Pot activist Jodie Emery is set to file the paperwork to run for the Liberal Party of Canada, exposing Justin Trudeau's promise to legalize marijuana to renewed attacks from the Conservative Party.
The Liberal hierarchy is not welcoming Ms. Emery with open arms, but the party's decision to hold open nominations in all ridings means she can at least try to join Mr. Trudeau's team for the next election.
Ms. Emery said Mark Elyas, past-president and election readiness chair of the Vancouver East Federal Liberal Riding Association, and Russ Miller, the association's vice-president, asked her about two months ago whether she would consider becoming a candidate in the riding. She discussed the matter with husband Marc Emery – who is known as the "Prince of Pot" for his relentless marijuana advocacy in Canada and the United States – before joining the party last month and requesting nomination papers about two weeks ago.
"We already knew we wanted to support the Liberals anyway … so for us, the opportunity of working with guys who actually worked on the [Liberal policy resolution to legalize and regulate marijuana], and putting our name toward the party, was just too good of an opportunity," said Ms. Emery, who ran for the Green Party in B.C.'s two most recent provincial elections.
Under the Cannabis Culture banner, the Emerys have developed a large presence in the marijuana community with their website and headquarters in Vancouver. Mr. Emery is set to return to Canada in coming weeks after spending more than four years behind bars in the United States for selling marijuana seeds to U.S. customers. Early next year, the couple is planning a cross-country Canadian tour in support of the Liberals – an idea Ms. Emery said was in the works long before she joined the party.
However, Ms. Emery acknowledged that if she receives the Liberal nomination, it will not be easy to unseat NDP MP Libby Davies, who has represented Vancouver East since 1997 and whom the marijuana activist calls a friend, ally and "role model Member of Parliament."
The Conservative Party, which has run radio ads that accuse Mr. Trudeau of wanting to make marijuana more accessible to children, is relishing the prospect of linking the Emerys to the Liberal leader's legalization agenda.
"As legalization of marijuana is one of Justin Trudeau's few policies, of course they're going to recruit 'star' marijuana activists to both campaign and run for them in 2015," Conservative spokesman Cory Hann said in a statement.
Ms. Emery was unfazed by the comments. "I keep saying: 'Look at my record. Try to find any time where I've been portrayed poorly in the media,'" she said. "If the Conservatives want to attack the Liberals on marijuana, and want to attack me and Marc for that, I would love to discuss it. I would love a debate."
Mr. Elyas and Mr. Miller did not respond on Thursday to requests for comment.
A spokesman for federal Liberals said the party is not linked to the Emerys' cross-country tour in the lead up to the 2015 general election.
"The Liberal Party of Canada has no affiliation with the Emerys, nor do we endorse any of their plans currently being discussed in the media," Liberal spokesman Dave Sommer said in a statement.
Would-be candidates in Liberal nomination races must go through a "green-lighting" process that includes a detailed look at their personal affairs and past public comments.
"Green-lighting is a rigorous and robust process, and not everybody who applies can successfully go through it," a Liberal official said.
The official added that without prejudging the outcome of Ms. Emery's application, members of the green-lighting committee will consider her "complete body of work," including past comments on Pot TV on the Internet.
Mr. Trudeau has come under fire for acknowledging that he smoked marijuana in the past, including after he became a Liberal MP in 2008. Last year, he became the first leader of a major Canadian political party to advocate for the legalization of marijuana.