By the Ounce

David Wylie is founder of the oz., a cannabis publication in the Okanagan.

Reach him at david@okanaganz.com.

The frontrunner for the Conservative leadership doesn’t like legalization. Peter MacKay made the admission in an interview with James Miller and The Okanagan Weekend (Feb. 8).

Asked by the editor if he supported cannabis legalization, MacKay was clear: “I don’t.”

“What I most worry about is the impact on young people, the mental health implications, the impaired driving implications.

“It was forced,” he says.

“It was the back-of-a-napkin promise that the current prime minister had made. There’s now simply more marijuana available to more people, including young people.”

MacKay says cannabis should have been de-criminalized instead, adding the promise that legalization was going to reduce the black market “has been a complete failure.”

He is the early frontrunner to replace Andrew Scheer as leader.

A bizarre thing to say.

Alienating such a large and diverse potential voter base for no reason is an amateur move for a political veteran.

First elected to Parliament more than 20 years ago, MacKay has been attorney general, minister of national defence, minister of foreign affairs and leader of the Progressive Conservative Party.

Maybe we forgive him because he has been out of politics for a little while now...

Still, someone needs to tell him that legalization is already a done deal. And that reversing it at this point would effectively kill the country’s fastest growing industry, destroy multi-national corporations, and return ‘marijuana’ back to the black market.

Appeal to the people.

Conservatives shine brightest when flashing business-friendly smiles.

An increasing number of people are using cannabis products, especially now that less stigmatized ways of consumption are accessible through the expanding network of bright and friendly retail stores.

MacKay’s home province of Nova Scotia is currently partaking the most in all of Canada, with nearly 33% of the provincial population using cannabis in the last three months of 2019, according to Statistics Canada data. (Bet a few are related to MacKay, too.)

Perhaps he’s trying to appeal to the ‘greyer’ base? Not a great idea with cannabis growing fastest of all among older folks.

If the leadership campaign is a test of a candidate’s ability to inspire Canadians to join the party, then MacKay may want to cast a wider, less exclusionary net.

Not his first oopsie.

As the Globe and Mail so aptly put it recently: “Peter MacKay has gone and ruined Peter MacKay’s momentum.”

Earlier this month, he threw his team under the campaign bus by blaming them for a tweet that blew up in his face. The tweet belittled Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for expensing $876.95 in yoga and spa sessions while he was running for Liberal Party leader.

This is a good opportunity for the Conservative Party to show inclusiveness. They did show progressive cannabis policy during the election, with talk of loosening ad restrictions.

Candidates have until Feb. 27 to enter. The winner of the Conservative Leadership election will be announced in Toronto on June 27.