CANNABIS CULTURE – The anti-prohibition wing of Canada’s New Democratic Party is being blocked at every turn from having a presence at the party’s Federal Convention in Halifax this August.
Marijuana activist and former CC Editor Dana Larsen says End Prohibition, a group he founded for NDP members who want to end the failed War on Drugs, is being excluded from the convention with no explanation.
The following is a letter from Larsen:
End Prohibition ad and table blocked, & I’m banned from the NDP Convention page
AD IN CONVENTION GUIDE BLOCKED
During the month of June I booked space for two quarter page ads in the Convention Guide for the coming NDP Convention in Halifax.
One ad is for End Prohibition, and says “Thank you to the NDP for standing up against the Conservative’s failed War on Drugs.” It includes a quote from Libby Davies and contact information for End Prohibition. You can see it here: http://tinyurl.com/endproh-ad
The second ad is for the Vancouver Medical Cannabis Dispensary Society, a provincially-registered non-profit society of which I am a Director. This ad says “Thank you to the NDP for standing up for the rights of medicinal cannabis users.” It includes an image of a marijuana leaf and the contact information for the Dispensary. You can see it here: http://tinyurl.com/n78ke9
After booking the ads well in advance and then sending them in shortly before deadline, we were suddenly told after the deadline had passed that the ads were not acceptable.
I spoke with Drew Anderson, the fellow who is apparently in charge of producing the convention guide, on Friday, July 3. He said he would email me a copy of their policy on advertising which didn’t allow us to advertise. But instead on Monday July 5 he sent me an email which said only: “As promised, I am following up on our conversation from Friday in writing. The ads that you submitted are not consistent with our advertising policy. As such they will not appear in our Convention guide. Thank you. Drew Anderson.”
I wrote back and asked again to see a copy of the actual advertising policy, as well as to please know who is responsible for making the decisions. I also offered to make changes to the ads if possible so as to bring them into line with policy. Drew has not since replied.
On Thursday, July 9, I called National Director Brad Lavigne and spoke with him personally on the phone.
Brad said that he wasn’t aware of the situation, and that he didn’t oversee every ad decision in the Convention Guide. He gave me the impression that Drew was acting on his own.
Brad Lavigne took my phone number and said that he would call me back soon. As of the end of business on Monday, July 13, I have not heard back.
I know that last week Brad was also sent emails from MPs Libby Davies and Bill Siksay asking about this matter. To my knowledge neither Davies nor Siksay has received a response either.
TABLE BOOKING STALLED
Along with trying to book an ad in the Convention Guide, End Prohibition and the Vancouver Medicinal Cannabis Dispensary Society were both trying to book table space at the Convention. It is usual for many social advocacy and non-profit groups to pay for a table at NDP Conventions, and End Prohibition had a table at the last federal convention in Quebec. (We’ve also had tables and ads at many provincial NDP Conventions across Canada over the past three years.)
Our requests to book a table for these groups are now all going unanswered. Emails and phone messages from our groups are not being replied to. Clearly no table space will be made available for either of these groups, and no explanation as to why we are blocked is forthcoming.
PERSONALLY BANNED FROM POSTING ON OFFICIAL FACEBOOK PAGE WALL
The NDP has created an Official Facebook Page for the Convention. There are two Admins who control the page, Jen Anthony and Marena Winstanley.
The page is here: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=92933656333
Over the past few weeks I have made three posts to the Facebook page wall, and all of them have been deleted within 48 hours or less.
I don’t have the exact wording anymore, but the first post was made around June 29 and said:
* If you are an NDP member who supports drug policy reform and wants to come to the Convention, contact [email protected] for information on how we can help to get you there.
The second post was made around July 9 and said:
* Why are the Resolution Priority Panels being held BEFORE the Call to Order?
The third post was made in July 11 and said:
* Long live the NDP! Jack Layton for Prime Minister.
Although there are many other posts from NDP members on the Facebook wall, all of mine were deleted within 48 hours or less of being posted.
I sent a message to Jen Anthony and Marena Winstanley, who are the two admins on the page, and who are both “Convention Organizers” in some way. I politely asked if they knew why my posts get deleted.
Jen didn’t reply, and Marena sent me a reply which said simply:
* I’m afraid I don’t have much to say in response to your messages. These are not my decisions to be made.
I replied asking politely who it is that is making these decisions, but I have received no further response.