Former interim Liberal leader Bob Rae thinks Canada is missing opportunities created by legalizing cannabis

1 of 1 2 of 1

Former Liberal MP Bob Rae didn't stick around long in Parliament after Justin Trudeau was elected as leader of his party.

Rae, the party's former interim leader, announced his resignation as an MP just two months after Trudeau won a resounding victory in the Liberal leadership race in April 2013.

Since then, Rae, now a professor in the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy, has not spoken out against Liberal government policies.

But this morning, this loyal Liberal foot soldier issued what could be construed as a criticism of Health Canada. And it concerned its handling of cannabis since it was legalized in October 2018.

"Canada losing competitive advantage in cannabis research and product development that should have followed from the legalization decision," Rae tweeted. "Valuable time and opportunities being lost."

Among those who retweeted this message was former Progressive Conservative prime minister Kim Campbell.

Rae expressed these concerns after CTV Vancouver reporter Penny Daflos revealed that only 65 new research licences have been approved by Health Canada, while another 250 remain mired in bureaucratic reviews.

"Some people don't even try because it's so difficult," Simon Fraser University PhD candidate Bertrand Sager told Daflos.

Sager wants to investigate the impact of cannabis on how people drive by using a simulator. 

“The requirement seems to be geared towards R and D on cannabis products, which is not what we're doing," he told Daflos.

After becoming interim Liberal leader in 2011, Rae told the Straight that he wanted his party to let facts and evidence determine its positions.

“If you look at the criminal-justice issue, for example, I think we need to really mobilize opinion that throwing people in jail because they have five marijuana plants is really kind of preposterous,” Rae said during this interview back.

He elaborated on this by citing how experience in the United States demonstrated that jailing more people doesn't reduce crime or violence, and doesn't increase people's security.

"Public policy needs to be based on evidence, based on facts—people’s understanding of the facts," Rae said. "The same is true with climate change. The same is true for economic policy where I think we need to be more creative about how we’re going to innovate successfully as a society.”

Discuss