The weather in Toronto this past weekend was dreary and cold as New Democrats gathered for the Ontario NDP provincial council meetings. Talk among members was on the situation in Ottawa and delegates waited through boring committees and reports for one of the main attractions: a speech by Jack Layton.
With the possibility of an impending federal election, the NDPers who crowded the room were interested in what the leader would say and they hoped he would clarify some of their concerns. Bean Counters wondered about finances. Candidates were listening closely for information about local campaigns. Grassroots organizers tried to get the catch phrases and buzzwords. But, more then anything else, everyone wanted to know what the NDP ‘would be running on’ and what the issues would be. The few marijuana activists in the room had one single special issue they were interested in; it is an issue activists and pot-heads across the country care about.
The NDP is currently the only mainstream party which has formal policy supporting the legalization of marijuana. Layton isn’t coy about having used marijuana in his “past” and actually calls it a wonderful substance. He even appeared on Pot-TV with Cannabis Culture publisher Marc Emery but during the last election the NDP wasn’t campaigning on this important issue. NDP officials said legalization wasn’t a “platform issue” and the party even went so far as condemning the pro-pot NDP handouts produced by Emery. No one would blame cannabis enthusiasts if this has them confused. Cannabis Culture Magazine went to that provincial council meeting for an exclusive interview with Layton.
When we asked if, in light of controversial publicity last election about Mr. Layton’s pro-legalization & regulation stance, was the NDP was rethinking it’s drug reform policy?
“No,” he said “our policy is very much in favour of putting in place decriminalization and legalization, allowing for regulations regarding age and driving concerns. That is the policy we will be running on and it has been our policy for sometime.”
Since the NDP has such an ability to effect this minority government, as recently demonstrated, we at Cannabis Culture thought it would be prudent to ask about the liberals so-called Decrim Bill C-17. Layton immediately showed his disdain for the Bill.
“This bill,” he said with a sigh, “really does not do what it perports to do and we plan to be moving a number of amendments to it.” Layton pointed to the work of Vancouver East MP and NDP house leader Libby Davies who is an outspoken advocate of legalization and is reviewing the bill for the NDP. Before the last federal election, Davies moved a motion which would have eliminated trafficking punishments for sharing marijuana or simply passing a joint, an issue left vague by Bill C-17.
“She is doing great work”, Jack added “making us proud.”
Currently there is no legislation before the house which would legalize marijuana but there is hope. As Mr. Layton told his New Democrats at the conference, “It’s a minority government so anything’s possible.” Assuming there is no election to derail activities.