The NDP have had to cut their losses on the Sunshine Coast after all the fuss over B.C. candidate Dana Larsen's drug-taking adventures on YouTube.
It's too bad Jack Layton didn't use this weedy tempest to make a point about the need to reform drug laws in this country.
But Larsen had to be snuffed. Third item on The National is too hard to ignore for a party serious about being taken seriously - although, Stephen Harper seems to have no problem ignoring the trangressions of his gaffe-prone ministers and staffers. But that's another story.
Layton's reptilian instincts got the better of him here. He senses something in the air. Momentum maybe. He can't let the antics of a candidate's misspent youth get in the way.
Layton could have pointed out to the media hounds that the video that got Larsen into so much trouble is almost a decade old; could have reminded them that Larsen has always been very honest and transparent about is marijuana use; that he's a serious candidate with important things to say about the astronomical costs of drug prohibition, as well as the need for a meaningful medical marijuna program.
Let he who has never sinned cast the first stone, so to speak.
Alas, too much for a distracted public to absorb, like cap and trade, or safe injection sites on Vancouver's Lower East Side, which the NDP have so vigorously defended in the past.
The NDP wasn't exactly poised to take the riding with Larsen, finishing a distant third last time. Larsen's untimely departure all but assures the Tories, who lost by a few hundred votes last time out, won't win.
In that sense, the unintended political consequences aren't that bad for Layton and the NDP.
It'll be interesting to see, however, what kind of backlash this reefer madness will have on the NDP vote in Lotusland.
Kirk Tousaw, the B.C. Civil Liberties Association's drug policy committee head carrying the NDP flag in Vancouver Quadra, has already resigned.
There's a significant pro-pot base on the West Coast, that includes Larsen's former business partner Marc Emery, the Prince of Pot himself (the two co-founded Cannabis Culture magazine and the B.C. Marijuana Party).
Emery's in a huff, accusing the NDP of being knee-jerk, knuckling under to the "Conservative's propaganda war" on drugs. Certainly, there's some truth to Emery's charge.
Larsen won the party's nomination fair and square. The platform on his campaign website outline issues that run beyond pot. The lovely photos of Larsen at the opening of his campaign office with 10-year-old daughter Lily suggest a diverse base. Nary a longhaired Bill or Ted in rockstar pose with air guitar to be seen in among those attendance. Look, there's even a few seniors.
Anxious not to let the whiff of reefer hang about his lofty electoral dreams after the Elizabeth May stink, Layton let paranoia get the best of him.
Layton and the NDP can't afford to cut off their friends. The party's base is shrinking.
Even here in Toronto, the party is not running candidates in half a dozen Toronto ridings (Eglinton-Lawrence, Etobicoke Centre, Scarborough Centre, Sacrborough Agincourt, Willowdale and York Centre).
In all, the NDP is not running candidates in 15 Ontario ridings, including four of the five multi-ethnic Mississauga ridings.
The picture gets bleaker on the East Coast, where the party is absent candidates in five of 10 New Brunswick ridings, in four of the seven ridings in Newfoundland and Labrador, and in three of four P.E.I. ridings.
UPDATE: As of 2 pm Monday (September 22), the NDP had filled its roster of candidates just beating the deadline set by Elections Canada. In West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky Country, the NDP is replacing Larsen with Bill Forst, a retired school counselor and former president of the riding association. In Vancouver Quadra, David Caplan, a business lawyer and financial analyst who served in the Canadian Forces, replaces Tousaw. The latest CPAC Nanos poll shows the NDP at 22 per cent in popular support, the Libs at 30, Tories at 35 and Greens at 6.