Politcal speed dating
Standing beside him under the white lights of an industrial grow-op, Nathaniel Erskine-Smith crinkles his face in laughter.
It’s one of the frequent bursts of levity that pierces their roving debate on marijuana legalization, which sees the young politicians wield statistics and competing chains of logic as they follow their scruffy tour guide through this aromatic cannabis factory about an hour south of Ottawa.
“Just the polarization of our democracy.”Indeed, pollsters like Frank Graves at EKOS Research have charted a declining trust in government for decades (though there was a marked bump in the months after the Liberals were elected, from roughly 20 per cent trust to the mid-40s, he says).
“People no longer believe that elites have got their interests at heart,” he says.
That meant getting on could be very valuable indeed.
(But then, the Conservatives went on to win a thin majority, so maybe not.)This all sparked the idea for Powers and Johnston.
Erskine-Smith is flabbergasted, and Genuis tells him he had to deliver his second child at home when his wife went into labour.
“OK, so: MP by day, baby doctor by night,” Erskine-Smith says.
Trudeau’s promises of “real change” rested on bringing a new, less combative tone to Ottawa.
“Yeah, we’re going to add that to our list of constituency services,” Genuis replies.
Later, after a hesitant Genuis is encouraged to sniff a fragrant bud of marijuana, their tour guide suggests they do a selfie.“I imagine when you were first elected,” Erskine-Smith says to Genuis, “you never expected to take a selfie with a Liberal in front of hundreds of marijuana plants.”The idea that political culture could use a dose of peace, love and understanding didn’t spring out of nowhere.
He is adamant that marijuana be legalized and regulated, as his government has promised, to end the troubling spinoffs of prohibition, which include wasted resources policing a relatively benign substance that can also reap medicinal benefits, he says. Like his Liberal opponent, Genuis, 30, is detail-oriented and sharp, and his wonkishness is peppered with a hearty sense of humour.
His stubborn objections to the proposition of legal weed, which seem to similarly exasperate Erskine-Smith and their factory tour guide, are grounded in the assumption that this is a dangerous substance — dangerous to kids, to drivers, to the health of anyone that smokes or eats it. “That’s the root disagreement that we’re never going to solve,” he says.