Prime Minister Justin Trudeau shared a personal story while discussing the government’s weed legalization bill on Monday.
During an hour-long live interview with VICE Canada, the young audience took part in asking the Prime Minister questions about the new bill. And one question about possession charges brought back a memory for Trudeau.
He began by saying that it’s a “story I don’t tell really often, but has helped me in my process in this journey.”
Trudeau said that, months before he passed away, his late brother Michel was in a terrible car accident while driving back across the country from the West Coast. And while clearing up the wreckage, police found a box with a “couple of joints.” Michel was charged with possession.
“When he got back home to Montreal, my dad said, ‘Okay, don’t worry about it.’ He reached out to his friends in the legal community, got the best possible lawyer and was very confident that he was going to be able to make those charges go away,” Trudeau said.
He said the family was able to do that because of resources they had.
“We were able to do that because we had resources, my dad had a couple of connections, and we were confident that my little brother wasn’t going to be saddled with a criminal record for life,” he said.
But Trudeau added that people from minority or marginal communities may not have those options.
“That’s one of the fundamental unfairnesses of this current system, is that it affects different people differently. Canada is supposed to be fair for everybody,” Trudeau said. “That’s one of the reasons why we are going to be changing the laws.”
As the audience member continued his question, he asked Trudeau what will happen to those previously affected by pot possession charges, to which Trudeau said that they would start a process where “we try and look at how we are going to make things fairer for those folks and for you.”
And as The Cannabis Act is set to be in legislation by July 2018, allowing adults to legally possess, grow and purchase limited amounts of cannabis products, Trudeau says the focus now is on fixing what’s broken.
“In the meantime, our focus is on changing the legislation to fix what’s broken, about a system that is hurting Canadians like you, and then we’ll take steps to look at what we can do for those people who have criminal records for something that would be no longer criminal,” he said.