So my transfer application to serve the remainder of my sentence in Canada is dead, I figure.
Despite getting approval from the U.S. Department of Justice and having the endorsement of my prosecutor, the judge who sentenced me, and Corrections Services Canada, the Conservative Minister of Public Safety Stephen Blaney isn’t signing on.
So I’ll stay at Yazoo Medium here in the ole’ Mississippi Delta (home of the Blues and Jim Crow) until July 9th, when I’ll get taken to a US Immigration facility in Oakdale, Louisiana, held there for three to five weeks while my passport is prepared and a plane ticket bought, and delivered back to Vancouver.
I fully qualified for the transfer in every way, but no matter. I’m home by next summer.
What I didn’t expect was that my transfer application would be used as an opportunity by the Conservative government to publicly demonize me. After Jodie, my amazing wife, so eloquently urged the approval of my transfer at a press conference in Parliament in Ottawa on October 29th with NDP Deputy Leader Libby Davies, Former Liberal Public Safety Minister Wayne Easter, and Green Party leader Elizabeth May, the Conservatives used that occasion to ramp up their very early pre-election rhetoric.
As shown in my previous blog, Conservative Public Safety Minister Blaney’s office released an outrageous statement in immediate response to Jodie’s press conference, and Conservative Members of Parliament Wai Young (Vancouver South) and Wladyslaw Lizon (Mississauga East – Cooksville) made inflammatory statements about me, specifically, inside the House of Commons.
Public Safety Minister Blaney’s spokesperson Jean-Christophe de le Rue: “Individuals who have been convicted of serious crimes should face the full force of the law. And unlike the opposition parties whose primary focus is the drug trade, our government will continue putting the rights of victims first.”
Ms. Wai Young (Vancouver South, CPC): “Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Liberal member for Malpeque and the NDP member for Vancouver East met to support convicted drug dealer Marc Emery. This individual is serving a serious sentence in the United States for selling drugs online where anyone can access them. Criminal acts like these put our children at risk, yet the opposition members cannot stop their support for the drug trade. Can the government tell this House what has been done to keep Canada safe from criminals?”
Hon. Tim Uppal (Minister of State (Multiculturalism), CPC): “Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for that question and her work to make our communities safer. Our Conservative government has increased sentences for serious drug crimes, such as selling drugs near schools. We have been clear that drug dealers will face the full force of the law. We are unlike the leader of the Liberal Party, whose only policy is supporting the drug trade. We will focus our efforts on standing up for victims and keeping our streets and communities safe.”
Mr. Wladyslaw Lizon (Mississauga East—Cooksville, CPC): “Mr. Speaker, last week the Liberal soft on crime spokesman from Malpeque and the NDP member for Vancouver East met to support convicted drug dealer Marc Emery. This individual is serving a serious sentence in the United States for selling drugs online, where anyone can access them. Criminal acts like these put our children at risk. On this side of the House we have been clear that drug dealers will face the full force of the law. Other parties are only concerned with how they can help the drug trade. In fact, the member for Vancouver East said selling drugs never posed any “…harm to any Canadian or U.S. citizen”. Convicted drug dealer Marc Emery sums it up best. He said: “If the Liberals were still the governing party now…[he]would have been immediately released upon…arrival in Canada…”. Rather than worrying about the victims of crime, all the Liberals and NDP are concerned with is making things easier for convicted criminals. Our Conservative government will always stand up against the shameful policies put forward by the other side.”
These three Conservative MPs tell much about the tenor of how the October 2015 election will be waged. First of all, the lies by the Conservative MPs are staggering within so few words. Also immediately noticeable is the contrast between the classy, respectable and articulate humanity expressed by opposition MP’s Easter, Davies and May versus the deplorable hate-mongering sycophantic propaganda of the Conservative MPs.
However, the fact that marijuana prohibition has been sold for eighty years as “protecting the children” is not big news. This lie has been the most important lie in maintaining prohibition. What’s interesting is that Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau is also talking about protecting the children, but saying that Canada needs to legalize marijuana to do so.
Opposing sides using the ‘protect the kids’ rationale in an election – one to maintain and intensify prohibition, the other to end marijuana prohibition – is a first, I would think. Since both sides can’t be right when adopting the same pitch, one side has to be lying and one side is telling the truth. Anyone reading this blog knows the truth is that prohibition creates all of the evil and harm. But truth is not the only element involved here. There is another factor that, depending on how things work out, could be more powerful than the truth. That is the factor of presentation.
