(Image: Political Pandering)
Lets start this blog with simple confession. I hate politics. Passionately. Politics is a representation of everything I truly despise about humanity. Fakery. Trickery. Shallowness. False impressions. Telling people what they want to hear. False honesty. Mass Manipulation. Propaganda. The political world is a real departure from reality that regular people face everyday. Yet, politics strikes passion in people, enough to create anger, and damage friendships.
Unfortunately, as most of us know, despite my negative impressions around the topic in general, I have found that each and everyday my life is affected by a decision made by the political machine we live with. The laws and regulations surrounding almost every moment of our lives is ruled by the folks in ivory towers who have little connection to what the rest of us, living on planet earth, deal with on a daily basis.
While it is tempting to turn our back on this system that no longer seems to serves its original stated purpose, to serve the people, It is only with dire consequences that we do. By disengaging we really only give up what little power we have to affect these influences and outcomes in our life. Even to disengage with intent, from a system that has become clearly out of balance, while seemingly principled really does little to change… well… anything.
So as much as we would like to escape it, there is no choice. Politics is a big piece of the drug war puzzle. But which party most closely aligns with our purposes? This is often a hotly debated topic.
As a drug law reform activist, I have been watching (mostly) quietly on the sidelines as Trudeau-mania part duex has taken hold of our community. I have seen activists I used to respect slam individuals for asking prudent and insightful questions about Justin’s stance on marijuana and other topics. I have witnessed others threatening in facebook posts ‘if you don’t support Trudeau – you are supporting the Cons – unfriend me’
I myself have been caught in a dust up or two. Once where I was pondering on facebook the Trudeau phenomena as it related to the Liberal support for pipelines, that quite frankly, the majority of the people in my neck of Canada aren’t too thrilled about. I had one long-time seasoned activist explain that once Justin legalized it would free him up to be an activist against the pipelines. A nice theory, be it completely naive. By the time we get to a real and meaningful legalization our country would be made of mostly pipelines, the spirit bear will have been turned black, and this particular activist will be a very old man.
No, I am not gifted with future site, just logic. Past performance really does indicate what our future expectations should be. Canada has had a medical marijuana program since 2001 the (Liberal) government’s response to the Ontario court ruling in the Parker case, which declared Canadians have a human right to access cannabis medicines.
Fourteen years of court battles, protests, letters, and debate and we are still fighting for patients to gain reasonable access, and prevent the claw back of regulations that allowed patients to grow. In March the Smith trial will finally address whether patients have the right to use extracts/cookies legally, remedying a gaping hole in the regulations which forced patients wishing to be ‘legal’ to smoke, or vaporize cannabis only.
So if our court forced medical program is any indication, and I believe it is, its unlikely that legalization will come in galloping with the wave of a politicians hand. It is going to take years of ongoing efforts from all facets of the legalization movement to bring in the sort of legalization Canadians deserve.
It was this heavy cloud of reality that was hanging over me when Trudeau first started speaking about legalization. Despite his words, I had a lot of questions as to the ‘truthiness’ of his words. There was an unnerving convenience in his position at a time when legalization has gained its own momentum, thanks to ballot initiatives in the US, and whole countries amending their laws. Thanks to us, and activists like us working hard to beat back the ignorance with our boots on the ground.
It IS exciting to see the topic discussed in a real way by more high profile politicians in Canada, and for that I am thankful. Trudeau has picked up on the will of the people and started addressing it, however, my deep desire to see just law in regard to the cannabis plant does not overshadow the importance of many other things like, as an example free speech.
Last week the Trudeau Liberals came out in support of Bill C-51. Or as Elizabeth May calls it, the secret police bill. I have not sat down to read the bill itself in its entirety (which probably puts me in the same category as the majority of our MP’s) but I DO appreciate that this is a topic that activists across the board are concerned about. Free speech and the freedom to speak without your government spying on you is a cornerstone to a democratic society and ANY new legislation surrounding extending the abilities of CSIS needs to be critically, and adequately explored. Certainly it should give pause to any activist (cannabis or otherwise) who has ever wondered how secure their facebook posts, cellphone, and email are.
On Friday Marc Emery’s public page started posting about this current conundrum.
“To all the hysterical over-reactors who diss the Liberals for supporting the Cons on the CSIS Empowerment bill, tell me then, how will YOU be affected by this latest ‘security’ bill -specifically. I’ve read it and no one who has commented here will be in any way affected by it. in fact, the government is more likely to use its surveillance powers on me than any of you, and I figure it like this; the police have been phone-tapping, following, intercepting my mail, raiding me, arresting me, exiling me, and surveilling me since 1989, so existing laws give them all the power they need for ANYTHING. This new ‘terror-bill’ is just posturing by Harper to intimidate the Liberals and NDP in Parliament, which it certainly has done. This bill means nothing new under the all seeing eye of Big Brother. But prohibition affects all of us every day, altering the lives of millions in Canada. And the Liberals are the only party capable of defeating Harper, forming a majority, and legalizing cannabis.”
