Roundup: Copping to privilege is not excusing it

Earlier in the week, Justin Trudeau was asked by VICE about the problem of people getting criminal records for pot possession when decriminalization is around the corner, and he related a story about how his late brother was once charged with possession and their father, with his influence and connections, was able to make those charges go away. And then the opposition went crazy with it.

Of course, Raitt is missing the point in that it wasn’t that Trudeau is endorsing one set of rules for the elites and one for everyone else. (Raitt, of course, is trying to use the “Trudeau is an elite and I’m just a Regular Girl™” line as her campaign platform, which is getting pretty tired). He’s acknowledging that the current system ensures that kind of outcome, which is why he’s looking to change it.

Thomas Mulcair, of course, couldn’t wait to rail about the “abject hypocrisy” of it all, and to repeat his demands that the government immediately put through decriminalization until legalization is sorted, as though this was something that the PM could just snap his fingers and do.

But no, that’s not how this works. Mulcair has been in politics to know this, which makes his concern trolling all the more disingenuous.

If you wanted a measure that could be implemented right away, then the provinces could opt not to pursue charges for simple possession (which I think is pretty much what is going on in most cases), because they’re the ones who have jurisdiction for the administration of justice and who can set their own prosecutorial guidelines. They could instruct their Crown prosecutors not to pursue simple possession charges – but that’s the provinces’ call, not the PM’s – again, making Mulcair’s calls disingenuous. Decriminalization also doesn’t serve the stated purpose of legalization, which is to regulate sale to keep it out of the hands of children and to combat the black market. But I’m sure we’ll be hearing about this for the next few days, unless the Trumpocalypse and the brewing trade war consumes the news cycle today.

Update: I am informed by lawyers that I’m on the wrong track, that the federal prosecution service deals with drug offences and that simple possession charges are still common among minorities and marginalized groups. So mea culpa on that one.

Good reads:

  • Begun, this trade war over softwood has, despite all of Trudeau’s attempts to foster good relations on Trump’s terms, and now the government has to support lost jobs.
  • John Geddes gives us a recap of our cyclical softwood lumber trade wars with the States, which is entering into its fifth modern iteration.
  • The government is set to repeal measures implanted by the previous government, ostensibly to combat marriage fraud but which opened up victims to abuse.
  • Thanks to FATCA, thousands of Canadians’ bank records have been sent to the IRS without informing the government.
  • The Supreme Court of Canada heard a case urging it to clarify its ruling on court delays, while defence counsel urged them to stay the course to force change.
  • The pay gap between senior public servants and junior executives has narrowed so much that it’s making recruiting management difficult.
  • The Conservatives are claiming 259,010 eligible members able to vote in their leadership contest, the most since their party was created in 2004.
  • Susan Delacourt writes about Trudeau juggling populism and elitism.
  • My column this week looks at why we can expect an acrimonious return to Parliament, and why the government may be cynically exploiting this “crisis.”

Odds and ends:

Senator Peter Harder is headed to Calgary to sell the message of Senate renewal, misreading the mythical obsession with the Senate in the west.

While municipalities demand more powers, here’s a cautionary tale of one which was poorly run by people who had no idea what they were doing.

Note: If you need a subscription to read my Loonie Politics columns, use promo code Smith to get it for $40/year instead of $50.

4 thoughts on “Roundup: Copping to privilege is not excusing it

  1. Mr. Trudeau’s argument makes no sense. He wants to change the system because the system affects different people differently. But that’s like saying we should eliminate drunk-driving laws because his mother Margaret was aquitted of those charges in 2008.

    • She successfully challenged the constitutionality of the police search, which is not the same thing at all, but nice try at a straw man argument.

      • Nice try at deflection. Without the Trudeau name, resources, and connections, I doubt any one of us mere mortals would be able to challenge the constitutionality of a police search. So: the law affects different people differently. It’s not a reason to change laws.

        • Erm, you would think that it would be a reason to change them, so that they affect all people the same and not keep punishing people who are already disadvantaged.

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