HOW THE CONSERVATIVES ARE DEFINING THE MAJOR ISSUE OF THE 2015 ELECTION
Agitated Conservatives are standing in the House of Commons to warn Canadians that Marc Emery and Justin Trudeau are part of a conspiracy to support the drug trade that threatens the precious lives of Canadian children.
Would you vote for someone who would destroy your children and make Canadian streets unsafe, especially when these charges are made in Canada’s most august chamber, the nation’s highest altar of law?
Jodie, on every occasion in her media interviews, points out that the Conservatives, in strengthening prohibition with more severe penalties and greater police surveillance, are, in fact, the party of the cartels and gangs and unsafe streets. Politicians who support prohibition ARE supporting organized crime. That intellectual argument is firmly established, and is a factor in why most Canadians now want to repeal marijuana prohibition and establish a legal regulated distribution regime.
The Conservatives understand the full force and ramifications of the legalization issue. They know that science and reason are completely, utterly, on the side of legalization.
There is only one intellectual issue in the 2015 national election in Canada, and it determines every other issue for Canadians: Will logic and reason be destroyed as the foundation for establishing truth in Canada? Will vindictiveness replace reason? Will presentation replace facts?
Considering that marijuana legalization is supported by science and facts, and considering that Canada has always understood that science and facts determine the truth (well, until the Harper regime from 2006 to present), marijuana prohibition is about much more than marijuana. It is about the fundamental underpinnings of our western (i.e. enlightenment-based rational thought) way of life in Canada.
The 2015 election is centred upon a choice of two diametrically opposite realities in Canada. Who gets to determine the truth? Given the corruption, misery, and destroyed lives, there is no better illustration of this than marijuana prohibition.
Did you know that Canadian scientists had to march in the streets of Ottawa last year to protest the Harper government’s total smothering of scientific research? Let me quote you some passages from an essential book just out called ‘The War on Science – Muzzled Scientists and Willful Blindness in Stephen Harper’s Canada’, a book by Chris Turner:
“The Death of Evidence march (by scientists) was a rallying cry for an idea that has not been particularly radical in the Western philosophical tradition since the 1700’s – the idea that science is the final arbiter of truth. That such an assertion required a street protest in the capital (Ottawa) of a democracy in the twenty-first century speaks volumes about how drastically Canada has been altered under the government of Stephen Harper.”
Another book on Harper I read last year called ‘The Armageddon Factor’ by Marci McDonald also wrote of the Dark Ages belief structure of the Harper government and the Conservatives’ most significant radical fundamentalist base. McDonald very ominously explained that the key supporters of Harper, and Harper and his closest cabinet ministers and advisors, subscribe to an apocalyptic religious insanity akin to those that drive all holy inquisitions. Marijuana Prohibition and the War on Science are the two holiest of the inquisitions in effect by the Harper government.
So as we approach the next election in under two years we all watch the Harper government live in this alternate reality, a primitive reality that has never been seen in a Canadian government until now.
By clarification, let me quote the book ‘The War On Science’ once more:
“For as long as Canada has been a nation, Parliament Hill has been the scene of debate and protest, petty point-scoring and cronyism. It has seen its share of ignorance and delusion. It has never lacked for ill-informed policy-making or short-sighted arguments. It was here during a singularly grave crisis that a prime minister famously sought the counsel of his deceased dog. Misreading science, ignoring the best available evidence, and letting ideology trump the facts – Parliament Hill has seen it all before.
“But a deeper breach of trust is at work in Harper’s Canada. This is a government that simply does not ignore the best available evidence but attempts to destroy the sources of it, a government that does not merely disregard the advice of experts but prohibits them from speaking about their work in public.
“It’s one thing to dismiss good data in the name of political expediency and another entirely to wage war on the production of controversial data, to deny access to the best possible evidence not only to the current administration but to all governments and every Canadian now and forever…
“So then: let 2012 be remembered as the year Canada’s scientists marched in the streets of the capital to restore the basic principles of the Enlightenment to its government. The year, unbelievably, it came to that.”
When the mandatory MINIMUM six months of prison for six plants law was being formulated as one of dozens of new punishments for marijuana and other substances in the Omnibus Crime Bill passed in 2012, reason, truth and evidence were cited by the Conservatives as impediments, ideologically useful only for ridiculing those opponents who would use such premises in their opposition to the Omnibus Crime Bill.
