Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has taken a lot of heat from advocates and activists for not decriminalizing marijuana while his government is working on legalizing and regulating recreational use. Now he's taking flack from his own base. Jean Chrétien - Trudeau's predecessor as leader of the Liberal Party and prime minister (1993-2003) has called on the government to decriminalize.
While participating in the official opening of a public policy think-tank at Dalhousie University in Halifax on May 9, Chrétien said that it was unacceptable for any Canadian to be saddled with a criminal record for smoking marijuana. He added that reforming Canada's cannabis laws are long overdue, and he can up that claim with his own political résumé.
The former prime minister tried to decriminalize marijuana back in 2003, but his bill died in the House when he prorogued government to prepare for his successor - Paul Martin - to take over. Martin revived the decriminalization bill when he took power, but it died when his government fell and was replaced by the Conservative government of Stephen Harper in 2006.
Trudeau's regime is Canada's first chance to get back on track with reform since Martin left office. But Chrétien doesn't think the latest Liberal government is moving fast enough. So far, Trudeau has deflected criticism by arguing that decriminalization would bolster organized crime and hamper the efforts of law enforcers to keep the public safe.
But criticism from an iconic member of his own party - who promoted the Liberal platform during the 2015 federal election - might be enough to sway Trudeau on the issue.