Nova Scotia

PC leadership candidate apologizes for comments about marijuana-smoking in Jamaica

MLA for Cumberland North Elizabeth Smith-McCrossin said in the legislature on Tuesday she worried new cannabis laws would impact the work ethic of Nova Scotians, comparing it to "very low productivity in Jamaica."

'I ... did not feel that my comments would be viewed in a negative light,' Elizabeth Smith-McCrossin says

A woman with blonde hair.
Elizabeth Smith-McCrossin, a candidate in the Nova Scotia Progressive Conservative Leadership race, has apologized after comments she made in the legislature that were labelled as racist. (CBC)

A leadership candidate for the Nova Scotia Progressive Conservative Party has apologized after comments she made in the Nova Scotia Legislature on Tuesday were labelled as racist.

According to the Hansard transcripts, MLA for Cumberland North Elizabeth Smith-McCrossin was speaking against the legalization of cannabis when she said:

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

Community activist El Jones wrote a Facebook post calling the comments racist and saying they were unacceptable.

"This kind of anti-Blackness, so casually inserted in debate, is disturbing. As is portraying Black people as lazy and unproductive," Jones said in her post.

Could have been any country, MLA says

On Wednesday evening, Smith-McCrossin put up a Facebook post of her own, saying she was sorry if her comments "were hurtful."

"Had I known that this statement would have caused offense, I would never have made it," she wrote.

"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."

Smith-McCrossin went on to say she is open to meeting with anyone offended by these comments "to better appreciate their perspective and ensure my words are better chosen in future."