Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer smoked marijuana as a young adult, but still opposes the Liberal government’s plan to legalize the drug, his office says.
Mr. Scheer made the admission on a popular Quebec television show on Sunday, on which co-host Dany Turcotte also invited Mr. Scheer to this summer’s gay pride parade in Montreal.
Mr. Scheer is rejecting that offer, said Jake Enwright, director of media relations for the Official Opposition leader.
“Andrew is appreciative of the invitation by Mr. Turcotte. He will not be attending this event, but the Conservative Party of Canada will be well represented,” Mr. Enwright told The Globe and Mail. He added that Mr. Scheer is working to help persecuted gay men in Chechnya, opposes the reintegration to Canadian society of Islamic State terrorists who attack homosexuals and supported the Prime Minister’s apology to the LGBTQ community in the House of Commons.
On the French-language talk show Tout Le Monde En Parle on Sunday, Mr. Scheer was peppered with questions on issues such as abortion, gay rights, gun control, climate change and cannabis.
Half-way through, host Guy A. Lepage asked Mr. Scheer whether he will celebrate the legalization of marijuana by smoking a joint.
“No,” Mr. Scheer said with an embarrassed laugh.
Mr. Turcotte then piped in with a follow-up: “Have you ever smoked?”
“So…” Mr. Scheer said, flushing and pausing to take a sip from his glass of wine. “I hope my father is not watching this show. … When I was young, yes.”
Mr. Scheer said he will look at what happens once the government’s legislation to legalize the drug, Bill C-45, is adopted to decide whether he would recriminalize it if the Conservatives win the next election.
Mr. Enwright told The Globe that Mr. Scheer was a 19- or 20 year-old university student in Ottawa when he smoked marijuana at a party. Mr. Enwright said it happened more than once, but was not a regular occurrence.
“It’s hard to put an exact number on it. But it’s not once, not regular though,” Mr. Enwright said. He said it happened during a brief period, and that Mr. Scheer didn’t buy it himself.
Mr. Enwright said Mr. Scheer opposes the Liberal government’s bill because it’s “bad legislation.”
“This legislation is being rushed through. It’s not ready. It’s a bad idea,” Mr. Enwright said. He cited, for instance, the Canadian Medical Association’s recommendation that 21 be the legal age to use marijuana. The bill recommends 18, but the provinces will decide.
If asked by a U.S. border guard whether he has smoked marijuana, “Mr. Scheer believes in telling the truth always,” Mr. Enwright said.
Mr. Scheer won plaudits from his Quebec MPs for his appearance on the show, which regularly attracts more than one million viewers.
Still, not everything went smoothly. Mr. Lepage started by pointing out that Mr. Scheer’s positions on a number of issues are offside with what is often described as the political consensus Quebec.
“You are against abortion, you voted against same-sex marriage and against medically assisted suicide, while Quebeckers are in favour of all of these things. Welcome to Quebec, Mr. Scheer,” Mr. Lepage said.
Mr. Scheer was also asked for his reaction to Conservative MP Maxime Bernier’s recent comment that he lost last year’s leadership campaign because Mr. Scheer signed up “fake Conservatives” in Quebec’s dairy industry.
“Maxime is a member of my caucus,” Mr. Scheer said. “It’s his choice of words, I don’t agree with him…. I can guarantee that Maxime will never be my minister of agriculture.”