Now that the Canadian Conservative party has chose Erin O’Toole to be its new leader, what can cannabis consumers expect from the party?
The former military officer, lawyer and cabinet minister won the Conservative leadership by defeating his main rival Peter MacKay on the third ballot early Monday morning.
O’Toole’s victory came with support from many of the party’s social conservatives who had backed the other two candidates in the race, Leslyn Lewis and Derek Sloan.
As many will remember, all Conservative MPs voted against, except for one, who later lost a plum critic’s post within the party.
O’Toole himself was critical of legalization, and has a lengthy blog post, although from 2017, about its perils, with concerns about access to pot by younger people and complications over cannabis in relation to Canadian-American relations.
“Scientific evidence brought forward to the Trudeau government has shown the many health risks, particularly on the developing brain,” says O’Toole’s 2017 post, entitled “Up in Smoke.”
“I have heard from many landlords with valid concerns of how they can manage the proposal that would allow residents to grow up to four plants in their dwelling for personal consumption. Many landlords fear that the police will not be able to enforce the regulations limiting Canadians to four plants and a height of 100 centimetres. Concerns vary from smell; the cost of electricity; electrical and structural hazards, and fire risk; health problems arising from the presence of moulds and toxins that can contaminate a building including allergic reactions, toxic effects and infections.
“Proposed legislation also fails to address some very worrisome areas regarding Canada-U.S. relations. It fails to ensure that recreational marijuana users will not risk their ability to work in and visit the United States. If asked if they have smoked marijuana, Canadians could face a ban entering the U.S.”
So, can Canadians expect recriminalization of recreational cannabis use under O’Toole and the Conservatives?
It appears unlikely. Former leader Andrew Scheer, according to IPolitics, said in June that a Tory government wouldn’t seek to recriminalize Canada’s recreational pot laws, going as far as saying that the party supports pardons for those with prior cannabis convictions.
O’Toole was even blunter, telling iPolitics he would “not re-criminalize marijuana” because it would be “impossible to put the smoke back in the bong.”
Meanwhile, if anything has gone up in smoke, it’s the notion that O’Toole would have any sort of honeymoon among those on the political right.
People’s Party Leader Maxime Bernier launched a full-throated attack on O’Toole Monday, accusing the newly minted Conservative leader of wearing a “true blue” mask during the leadership campaign and warning that he is really “Liberal-lite.”
O’Toole’s victory came with support from many of the party’s social conservatives who had backed the other two candidates in the race, Leslyn Lewis and Derek Sloan. Bernier suggested those supporters will ultimately be disappointed with O’Toole.
“He put on a ‘true blue’ mask only for strategic reasons: to be the second choice of the less well-known candidates, Leslyn Lewis and Derek Sloan,” Bernier said about O’Toole during a news conference in Ottawa.
“But I have a message for the supporters of these candidates: Don’t be fooled. He got what he wanted. Now that he is the leader, the mask will fall. He will take your support for granted.”
— With files from Canadian Press