Justin Trudeau’s Canada includes weed, hundreds of Western University students heard first-hand Wednesday afternoon (Feb. 6).
Responding to the first question from the packed audience, he said he would go beyond decriminalizing marijuana and legalize the drug as it would make it safer because it would be harder to get and good for the government, because it could collect taxes on sales.
He joked that heroin users, on the other hand, would be “S.O.L.”
The son of the prime minister who famously said “just watch me” had the crowd doing just that, keeping the 400-plus students in attendance rapt for over an hour. He spent about 10 minutes after his time on stage shaking hands and posing for future Facebook profile pictures with attendees.
Trudeau went into “overtime” during his post-speech question and answer session, pointing at raised hands in the crowd several times after a handler gave the “one more question” warning.
The gist of his formal presentation was a call to main street Canada. Trudeau, the Member of Parliament for Quebec’s Papineau riding since 2008, said the federal Liberals had “made a mess” of their last leadership race, and were turning to their constituents for help.
For the first time ever, a leader will be chosen via an online vote in April.
Through registering on a website, every Canadian can have a say in who becomes the next leader of the Liberal Party of Canada. The only caveat is that you can’t belong to a competing political party.
The Spoke University Community Centre was bursting at the seams with students as their generation’s Trudeau spoke and took questions.
The eldest son of Pierre Elliot Trudeau said he was the best choice for the job of getting the Grits back on the government side of the House for a number of reasons.
Chief among them is the fact Trudeau isn’t taking the usual tack of developing a comprehensive policy platform and asking other Liberals to “go out there and sell it.” Instead, he said he was using input he’s gathering during his leadership bid to shape what his platform as an opposition leader would look like.
“This is the beginning of my platform, not the end,” he said. “We have to start realizing our power … and responsibility as citizens. That’s what we’re missing.”
A math and French teacher by trade, Trudeau said for the first time in Canadian history, a generation is unsure whether it will be able to create a better quality of life for their children.
“(But) we can’t solve anything without citizens,” adding Canada was stronger because of the diversity of its population, not in spite of it.
“We’re tired of being cynical about politics.”
Asked about jobs for new grads, he said students had to get used to the idea that they weren’t just going to experience four or five jobs in their lifetime, but four or five careers.
To compete internationally, Canada must be the “best educated country in the world,” Trudeau said, adding that in the future 70 percent of jobs would require some form of higher education.
On electoral reform, he said a proportional representation structure would create a more partisan atmosphere on Parliament Hill because it would create more splinter parties, resulting in Canadians being represented by people they never voted for.