Saturday, December 03, 2005

What are the Tories smoking?

I'm not happy with the free vote in Parliament on the issue of gay marriage. And I'm not happy with the health care policy unveiled by the Tories. Here was an opportunity to put forward a policy--that of a private parallel tier for health care--that would significantly and immediately improve Canada's health care system. And now, today, another policy plank is presented which I think will really help to boost Canada's prison population. Mandatory minimum sentences for pot growers. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

He said that crack dealers, marijuana grow operators and crystal meth manufacturers "have to know that if they are caught, they will not get a slap on the wrist."

"They will go to prison," Harper told a crowd in Burnaby, B.C.

"It is a serious crime, and they will do serious time."

No, Harper, growing marijuana is not a "serious crime." Not according to most Canadians who view the "dangers" of marijuana on a par with the dangers of stray golf balls.

"A Conservative government will not reintroduce the Liberal plan to decriminalize the possession of marijuana, and we will never endorse the NDP idea of legalizing it outright," the Conservative leader said.
In other words, a Conservative government is not really interested in individual liberty. Instead, it is interested in producing more criminals, and pursuing an archaic and barbaric policy of throwing people with artificially induced munchies into the clink.

It's disingenuous of the Tories to call the idea of legalization an NDP idea, especially in light of the Fraser Institute's support of legalization, and the Senate Report that also urged legalization (not decriminalization), of marijuana.

This is such a backwards and horrendous idea. I thought Harper was a classical liberal (that's what he told me, anyway, I guess a long time ago now). I guess not.


Anonymous ollivia said...

being against drug distribution, growth and/or consumption doesn't necessarily make you anti-civil liberties!

3:28 p.m.  
Blogger P. M. Jaworski said...

You're right. But it does make you opossed to individual liberty with respect to this issue. That's what I'm worried about here.

3:36 p.m.  
Blogger angryroughneck said...

It very sad when a pinciple are inconsistent which only confuses the voting public. Explaining the principle of individual liberties should be #1 for all conservatives

3:45 p.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

But you have to also consider the US trade relations factor. If Canada legalizes pot, this will really hurt our economic ties with the US. For better or for worse, our economy depends upon good relations with the States.

Canada can maintain the status quo laws on pot, but yet, by convention among the police, not focus so much on this and other small fish, but on the bigger law and order issues like organized crime, hard drugs, and all the theft that goes along with it.

Consider, for example, the speeding laws on our roads. Most highways are 100km -- that's the law on the books -- but by convention the police only pull over those who are doing over 110 or 115 or even 120km. Keeping the 100km law in place gives you an effective tool to deal with those idiots who are driving 145 and endangering everyone else's lives. The same kind of principle here could also be applied to pot.

4:37 p.m.  
Blogger P. M. Jaworski said...

I agree, annonymous, that our relationship with the U.S. is of paramount importance. You can read my letter to Bev Oda (my member of parliament) with regard to the Emery extradition case here:

I mention the relationship, and worry that comments from some idiot Liberals might make this issue more complicated.

Still, I see NO reason to put forward this policy. A Harper government wouldn't have to worry about goodwill from a Bush Presidency. And neither do we have to follow a hard drug policy to get traction in the U.S. either.

7:02 p.m.  
Blogger Michael Cust said...

"But you have to also consider the US trade relations factor. If Canada legalizes pot, this will really hurt our economic ties with the US." -- Anonymous

False. The U.S. will *never* seriously disrupt the flow of trade between Canada and the U.S. because of marijuana legalisation. No one in Washington believes it will happen.

Only the Canadian media, and the Canadians who listen to them, are gullible enough to fall for that bit of misinformation out of the U.S. Drug Czar's office.

The U.S. trade lobby has far more sway than the American drug war machine. If more Canadians visited Washington, they would realise that this is the case.

American officials in charge of the war on drugs say whatever is necessary to prevent Canada from legalising marijuana. If Canada were to legalise pot, our crime rate would fall *substantially*. The reason there is crime in the pot trade, but not the alcohol trade, is because alcohol is recognised as legal property. There is no incentive to use violence in the trade because police protect the production of alcohol. Once the marijuana crime disappeared in Canada, the U.S. would follow suit and American drug warriors would be out of a job. This is why they say whatever they must to stop marijuana legalisation.

In this case, what American government officials say and what they actually prepared to do are two very different things.

There is a reason why the above post was made by "Anonymous" instead of a person willing to put their name on a public web log.

7:15 p.m.  
Blogger Steve said...

There was always something inconsistent with the Liberals' decriminalization policy in that it called for decriminalization of simple possession while increasing penalties for its distribution. Alas, it was also another of their empty campaign promises.

The only reason I can see for them never passing it is to string along hopeful potheads to vote for them yet again.

