An Alberta MLA has drawn parallels between the legalization of marijuana in Canada and the communist revolution in China.
In the Alberta legislature on Wednesday, United Conservative Party (UCP) culture and tourism critic Ron Orr suggested marijuana legalization could lead to human tragedy similar to the one suffered in China during the communist revolution.
“It wasn’t until the 1950s that China began to seriously eradicate the opium trade, the opium business, the opium tax revenue and all of these wonderful things that are supposed to be generated from recreational use of drugs,” Orr said.
“They actually got so serious about it, their whole society was so broken down and debilitated by it, that it contributed to the Chinese cultural revolution under the communists, the execution of thousands of people, dealers were executed, fields were plowed under and planted with real food, and I, for one, am not really willing to go down this road.
“The human tragedy of what’s going to happen with this has yet to be revealed.”
Alberta Party interim leader Greg Clark said he found the comments “odd” and they took away from what should be legitimate discussion around an important issue.
“The rhetoric in that assembly, it baffles me on many days,” he said.
“There are certainly things that the NDP does that concern me, there’s no question. But to equate cannabis with communism, or whatever the heck he did, it defies belief.”
Alberta NDP MLA and Minister of Children’s Services Danielle Larivee called the comments “really ridiculous” and “inappropriate,” adding they do not contribute positively to the conversation.
“We all know that’s totally ridiculous and that’s not contributing in any positive way to the conversation we’re having. Albertans want us to focus on the practical things and their everyday life,” she said Thursday.
“I think there’s some real issues to talk about here and we need to stay focused on what Albertans want.”
Opposition House Leader Jason Nixon urged people to look at Orr’s comments in the full context of the speech.
“I would have used a different language around his argument and I think Mr. Orr now would like to use different language around it. But at its core, what he was talking about was the compassion side of that, and that’s what he was going for. It’s important you look at it in the whole context,” the UCP MLA said.
“When you’re in the legislature and you’re working, sometimes you might use a context that you would choose to use differently at a different time.”
Orr did not stop to speak with reporters on his way into the house on Thursday.
On Twitter, NDP MLA Michael Connolly questioned Orr’s argument and his “grasp on reality.”
The Alberta government is introducing rules to align with the federal cannabis legalization plan, including changes to align its rules with pending Criminal Code amendments.
Marijuana is to be legal across Canada as of July 1, 2018.
LISTEN: Newstalk 770’s Rob Breakenridge shakes his head at the UCP MLA suggesting a revolution is in the works.