Thursday 12 December, 2019

Canadian politician 'sorry' for suggesting ganja made Jamaicans lazy

Smith-McCrossin... I am sorry if my comments were hurtful.

Smith-McCrossin... I am sorry if my comments were hurtful.

A woman seeking to lead a conservative party in Canada has apologised for comments she made comparing legalisation of ganja in her state with her view of the laziness of Jamaicans.

Progressive Conservative Party leadership candidate Elizabeth Smith-McCrossin made the comments during a debate on the Government’s Cannabis Act. 

"I am sorry if my comments were hurtful. Had I known that this statement would have caused offense, I would never have made it. These comments do not reflect the views of either the interim leader of the PC Party of Nova Scotia or my caucus colleagues," she said in an apology posted to Facebook.

In debates on Tuesday, she said that legalised cannabis would result in the productivity of Nova Scotia reflecting that of Jamaica's economy.

"I have a best friend in Amherst who is from Jamaica...she said to me 'Elizabeth, smoking marijuana in Jamaica is completely accepted and there's a completely different work ethic and very low productivity in Jamaica'," she was quoted as saying in the debate.

"I think we already have a productivity problem here in Nova Scotia . We do not need something else making it worse."

Her comments received widespread criticism and were viewed by some as racist and insensitive. 

In her apology, she added that, as a registered nurse, she holds strong views about the public health impact of excessive cannabis use. She said her concerns were highlighted elsewhere by former Deputy Prime Minister, Anne McLellan, in her Task Force Report to the Government of Canada, the Canadian Medical Association and Doctors Nova Scotia.

"My comments came about as a result of a conversation I had with a friend of mine who is a woman of colour originally from Jamaica. I made a mistake in my choice of words in the House of Assembly and take full responsibility for that," Smith-McCrossin said.

"I would have said the same about the impact of heavy cannabis use on any country, but because of this particular conversation, it happened to be Jamaica. I sincerely did not feel that my comments would be viewed in a negative light, but I was wrong," she continued. "Again, I apologize for my choice of words and any impression left that this was based on someone’s country, race or ethnicity. I am certainly open to meeting individually with anyone offended by these comments to better appreciate their perspective and ensure my words are better chosen in future." 

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