Vicky Mochama: The voice of Metro News.
Trudeau tone deaf on pot amnesty: Mochama
The PM trotted out the story of his dad once making drug charges "go away" for his brother, but will the election derail hopes he can pay it forward?
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Justin Trudeau’s relatability is wearing thin.
During an interview at Vice Media’s Toronto office, he was asked by Malik, a young black man: “How am I going to become the next prime minister if I can’t get a decent job because of (drug) charges?”
The current prime minister responded with an anecdote about his younger brother Michel being charged with pot possession and his dad (you may have heard of him: French guy, pirouettes, led the nation) using his connections to make the charge “go away.”
“We were able to do that because we had resources, my dad had a couple connections, and we were confident that my little brother wasn’t going to be saddled with a criminal record for life,” Trudeau said.
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The anecdote isn’t new. He mentioned it while campaigning, and it is in his memoir. He uses it to underscore how access and wealth worked for his family in a way that it doesn’t for black and Indigenous people in Canada.
What was new is that it lacked in his trademark (if occasionally cringe-worthy) empathy. Asked how the government’s legalization plan would help someone who was young, black and scared, the prime minister told a story about being white and incredibly privileged.
This is in step with the tenor of the legislation itself. The government is not promising anything to those people who’ve found themselves on the wrong end of the War on Drugs. Though Trudeau did say he would “start a process” to “try and look” at how to make things fairer once the law is in place.
This legislation is being framed as an opening gambit in a more compassionate legalization plan. But only after the current legislation and negotiations have been worked out will there be any discussion of moratoriums, pardons or amnesties.
The new laws won’t be in place until summer 2018. After that, the run-up to the next election will likely derail criminal justice reform.
No politician interested in keeping his motorcade would go into an election promising to let drug users off.
In 2019, the young people who campaigned for and elected this government are going to be asking what happened and they deserve the truth.
Being honest, the prime minister should have just answered as I would have: There’s no law against stoners becoming prime minister. In fact, having smoked pot while serving as a member of Parliament, I’d like to think I have paved the way.
No one, I would say to young Malik, is too high for the highest office.