Quoting again from ‘War On Science’:
“The campaign to denigrate science and the best available evidence intensified in fits and starts through the minority years (2006-2011), with rumblings about discounted evidence and silenced scientists accompanying the elimination of the Office of National Science Advisor… and the tabling of a sweeping crime bill that went against decades of research.
“…University of Toronto philosopher Joseph Heath assembled a concise breakdown of the many counter-factual assumptions in the Conservative omnibus crime bill for the Ottawa Citizen. Heath noted that the Harper agenda’s discounting of objective data and expert analysis served explicitly political goals.
“As Harper’s former chief-of-staff Ian Brodie has explained, part of their strategy in this area was specifically to antagonize criminologists and other intellectuals, so that Conservatives could position themselves as defenders of common sense. ‘Politically’ he said, ‘it helped us tremendously to be attacked by this coalition, so we never really had to engage in the question of what the evidence actually shows about various approaches to crime.’
“Given this strategy, it’s not entirely surprising that the government should regard anyone who wants to bring this data to bear on the question of criminal justice policy as an enemy combatant.”
And as any informed person knows from the reams of available data, the increasing vindictiveness and punishment under prohibition serves to make the illegal drug trade more lucrative, violent, unstable, with a corresponding increase in police corruption, police budget explosions and police mass surveillance and reduced civil liberties, increased prison populations, and greater taxpayer expenditures. The evidence is clear from 50+ years of prohibition; not one single desirable social objective is achieved, nor are any ever achievable.
The Harper inquisition – for it is a medieval moral approach to Canadians and governance that Harper offers to Canada, that of Royal Prerogative, or Papal Prerogative – is relentlessly defining the legalization issue now with attacks on myself and Liberal Leader Trudeau so they will own it for the 2015 election, stitching it into their tough-on-crime platform, which is their biggest seller, and thus their biggest lie.
For example, in a current advertisement on radio across Canada a full 23 months before the next federal election, the Conservatives are selling the issue of marijuana legalization and its dangers, attacking Liberal leader Trudeau and accusing him of wanting to make marijuana available to kids. They’ve also been mailing out donation solicitations claiming the Liberals don’t have any policies except for legalization for kids (see this photo sent to Jodie via Twitter).
As you can see, it doesn’t matter what the original context is – whether it’s my transfer application, Harper singing an old Beatles song like ‘A Little Help From My Friends’, or a rational policy articulated by the Liberal leader; from now on, the Conservatives will always respond with this single talking point: “Drugs are of the Devil, and so are the people who want to legalize marijuana and destroy our children.”
When a majority government in Canada can run for re-election by accusing the leader of the other party of being a drug criminal intent on bringing the drug trade to Canada to destroy Canadian children, well, that’ll make you think.
So let’s pause and ponder that, just for a moment. The first thought is to laugh it off. This is just too nuts, you might think. After all, we are living in the 21st century. States like Washington and Colorado have legalized marijuana with tremendous success for all of their citizens. Uruguay has legalized and is selling marijuana for $1 a gram to totally undercut and eliminate the black market. The Netherlands have withdrawn their attempt to stop tourists from buying marijuana in Amsterdam and elsewhere in their country.
Everywhere legalization is on the ballot, it is winning. Everywhere legalization is implemented, the success it is as social policy is obvious, immediately. Current polls in the United States show 58% of Americans want to legalize (they get it), while 39% remain opposed (a quickly evaporating rump). Numbers in Canada are similar, so what’s at work here?
The Conservatives have the best-funded, best-computerized and best-researched political machine in Canadian history. What can they possibly be thinking? Jerry Grafstein, the political advertising wizard, says in the book, ‘Shopping For Votes-How Politicians Choose Us and How We Choose Them’, by Susan Delacourt:
“I believe there is a common factor, the Emotional Commitment factor. Politicians are constantly searching for that factor – the emotional commitment by the largest mass of the citizenry. So the political battle is not a battle so much for ideas as for minds. It is a psychological battle for the conscious as well as the conscience. It is the creation or promotion of symbols, or a group of symbols distributed to attract the widest number of individuals in the society that the politician serves. Those symbols can be policies and programs or best, pictures, to reflect ideas.”
When you tell the public that you’ll protect their children, that’s all that counts. Once you say that, you can fill in the blank with any threat. Since the 1950’s, that ‘threat to children’ blank has been variously filled in by comic books, rock and roll, movies, video games, feminism, short skirts, permissiveness, the decline of religion, divorce, the internet, homosexuality, cell phones, pornography, teachers, multiculturalism, violent horror films, social media (Facebook), and numerous others I’m sure you can recall (reflecting on the moral panics of the last several decades). Now at least, a political idea – legalization – is the greatest threat to your children.
