"Tobacco is a product that does a lot of damage — marijuana is infinitely worse and is something we do not want to encourage." - Stephen Harper discusses the harmful effects of marijuana in 2015.
Who was in the news this week?
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (when is he not) and former Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair. If you are unfamiliar with Blair, not to worry, you will be hearing a lot more about him in the coming weeks.
What's the deal with Blair?
Trudeau has been promised "Sunny Ways" and it would appear the sunlight will eventually be a little hazier. The PM announced this week that Blair, the new Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice, will be leading the government's efforts in legalizing marijuana. The appointment has been praised by some critics since Blair has an extensive history in law enforcement. On the contrary, others, including the Conservative Party, continue to voice opposition to legalization altogether.
How can marijuana be legalized?
Trudeau has a majority government with 184 seats out of 338 which means that once a bill has been drafted and put up for vote, Trudeau should have no problem getting it passed through the House of Commons. The next hurdle would be to get the bill passed through the Senate which Trudeau does not hold a majority in.
So what happens next?
Before there can be any votes on a marijuana bill, there first needs to be a bill. Blair will have to work with the provinces, territories, and expert advisors in order to draft an initial bill. He will also have to remedy the issue of how legalizing marijuana will violate three international treaties. Seeming to sense the long road ahead, well-known marijuana advocate Dana Larsen sent Blair and his 183 Liberal colleagues each a gram of pot this week to "refamiliarize" them with the "pleasant effects." The Parliament cafeteria will likely be busy this week.
Dark horse of the week
It seems only fitting to focus on Blair this week since he's in the news and will likely be a household name within the year. Blair is far from a dark horse in the Toronto area since, as mentioned, he was the Toronto Police Chief for a decade. However, after serving 39 years on the force, Blair left policing and successfully ran as a Liberal in the riding of Scarborough Southwest. Despite being new to Federal Politics, Blair received over 52% of the Popular vote in the election and is now the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice. For more info on Blair, visit his website or follow him on Twitter.