Volume 94, Issue 1

Friday, May 12, 2000


NEWS

O-week survives the Senate intact

Western grads make top 40

Teachers flunk budget

The battle for books rages on

Western escapes virus' tough love

Pot party ready to take the next step

The coolest way to kill insects

Briefs

Media centre links UWO to Fanshawe

Faculty and admin dispute sees new light

Pot party ready to take the next step

By Mike Murphy
Gazette Staff

When Prime Minister Jean Chretien calls the next federal election, Canadians may have the chance to cast a vote for weed.

The Bloc Pot, which advocates the legalization of marijuana for both medicinal and recreational uses, received nearly 10,000 votes in Quebec's 1998 provincial election, but still failed to win any seats. Now, Bloc Pot leader Marc St. Maurice said he wants to launch the party into federal politics.

"There's been some political lobbying in the past but it never went very far," St. Maurice said. "I looked at this as a new method, something that hadn't been tried."

St. Maurice, who plays bass for a Montreal-based rock band called Grim Skunk, said he has put his music career on hold to devote himself fully to the party.

He added the party now has 700 members in Quebec and has grown beyond his most optimistic expectations. "This was just a dream four or five years ago. I was just an angry marijuana smoker," he stated.

"They've already sent an application [for federal party status]," confirmed Pierre Blain, media relations manager for Elections Canada. Blain said Bloc Pot's bid must now be reviewed to determine whether it complies with Elections Canada guidelines.

According to Blain, to achieve federal party status, a party must produce the signatures of 100 qualified electors and prove it can field candidates in at least 50 ridings.

"I have a list of thirty people who are ready to run in Quebec," St. Maurice said, adding he was confident he could enlist the requisite 20 additional candidates. He said he hopes to find some of those extra candidates in British Columbia, a province he plans to tour this summer.

Pat O'Brien, Liberal Member of Parliament for the London-Fanshawe riding, dismissed the Bloc Pot as a useless and misguided enterprise.

"A nonsensical single-issue party like this is a waste of time," he said. "They should make the current system work for them. It's more than adequate."

O'Brien said he felt the Bloc Pot would probably not win popular support if it fielded a candidate in his London riding. "Probably their own and their mothers [will vote for them]," he said.

Gar Knutson, Liberal MP for Elgin-Middlesex-London, said the right of all groups to run for elected office should be stressed. "It's a perfectly legitimate way to get your message out," he said.

Pete Young, a pot legalization advocate and owner of the Organic Traveller, a London hemp shop, said he saw things differently. "We're not going to get elected right off the bat. But eventually we will win a seat," he said. "Eventually we are going to change the laws."


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Copyright The Gazette 2000