignation from both parties, so that he could officially join the NDP.
“I have decided to join the NDP, and it is my intention to run as the NDP candidate in my riding of West Vancouver/Sunshine Coast,” said Larsen. “The nomination meeting is in March, and there are two others also seeking the NDP nomination in this riding. However, I have received the endorsement of two past NDP candidates who ran here in previous federal elections.”
“I am sad to leave behind the political institutions that I helped found, but I am also very excited about working within the NDP, having input into their marijuana policy, and running as a candidate,” added Larsen. “Although my riding is a difficult one for an NDP candidate to win, I am confident that we will be able to bring many new members and voters into the party.”
“Their strong pro-legalization policy is not the only reason I am joining the NDP,” concluded Larsen. “I am also impressed by their commitment to Canadian sovereignty, their active support for proportional representation, their belief in human rights, and their willingness to stand up against the global corporate takeover.”
Alison Myrden, a multiple sclerosis patient and prominent med-pot advocate from Ontario, has also announced that she is joining the NDP. She will be seeking the nomination to be the NDP candidate for Burlington.