Article by Solomon Israel, The Leaf News
It’s safe to say the Conservative government of Canada under former prime minister Stephen Harper was never interested in reforming Canada’s cannabis laws.
Under Harper’s leadership, the Tories continued the war on drugs by maintaining the criminal prohibition on non-medical cannabis use and increasing the penalties for cannabis-related crimes.
Arrests for simple marijuana possession soared during Harper’s time in office. Ahead of the 2015 election, Harper and his party campaigned vigorously against the Liberal’s cannabis legalization promise, and Harper himself stated publicly that cannabis is “infinitely worse” than tobacco.
It’s no surprise, then, that Canadian eyebrows were raised when former members of Harper’s cabinet started entering the legal cannabis industry after leaving politics, taking advantage of business opportunities that sprouted up as the new Liberal government prepared to legalize the drug.
The most notable example is Julian Fantino, who served as Harper’s minister of veterans affairs after a career as Toronto’s tough-talking chief of police. Fantino faced intense media scrutiny last fall after becoming an executive with Ontario-based cannabis clinic operator Aleafia.
In a quarrelsome interview with CBC Radio’s As it Happens last November, host Carol Off grilled Fantino about whether he had ever used marijuana (he hadn’t), and how he went from serving in a government that opposed the legalization of cannabis to making money as an executive with a legal cannabis company.