Marijuana Party of Canada Riding High and Looking to Smoke the Competition
Above: The Marijuana Party could play a key role in the coming federal election
OTTAWA, ON (SP) — With most major polls now suggesting that the Liberals no longer have enough popular support to win another majority government, the focus has suddenly shifted to another political party that until recently had seemed permanently banished to the outer limits of the Canadian political spectrum: The Marijuana Party of Canada, or as it's known in Quebec, the Parti Marijuana. Although it's virtually inconceivable that the Marijuana Party would even capture a sufficient number of seats to gain official party status, party leader Marc Boris St.-Maurice believes that his party may end up holding the balance of power in the event that either the Liberals or the Tories end up with a narrow minority of seats in the House of Commons.
Most political observers do not share St.-Maurice's optimistic appraisal of the situation, instead speaking about The Marijuana Party in the same mocking tone usually reserved for other political parties on the lunatic fringe, such as the Rhinoceros and Natural Law Parties. These observers point to the fact that the Marijuana Party has never had a candidate win an election at any level of government since being formed in February 2000.
Above: The Rhinoceros Party of Canada was never taken very seriously by the electorate
In fact, they've barely registered with a single voter since becoming a registered political party. In 1998, the Bloc Pot, the Parti Marijuana's Quebec-based predecessor, fielded 24 candidates in the Quebec general election, but received only 0.025% of the vote, a number so statistically insignificant, most major news organizations chose to round it down to zero.
However, St.-Maurice believes that society's attitude towards pot has changed significantly in the last few years, evidenced by the steps recently taken by the federal government to decriminalize marijuana possession, as well as judicial confirmation of the right to smoke pot for medicinal purposes. St.-Maurice believes that the next logical step in this political movement is to abolish any and all restrictions on the cultivation, production, trafficking and possession of marijuana. "When Jean Chrétien was asked last year about his retirement from politics, he said that he'd probably have a joint in one hand and the money to pay the fine in the other," said St.-Maurice. "I believe he spoke for a lot of Canadians who'd just like to be able to spoke their dope in peace, and that's what this party is all about."
Above: Some of Jean Chretien's more bizarre behaviour as Prime Minister may have occurred while he was under the influence of marijuana
St.-Maurice fails to see how other political parties could join together to form a workable coalition government, given the enormous ideological differences between them, as well as the profound personal enmity and disdain that the party leaders have for one another. Perhaps the most frequently talked-about coalition would be between the Liberals and the NDP, but St.-Maurice just doesn't see the feasibility of such a political partnership. "First of all, Paul Martin is more fiscally conservative than many Conservatives, let alone New Democrats," he said. "Also, I just don't see how Martin can work closely with [NDP leader] Jack Layton after the guy held him personally responsible for killing thousands of homeless people in Toronto."
St.-Maurice doesn't regard a Tory-Bloc coalition as being any more feasible. "Many Canadians may not be aware that [Bloc leader] Gilles Duceppe was once a card-carrying member of the Communist Party," he said. "[Tory leader] Stephen Harper, on the other hand, is more likely to have been a member of the Joseph McCarthy fan club. I just don't see much room there for a common understanding between those parties on just about any issue. In particular, I can't imagine that they'd be able to reach any sort of consensus on matters of social justice. The Reform/Alliance concept of social justice would be to favour lethal injections over the electric chair as a more humane way of killing people."
On the other hand, St.-Maurice claims that his party does not carry any of the ideological baggage that he thinks would prevent the other parties from working together. "I would welcome the opportunity to work with any of the other party leaders, and I firmly believe that it would be to our mutual benefit," said St.-Maurice. "For example, take the Liberals. If Paul Martin thinks he can appeal to young eligible voters by hanging out with Bono and talking about providing free drugs to Africans, imagine how cool he'll seem if he and Bono are seen getting high together and talking about providing cheap cannabis to Canadians."
Above: Martin and Bono have many shared interests, but smoking dope isn't one of them
St.-Maurice also sees nothing but good things that would come from an alliance with the Tories. "A major point of contention for the Conservatives has been the proposed introduction of two-tiered healthcare in Canada," he said. "The Marijuana Party has no problem with such a concept. In fact, we believe that many Canadians would be quite willing to pay a premium for extremely potent, Grade-A cannabis. Especially when you compare it to that vile, watered-down tripe that the feds have been growing in Flin Flon, Manitoba for those with prescriptions to smoke pot."
According to St.-Maurice, Stephen Harper also stands to benefit from a strategic alliance with the Marijuana Party. "Part of the problem Mr. Harper has in communicating his party's message is that he's too much of an intellectual, such that his views can't always be reduced to simple, easy-to-digest sounds bites," said St.-Maurice. "He also comes across as being more than just a little uptight. However, I can guarantee that if he starts smoking two or three joints every day, especially right before press conferences and leadership debates, he'll start to sound a lot less intellectual and he'll seem a lot more laid back."
Above: Smoking liberal quantities of pot could do Harper a world of good, says St.-Maurice
St.-Maurice even envisions being able to work closely with the Bloc. "The knock on both of our parties has always been that we've been limited to single-issue platforms," he said. "Therefore, by joining forces, we could each broaden the scope of our respective political agendas, while simultaneously appealing to a whole new segment of eligible voters. Although to be honest, I think that once our friends with the Bloc start engaging in daily pot-aided strategy sessions, all this talk of secession or sovereignty association will blow over in a puff of smoke."
For St. Maurice, who left behind a promising musical career for politics (he was the bass guitarist for one of Canada's most innovative punk rock bands, according to the Marijuana Party's official website), the issue of legalizing pot is very personal, given that he's been busted a total of seven times for cannabis possession. He's previously taken on party leaders Stockwell Day and Gilles Duceppe in their homes ridings, but this time he's chosen to take on an even greater challenge: Prime Minister Paul Martin.
However, St.-Maurice believes that he's up to the challenge. "I think that most Canadians believe that it's time for a change, and they're desperately seeking an alternative to the Liberals, to provide them with a breath of fresh air," he said. "All those who feel disenfranchised by the political process must ask themselves whether they'd prefer to be cynically indifferent or comfortably numb. If their answer is the latter, then please support your local Marijuana Party candidate and help to spread the word, and the weed. As we say in all of our official campaign literature, Let's Roll!"
Above: St.-Maurice has issued a call to arms to the party faithful