Former politician Tony Clement, who was known for his anti-drug stance during his political career, particularly during his time as health minister, has joined the advisory board of a company looking to produce and sell psychedelic truffles in the Netherlands.
Clement served as federal health minister from 2006 to 2008, pushing an anti-drug campaign while opposing harm reduction strategies such as safe injection sites. He also voted against legalizing recreational cannabis in 2017, stating there were too many gaps in the legislation leading to concerns including how the government would “protect our children against the dangers of the drug.” Along with other roles in politics, he acted as MP for the Parry Sound-Muskoka riding from 2006 until 2019 when he left politics following a sexting scandal. Clement will serve as a senior advisor for Red Light Holland, assisting in investor relations and offering advice on the company’s compliance and lobbying efforts for international expansion.
Red Light Holland is an Ontario-based company looking to produce, grow and sell psychedelic truffles in the legal, recreational market in the Netherlands. Magic mushrooms and truffles, which contain the active ingredients psilocybin and psilocin, remain illegal to sell, possess or produce in Canada unless authorized for a clinical trial or research purposes. Clement said in a press release from June 24 that he’s honoured to join the company and share his knowledge.
“The psychedelic sector is a fascinating space and one I believe is extremely important for the future,” Clement said. “Through careful research and development, and proper guidance in navigating the complexities of regulatory compliance, policy and legalities, companies such as Red Light Holland have great potential to help people all over the world.”
Todd Shapiro, CEO and director of Red Light Holland, said in the release that Clement was the first to admit that this would have been a difficult position to accept in past years, but he claims that Clement’s “progressive views” were shown through his shared belief in the company’s vision and through Clement’s “extensive research” into psychedelics.
However, some Canadians aren’t so convinced and have used social media to express their frustration with the former minister. Harm reduction advocates along with many others are calling Clement a hypocrite for joining the psychedelic company’s board given his longtime anti-drug stance. Gord Perks, Toronto city councillor for Parkdale-High Park, took to Twitter to criticize Clement’s new role in the psilocybin business.
“It is worth remembering that it took the Supreme Court to force him to accept that access to safe injection service were a right. Even then he found ways to make it impossible to open them,” Perks said in a post on June 25. “A lot of people died so that he could take a strong anti-drug stand. Now that he can get paid to be pro-drug, well that’s different. Angry doesn’t begin to cover what I’m feeling now.”