Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Trudeau's not going to pot in P.E.I.

Gets warm welcome during mainstreeting

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CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. -- Justin Trudeau says he's received "almost universal" praise for his frank admission he smoked marijuana after becoming a member of Parliament.

And that certainly seemed to be the case Tuesday as the Liberal leader did a spot of mainstreeting in downtown Charlottetown.

Young and old alike seemed almost giddy at the prospect of meeting him. They sought his autograph or to have their picture taken with him; several spontaneously thanked him, as one middle-aged woman put it, "for telling the truth, Justin, no matter what."

"The conversations I've had with Canadians have almost universally been about people pleased with the level of openness and transparency that a Canadian politician is demonstrating," Trudeau said later.

Political opponents, in particular the governing Conservatives, have pounced on Trudeau's confession last week he toked up at a dinner party three years ago -- while he was an MP. They've accused him of flouting the law and demonstrating he's unfit to govern.

On the eve of Trudeau's arrival in Prince Edward Island for a three-day Liberal caucus retreat, Fisheries Minister Gail Shea issued a statement contending Islanders have told her the Liberal leader is setting a bad example for their children.

"Raising families in today's society is already a tough job," she said Monday.

However, those Islanders were nowhere in sight Tuesday as Trudeau strolled through downtown Charlottetown.

"Hey Justin, wanna get baked?" called a tattooed, beer-toting, "happily unemployed" Jeff Moynagh, who crossed the street to meet the Liberal leader. Trudeau declined the offer but chatted briefly with Moynagh, who informed onlookers: "There's nothing wrong with weed."

After the encounter, Moynagh dismissed Trudeau's dope-smoking confession as "no big deal."

"He's cool," said the 30-year-old. "I'd probably vote for him over anybody else."

The response wasn't much different from older, more buttoned-down folks along the way.

"I think he's going to make it because he's got his father's je ne sais quoi," said Lise Piekarski, a middle-aged Saint John, N.B., resident, after having her picture taken with the Liberal leader. "He's very... charismatic."

The transparency theme will be carried over into today's national caucus meeting, where MPs and senators are to get a look at how they will go about posting their expenses online, starting this fall in keeping with a promise Trudeau made last spring in the midst of the Senate expenses scandal.

 

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 28, 2013 A11

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