Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says his younger brother, Michel, was able to avoid a criminal record after he was caught with marijuana because of his father's connections.
Trudeau revealed the little-known fact about his brother, who died in a B.C. avalanche about 20 years ago, during a broadcast interview with Vice Media on Monday night about the government's plan to legalize marijuana.
He said six months before Michel's death, he was charged with possession of marijuana after he was involved in a collision on the highway while he was driving home to Montreal from the West Coast. Police had found a Sucrets box with a couple of joints inside when they were helping him collect his belongings that were scattered across the highway.
Trudeau said his father contacted his friends in the legal community to get Michel a good lawyer.
"He was very confident that we were able to make those charges go away," Trudeau said of his father, former prime minister Pierre Trudeau. "We were able to do that because we had resources, my dad had a couple connections and we were confident that my little brother wasn't going to be saddled with a criminal record for life."
Trudeau used the anecdote to highlight how minorities and people with little means often don't have the option to clear their name in the justice system – something he said legalizing the drug will help fix.
"That's one of the fundamental unfairnesses of this current system is that it affects different communities in a different way," he said.
Trudeau stuck to his government's stance that the move to legalize marijuana for recreational use by July 1, 2018, doesn't mean lax law enforcement during the transition period.
However, he suggested that the government will look at ways to help people charged with marijuana possession. Although he did not give specifics, he said the government would only look into the matter once the laws have been changed.
"Until we actually change the law, we can't take steps towards moving retroactively," Trudeau said.
"In the meantime, our focus is on making sure we're changing the legislation to fix what's broken about a system that is hurting Canadians ... and then we'll take steps to look at what we can do for those people who have criminal records for something that would no longer be criminal."
The newly tabled legislation will allow people 18 and older to publicly possess up to 30 grams of dried cannabis, or its equivalent in non-dried form.