Scott Reid: The Populist Reformer Who Stood Alone In Supporting The Pot Bill

Article by Bill Curry, The Globe And Mail

Scott Reid: The populist Reformer who stood alone in supporting the pot bill. Scott Reid, MP for Lanark-Frontenac-Kingston, is photographed in his Parliament Hill office on Dec. 12, 2017.

Scott Reid stood alone on the Conservative benches as the House of Commons gave its final say on landmark legislation to legalize the recreational use of marijuana.

Of the 74 Conservative MPs in attendance for the late November vote, he was the only one to support the bill. He was also the only MP in the Chamber who could say with some level of confidence that his vote represented the wish of his constituents.

Nearly 3,100 of Mr. Reid’s constituents in the Eastern Ontario rural riding of Lanark-Frontenac-Kingston responded to a mail-in referendum on the bill, resulting in a narrow finding of 55-per-cent support. Mr. Reid voted accordingly. 

First elected as a Canadian Alliance MP in 2000, the 53-year-old had been an active member of the Reform Party of Canada, which advocated for populist principles such as more free votes, citizen-initiated referendums and the ability to recall unpopular MPs. Years later, Mr. Reid views his mail-outs as a way of keeping those principles alive.

“You should vote the will of your constituents,” he said in a recent interview, dismissing “the idea that my conscience is somehow superior to those of the people who elected me.”

Such ideals are easier to maintain in opposition than in government. Throughout the entire time of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservative government, Mr. Reid was Deputy House Leader. Given that leadership role, Mr. Reid said he felt an obligation to toe the party line and his use of referendums diminished.

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