Drugs and Politics: Is Honesty Really The Best Policy?

In May of this year, it came to light that a video was being shopped around the media purporting to show Toronto mayor, Rob Ford, smoking crack cocaine. Filmed by his “dealer” and consequentially exposed by Gawker.com, the video allegedly shows mayor Ford smoking from a large glass pipe while laughing and mocking his political peers. The nation reeled in shock at the allegation and Ford, predictably enough, strenuously denied the incident ever took place.

Since “crack-gate” 2013, a number of other high profile political figures have come forward with admissions of forays into substance use, not least, Liberal MP, Justin Trudeau who confessed to using marijuana on a number of occasions, including once while he was an acting MP.

Trudeau’s full-disclosure attitude on the issue has divided opinion among the public with some commending his honesty while others call into question the level of trust the admission has truly garnered.

Is Justin Trudeau really a political pioneer, paving a path of candour in a profession widely known for selective discretion, and setting us up for a more candid government? Or is this merely an example of a political figure covering his metaphorical behind in the wake of the very public embarrassment of his Toronto based peer? Would the admission have been made had Ford not been exposed? Alas, it is a rhetorical question and not one we should ever expect to have answered, but it is thought provoking nonetheless.

There’s no arguing that here in Canada, the people and government set a fine example for the case of liberalization and modernity in an age too frequently suppressed by primitive standards, but the admission of illegal substance use, however socially acceptable it may be considered, particularly by those in whom we place utmost trust with the most important
aspects of our lives, is a blow to the ethical integrity of the government as a whole.

The bottom line of the debate is that, opponent or advocate, marijuana for recreational use is illegal. Justin Trudeau has, therefore, admitted to committing a crime and while such an activity might be considered relatively insignificant for John or Jane Doe, it is not unreasonable to expect more from those we put in office.

Also, there lies an almost amusing irony in the admission of unethical behaviour being commended as one of the most ethical moves by a political figure in recent years.

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