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

Tuesday, October 07, 2003

You can tell Le Petit Gar from Shawinagin is ready to retire and clearly doesn't give a shit what the press says. You have to love that.

Chretien jokes about trying pot once it's decriminalized, ready to pay fine

Canadian Press

Saturday, October 04, 2003

WINNIPEG (CP) - It's an unlikely retirement scenario for Prime Minister Jean Chretien: he's at his lakeside cottage, sipping tea with his wife Aline - and smoking a big fat joint.

The 69-year-old prime minister has never smoked marijuana, he says, but he joked in an interview this week he might be willing to give it a try once it's decriminalized. Chretien made the joke in an Ottawa interview with the Winnipeg Free Press published in Friday's paper.

Chretien was asked how it felt to have bills for decriminalizing marijuana and legalizing same-sex marriages as the exclamation points to his lengthy political career.

"I don't know what is marijuana," Chretien replied.

"Perhaps I will try it when it will no longer be criminal. I will have my money for my fine and a joint in the other hand."

On a more serious note, he defended his government's marijuana bill, which he is trying to pass this fall in what is expected to be his last parliamentary session.

He said replacing criminal sentences with simple fines is a more realistic way of punishing marijuana users.

"The decriminalization of marijuana is making normal what is the practice," Chretien said.

"It is still illegal, but do you think Canadians want their kids, 18 years old or 17, who smoke marijuana once and get caught by the police, to have a criminal record for the rest of their life?

"What has happened is so illogical that they are not prosecuted anymore. So let's make the law adjust to the realities. It is still illegal, but they will pay a fine. It is in synch with the times.

On same-sex marriage, Chretien said he thinks it is better to err on the side of giving more rights than taking away rights. But he didn't want to talk about whether that view has caused him problems as a Catholic.

"My grandfather had been refused holy communion because he was a Liberal organizer," he said. "For us, my mentality, my religion belongs to me and I will deal personally with that. I am a public person in a very diverse society, and I don't think I can impose every limit of my morality on others, because I don't want others to impose their morality on me."

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