With the bodies of four RCMP still being packed away in body bags, police spin-meisters were working on a way to make their coworkers’ unfortunate deaths a false pretext for tougher laws on pot growing, reveals the police warrant in the case which was unsealed on Friday night (March 3).
It wasn’t long after James Roszko, well known among locals as a psychotic gun-nut, shot four officers on an Alberta farm that the spin took hold. Early news reports, police statements and interjections by government ministers claimed that the officers were killed during a marijuana raid. But CBC News reported on Sunday, March 5 that in fact police were investigating allegations regarding a stolen pick up truck. CBC learned the truth after gaining access to the warrant.
The truth was that Roszko hadn’t even stolen the truck. Rather, he’d stopped making car payments on the vehicle after a dispute with the dealership over repair work. During the repossession, a sheriff called for back-up, and the RCMP who responded stumbled upon a measly 20 marijuana plants, less than many legal medical marijuana patients grow for personal use. The officers also found piles of stolen car parts, and when they called for backup, they did not call the narcotics squad, they called the auto theft unit. The investigation was never a marijuana investigation, but government and police spokespeople have shamefully and opportunistically seized upon these deaths to lobby for tougher grow op laws, fraudulently claiming that it was a narcotics operation from the start.
The result: media throughout Canada have reported that the killing of these officers occurred during a grow op raid, sporting such headlines as “Drug officers cite dangers of grow-op raids” and “grow op maniac kills 4 mounties.” Had police been more honest, the headlines instead may have read, “Botched raid, police supervisors to blame”: for surely they should have known better than to send unprepared rookies from the auto-theft division into a situation so dangerous that most in the community recognized it as a powderkeg ready to explode – a serious lack of judgement on the part of police supervisors.
Tough new laws against growing
Public Safety Minister Anne McLellan is hoping anti-pot hysteria will give her the support she needs for even tougher pot laws, and now supports provisions that would force judges to explain lenient sentences for “major producers”. McLellan would also like to see more money for narcotics enforcement and bigger penalties for growing cannabis.
The new provisions may be introduced as part of an attempt to split the proposed fake decriminalization bill, a push led by anti-pot Liberal MP Paul Szabo, who is infamous for his zealous support of tough anti-drug provisions in the 1995 Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. Activists call the decrim bill “fake” partly because it would double the possible jail time for growing cannabis, while sections devoted to supposedly lightening up on possession wouldn’t apply in most provinces.
Szabo’s idea is to split off the sections of the fake decrim bill that refer to growing, further toughen laws against the practice, and then push it through parliament as quickly as possible. According to the media, Szabo already has the support of 13 of 14 ministers, especially McLellan.
“All of us, whatever role we play in society, need to understand the seriousness of illegal grow ops,” McLellan opined, “that they are not, in any way, a victimless crime, that, in fact, most grow-ops are controlled by and run for the benefit of organized crime.”
Ironically, McLellan seems to have missed the fact that with only 20 plants, cop-killer Roszko could hardly be termed either a “major producer” or a member of “organized drug crime.”
Attack on pot growers shameful
Many Liberals disagree with McLellan, including Treasury Board President Reg Alcock, who said he would vote in favour of legalization.
“If we actually wanted to break the back of organized crime, we would be better off to control it,” he told the press. “When you have these things underground, what you end up fuelling is organized crime.”
Even Conservative Chief Stephen Harper had some wisdom to offer.
“I am reluctant to draw too many links between these events and public policy,? he said. ?Legislation cannot avoid all tragedies. Whenever there is a tragedy like this, there are calls for immediate and drastic action. The left will call for more gun control, and the right will call for tougher penalties. But the truth of the matter: If someone dangerous or disturbed decides to engage in this kind of action, there’s no world in which we can ensure that all of these things can be prevented.”
The showdown came on March 4, at the Liberal Party Convention, when Marc Boris St Maurice, former leader of the Canadian Marijuana Party who recently joined the Liberals, figuratively duked it out against the likes of drug-war supporter MP Dan McTeague.
“I find it a shame that on the heels of this tragedy we have people calling for tougher sentences,” St-Maurice argued. “It is, sadly, a lack of respect, I think, towards those fallen officers to boil it all down to marijuana. By doing that, we’re not serving their interests. We’re missing the boat altogether.”
The convention considered both a resolution to legalize marijuana and another to make the laws tougher. Both resolutins were adopted but failed to make it to a vote on the floor. With any luck, attempts to toughen the laws by Liberal cabinet members will also fail.