B.C. Marijuana Advocate Is Working For Svend Robinson

Pot politics is colouring the Vancouver Centre election campaign after B.C. marijuana advocate Marc Emery urged the federal Marijuana party candidate to pull out in favour of the NDP's Svend Robinson.

But candidate Heath Campbell said Tuesday he is staying, despite pleas from Emery, founder of the B.C. Marijuana party, that Robinson needs every vote. Emery, whose provincial headquarters is in the riding, is not running and is supporting Robinson. He has said he intends to work for him.

The split has pitted the B.C. party, which backs the NDP, against the federal party with its more radical anti-establishment agenda. It is running about 20 candidates across Canada.

Campbell said Tuesday Emery asked him to withdraw at a meeting Monday. "Officially, for their purposes, I am considering their offer. But unofficially, I have no intention of stepping down."

Emery is Canada's best-known marijuana activist, having run for Vancouver mayor. He faces extradition to the U.S. after his Vancouver-based seed distribution business was busted last summer.

Emery was a candidate in Vancouver Centre in the 2000 election, attracting 1,116 votes. He did not run in 2004, after agreeing to support the NDP.

Robinson, a former Burnaby MP, is in a tight race with Liberal incumbent Hedy Fry for the seat in the diverse urban riding.

"It's a very close race and if 500 votes go to the Marijuana party that might have otherwise gone to the NDP, they could lose the election, said Marijuana party of Canada leader Blair Longley, who expects his candidate to stay the course.

Robinson's campaign manager, Sean Hill, agreed the race is tight but said there is no connection between the NDP and the B.C. Marijuana party.