Liberal Convention 2012: Federal Grits Vote To Legalize Marijuana
The Liberal Party of Canada has voted to legalize pot.
Seventy-seven per cent of delegates at the Liberals' biennial convention told their party's leadership Sunday morning that they want a future Liberal government to legalize marijuana.
Their interim leader Bob Rae acknowledged the war on drugs hasn’t worked, but told reporters the party's caucus would have to study the implications of the resolution.
"Frankly, the status quo doesn't work and that's what needs to change,” Rae said. “The Liberal party is saying that the current laws do not work and that we need a new direction.”
“It’s now up to us to take that resolution and see exactly what it will mean in terms of policy, because there are some practical questions that we have to look at,” Rae added, noting in French that one such issue would be how to control the supply of legalized pot.
Rae insisted he was at ease defending the principles of the resolution and that he would work with the membership on the issue in the months and years ahead as the party drafts its next election platform.
“I accept that it is the will of the party that was expressed and as leader we will continue to work together,” Rae said.
STORY CONTINUES BELOW VIDEO
During a debate on the floor of the Ottawa convention hall, one Liberal delegate, a police officer, told the crowd Canada’s drug policy was misguided.
“This country does not need more prisons, it needs less criminals,” he said.
The resolution, which was brought forward by the party's youth wing, calls upon a Liberal federal government to legalize, regulate and tax marijuana production, distribution and use while enacting “strict penalties for illegal trafficking, illegal importation and exportation, and impaired driving.”
The resolution also calls for significant investments in prevention and education programs on the harms of marijuana and amnesty for Canadians convicted of simple possession in the past.
Samuel Lavoie, the president of the Young Liberals of Canada, said he wasn’t sure the resolution would make it into the Liberal party’s next election platform, but that he hoped it would not be ignored.
“I think everyone in the party, not only the interim leader (Rae), but everyone in the party, recognizes that there were 3,000 Liberals here this weekend and that this is a motion which, however controversial, passed with more than 75% of support, so I think it would be difficult for anyone to just ignore the result and the will of the membership,” he said.
Liberals should stop being scared of any soft on crime label the Conservative party might give them, Lavoie added.
“The Conservative staffers in the Prime Minister’s office will never vote for the Liberal party,” Lavoie said. “We are talking to Canadians, the fact is this is a sensible policy, an evidence-based policy that is very easy to defend and polls show that we have a majority of support amongst Canadians. There is a cross-partisan support amongst non-conservative voters for this. So we feel like this is something that will get us votes not lose us votes,” he said.
More than 1,400 delegates took part in the vote. If Liberal members re-affirm the motion in two years during another policy process, the Liberal leader will still have the right to veto any part of the election platform under current rules.
Six Hot Topics At The Liberal Convention
It's was extreme makeover time for the Liberal Party of Canada at its <a href="https://www.facebook.com/AlthiaRaj">biennial policy convention in Ottawa</a>. Here's a half-dozen hot topics the 2,600 delegates debatedor decided.<br><br> Photo: CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld<br><br> <i>With files from CBC.</i>
Who's Running This Show? Part One: Bob Rae
UPDATE: <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/01/14/liberal-convention-2012-ottawa_n_1206071.html?ref=canada&ref=canada">Leadership speculation swirled at the Liberal convention</a>. Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty ruled out a run and his brother David said he was considering a campaign. Former cabinet minister Martin Cauchon also attracted attention by hosting a hospitality suite, encouraging some to argue he must be considering a bid for the party's top job. Former astronaut and MP Marc Garneau is also said to be considering a bid. Of course, current interim leader Bob Rae continued to be the primary focus of leadership rumours.<br><br> He's the interim leader for now, but after Wednesday's barnburner of a speech to his Parliamentary caucus, those inclined to think he also wants to be the permanent leader had fresh fuel for their burning suspicions. Will more signs emerge over the convention weekend? Will other potential candidates for the permanent leadership stand up and say something about their own ambitions?<br><br> Photo: CP
Who's Running This Show? Part Two: The Party President
UPDATE: <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/01/15/mike-crawley-liberal-convention-2012-ottawa_n_1207459.html?1326654076&ref=canada#s612012&title=_Whos_Running">Mike Crawley was elected President of the Liberal Party of Canada</a> at the biennial convention in Ottawa.<br><br> Will it be Mister President (Mike Crawley) or Madame President (Sheila Copps)? Or do the media pundits have it wrong and delegates are prepared to elect one of the other two contenders? Will the party elect someone with radical ideas for reform or someone more comfortable with the party's established path? The presidency vote could become a proxy for the bigger tug of war touching nearly every aspect of the convention -- how ready is the party to embrace change?<br><br> Photo: THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Frank Gunn
Who's Running This Show? Part Three: The Contest For National Policy Chair
UPDATE: Maryanne Kampouris was elected National Policy Chair at the Liberal convention in Ottawa.<br><br> Five party activists are in the running to helm the party's quest to redefine its policy platform before the next election, including one (20-year old Zach Paikin, above) who can't personally remember not just Liberal glory days in the seventies, but any of the party's history prior to Jean Chrétien's leadership. What coherent vision will emerge from the race for the chair and from policy resolutions delegates will debate on the floor.
Monarchy, Marijuana ... Oh My!
UPDATE: The Liberal party <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/01/15/liberal-vote-legalize-marijuana_n_1207388.html?ref=canada">voted for the resolution to legalize marijuana</a> and <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/01/15/liberals-stand-behind-the_n_1207370.html?ref=canada&ref=canada">against the resolution to cut ties with the monarchy.</a><br><br> Speaking of youth and policy debates ... a range of ideas are up for discussion at this convention, including some more radical ideas originating with the youth wing of the party, such as dropping the Queen as Canada's head of state in favour of a Canadian-born figurehead and the legalization and regulation of marijuana. If the delegates go for some of the more exotic policy ideas, will that capture some excitement in the eyes of the voting public?<br><br> Photo: PA
Quebec (isn't it always?)
Was the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/01/10/lise-st-denis-ndp-join-liberals_n_1196406.html">defection of Quebec MP Lise St-Denis from the NDP</a> a one-off, or the start of a trend? If Quebec is up-for-grabs as pollsters suggest, what strategy do the Liberals have to capitalize on that opportunity and try for a return to the party's glory days of dominating the province's politics? Can their brand be saved in Quebec?<br><br> Photo: Alamy
Reform, Rebuild, Renew...
If it starts with "re-" it was probably a theme at this convention ... which might explain the giant letters displayed at the entrance to the convention centre. If the party wants a rebirth, it has to reform in order to rebuild. To do that, it may need to recycle some past hits, but the party's regeneration will require fresh ideas, too. To avoid re-igniting past tensions, Liberals will need to avoid repeating their past mistakes. Job one is restoring the party in the minds of voters as the best alternative to the governing Conservatives. And that means renewal.<br><br> Photo: Getty