Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Thursday June 9, 2016
Michael Baldasaro, Hamilton’s high priest of pot, dead at 67
Michael Baldasaro, a longtime marijuana activist and perennial candidate for office, has died in a Hamilton hospice after a short battle with cancer.
Baldasaro, a Church of the Universe minister, died early Thursday morning, church member Rev. Juliet Boyd told The Spectator. He was 67.
“It was very quick,” said Boyd, noting Baldasaro had died of prostate cancer that had spread throughout his body.
He leaves behind an uncle, sisters in Ohio and his son, Aaron, who lives in Vancouver.
“And all the church members who adored him,” Boyd added.
Baldasaro, who’d only been in hospice for about week, made it his mission to help those who were ignored by others, she said.
“He bothered with the people nobody else bothered with.”
Mayor Fred Eisenberger said he was “saddened” to hear about Baldasaro’s death.
“Michael was true champion of Hamilton. His commitment to the City and his Church of Universe community was unwavering, but more importantly a genuinely nice man. I will miss his passion and good humour,” Eisenberger said an emailed statement.
“On behalf of the City of Hamilton, our thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends and colleagues. We are sorry for your loss.”
Baldasaro, who ran for the Marijuana Party, sought office at three levels of government in Hamilton since 1984. In 2014, he ran for mayor.
“I’m the common guy,” Baldasaro told The Spectator. “It’s about time we had someone who knows reality.”
He wanted to term limits for the mayoral office and pushed for lower city councillor salaries.
“I’ll take half off the mayor’s pay,” he promised. “I’m encouraging all councillors to do the same thing.”
Baldasaro also advocated for the well-being of drug users, sex workers and the homeless.
“They shouldn’t be in jails. They need help. The police have better things to do than go after these people.”
Church member Karen Coruzzi said Baldasaro gave her a new lease on life after helping her get off the streets and hard drugs 25 years ago.
“He taught me to love myself,” she said. “He’s a great man.”
In 2014, he also ran federally for the Marijuana Party in Hamilton Centre. (Continued: Hamilton Spectator)