A new group wants to reclaim what it means to be a “real” conservative by launching a Canadian campaign supporting marijuana legalization.
The first step is playing with Conservative party semiotics, first by giving its logo two green swipes and inserting a new marijuana leaf right in the heart of its “C”.
It’s a symbolic move that generated some buzz in Ottawa on Friday.
“Real Conservatives support legal marijuana,” former MP Inky Mark said in a news release on behalf of a newly-minted group called Canadian Conservatives for Legal Marijuana.
“Stephen Harper has lost his way with his big government campaign against marijuana users,” he said. Mark added “real Conservatives” are ones who stand for values including small government and lower taxes.
“His personal crusade against marijuana users is just another expensive, big government intervention, wasting tax dollars and treating Canadians like children.”
The ex-Manitoba Reform/Conservative MP notes “many prominent” Tories are withholding their public support for marijuana legalization because “they don’t want to get in trouble for defying Harper.”
The group’s website includes legalization endorsements from Conservative MPs Scott Reid, Patrick Brown, and Gerald Keddy.
Legalization-related quotations from former prime ministers Joe Clark and Kim Campbell, ex-newspaper baron Conrad Black, and the National Post editorial board are also counted in its supporters section.
The release called the government marijuana prohibition a failure, and emphasized it’s time for a “new approach” that satisfies “real Conservative values.”
“I don’t even consider Harper a conservative,” Mark told the Ottawa Citizen. “He’s just Harper. The man basically wanted to jail 40,000 people who were using medical marijuana and growing it themselves. That should tell you a lot about him right there.”
The group has paid for two billboards blocks away from Parliament Hill: one at King Edward and York St., the other at Laurier Ave. and Elgin St. They come days before 4/20 celebrations in Ottawa.
Here’s a look at the two billboards:
Canadian Conservatives for Legal Marijuana’s campaign arrives in an election year amid softening attitudes towards the drug.
Justice Minister Peter MacKay, however, has repeatedly asserted the government is opposed to decriminalization and legalization.
“I don’t believe that the position of others to normalize marijuana, to make it more available to young people, is the direction you will ever see coming from our government,” MacKay said in August.
Last year, the federal government received plenty of public criticism after releasing a series of anti-marijuana ads. A major group representing Canada’s doctors also announced they would not associate its members with Health Canada’s anti-drug campaign.
“The educational campaign has now become a political football on Canada’s marijuana policy,” the group said. “We did not, and do not, support or endorse any political messaging or political advertising on this issue.”
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