Liberal and NDP Candidates Avoid Byelection Pot Talk

CANNABIS CULTURE – The cacophony of true Toronto gonzo politics – our mayor huffs crack if you’ve been living under a rock and hadn’t heard – has overshadowed the November 25 Toronto Centre byelection.

The Toronto Star, which has been rocking the Ford meltdown daily with grandiose headlines, refers to the by-election as “one of the most important federal byelections in recent Canadian history.”

Yet hardly anyone around here knows they’re going to the polls. The problem with crack and a crack smoking mayor: it takes over your whole fucking life.

The city’s political journalists, who should be following the candidates’ every fart, are all on the mayoral crack pipe. In comparison to Ford, Chrystia Freeland and Linda McQuaig aren’t even curtain jerkers.

While Ford is achieving international infamy, Freeland and McQuaig can barely get local ink, let alone Comedy Central. Freeland should demonstrate her international name recognition by re-appearing on The Colbert Report. The best McQuaig can hope for is a Rick Mercer appearance in a Toronto Centre alley.

Toronto Centre is a strong Liberal riding (winning 9 out 10 federal elections), but journalists before their mayor crack addiction billed this as something bigger than just any old byelection. This was a test of new NDP leader MP Tom Mulcair.

From the political entrails pundits claim they will be able to determine if MP Justin Trudeau is beginning the Liberal long haul from the lower chamber’s cheap seats.

A lack of strong media has given the NDP an opportunity they might not have had. Their footsoldiers are pounding pavement trying to rouse a strong favorable vote turnout. The riding swings from Canada’s wealthiest neighborhood to its poorest. Traditionally byelections are low turnouts and this has favored the Ontario NDP in several provincial byelections.

McQuaig has gained five percentage points in the latest polling, but she still has ways to go to catch Freeland.

Since the writ was dropped Cannabis Culture and Pot TV have been requesting interviews with Toronto Centre candidates. Only The Greens have agreed to do a video interview. We originally wanted a live Skype for The Mernahuana Zone, but the webcast airs during prime campaign door knocking hours.

The Liberal candidate Chrystia Freeland’s publicist didn’t return numerous requests via phone and email. This is strange given MP Trudeau spent the summer bbq circuit talking nothing but toking. However, Freeland’s people couldn’t even bother to return a call to even pretend to entertain the thought of an interview.

The NDP candidate did fare slightly better, promising an interview, but not really making one their priority. We spoke several times, once in person when I was walking by their campaign office, and originally they seemed prepared to issue a salvo back on Trudeau’s summer toking statements. It looked promising. They highlighted their forty-year history of drug reform versus the Liberals very recent about-face.

A toking admission at this juncture might get a few column inches for either candidate. However, the focus, when there is one, is on both leaders.

Toronto Centre is a hub of Canada’s marijuana activism, yet the candidates are avoiding the toking topic like the plague. One of the city’s largest rallies of any kind happens every year at Yonge and Dundas Square on 4/20. Vapor Central has a large audience of local residents eligible to vote, but the parties have done nothing to take us up on our offer to engage them.

Matt Mernagh is a regular contributor to Cannabis Culture and author of “Marijuana Smoker’s Guidebook: The Easy Way To Identify and Enjoy Marijuana Strains” from Amazon.