In politics, it doesn’t matter what you’re protecting them from; the fact is you’ve warned parents their children are under threat. This creates maximum “emotional commitment”. Once you tell people their children are threatened and you will protect them, that’s when you’re deep inside the conscience of your voter, probably as deep as you can get. There is probably no stronger drive for parents than to protect their children.
Therefore, by saying you’ll protect their kids against the Emery-Trudeau drug trade, you have created the ultimate symbol in the mind of that voter, and that is the image of the Conservative Party (and its adherents) as protector of the voters’ children. You’ll have crafted a symbol that does indeed “attract the widest number of individuals in the society the politician serves” because everyone cares about their kids.
The entire Conservative election platform against legalization rests on this lie about protecting kids from the “drug trade”. Entirely, unequivocally and absolutely, the Conservatives are banking their entire 2015 campaign and all that leads up to it on this single message.
Liberal leader Justin Trudeau, a far more likeable and genuine person in every way (contrasting starkly against the paranoid, controlling, vicious, vindictive, friendless and ruthless Stephen Harper), also wisely picked protecting the kids as the purpose behind legalization.
So we have both legalizers and prohibitionists using kids to sell their position. However, for whatever reason, Trudeau does not put before the public the numerous dangers prohibition poses for children, among them:
– kids losing their parents to jail
– kids sent to jail
– kids kicked out of school
– kids seized from parents and given to foster homes
– kids enticed by drug dealing money that can only exist with prohibition
– kids looking for pot meeting drug dealers with dangerous drugs
– kids getting dangerous ‘fake’ ecstasy and dying because it’s impure
– kids joining drug-dealing gangs for status and bling and girls
– kids’ work ethic corrupted by the lure of easy drug money
– kids watching their pets getting shot by cops in raids
– kids traumatized by their parents’ arrest over growing some plants
– kids getting shot as drug gangs battle it out over prohibition profits
– kids glorifying prohibition gangs and these gangster’s success with women and money
– etc. etc.
It’s a handy documented list to have around every time the Conservatives say they’re protecting the kids. In prisons, kids inside for pot have been raped. In a Washington State jail, a young male arrested for pot possession died from jailhouse neglect. Nothing about prohibition ‘protects kids’. It endangers them, plain and simple.
And the Conservatives will say they are doing it to protect the kids every time. But the real facts about kids and prohibition are so compelling that they need to be read off often and forcefully to the Conservatives and their ilk, dismissing their lies. Either that, or we let the Conservatives define the marijuana issue.
I hope the Liberals are reading this. I know the Conservatives are, as MP Lizon quoted my previous blog in the House of Commons only last week. The mysterious part is why Trudeau and the Liberals silently tolerate this when it is easy and powerful to switch the issue around to the truth.
In the House of Commons, it was indeed a sad and intellectually insulting performance as Conservative MP Wai Young read remarks that got her shouted down, but she managed to stumble through it. Young referred to opposition members who backed my transfer as “supporting convicted drug dealer Marc Emery… criminal acts like these put our children at risk, yet the opposition cannot stop their support for the drug trade.”
Hard to believe that’s me she’s talking about. Originally I was labeled by D.E.A. chief Karen Tandy as a “propagandist for legalization”, and now, according to MP Young, I’m a “convicted drug dealer” serving a “serious sentence for selling drugs online”. Never said the words ‘seeds’, I notice (which is what I was selling online), or that Canada would not even prosecute this case. Avoided all legalization polls and any science about prohibition.
Minister of State Tim Uppal responds to this election campaign set-up by reminding the House that “unlike the Leader of the Liberal Party whose only policy is supporting the drug trade, Mr. Speaker, we will focus our efforts at standing up for victims and keeping our communities and streets safe”.
When Prime Minister Stephen Harper spoke to his “base” at the Conservative Party convention in Calgary on November 1st, he said this at a major moment in his speech: “The only trade policy Justin Trudeau’s been working on is the marijuana trade.”
The Conservatives will relentlessly repeat this lie in the hope it becomes a reality in the public mind by 2015.
