In a heated live election debate, Prime Minister of New Zealand Jacinda Ardern admits using cannabis ‘a long time ago’. This came ahead of the Oct 17 general election in New Zealand when Jacinda Ardern and opposition leader Judith Collins were involved in a fiery debate.
The question from the debate moderator in New Zealand was simple and to the point: “Jacinda Ardern, have you ever used cannabis?”
“Yes I did,” said Ms. Ardern, the country’s popular prime minister, “a long time ago.”
The moderator paused, looking surprised. Then the audience applauded.
Ms. Ardern later declined to say whether she supported the legalization of marijuana, which New Zealanders will decide in a referendum with the national election on Oct. 17. But by that point in the debate on Wednesday, she had already won another smiley-face emoji from the global left, while reminding voters that she hadn’t always been so earnest.
Ardern, 40, is widely seen winning a second term in office on the back of her success in containing COVID-19 but her rival, conservative National Party leader Judith Collins, has been clawing back support. New Zealanders are also voting on two other issues – on legalizing recreational cannabis and euthanasia – topics that have divided opinions among New Zealanders.
Roughly 80 percent of New Zealand people have tried marijuana, according to many independent studies. This is almost double the rate for Australians, and far above what Americans report, too. So when Ms. Ardern acknowledged her past drug use, the nation of five million and the world was surprised and confused too.
Both the leaders talked about a number of topics including Donald Trump. When they were asked if the American President Donald Trump was a dangerous influence on the world.
Collins talked about the recent peace deal between Israel and some Gulf nations and appreciated Trump. He said – “That`s better than war. He hasn`t been ready to rush into war”.
To which Ardern shot back saying: “It is a worry when the best thing you can say is we haven`t had a war?”
Ardern last month also rubbishes Donald Trump’s statements that New Zealand was experiencing a surge in COVID-19 as “patently wrong”.
“The idea that we would be compared to the outbreak in the U.S. by President Trump, I reject that and I stand by my response,” said Ardern, whose brand of liberal, inclusive, and compassionate leadership has led to some people labeling her “the anti-Trump”.
New Zealand has had 25 coronavirus related deaths, among the lowest in the world, while fatalities in the United States have crossed 200,000. The comments came just hours after Trump and Democratic rival Joe Biden battled fiercely in a chaotic and bad-tempered first debate marked by personal insults and Trump`s repeated interruptions. The two were involved here too for the Presidential debate of the U.S. scheduled after a month.
People are giving mixed opinions on the debate between the two leaders of New Zealand. Who exactly has managed to win more hearts of New Zealanders will be decided by the polls of general elections on Oct 17.