Many readers of Straight.com probably shook their heads in amazement when they read that marijuana activist Dana Larsen is seriously considering a run for the leadership of the B.C. NDP.
In 2008, Larsen quit as the federal NDP candidate for West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky Country after video footage was circulated showing him high on drugs.
Larsen’s close associate, Prince of Pot Marc Emery, has had a love-hate relationship with the NDP for many years.
Some New Democrats—such as Vancouver East MP Libby Davies, Powell River-Sunshine Coast MLA Nicholas Simons, and Vancouver city councillor Tim Stevenson—have consistently opposed marijuana prohibition.
This has put them all in Emery’s good books.
Federal NDP Leader Jack Layton has gone both ways on the marijuana issue. He did little to help Emery when he was locked up in Saskatchewan several years ago for smoking a joint, which didn’t impress Emery.
In addition, Layton was leading the NDP when Larsen and another anti-prohibitionist, lawyer Kirk Tousaw, both resigned as candidates for their recreational use of illegal drugs. In Tousaw’s case, it was marijuana.
Other New Democrats, such as public-safety critic Mike Farnworth, have consistently sided with law-and-order advocates in supporting police efforts to shut down marijuana grow-ops.
Prior to the last B.C. election, Emery wrote an opinion piece endorsing the Greens in part because of Farnworth’s views. (Emery’s wife Jodie was the Green candidate in Vancouver-Fraserview.)
“Mike Farnworth of the NDP has explicitly called for longer sentences, more police, more jails, and more enforcement of the drug laws—but those are precisely the reasons we are in a greater problem than ever before,” Emery stated.
Farnworth is expected to seek the B.C. NDP leadership. But if Larsen recruits hordes of anti-prohibitionists to take out NDP memberships, it could conceivably thwart Farnworth’s leadership hopes.
That’s because if there’s a second or third ballot, Larsen could end up endorsing a candidate other than Farnworth.
If Larsen’s supporters go with him, this could possibly deny Farnworth the B.C. NDP leadership and a chance of becoming premier.
The NDP hasn’t clarified if the next leader will require more than 50 percent of the votes, but that’s the norm in these types of contests.
If there’s a large field, this increases the likelihood of more than one ballot.
There are five members on the party’s leadership rules committee: former MP Brian Gardiner, former attorney general Colin Gabelmann, lawyer and B.C. NDP vice president Lorraine Shore, B.C. NDP vice president and Victoria councillor Marianne Alto, and B.C. NDP provincial secretary Jan O’Brien.
Ultimately, they’re going to decide if Larsen will be allowed to seek the top job and whether the new leader must be elected by an absolute majority of voters.
The rules committee’s handling of these two issues could conceivably determine the outcome of the leadership race. You can bet that Farnworth and Emery will both be paying close attention.
– Article from The Georgia Straight.