The last 5 polls that I have seen on the subject show that a majority of Canada’s support marijuana legalization and by a fairly large margin. More to the point it is something that is particularly popular with the Liberal base. According a 2007 poll, for which the complete breakdown is available, support is 55-41 nationally and is favoured by Liberal supporters 68-29 and by NDP supporters 71 -27.
The way to drum up grassroots support is not pass policies that they are firmly against and then ask them to donate money.
As to the political calculation involved here, it is not one that is going to work for the Liberals. The political advantage the Conservatives get from this is not from their being major differences between the major parties, but from the tone of debate generally. So long as the only option is get tough on crime or stay the course, the Conservatives are going to win the issue. They are the ones that started the discussion and they are always going to be the ones deemed toughest on crime. The only way the crime issue turns around for the Liberals is if they offer an alternative vision. Now I now that I have beaten this issue to death, but if the Liberals were to propose to legalize marijuana, they would catch the Conservatives flat footed.
The Liberals really need to take a stand. They can not continue to straddle both sides of political divide. When it comes to marijuana for example their position on possession has been pretty lax since Chretein quipped that he would have a joint in one hand and the money for his fine in other. At the same time, they have been ever more supportive of tougher penalties for drug trafficking . To say that such stances are mutually inconsistent would be an understatement. How can consuming a joint be no worse than speeding and something virtually every Liberal leader can laugh about but passing one worthy of a year in jail?
Early this week John Reynolds came out in support heroin maintance. On Sunday Ignatieff gives a talk in West Vancouver, Reynolds old riding. The fact even the provincie's most preeminent Conservative is light years ahead of where the Liberals just goes to show how out of touch Liberal position is with movers and shakers in Vancouver.