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Pot legalization – A promise kept, but Liberals may want to hold off on the confetti


Angus Reid Institute

Rejoice pot activists: on October 17, 2018, marijuana will be legalized in Canada for recreational use. The announcement came in the House of Commons this week after an arduous review and amendment process between the House and the Senate. That latter body passed Bill C-45 with a 52 to 49 vote on Tuesday June 19.

With this news, Justin Trudeau’s federal Liberals deliver on a signature campaign promise – something likely high on the checklist for Liberal strategists eyeing October 2019 with a focus that intensifies with each passing day.

That said, data suggests that the party may not want to overstate this victory. While this is a passionate issue for some, it isn’t one that Canadians put a lot of stock in overall. Indeed, 54 per cent said that it was among the least important issues facing Canada when the Angus Reid Institute asked in 2016. At the time, just one-in-five (19%) viewed it as a high priority.

dave korzinski analysis

Additionally, fewer Canadians plan to directly enjoy the fruits of this legislative progress than some might assume. Just one-in-ten residents (11%) say that they will definitely be smoking legal marijuana when October 17 comes, while the same amount say it’s likely they’ll partake (11%). More than half of Canadians (55%) say they have no plans to toke.

Unfortunately for the federal government, as it looks ahead to the 2019 campaign, previous Angus Reid Institute work suggests that residents might be a bit more upset over well-publicized broken promises with respect to electoral reform and the budget deficit than they will be pleased with this promise kept on pot. At least two-thirds of Canadians said each broken promise was the wrong decision by the Liberals.

dave korzinski analysis

That said, a win is a win. This is an issue that has long been supported by a majority of the population. In fact, despite the lower priority they give the issue, Canadian support for legal pot recently reach two-thirds, both in 2016 and 2017, including roughly 50/50 support versus opposition among Conservatives.

dave korzinski analysis

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