Scheer says a Conservative government would keep pot legal, support pot pardons
OTTAWA - Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer, who previously opposed the proposed legalization of cannabis, now says a Conservative government would not only keep cannabis legal but would also stay the course with its support of pardons for Canadians convicted of pot possession.
"We will maintain…the fact that cannabis is legal, we are not going to change that and we do support the idea of people having those records pardoned," Scheer told Don Martin during an interview on CTV’s Power Play Thursday.
Every Conservative MP except for Scott Reid either voted against or abstained from voting on the legalization of cannabis at its third reading in the House. Scheer was among those who voted against.
In an interview with CTV’s Power Play in October, Scheer did not provide a firm answer on whether a Conservative government would re-criminalize cannabis.
Just six days after the interview aired, Scheer clarified in an interview with Quebec radio station 104.7 Outaouais that a potential Conservative government does not "intend" to make marijuana illegal again. However, he did say it would monitor the rollout and "make necessary corrections."
Tories have since backed up Scheer's new stance with action. In the most recent vote on the Liberal bill to expedite the pardon process for those convicted of pot possession, the Conservatives all either abstained or voted in support of the bill – making Scheer's pledged support of pot pardons less surprising.
Scheer says he would take tougher stance with China
As the dispute between Canada and China drags on with no clear end in sight, Scheer said he would have taken a tougher stance on China.
"I would have, months ago, shown to the Chinese government that there are consequences for violating international rules and violating the fundamental rights of two Canadian citizens," Scheer said.
He said as a first step, he would have pulled Canadian funding from the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank – a multilateral development bank that finances infrastructure projects in the Asia-Pacific region. Scheer said the bank is "controlled by China and helps expand China’s influence in the region."
Scheer said he "won’t hesitate" to pull the Canada’s funding from the bank, but said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is "unwilling to do so."
"I think that the government of China has learned…you can walk all over Justin Trudeau and not face any consequences," Scheer said.
Scheer pledges to fact check as campaign ramps up
With an election less than four months away and political ads starting to pop onto Canadian screens, Scheer told Martin that his party will make fact-checking a priority.
"We put a great deal of effort into fact-checking and making sure that when we highlight something that the numbers are there to back it up, that we take people's quotes – we say what they actually said," he said.
Scheer said fact-checking is "certainly going to be an area that we hold ourselves to a very high account."
However, when it comes to what Scheer called the "independent verification of [the party's] numbers," Scheer didn’t elaborate on how it will happen. The Parliamentary Budget Officer – Canada's budget watchdog – has offered to cost political parties' promises ahead of the election, but Scheer would not say whether he plans to submit the Tory plan to the watchdog's vetting process.
"We'll certainly be looking at examining how best to do that, the Parliamentary Budget Officer is one of those options that is under consideration."
Canadian voters are scheduled to hit the polls Oct. 21.