Stephen Harper has a drug problem. Like so many who share the monkey on his back, he likely doesn?t realise that it?s a problem yet, and would be unlikely to admit it if he did. Those closest to him either share the problem or keep silent about it, acting as enablers.
Those slightly more removed recognise the problem, but do not speak out either because they fear repercussions or because they hope to benefit if Harper?s drug problem leads to his destruction. They do not care about those that will be harmed as Harper?s problem spirals out of control.
Like so many before him, Stephen developed his problem by poor choices made early in life. His role models, people like Ronald Reagan, had drug problems of their own. His peers, people like George Bush, have also followed that path.
I don?t mean, of course, that Stephen Harper is running around Ottawa snorting cocaine off the bodies of exotic dancers, shooting heroin in the Peace Tower, or cooking up a batch of methamphetamine every time he returns to Calgary. I have no idea if he does those things, nor am I terribly interested in his hobbies. I feel I should make that clear because Mr. Harper does have a reputation for being both humourless and litigious.
Mr. Harper?s drug problem, at least the one we should be concerned about, is one based in his ideological ignorance. After decades of reports recommending the legalisation or decriminalization of marijuana, Harper has promised that he will scrap the proposed law to soften sentences for possession of marijuana. After years of watching the US war on drugs fail dismally, Harper has promised to adopt a mandatory sentencing regime very similar to the US system. The United States is the world?s largest per capita jailer of its own people and Harper seems poised to follow in their footsteps.
The Conservative platform on drugs is clear. According to Conservative Party website, ?A Conservative government will:
* Impose mandatory minimum prison sentences of at least two years in prison for indictable offences such as trafficking, importing/exporting, or production of Schedule I drugs such as heroin, cocaine, or crystal meth. The mandatory prison sentences would also apply to the same offences involving more than 3 kilograms of marijuana or hashish (e.g., marijuana grow operations with more than 15 plants based on RCMP estimates of 200 grams per plant).7
* End conditional sentencing (house arrest) for all indictable drug offences.
* Increase fines for drug traffickers or producers to reflect the street value of drugs, with escalating fines for repeat offences.
* Prevent the decriminalization of marijuana.
* Make precursor chemicals of crystal meth harder to get. For example, medications containing pseudoephedrine would have to be placed behind pharmacy counters.
* Introduce a national drug strategy with particular emphasis on youth. This strategy will encompass all drugs, not just marijuana, in implementing a nationwide awareness campaign to dissuade young people from using drugs.?
Harper and his party also show little support for harm reduction programs. The future of Vancouver?s safe injection site, a success by most accounts, has been thrown into doubt by Harper?s December 3, 2005 campaign statement that, “We as a government will not use taxpayers’ money to fund drug use. That is not the strategy we will pursue.” Harper considers throwing people in prison, for what the vast majority of medical professionals consider an illness, to be a reasonable response to drug use in Canada. Instead of following the advice of the medical community and the progressive ideas of professionals working with drug addicts, Mr. Harper has chosen to follow the example of George Bush, an untreated alcohol and drug abuser with a history of making decisions based on faith instead of fact.
Given Mr. Harper?s penchant for jailing people for drug crimes, and his reluctance to help people who will otherwise turn to theft to fund their addictions, the question of how much this is going to cost us quickly arises. His strengthening of prohibitions will push the price of marijuana up, drawing even more people into the growing and selling of that drug, and hard drugs will also see a rise in street value, making the importation and sale of cocaine and heroin even more lucrative. Harper will, if he follows through on his campaign promises, increase policing, tie up our court system, and imprison more Canadians.
In the US, the model that Harper is undoubtedly following, mandatory sentences and increased policing have caused a massive increase in the number of people in jail. Canada?s jails are already over-crowded, so we would have to build more of them. Has Mr. Harper taken that into account in the costing of his platform? Given the right-wing doctrine of privatisation, does he intend to follow the US model of privately run prisons?
Stephen Harper has also promised to deport non-citizens who import or sell drugs. No word on whether he would also extradite Marc Emery to the US as soon as possible, but before the election Emery wrote, ?On a personal note, I?d say that voting Conservative is a KILL MARC REFERENDUM for this election.
?It is a certainty that the Conservatives would extradite me to a lifetime imprisonment in the USA. Vic Toews, the likely Justice Minister in a Conservative government, is a nasty fundamentalist and represents the most severe regime possible for the cannabis community. As I have said, if I am extradited to the United States, Canadians will never see me alive again.? Obviously Emery feels that a Harper government would be even worse than a Martin government for him and other Canadians who find themselves threatened by regressive US drug laws.
Even more troubling is Mr. Harper?s lack of a proposed policy on the international drug trade. Will he be using the Canadian military to aid the United States in its war on drugs? Will our peacekeepers find themselves guarding oil pipelines in Colombia as part of that war? Will we be participating in the spraying of drug crops in South America? Will our foreign aid have conditions regarding drug laws? Will our Mounties be training paramilitaries with a history of murdering unionists and indigenous people? The Conservative Party has not said, but they do seem poised to follow all other aspects of Mr. Bush?s failed anti-drug campaign.
How does Mr. Harper feel about the newly elected Bolivian President and ex-coca farmer, Evo Morales? How about Morales? newly appointed Minister of Social Defence, Felipe Caceres, also a former farmer of the cocaine-producing plant? Harper has made no statement about these recent developments, but we can assume that he won?t be pleased. Will he be joining in applying the pressure that the US will undoubtedly place on Morales? How will that affect trade? If the US decides to covertly wipe out Bolivian coca crops will Harper lend his support? Is Harper aware that coca is the base of many Andean Indian folk medicines as well as being a sacred plant in their culture? Does he feel than people in South America are somehow responsible for drug abuse in North America?
Similar questions exist for Afghanistan. Now that a US-led coalition is in charge of the country, Afghanistan has become the world?s largest supplier of heroin. It has become the basis of much of the Afghan economy. Would Harper endorse the draconian and ineffective measures of crop eradication that the Bush regime is prone to, or would he endorse the Senlis Council?s much more progressive attempt to license opium growers and introduce alternative crop strategies? Is anybody in the Conservative Party even aware that there is a shortage of morphine in the world and the detrimental effects that has on medical treatment in developing countries?
The problem with all of these questions is that Mr. Harper, his party, and his supporters seem not to have even considered them. The mention of drugs brings the usual knee-jerk response of ?Lock them up.? That?s a response we?ve been trying since drugs were outlawed in the early part of the last century, and our drug problem has gotten worse instead of better. Our policies have caused crime and violence by producing both a profit motive and a lack of options for addicts. I don?t know about Mr. Harper, but when I?m trying to solve a problem and an attempted solution fails, I generally try a different solution.
That Mr. Harper?s drug problem is considered socially acceptable in the circles he runs in has no doubt allowed it to worsen. That the Canadian mainstream media has failed to take Harper to task for his addiction to a failed ideology indicates that Harper isn?t the only dope in Canada. Perhaps the Canadian people need to stage an intervention.
Article from www.ViveLeCanada.ca.