The morning after Ontario's top court rules that whoever made the pot laws must have been smoking something funny, Jean Chretien meets his cabinet.
The senior-citizen PM bombs into the room. Slapping the National Post onto the table, he shouts, "Mon dieu -- what good news!"
The assembled ministers, who often find it hard to read their leader's mind, think he's referring to all the ink spilled on Conrad Black's fire sale -- or "that bastard," as they refer to him affectionately. Now that former Manitoba Liberal leader Izzy Asper has as much media control over papers and TV as Pravda used to have in Russia, they'll finally be able to get some good press.
But no, the most powerful man in Canada is looking at the story at the bottom of the page. "Fix marijuana law or it dies, judges order Parliament."
"Let that law burn in hell!" he exclaims, banging his hand on the table. "We will make this an election issue. I will hop on my silver scooter, roll down Wellington Street to the Supreme Court and take the first ceremonial puff."
There's a heavy silence as those assembled take a long drag on that image. Then Paul Martin can be heard clearing his throat. "Prime Minister, I must protest. This will be unfair competition to my good tobacco-manufacturing friends at Imasco, on whose board of directors I once served, and may soon again," he says, and pauses pregnantly. "Rothman's don't even make you feel groovy."
Allan Rock gently places his Evian bottle on the table and motions for his turn to speak. "Of course, I don't agree with the minister of finance. All we have to do is use the warnings that I have with great ability and leadership developed for cigarette packages. For marijuana, we just have to amend them slightly to say "Keep out of the reach of chocolate-chip-cookie-eaters,' because if they get the munchies they won't be able to stop themselves."
Lloyd Axworthy, tanned after a week of digging up land mines in Latin America, has arrived late. "This could be a defining moment for Canada," he says, hoisting his wire rims back up his nose. "We are a kinder, gentler country, and pot makes you kinder and gentler. But you realize, of course, that the Yanks will go ballistic," he says, looking directly at the boss. "They'll yelp about drugs crossing the border, ruining the minds of their youth, blah, blah, blah."
Suddenly, the age-defying PM looks his years. "Tabernacle! I'm playing golf with Bill next week. This is too big a handicap. When's the next rave in Toronto?"