Thomas Mulcair has brought up Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's own marijuana use to criticize the government's stance on decriminalization.
The NDP leader made the remarks Wednesday while discussing the Trudeau government's first six months with Parliament Hill reporters. He expressed disappointment that Liberals have ruled out decriminalizing pot before moving to legalize the drug next spring.
"Mr. Trudeau himself, while he was an MP, smoked marijuana," Mulcair said. "He talked about that. So, why is it fair for him to have nothing and for a young person who does the exact same thing to wind up with a criminal record that's going to follow them for the rest of their lives?"
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau addresses members of caucus on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on May 4, 2016. (Photo: Adrian Wyld/CP)
Mulcair said decriminalizing pot was something Trudeau "could have should have taken care of right away."
A few minutes later, Mulcair circled back to the pot issue while criticizing what he sees as the shortcomings of a federal government that he says "talks a good game," but doesn't deliver.
"When you have young people still getting criminal records for possessing a very small amount of marijuana for personal use, you haven't kept your promise," he said.
Mulcair highlighted much the same message in a post to Facebook and Twitter last week.
NDP MP Anne Minh-Thu Quach also referenced Trudeau's past during a debate in March, saying he was "lucky he was not arrested" and has no stains on his record.
Trudeau told The Huffington Post Canada in the summer of 2013 that he smoked pot at a dinner party at his house about three years earlier. The Papineau MP was elected to the House of Commons in 2008, and voted in favour of mandatory minimum sentences for pot possession in 2009.
"Why is it fair for him to have nothing and for a young person who does the exact same thing to wind up with a criminal record that's going to follow them for the rest of their lives?"
He faced repeated criticism from Conservatives after he came out in favour of legalization. On the campaign trail last fall, then-Tory leader Stephen Harper even maintained that pot was "infinitely worse" than tobacco. Mulcair's NDP, meanwhile, advocated for decriminalization.
When Health Minister Jane Philpott announced last month that Liberals will table legislation on the matter next year, Mulcair rose in question period to press the government to "at least promise" there will be a bill to remove criminal records for those busted with pot in the meantime.
"Decriminalization, as this member proposes, actually gives a legal stream of income to criminal organizations," Trudeau said at the time. "That's not what anyone wants in this country."
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