Cameron Wigmore, Green Party Member: Harpers Drug Policy For Getting Votes

October 8, 2007

Harpers Drug Policy For Getting Votes

Harpers Drug Policy For Getting Votes - Not Saving Lives Or Making Canada Safer

A friend pointed out this article in Le Devoir by Gil Courtemanche commenting on Harpers doomed War on Drugs. The original publication is in French, and this link will take you to the English translation of the article. Here are a few paragraphs.

...We also learned Thursday that Stephen Harper will keep his old Beatles records even if his children wonder about certain lyrics that sing the praises of forbidden substances. Here's a wonderful example of the Prime Minister's openness of mind, a tolerance that extends only as far as the words to songs. For the poor teens who might be tempted to follow the smoking trails of the Fab Four, it will be zero tolerance. We're far from the time when the Chrétien and Martin governments pondered decriminalizing the simple possession of marijuana. The times have changed and the police have clearly felt it. In 2006, in Canada's principal cities, including Montréal, arrests for simple possession of cannabis have increased 20 to 50%, depending on the city. At the same time, a UNICEF study discovered that Québec is the champion of cannabis consumption among industrialized countries. According to that study, 40% of youth aged 11 to 15 consume some cannabis from time to time. These are not addicts, but occasional consumers. Nonetheless, under Mr. Harper's ferule, they will be considered veritable criminals. That's almost half our adolescents who run the risk of finding themselves with a criminal record. Mr. Harper also announced that we will establish minimum sentences for dealers. The teen who buys five joints and sells three to his pals will become a dealer just like some Hell's Angel.

In its fight against drugs, in its fight against juvenile crime, in its approach to border security, the Conservative government has resolutely adopted the American approach of repression and ever-longer prison sentences. In the United States, this policy has not changed the crime rate and has had the effect of growing the prison population at a vertiginous rate. The United States is the country with the highest rate of incarceration among all industrialized countries. And, of course, the majority of that population is constituted of minority citizens and poor people who can't pay for competent lawyers. That's the road down which the Conservative minority government wants to take Canada. And meanwhile, in Ottawa, the opposition is desperately looking for a gimmick so that elections can be avoided and Stephen Harper allowed to pursue his Americanization of Canada.

Here is a first draft of a letter to the editor I'll be sending off to the Nanaimo News Bulletin:

Letter to Editor Re: War On Drugs Doomed Again (Nanaimo News Bulletin Oct 6th)

I’d like to give thanks to the Harper government for a new ‘war’.

Like in the USA where the ‘war on drugs’ has been ongoing for decades, this Canadian effort will likely create many jobs in the areas of law enforcement. We will, over the long term, likely need to build more jails (as they have needed to do in the USA) in order to house non-violent offenders, and our recently announced federal tax surplus will surely help to pay for this ongoing cost. Never mind that incarceration will cost more than rehabilitation; Mr. Harper clearly believes that the jobs created are more important than the negative costs to our society. These fellow Canadians – these neighbours, coworkers, family and friends of ours – they’re only addicts after all, right? Mr. Harper says lock ‘em up!

Treatment and rehabilitation sounds too ‘nice’ for Harper government’s ‘every man for himself’ ideology. Although treatment and rehabilitation are proven to be effective, long term incarceration sounds braver & more prideful. Thank you Mr Harper for choosing to create a job for our country which the USA has already proven we will never be able to complete.

I am a recovered addict with seven years clean & sober. I’ve just brought my family to Nanaimo, and soon we’ll be purchasing a house. After using drugs for nearly a decade, I managed to make it out of active addiction disease free and with no criminal record, and this is largely due to the community support and addiction recovery services that were available to me prior to getting clean. I’m not shy about this fact; I’m proud of the man I am, and I’m grateful to be living in this country with a history of giving and sharing that shows we take care of ours.

Thank you Mr Harper for trying to take these opportunities away from other Canadians.

Cameron Wigmore
Nanaimo, B.C.

From the 2006 Green Party of Canada Platform:
Green MPs will work to:
- Support a public health framework to reduce the use of psychoactive drugs through rehabilitation and prevention especially for children.
- Assist provinces to increase the number of detox and treatment beds for drug and alcohol rehabilitation, create safe injection clinics, needle exchange programs and access for certified addicts to prescriptions for safe doses.

More background on me and the GPC policy on addiction & drugs here.

A few more links on this...

U.S.-style war on drugs will fail

What's Harper Smoking? (<---this is a great article!)

PM's Anti-drug Drive 'Uninformed'

Minimum sentences for pushers called repugnant READ THIS STORY!

Harper drug strategy `depressing,' Insite head says


Cameron W said...

BC residents support liscence extension for Insite - Vancouvers supervised injection site (PDF)

Cameron W said...

Supporting Insite unethical, Clement tells doctors

Dr. Day said the "minister is off base in calling into question the ethics of physicians" and accused Mr. Clement of "manipulating medical ethics to make a political point."

Dr. Day noted that in a poll of Canadian physicians, 79 per cent supported harm-reduction measures, including safe injection sites.

"We have an opinion based on scientific evidence. The minister has come to a different conclusion," he said.

Carolyn Bennett, the Liberal public-health critic and a physician, was livid after the minister's speech.

"I've never seen such an offensive performance by a health minister," she said. "How dare he come to a meeting of professionals and scold them about their perceived ethical failings."

At Insite, a small facility in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside, drug users inject themselves while supervised by nurses and physicians, and receive counselling about rehabilitation.

Clean needles are provided, but drugs are not; the principal purpose is to limit the spread of infectious diseases. Insite was granted an exemption from federal drug laws in 2003 so its users cannot be prosecuted for drug possession.