Three Conservative senators went to Washington DC to talk about marijuana legalization, and you may be shocked to learn that they were not reassured by any of it. They were told that Homeland Security isn’t adding any new resources to the border so Canadian travellers may face more delays, and they were told of all of the new cartels that have emerged as the crime rate has skyrocketed in Colorado. And oh, how the loopholes around home-growing are being exploited by criminal elements. Woe! Most of this should be taken with a particular grain of salt – there has been no proven causal relationship between the increased crime rate in Colorado with marijuana legalization, and if there are Mexican cartels looking to exploit loopholes to export it from the state, I’m not sure that’s as big of an issue in Canada if the whole country is legalizing instead of a single province. And as for the border, well, individual agents already have immense discretionary powers now, so nothing is really going to change there.
What was curious in all of this is how the Government Leader in the Senate – err, “government representative,” Senator Peter Harder, complained that these three Conservatives were “undermining the government” by taking this trip. I’m not sure that it’s a very credible complaint considering that they weren’t claiming to be headed down there on behalf of the government – rather, it was under the rubric that they haven’t been getting straight answers from the government, so they wanted to get answers for themselves. It’s almost as if they were exercising the discretion afforded to them as part of the “independent Senate” where they don’t have to ask the government’s permission to engage in such activities. And let’s not kid ourselves – this was a very partisan exercise, and I’m sure that most Canadians can see that it clearly was. They’re not exactly hiding it, but they’re also doing their duty as the opposition to get the information they think they need to hold government to account. The sky isn’t falling here, and Harder is coming across as a little thin-skinned in making the complaints he is.
Oh, and for those of you asking, it’s likely that this trip was paid for by the Senate, but bear in mind that Senators are allowed travel to Washington as part of their duties (and in fact, a trip to Washington is included as part of their annual travel points). There’s no actual scandal here for anyone to point to.