Harper Conservatives have wasted little time linking Marc Emery, the so-called "Prince of Pot" who returned to Canada Tuesday after serving a prison sentence in the U.S. for selling marijuana seeds, with Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau.
In fact, the Tories welcomed Emery's homecoming with a tweet calling him Trudeau's best “bud.”
The post links off to a website featuring an attack ad targeting Trudeau's support for marijuana legalization. The page calls for donations and urges supporter to provide their name, email address and postal code to "keep these two out of power."
While the Liberal leader maintains legalizing, taxing and regulating the drug will help keep it out of the hands of children, Tories have repeatedly accused Trudeau of wanting to make it easier for kids to access marijuana.
Emery, 56, isn't being shy about his desire to see the Liberals form government in 2015 so they can end pot prohibition. His wife, Jodie, is pursuing a Liberal nomination in Vancouver East, but insiders have suggested to The Huffington Post Canada she will not be green-lit by the party.
Emery called Prime Minister Stephen Harper a "tyrant" at a news conference in Windsor Tuesday and urged supporters to cast a ballot against him next year, calling pot users an "underestimated voting block."
"If we can get this Liberal majority government next year we'll never need to go to the polls to make marijuana legal ever again," he said.
Emery earlier suggested to CBC News he was seeking payback against a Tory government he feels deceived him when it turned him over to the U.S. government in 2010.
"My own government betrayed me and I'm going to wreak an appropriate amount of political revenge when I get home and campaign against the Conservative government," he said.
The Emerys plan to tour 30 Canadian cities before the next election — currently scheduled for October 2015 — to drum up support to banish the Conservatives from power.
Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney released a statement Tuesday connecting the "convicted drug trafficker" to the party he now supports.
"While the Liberals would try to make it easier for our children to access marijuana, Canadians can count on our government to put forward policies that keep drugs off our streets and keep our families safe," he said in the release.
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But while the Emerys have made their support of Trudeau clear, the Liberal leader largely evaded a question about Jodie's potential candidacy at a barbecue in Vancouver last week.
According to The Province, Trudeau told reporters he has never met Jodie and wouldn't say one way or the other if she would be green-lit by the party.
"I certainly don’t have anything to say on her status as someone who could or couldn't be a candidate — there's a whole process to go through on that and I’m going to allow the process to function in this situation," Trudeau said.
And Marc Emery and Trudeau have a complicated relationship. The pot activist once claimed the Liberal leader smoked marijuana with him "five or six times" and was hypocritical for voting for a Tory bill that would impose mandatory minimums on pot possession.
Emery later wrote a blog saying he only smoked marijuana with Trudeau once, at a dinner party in 2003. But the Liberal leader, who told HuffPost last summer he smoked pot after becoming an MP in 2008, has denied he ever toked with Emery.
Regardless, it seems Trudeau's support for marijuana legalization could very well become a major issue in the next federal election.
Veterans Affairs Minister Julian Fantino recently sent a flyer to constituents claiming Trudeau lectured children on "the benefits" of the drug. In fact, the Liberal leader answered a question about his pot position at a school in Manitoba's Sioux Valley First Nation last November and repeated his mantra that legalizing the drug will do more to keep it away from kids. He has also said pot poses a risk to the developing minds of children.
Conservatives also sent out controversial flyers in the riding of Scarborough-Agincourt during the federal byelections in June featuring a photo of a young boy firing up a joint. The flyer also featured a photo and an out-of-context quote from former Liberal MP Jim Karygiannis that "this is not the same Liberal party we knew." The quote came from an interview he gave The Globe and Mail that had nothing to do with marijuana.
Karygiannis called the attack an "all-time low for the Conservatives." Liberal candidate Arnold Chan ended up winning easily, taking more than 59 per cent of the vote.
Meanwhile, a new poll suggests Canadians are warming up to the idea of pot legalization. According to a survey from Angus Reid Global of 1510 Canadian adults, 59 per cent back full legalization, with support strongest in British Columbia (70 per cent) — a key battleground for the next election.
But only 15 per cent of respondents think the issue should be a top justice priority for the government.
With files from The Canadian Press, previous files