Crawl Across the Ocean

Saturday, September 29, 2007

This is Your Federal Conservative Party on Drugs

Protect nature? Nah, we'd rather spend millions and millions locking up potheads.

I was watching the new show 'Journeyman' the other day, and when the main character finds himself back in mid-80's San Francisco, one of the ways the set directors help let you know it's the 80's is with lots of Reaganesque 'War on Drugs' advertisements in the background. Apparently Harper & Co. must think that the War on Drugs was a big success (which may explain why they were so eager to sign up for the War in Iraq, they must have thought that it would work out just as well as the War on Drugs did - and I guess it has, in its own way)


  • I dunno Declan - I think it's way, way more cynical than that.

    Specifically, while they go centrist in an effort to make inroads in the 905 belts of this country they have to simultaneously pull stunts like this that they know mean nothing (see: Baird,John - handfuls of needles) to shore up the base.

    In the meantime people that really need the help will get squeezed when they use US DoJ turf-stained 'science' papers to justify shutting down treatment and exchange centers.



    By Blogger Gazetteer, at 9:29 PM  

  • I'm sure you're right on the political aspect of it, I just wanted to focus on mocking their policy stupidity. The fact that they may only be pretending to be stupid for electoral gain is neither here nor there for me, really.

    By Blogger Declan, at 10:44 PM  

  • Oh, damn.

    By Anonymous Arwen, at 10:18 AM  

  • Really Declan?

    You don't think it's important to know when sharp, shrewd people are purposefully proposing stupid things in the name of political expediency?


    By Blogger Gazetteer, at 12:55 PM  

  • Well, motive is important, for sure, especially during an election campaign, because so much of what happens between elections is outside of the campaign policy discussions and the party platforms - so you need someone with (reasonably) good character to deal with all the things you won't see or hear about or be able to influence after the election (e.g. selling off Canada's heritage abroad).

    But when we're talking about policy proposals between elections, I tend to focus more on outcomes. I mean, maybe Chretien only brought in campaign finance reform because he wanted to hobble Paul Martin in future elections. Nonetheless, it's good policy. Given a choice between a politician who is always making good policy for cynical reasons and one who is always making bad policy for noble reasons, I'd lean towards the former. Given Conservatives who generally make bad policy for cynical reasons, I tend to focus on the policy aspect.

    Perhaps it is always a campaign and we should always be emphasizing character, but it's not really my nature to do that. There's lots of room and need for other perspectives, of course.

    Arwen - ?

    By Blogger Declan, at 7:38 PM  

  • Declan - Gotta hide my stash?

    No, I was just disheartened as to what this might mean for Insite. The government whacking on that law and order pillar, to the exclusion of sanity: criminalizing addiction or use just over and over doesn't work.

    By Anonymous Arwen, at 11:50 PM  

  • Hello Declan

    I think many peole who believe the "War on Poverty" was an abject failure still believe in fighting poverty.

    Best Wishes,

    By Anonymous Alan E. Dunne, at 5:53 PM  

  • I support targets on dealers and traffickers, but arresting people for pot possession isn't just a waste of time and money, it's pointless. Marijuana is no more unhealthy than anything else we put in our systems, and it has certain health benefits. I do not support any Conservative action plan on cannabis.

    By Blogger Raphael Alexander, at 12:30 PM  

  • The Liberals have long maintained that Canadians should not be saddled with a criminal record for consuming something that is, after all, less harmful than alcohol. It is this light that Chrétien famously joked about having a joint in one hand and the money to pay for the fine of having it in the other. “I will have my money for my fine and a joint in my other hand.” At the same time as they have downplayed the affects of smoking marijuana they have stressed the importance of stiff penalties for trafficking. Taken in isolation such bipolar position has a certain superficial appeal. However, the Liberal policy of decriminalization is inherently incoherent; it is political position; it is an attempt to appeal to both sides of the political divide at the same time and it will not take too much time and effort to show how conflicted the Liberal position is. Indeed, image how ridiculous it would have sounded if this is what Chrétien said? “I will have my money for my fine and a joint in my other hand. Having paid my fine I would hope the cops find the person who sold it to me and put him in jail for a very long time.” This is essentially the Liberal’s current position. The problem is if it not already obvious by now that if the act of consumption is not deemed overly ruinous then the whole punitive rationale for trafficking comes crashing down. Add to the mix an acknowledgment that marijuana can serve a medical purpose and you have a conceptual train wreck as a policy.

    All of this plays right into the Conservatives hands. The public is concerned about the growing number of grow ups and wants something down about it. The Conservatives not only promise action, but are going to blame the Liberals for the increase in grow ups. They are going to say that the Liberals have long sent out mixed messages about marijuana. This has led to increased demand for the product and as a consequence an increased number of grow ups to meet the demand. In order to boaster their case the Conservatives are going to force feed the Liberals their own words. One can count on them repeatedly bringing up the Chrétien quote, Martin joking about strange testing brownies.

    As others have noted, this is all about politics and that it is bad policy does not bother the Tories in the least. In addition to the 905 Harper and company will be looking to score points with Vancouver suburbanites (e.g., North Van and West Van).

    The Liberals have only one effective counter to the Conservative attempt to tar them. They can propose to legalize marijuana, but alas I can not see this happening. Amongst other things, this is a party that is afraid of its own shadow and the Americans would threaten all sorts of bad things.

    The thing is politically it is just crazy enough to work. According to a recent Angus Reid poll 55% of Canadians favor legalization. That is legalization and not decriminalization. It would also fit right into how the Liberals have approached the last few elections.

    It would work out like this.

    Harper has been trying to create distance between himself and his social conservative base and the Bush administration ever since he became Prime Minster. If the Liberals promised to legalize marijuana, not only would Harper find himself in lock step with Campaign for Life and Real Women, but Dick Cheney, George Bush, John Walters, Fox news, the Washington Times, James Dobson, Pat Robinson and the faculty at Bob Jones University will line up behind him. The Liberals could play the nationalist card and social conservative card all at once. The thought of being able to strike a fatal blow the US war on drugs will make Canadians a little giddy. If that was not enough, on the flip side of things, a legion of rock stars, intellectuals, movie stars, and high brow magazines, such as the New Yorker and Harper’s will line up behind the Liberals. Canada would again be “cool”. Imagine a hundred and thousand people or more at a pro legalization concert in Vancouver, say, in the midst of an election campaign. Seattle’s Hempfest regularly draws over a 100,000 and in terms of significance such a concert would, how should I put this?, smoke it. It would not be possible to organize anything now, but should the Liberals announce such a policy now and stave off an election for say another 6 months may be possible. Dion would certainly not lack for name recognition anymore. Overnight he would become a household name, not just in Canada but abroad as well. Continuing on, such a promise would tear the Right apart. Libertarians and social conservatives would be at each other’s throats and the National, Post and great swaths of the Sun Media chain will side with the Liberals on this one! Last but not least the Conservatives would left defending a bunch of talking points that are so discredited they are considered a form of “madness”, “reefer madness”.

    Perhaps the NDP would be interested. By moving around the Liberals Left flank on the marijuana the same way they did on Afghanistan issue the NDP may be able to create needed distance between themselves and Liberals and Bloc in very socially liberal Montreal while at the same time appealing to BC voters.

    By Blogger Koby, at 4:09 PM  

  • Arewen upthread--

    I've got some Insite implications stuff up at my place - and it involves shirking responsibility in the run up to (ie. not between) an election campaign.


    By Blogger Gazetteer, at 12:53 PM  

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