A Liberal candidate in B.C. who suggested marijuana is harmless to children and reduces domestic violence quit the race on Thursday, creating a distraction for Justin Trudeau as he visited the province to promise money for transit projects and a ban on oil tankers off the northern coast.
In a pair of campaign appearances, Mr. Trudeau faced questions about Joy Davies' comments on marijuana, and about Alberta candidate Chris Brown, who has been in the spotlight over 2009 tweets about women.
By Thursday afternoon, Ms. Davies was no longer the Liberal candidate for the riding of South Surrey-White Rock, making her the latest to leave the race over past incidents.
Earlier this week, two Conservatives quit, one who was caught on camera urinating into a coffee cup in a customer's home while working as an appliance repairman and another who posted YouTube videos of himself making prank calls. Also, a senior aide to NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair had to apologize for past tweets that criticized the Roman Catholic church.
The Huffington Post quoted Ms. Davies as saying second-hand marijuana smoke at home poses no risk to children and that babies born to mothers who consumed pot during pregnancy had higher IQs than babies whose mothers did not. She also suggested in past Facebook posts that the Canadian Cancer Society promotes the pharmaceutical industry and that pot reduces domestic violence, the Huffington Post reported.
"After much consideration, I have decided to resign as the Liberal candidate for South Surrey-White Rock, effective immediately," Ms. Davies wrote on Facebook.
"I believe in the work that the Liberal team is doing and my personal opinion and past comments should not distract from what is most important right now – ensuring all Canadians receive the real change and new leadership they deserve."
The Liberals condemned Ms. Davies' remarks and said they do not reflect the views of the party.
At a morning event in Vancouver that was supposed to be about transit funding for the Vancouver area – a major issue in a region that has struggled to find money to pay for new trains and buses – Mr. Trudeau found himself fielding questions about Ms. Davies.
"The Liberal Party took the position we have to control and regulate marijuana primarily for one reason – Mr. Harper's current approach is not protecting our children," Mr. Trudeau told reporters in Vancouver during a campaign announcement about transit funding. He added that the Liberal position is to control and regulate marijuana.
Ms. Davies has long been an advocate for medical marijuana. Her profile on the Liberal Party website, which was no longer accessible by Thursday afternoon, listed her as a founding member of the Canadian Medical Cannabis Partners, which says on its website it is dedicated to lobbying the government for access to medical cannabis. She was also the director of the B.C. chapter of the group and served as director of government relations, her profile said.
Marijuana has been a major issue in Vancouver as the city grapples with a surge in medical-pot dispensaries even though they are illegal.
Mr. Trudeau was also forced to address questions about Mr. Brown, the Alberta candidate behind the profane tweets regarding women, who issued an apology through the Liberal Party. Mr. Brown, who is running in Peace River-Westlock, said he became dependent on alcohol, leading to a "complete lack of judgment while posting on social media," after his partner was killed by a drunk driver.
"He has posted a heartfelt apology online [that] explains the circumstances and the difficult time he went through and the Liberal Party has accepted his apology," Mr. Trudeau told reporters at a second event in West Vancouver.
Earlier Thursday, Mr. Trudeau announced a Liberal government would quadruple federal investment in public transit over the next decade, investing $20-billion new dollars in infrastructure and referring to such Lower Mainland projects as rapid-transit across Broadway in Vancouver and light rail in Surrey.
His commitment earned praise from two key regional mayors. "We're happy to see federal leaders take this next step and boost the programs from the federal government for transit, affordable housing and infrastructure," Vancouver's Gregor Robertson said.
Surrey mayor Linda Hepner was also pleased. "Anytime someone focuses on the needs of the Lower Mainland, whether it's Vancouver or Surrey, that's good," Ms. Hepner said.
Surrey had anticipated an announcement from Conservative Leader Stephen Harper last Thursday about federal funding for the light-rail project, which the mayor has made a priority. But that was delayed as Mr. Harper, in Surrey, instead took questions about Canada's response to the Syrian refugee crisis. Ms. Hepner said she had not heard anything from the NDP.
Mr. Trudeau also promised a moratorium on oil-tanker traffic along the B.C. northern coast, repeating his view that the Northern Gateway project should not be built.
On the other hand, Mr. Trudeau said he supports the Keystone XL pipeline, and says pipelines for Energy East should go through the proper regulatory process without intervention by Ottawa. "It's not up to a government to put its thumb on the scale to pick pipelines."
With reports from Andrea Woo and Frances Bula