With all due respect to the media’s Prince of Pot, AND someone who has in part, personally inspired me to become more outspoken in regards to my position on cannabis, but, I could not disagree more wholeheartedly with his assessment of the situation.
Yes, prohibition is one of the most egregious set of laws our society has ever had to face but as activists, we are not only supposed to care about the things that affect us personally. The fact that I have not personally had my mail intercepted, raided, wiretapped, and so on does not somehow mean that I should not have an opinion on this latest turn of events. All of politic is posturing… Even Trudeaus legalization scheme. Its posturing designed to gain support (because remember legalization is a POPULAR idea), our vote, and our volunteer man hours.
There were plenty of comments, most of them negative to this and other posts of this nature. throughout the day Friday finishing out a with a somewhat revealing post at the end of the day.
“Most critics of this new terror bill threatening to not vote for the Legalization Party here exaggerate their own importance, like the RCMP and CSIS really cares a whit what they think. If you were doing anything interesting (legitimate political dissent or otherwise), you’d be proud to go to jail because of it, I would hope. You would of course have your chance at changing history or being a martyr. While all others remained silent in Canada over all books and magazines about cannabis being banned from 1987 to 1995, only me and a few others (Umberto Iorfida among them) opposed the law and risked getting arrested. I’ve been arrested 28 times for cannabis ‘offenses’, jailed & imprisoned 23 times for a period totalling 59 months. Thats not exaggerated. Thats real. That happens every day in Canada. Prohibition arrests & seizures & forfeitures & child removal, etc.”
Well, I guess I must not be a “proud” activist then because I have ZERO desire or intention on going to jail to prove my point. My goal rather is to stay out of jail, while proving my point. I’ll leave prison for the single activists without responsibilities. My kids, who have first dibs on my time would be scarred by such an event in their life. Yet I absolutely believe that it is essential to the legalization movement for parents like myself to speak out.
These statements reveal a man who has become ‘greenwashed’. That is what I call it when an activist has become so myopic in their desire to see the end of cannabis prohibition that they are blinded to all the possible negative outcomes.
I do not view the Trudeau Liberals as the only clear path to legalization. In fact, I don’t believe that it is a clear path at all. I think it will take as much time with the Liberals as it will take with the NDP or Greens. In fact, since the Greens have been calling for legalization since BEFORE it was cool, I feel their position is more sincere.
They aren’t saying it just because it is politically useful to say it… They have been saying it for decades because it is the *right* thing to do. These are the type of politicians I believe we SHOULD be supporting. The ones who do the RIGHT thing even when it isnt the POPULAR thing.
The legalization movement in Canada has matured and blossomed into something solid. No longer is legalization the primary concern of a handful of radical individuals willing to sell out other important ideals in order to get our voice heard by the people sitting at the table.
We are AT the table. We are comprised of all social and economic statuses, from all professions, religions, and political denominations. Our voice is loud and getting exponentially louder. We are being heard around the world. Science supports legalization. Economics supports legalization. Social Health supports legalization. the majority of Canadians support legalization. In todays social climate it is to a politicians peril that they ignore this growing mass of support and body of evidence.
Politically we will never ALL agree, but one thing we can all agree on is that the Conservatives have to go. They have done enough damage to our country.
To get rid of the Conservatives we must use strategic voting. Campaign for the party that sets your heart afire but vote wisely to be sure that the Conservatives don’t have another shot at destroying Canada further. It is really simple. Before you vote, check the numbers for your electoral district and vote for the candidate who is closest to beating the conservative candidate. Whether they are Liberal, Green, NDP or other… Vote for them and say goodbye to Harper.
Strategic voting may lead us to a minority government. That is not a bad thing. Minority governments force our politicians to work together to get the work done and that means, we (the people) all get a little more power in what happens on the hill. Politicians, wanting to gain the majority the NEXT election will pay closer attention to the will of the people, instead of the will of their party line.
In closing, I want to encourage ALL of you to keep asking those hard questions about our politicians. Keep engaged. Keep your priorities in order. Don’t let anyone, be they the media dubbed Prince of Pot or your Mom, make you feel like you are less than because you are approaching politics with a healthy dose of critical thinking. That is exactly what good activists and good citizens do.