Scheer clarifies that Conservatives won't reverse legal pot if elected
Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer says he won’t take steps to roll back legal cannabis if his party wins power in 2019, signalling a firmer stance from the opposition leader after ambivalent messaging.
Scheer, who would not commit one way or the other to keeping pot legal in an interview with CTV’s Power Play last week, clarified his position Wednesday in a French-language radio interview.
Scheer said Conservatives won’t reverse the law if they take control, but he still left the door open for changes.
“We acknowledge the reality now, so I do not intend to make it illegal again,” Scheer told 104.7 Outaouais, a Gatineau-based radio station. “But we will see what happens in the next year and will make the necessary changes.”
Those comments come six days after Scheer struck a more ambiguous tone on the future of cannabis.
Scheer told CTV’s Don Martin last Thursday that the Conservatives would “examine the reality on the ground” before making a decision to keep or kill the pot regime.
“We have to be realistic about what a change like this means for society and all the ramifications,” Scheer said, adding that the party would do its “due diligence.”
Scheer’s own health critic, Ontario MP Marilyn Gladu, contradicted him on the issue, saying it would be “very difficult” to reverse legalization because rules were already in place and Canadians had invested in the industry.
Sources also told CTV News that Scheer’s wait-and-see approach prompted opposition from within his own office, with some team members urging him to publicly state that he had no plans to undo legalization.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised to legalize cannabis during the 2015 federal election, touting a government-regulated market as the best way to keep pot out of the hands of young people and end the black market.
Cannabis sales began nationwide last Wednesday.
The Liberals have largely celebrated the move. Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said legalization has been “broadly supported” by Canadians. Goodale told CTV’s Question Period that Scheer would face “a very substantial backlash” is he took steps to “recriminalize.”
In the first week of legalization, cannabis sales have been mixed.
The Ontario Cannabis Store reported about 100,000 online orders in the first 24 hours of legalization. OCS president Patrick Ford said the consumer response was “way beyond what we anticipated.”
The BC Liquor Distribution Branch said on day one there were 9,175 cannabis sales online and 805 in-person sales at the province’s lone physical store in Kamloops. Sales in B.C. dropped about 70 per cent on the second day of legalization.
With files from The Canadian Press