Canada is closer than ever to electing a government prepared to legalize cannabis. It could actually happen today, Oct. 19, depending on the results of the federal election.
The federal Liberals support full legalization, so if the party wins a majority of seats in parliament it will be a simple matter of fulfilling that election promise, after a consultation process with the Canadian public, the provinces, and relevant experts on how legalization will be implemented nationwide.
That's not a likely scenario. The Liberals have led the polls for weeks now, but they'll likely only win enough seats to form a minority government. The Canadian Parliament has 338 seats, so the winner needs 170 to govern effectively.
This means they'll need another party to implement platform promises like legalization. Fortunately for legalization advocates, there now seems to be a willing partner - the New Democratic Party (NDP).
Canadian New Democratic Party leader Tom Mulcair has pledged that his party will decriminalize cannabis, but he's stopped short of promising full legalization. At a recent town hall-style meeting hosted by VICE, however, he seemed more open to the idea.
Mulcair stressed, "I only like talking about what I can do," but he also left the door open for legalization in the future.
Prompted by a question from the evening's MC Damian Abraham, Mulcair suggested that legalized cannabis is "going to get done" and that "that's the direction it's going in," citing Oregon and Colorado's legal cannabis markets.
This brings him closer to the platform of his rival, Trudeau. At a similar VICE town hall taped on October 5, Trudeau affirmed that the Liberal party will "address the criminal code and legalize marijuana" as soon as possible, before working out the specifics of a recreational cannabis market with provincial premiers.
It is also possible the Conservatives - a fierce opponent of reforming cannabis laws - could win a majority government, which would leave legalization dead in its tracks. But it's more likely that the party would win a minority of seats, with no willing partner to help them govern.
This would leave the door open to a coalition between the Liberals and NDP. While neither side has committed to that possibility, each party leader has pledged to do whatever it takes to unseat Harper as Prime Minister.
Yet, they remain fierce rivals contesting for the prime minister's job. Can they put aside their differences post-election to form a coalition? Only time will tell. But as the old saying goes, "a friend with similar views on legalizing weed is a friend indeed."
h/t CBC News.