I agree with you completely with respect to the issue of individual liberty. I do not recall this policy being agreed to by the party, although I cannot confirm this because the policy document from last year's policy convention has disappeared from the CPC web site. We did, however, discuss a proposal to legalize pot at a regional conference in Montreal, but in the end, the consensus was to support decriminalization.

I really do not see how interfering with individual liberties with respect to recreational drugs will help the party. It will just reinforce the perception that the socons are running this show and want to tell everyone how to live. This is not a Conservative policy; it is a reactionary policy that confuses cause with effect. The war on drugs is a losing battle.

9:18 p.m.  
Anonymous Peter Jay said...

Sorry to break it to you Mr. Heavy (aka Anonymous). You don't know how the US would really react. I don't care who you talked to. That decision would be partly based on politics and it would be front page in the US if we decrimalized pot. And they won't care about the difference between decriminalization and legalization. And we will have put another stick in the American eye which we don't need right now after Iraq and missile defense.

I live in Vancouver and my neighbour smokes between 5 and 10 joints a day (not an exaggeration) oftimes while walking the sidewalks (of course, like every serious pot head, he is a completely lazy slob). He won't get arrested and everybody knows it and what Harper is saying won't change it. Let's leave well enough alone.

2:16 a.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

First, I want to thank Michael, Jaworski, and Peter Jay for their comments, and to thank Jaworski for letting me comment on this blog since I don't have my own (re: Cust's comment above).

I'll admit that I may have overstated the case about the US trade relations factor. I think Michael may be right that the US trade lobby has more sway than the drug war lobby.

But I still maintain my earlier point about maintaining the current laws on the books about marijuana. By convention the police can leave occasional pot users alone and focus on the hard drugs and the organized crime that goes along with it. The laws don't need to be changed for the police to act accordingly. Leaving the pot laws the way they are will mean that those laws can be used as an effective tool by which to go after those idiots who run grow-ops and shoot RCMP officers. But by convention the police can leave the average joe moderate pot user alone. It's similar to, for example, the police not pulling over the person who speeds 5 or 10km over the 100km limit, but it's good to leave the 100km limit the way that it is so that the police have a tool to punish those idiots who are doing 40 or 50 over the limit and endangering everyone else's lives.

1:14 p.m.  
Blogger Iñaki Mondragon said...

Peter, your dismay with the Conservatives strikes me as akin to that of the socialist who believes the Liberals to be a left-wing party.

Don’t social conservatives control the Conservative party? Don’t these guys have a proven fixation with using the state to regulate what individuals can and cannot do with all of their orifices?

How do you explain the massive Conservative success in fundraising? I think it’s only a matter of time before it comes out that it’s mostly taking place through churches, possibly with aid from the United States. If the Conservative “grassroots” cared more about cutting taxes than hating queers, that fact could be expected to translate into a higher circulation figure for the Western Standard.

Meanwhile, Paul Martin cut the Canadian state down to its smallest size in sixty years. Until you get a leader like Mike Harris that wouldn’t wimp out on the health care issue, why not support Martin, who has made his career implementing the Washington Consensus in Canada?

2:30 p.m.  
Blogger Michael Cust said...

Prohibition causes violent crime (and property crime). Prohibition does not, as you suggest, help stop it.

Right before alchohol prohibition ended an RCMP officer in southern Alberta, S.O. Lawson, was shot dead by rum runners. This is similar to the Mounties shot by pot grower Rozko. When is the last time Labatt's or Molson's shot a mountie? Exactly. When a drug goes from illegal to legal, the violence disappears.

The trade of drugs should be legalised before the possession. This issue is about ending crime more than it is about protecting the personal liberty of drug users.

The cause of violence in the drug trade is a lack of property rights. Because drug dealers cannot call the police when their person or property is threatened, violence becomes a competitive advantage for their competitors. Further, because pushers cannot access the courts when their business contracts go awry, violence becomes a rational means to settle business disputes.

Police enforcement and court punishment cannot stop violence because they are the cause of it.

8:34 p.m.  
Blogger P. M. Jaworski said...

Steve, your post on Conservatism is great. It was part of the spur that made me post the "compendium of conservatives on drugs" thing.

Inaki writes:
"Meanwhile, Paul Martin cut the Canadian state down to its smallest size in sixty years. Until you get a leader like Mike Harris that wouldn’t wimp out on the health care issue, why not support Martin, who has made his career implementing the Washington Consensus in Canada?"

I can't, in good conscience, support the Liberal Party, I'm afraid. I am disappointed by the promise of Harper, and the difference in practice. He seemed like he would be a Harris-style Tory, destined to push through classically liberal policies, and shrink the size of government further. I guess that won't happen.

10:18 p.m.  

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