As a senator, Vern White will be called on to give weighty questions a sober second thought – something he already does in Ottawa as chief of police.
White will consider Bill C-10, the omnibus crime bill, which he supports in his current role.
“I can’t speak to it as a future Senator because it would put me in a conflict right now,” he said, adding he will be willing to speak up on the bill once he is sworn in.
The bill includes tougher penalties for growing and possessing marijuana. White said Canadians should discuss decriminalization, but with caution. Too often the discussion is oversimplified, he said. For example, he’s often asked whether a teen should get a criminal record for smoking a joint.
“You can say it, but it doesn’t really happen,” said White. “If a 15-year-old is getting charged and convicted to marijuana, it’s not a joint. Either he’s been trafficking in it or it’s secondary to another crime, like an assault.”
The effects of marijuana on mental health should be part of the discourse, as should Canada’s relationship with the United States, he said.
“A large amount of marijuana that’s produced in this country ends up in the United States. What impact would that have on our relationship with the United States?” he said.
Even if Canada decriminalized marijuana, that wouldn’t impact organized crime trafficking it to the U.S., he added.
White said he is also keen to discuss national security, aboriginal affairs and mental-health issues when he becomes a senator.