Prime Minister Justin Trudeau Preaches Patience: Paul Wells

Article by Paul Wells, The Toronto Star

Decriminalizing marijuana this summer? A destination for Canadian peacekeepers? We’ll see.

When travelling, it’s handy to show some fluency in local dialects. “We are of course very alert to the challenges posed by the Southern resident killer whale pod,” Justin Trudeau said on Thursday, cool as a cucumber, as he stood on the dock at Canadian Forces Base Esquimalt, just outside Victoria.

Of course he is. The Southern resident killer whales, as you know, are listed as endangered. Shipping perturbs their habitat, especially big tankers. The prime minister of course is very alert to these challenges, as he was alert to the challenges of non-binary computation when he visited the Institute for Quantum Computing. He takes a briefing, this guy does. He told reporters — most of them local; I just happened to be in Victoria — that he is always on the lookout for ways to “make the existing situation better for those vulnerable marine mammals.”

He meant the killer whales, not the reporters, although after waiting an hour in light rain for the big guy to show up, we were feeling vulnerable and somewhat marine ourselves. Trudeau was in the British Columbia capital for no particular reason. He’d been in Calgary the day before, would be in Vancouver the next day, and it is always good to wave the flag when you’re an incumbent who hopes to remain one indefinitely. He went for a run with navy sailors. He met Victoria’s mayor. He took our questions, which were varied.

If he had a theme, it was the virtues of patience. Will he decriminalize marijuana while he looks for ways to legalize it? Not on your life. He hopes for a bill on the matter by the summer. In the meantime, he will not relax strictures against the demon weed because, he says, his goal is to get tougher on it, not easier.

This is why he never speaks about “legalizing” without adding “…and controlling and regulating.” His goal when he first raised legalization (and control and regulation) was “to protect our kids” and to get “money out of the pockets of criminals.” Right now, “It’s easier to buy a joint for a teenager than it is to buy a bottle of beer. That’s not right.”

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