Not Leaning on US To Halt Marijuana Bill, MP Says

Not Leaning on US To Halt Marijuana Bill, MP Says
Posted by CN Staff on August 20, 2003 at 07:49:02 PT
By Brian Laghi 
Source: Globe and Mail 
Ottawa -- A Liberal MP who met with the U.S. deputy drug czar about Canada's plan to decriminalize marijuana acknowledged yesterday encouraging him to amplify his concern to Prime Minister Jean Chrétien about how the bill could harm cross-border traffic.Brenda Chamberlain, who attended the meeting with a handful of other MPs, said that the members were not asking Barry Crane to lean on the federal government to halt the bill. Rather, Ms. Chamberlain said she wanted Mr. Crane to reaffirm what the consequences of the bill might be.
"The message was very clear from Dr. Barry Crane . . . there would be problems across the border," Ms. Chamberlain said, adding that she and other MPs responded that "if that is so, you need to tell the PM and you need to tell the bureaucrats."Ms. Chamberlain and several other MPs met with Dr. Crane and other U.S. officials last month. A Foreign Affairs official who sat in on the meeting wrote in a memo that Ms. Chamberlain and others appeared to be trying to encourage U.S. officials to derail the bill, in part by pointing out that trade and border issues would be affected. Ms. Chamberlain denied yesterday that this was her intent.Asked why the group would encourage Dr. Crane to express his anxieties to the Canadian government, Ms. Chamberlain said the issue needs to be underscored."You have to say it again, because this is an important thing," Ms. Chamberlain said.Asked if the MPs' encouragement might be seen as an effort to get Dr. Crane to lean on the government, Ms. Chamberlain said she didn't believe so."I don't know. I don't think so," she said. "I mean, to me this was just an exchange of how he saw things, and it isn't anything different than what we had read in the newspapers." She added that the meeting was not held in secret, nor was it conducted in the U.S. embassy, as originally reported, but in Parliament's West Block.She also said she believed the story was politically motivated by enemies of the MPs who wanted to make them look bad at the kickoff of a three-day caucus meeting in North Bay yesterday.NDP Leader Jack Layton said Liberal backbenchers should seek their counsel on issues from people within the country. "I would certainly be distressed if that was happening in my caucus," he said, adding: "We tend to go to Canadians for advice, not Americans."In North Bay yesterday, Liberal MP John Godfrey said MPs have every right to meet U.S. officials, but said that if the Foreign Affairs reports are accurate, the MPs would appear to have pushed the limits. ". . . Whether it's fair ball to try and use the United States system to put pressure on the Canadian system seems debatable."Complete Title: Not Leaning on U.S. To Halt Marijuana Bill, MP Says After MeetingWith reports from Campbell Clark and Kim Lunman.Source: Globe and Mail (Canada)Author: Brian Laghi Published: Wednesday, August 20, 2003 - Page A7 Copyright: 2003 The Globe and Mail CompanyContact: letters globeandmail.caWebsite: Articles & Web Site:Cannabis News Canadian Links Far Will MPs Go To Torpedo a Bill? Group Sought U.S. Help To Derail Pot Bill Brings Anti-Pot Message To Ottawa
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