It seems as though we are about to embark on a surreal journey—a journey that begins with a package wrapped in fairy tale promises and tied with a ribbon of puritan ideals. But inside this package is a socially destructive black hole, or vortex, with a price tag so high that it must be convincing teachers and nurses to quit their jobs and go where the “real” money is.
It is hard to imagine that the Canadian government, rather Harper government, is set to employ laws that have been advised against by criminologist, the Canadian Bar Association, law enforcement officers, among many other relevant experts. The very laws the United States are moving away from due to their staggering cost and ineffectiveness at curbing the crime they were intended to discourage.
Bill C-10, the omnibus crime bill, lumps an assortment of completely unrelated criminal issues together—from child abuse and gang crimes, to pardons and small scale marijuana production— because, according to the Conservatives, they want to make us safe as quickly as possible.
The bill, having a wide range of criminal offences covered within it, works well to help divert attention away from the controversial aspects of it. The disconcerting aspects of the bill, like mandatory minimum sentences for growing as few as six marijuana plants, are easy to spin out of the spotlight when they are being addressed. When asked about such a low plant number threshold, it is easy to get most of the population that are too overworked to be able to put any critical thought on the issue to agree or nod their heads complacently by saying something like this: “We aren’t going after the average person who smokes a little pot, we are going after the hardened criminals and organized crime—the gangsters, the traffickers, and the ones who peddle to children. Canadians don’t want drug dealers selling crack in the neighbourhoods where their kids play.” I know I don’t want people selling my kids crack, so maybe this bill is good. But wait, what about the six plants? Oh yeah, that’s for people trafficking. But what is trafficking? Well, Marc Emery was arrested for trafficking when he passed a joint. Six plants can provide a decent stash for you and your friends, but wait, sharing those plants is also trafficking. A judge will not have the discretion to differentiate between an 18 year old sharing his six plant stash with friends and a 199 plant grow headed to an international market through organized crime.
The courts will back up quickly, as the only chance to avoid jail will be a constitutional challenge. B.C.’s bud industry was estimated at seven billion dollars— that’s a lot of people growing. The cost will be staggering. And what about compassion clubs? Will they be considered organized crime and have to face even more severe penalties?
I can’t say that I feel all that unsafe from the crime that bill C-10 is supposed to save me from, but I do feel uneasy (often terrified) about many of the issues the Conservatives seem to endorse, like the tar sands, asbestos mines, their lean towards offshore drilling, the overall environmental policies, and “our” stance on Palestine, etc., etc., etc…