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Ex-Marijuana Party Head Running As Liberal

Jim Finnel

Fallen Cannabis Warrior & Ex News Moderator
MONTREAL (CP) - Marijuana party founder Marc-Boris St-Maurice is seeking the federal Liberal nomination for the byelection to be held in Gilles Duceppe's Montreal riding.

St-Maurice's announcement on Saturday came a day after the Bloc Quebecois leader launched his bid for the top job with the Parti Quebecois.

Duceppe, 59, said he will leave his Ottawa post in hope of taking the reins of the Quebec separatist party.

The Bloc leader faces another seasoned political veteran in former PQ cabinet minister Pauline Marois, who tossed her hat in the ring minutes after Duceppe.

For St-Maurice, a long-time advocate of the decriminalization of marijuana, gunning for a spot with a major party is a test to see how much weight is carried by his run-ins with the law.

"I do have a criminal record for marijuana possession and that has worried some, however, there are several sitting members of parliament that do have criminal records for impaired driving," said St-Maurice, who left the Marijuana party in 2004 to join the Liberals.

"I would argue that possession of marijuana is by far a lesser evil than impaired driving and other criminal records."

Running in a byelection instead of a general election would "insulate" the party from his past, said St-Maurice, a former bassist for the Montreal rock band Grim Skunk.

The 38-year-old joined the Liberals because of their push to reform cannabis laws. He believes his prior convictions would not be a crime today if the party still formed the government.

St-Maurice also said he has a "tremendous amount of respect" for Liberal Party Leader Stephane Dion and even worked on his leadership campaign.

"He's aware of my background, he's aware of what I stand for," St-Maurice said of Dion, who could not immediately be reached for comment.

No date has been set for the byelection in Laurier-Sainte-Marie, which Duceppe has held since 1990.

The Liberals finished third in the riding behind the New Democratic Party in the 2006 general election. They last took Laurier-Sainte-Marie in 1988.

As well as being founder of the federal Marijuana party, St-Maurice also helped create the provincial Bloc Pot.

Since 2000, St-Maurice battled prominent names such as former prime minister Paul Martin, Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day and Duceppe in two general elections and two byelections.

In Laurier-Sainte-Marie, which covers part of downtown Montreal, Duceppe has been too busy leading a national party to pay attention to local issues, St-Maurice said.

"It's time we had someone whose heart and whose feet are in the riding to represent the people," said St-Maurice, who has lived in the riding for about 20 years.

Meanwhile, Duceppe, Canada's longest-serving federal leader, is expected to officially announce his bid for the PQ leadership Monday in Quebec City.

News Hawk- User 420 MAGAZINE ® - Medical Marijuana Publication & Social Networking
Source: Canada.com
Author: Andy Blatchford
Contact: About | canada.com
Copyright: 2007 CanWest Interactive
Website: Ex-Marijuana party head hopes to roll as a Liberal in Duceppe's home riding
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