Jodie’s heartfelt press conference in Ottawa on my behalf hit on the right theme. Jodie used the words ‘vindictiveness’ and ‘punishment’ to describe the Harper’s government’s reaction to my treaty transfer request. Harper, in his convention address to the faithful, touched on this vindictiveness label that is attached to his government by a majority of Canadians. People, Harper noted in his speech, have criticized the Conservatives for being ‘ruthless’ in the Senate scandal and other issues. The prime Minister’s response was that he “couldn’t care less” what these Canadians say, and that line was greeted with fanatical applause by the Conservative base!
Not caring what Canadians say – whether scientists, journalists, criminologists, city folk, opposition MPs, environmentalists, and so many others – is the holy grail of this government. The Conservative convention in Calgary turned our televisions into time machines as we returned to the Dark Ages via network coverage. It was a unique experience since Canada has never had ideological lunatics in power before.
After all, this is the hardcore Reform-Conservative base that follows the Talking Clock in the Peace Tower (I shit you not; read Marci McDonald’s remarkable book ‘The Armageddon Factor’ to understand who Harper’s “base” really is). These are the people who believe that I should definitely suffer in a Mississippi prison because the Clock has chosen them to fight the Devil Marijuana until a Lake of Fire consumes all the disbelievers and heretics.
I am not in any way being facetious, you must understand that. These are the punishment lovers described in Gordon Baird’s book on the Conservatives, ‘Slumming It At The Rodeo’, and the control freaks that populated Tom Flanagan’s book ‘Harper’s Team’: people whose lives revolve around the holy abuse and control of others.
The Harper government has become synonymous with the words vindictiveness and punishment. The Conservatives are so instinctively associated with cruelty in the public mind that even Harper had to address it at the Conservative annual convention, if only to say he doesn’t care what people think.
The video of Jodie inside Parliament telling of the suffering involved when I, her husband, was taken away to Mississippi was powerful. It was powerful because it was real, because it was emotionally stated without any sensationalism, and because the whole affair – exiling me to a foreign prison for five years over seeds, or is it legalization? – is clearly cruel and unjust.
Even the politicians, Members of Parliament May, Davies, and Easter, took on a sort of human glow of admiration as they listened to Jodie, a tremendously effective visual. As Libby Davies said about Jodie’s devotion to her man and our cause, “It’s really an incredible story.” And at the other end of the scale we have not a human glow, but a human darkness that is enveloping Canada on a scale never seen before.
All of this places Jodie and I in a unique position with a strong connection to the 2015 election, an election campaign that the Conservatives have already launched. As is now obvious, marijuana has been chosen by the Conservatives as the number one way to attack Trudeau, who is their most significant threat. Polls show Trudeau could form a majority government if the election were held now.
For years Canadians have been talking about the ruthless, vindictive Harper and his lackeys in the cabinet and House of Commons, but marijuana prohibition is now becoming the defining election issue that characterizes the cruelty of the Conservatives.
And to illustrate that point yet again: on Friday, November 15th, the media covered another Conservative attack on Trudeau over marijuana, this time by Canada’s Justice Minister, Peter MacKay, and reported in the National Post:
“He’s already sending children the message recreational drug use is OK. Now, he’s delivering that message directly to children,” wrote Mr. MacKay in a fundraising letter sent out on Thursday. … Just as questions wrapped up on Thursday, Mr. MacKay interjected to call Mr. Trudeau’s actions “disgusting,” “appalling” and showing a “profound lack of judgement.”
Peter McKay, along with being the man in charge of sending the cannabis culture to prison, is also their heir presumptive of the Conservative Party – that is, the next leader of the Conservatives after troglodyte Harper is finally evicted from 24 Sussex Drive.
So let’s see now: current radio ads by the Harper Conservatives denouncing Trudeau’s marijuana legalization stance; the Prime Minister doing the same days prior at the Tory convention; the Justice Minister, the minister of State in the House of Commons, and the Minister of Public Safety all following suit (even when being asked about my transfer and not drug policy)… it’s an orgy of piling on from now until the next election. It’s define or be defined. We’d better hope Liberal leader Justin Trudeau is as good as we need him to be.
Jodie, myself, members of the Canadian cannabis culture, and all of those who support legalization are in a unique spot in this country’s history, for we are the voice opposing Harper in the coming election.
There’s a reason the Conservatives are already making marijuana a major campaign issue. Legalization supporters represent Canada’s single largest voting bloc, and given that Canadians by 2015 should have had enough of the Dark Ages – and will have witnessed the continued legalization victories in the United States and abroad – the influence of the cannabis culture will indeed be the deciding electoral factor.
Will you show up and be counted?