"Where else would you go when you have an ax to grind?"

Friday, October 10, 2003

Once again proving the yanks have no sense of humor, obvious Mr. Waters need to have a few toke and chill the hell out...

PM's jokes on marijuana outrage U.S.
Canada 'ashamed' of Chrétien, drug czar says

Sheldon Alberts and Janice Tibbetts
The Ottawa Citizen

Friday, October 10, 2003

WASHINGTON -- The White House's drug czar lashed out yesterday at Prime Minister Jean Chrétien for relaxing marijuana laws and said Canadians are "ashamed" over the prime minister's recent jokes about smoking marijuana when he retires.

John Walters, director of the National Drug Control Policy Office, said Mr. Chrétien was being irresponsible when he said last week that he might try marijuana when he leaves office next February.

Canadians "are concerned about the behaviour of their prime minister, joking that he is going to use marijuana in his retirement," Mr. Walters said to the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

"They're ashamed."

Canada is "the one place in the hemisphere where things are going the wrong (way) rapidly," Mr. Walters added. "It's the only country in this hemisphere that's become a major drug producer instead of reducing their drug production."

Justice Minister Martin Cauchon, who is shepherding the federal government's marijuana legislation through the House of Commons, responded that Mr. Walters should "look in his own backyard" before criticizing Mr. Chrétien.

"There are over 10 states that have in place what we call alternative penalties, so you know, if it is not correct to move in that direction, maybe he should spend some time talking to his own states," Mr. Cauchon said.

Mr. Walters' criticisms of Mr. Chrétien came following an effort by the prime minister to make light of his government's controversial decriminalization legislation.

During an interview with the Winnipeg Free Press, Mr. Chrétien said he had never tried marijuana, but might once decriminalization legislation is approved by Parliament.

"I don't know what is marijuana. Perhaps I will try it when it will no longer be criminal," he said. "I will have money for my fine and a joint in the other hand."

Jim Munson, Mr. Chrétien's director of communications, declined to comment on Mr. Walters' claim that Canadians are ashamed of their leader.

"I am not going to get into those kind of comments. I mean, they have their point of view and we have our point of view," Mr. Munson said.

The prime minister, while joking about his own lack of personal experience with marijuana, also spoke about the need to crack down on growers and dealers of marijuana, Mr. Munson said.

The bill was handed yesterday to a special parliamentary committee, instead of the busy Commons justice committee, which would not be able to hold public hearings on the controversial legislation until after Christmas.

Randy White, a Canadian Alliance MP on the special committee, said that members do not intend to rush the bill. The Americans will be among the witnesses who will be invited to the hearings.

© Copyright 2003 The Ottawa Citizen

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