Pot Legalization a Year Away
Once again, April 20th was a hazy day in Vancouver as tens of thousands of protesters smoked up on Sunset Beach in the West End. The annual unofficial marijuana holiday has long been seen as a form of protest to legalize marijuana in Canada. However, this year was seen as more of a celebration than protest with the new Liberal Government promising to legalize and regulate the sale of marijuana. To mark the occasion, Health Minister Jane Philpott and Parliamentary Secretary to the Justice Minister, Bill Blair, jointly announced that legalization legislation would be introduced in spring of 2017. Blair stated that the process includes a "great deal of work" and said that the government is consulting with experts to ensure the changes are done right which is why legislation is still a year away.
While some celebrated the announcement, many others, including NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair, spoke out against the long wait for legalization and said it should happen sooner. Mulcair said that the delay was just another "broken promise" by Justin Trudeau and called on the government to "immediately decriminalize" possession of pot. The NDP Leader further argued that every day marijuana possession remains a criminal act, many lives are being destroyed as people are charged with the crime. The Liberals however, have long argued that immediate decriminalization would do nothing but allow gangs to profit further from pot sales before regulations could be adopted. It would appear the Vancouver Police had these arguments in mind while they patrolled the 420 rally which saw not one person arrested for pot possession.
Mike Duffy is... Not Guilty?
That's right, after being prosecuted for 31 criminal charges related to the Senate Expense Scandal, Mike Duffy was officially cleared of everything. The charges laid against Duffy included fraud, bribery, and breach of trust and were all dismissed by Ontario Court Judge Charles Vaillancourt. What was possibly even more shocking than the complete exoneration of Duffy was how the Judge instead tore into the previous Harper Administration for its role in the affair. Judge Vaillancourt called the events "mind-boggling and shocking" as he placed blame on those working in the Prime Minister's Office at the time. The judge portrayed Duffy as the victim in a complex affair that saw Harper's Chief of Staff, the PMO, and the Conservative Party attack Duffy and force him to take blame for actions he felt were completely legal. However, the Judge also noted that some of Duffy's actions were "unorthodox" but still could not be considered criminal.
Now that he is a free man, Duffy is likely to seek legal action against the government for several years of unpaid wages after being suspended from the Senate without pay during the investigation. Duffy could also seek damages for defamation since he is now recognized around the country as the Senator who was suspected of committing dozens of illegal acts.
In Other News...
Membership Fees are Dropping
While the Conservative Party and its former leader were being harshly criticised for the handling of the Duffy affair, the party's national council was voting to lower membership fees. After raising the one year membership price to $25 earlier this year, the party has now decided to lower the price to $15. Former Defence Minister Jason Kenney had suggested on Friday that the party lower the fee to just $10 to help encourage membership growth. While the party has not publically announced a decrease in overall memberships, the poor performance in the October election and the recent Duffy trial verdict are almost certain to harm the party moving forward.
Manitoba Has a New Premier
As predicted earlier on The Dark Horse Report, Brian Pallister's Progressive Conservatives won a majority government in Manitoba. The victory effectively ended an NDP rule that lasted over 16 years. The PC party obtained 40 of the 57 seats available which marks the start of the largest majority government in the province's history. Meanwhile, former Premier Greg Selinger resigned as leader of the NDP after his party won just 14 seats, down from the 35 the party had going into the election. Following the election results, Prime Minister Trudeau issued a statement that said he was looking forward to working with the new provincial government "in the spirit of cooperation and collaboration on issues of importance to Manitobans and all Canadians."
Be sure to keep an eye on The Dark Horse Report for the soon-to-be released interview with former BC Deputy Premier Kevin Falcon.
Thanks for reading.