On Monday, November 20, Marijuana Party Candidate Dan Loehndorf (aka Reverend Damuzi) met with the principal of LV Rogers High School, Brian DeBiasio, who told Damuzi that the Marijuana Party is being banned from the all-candidate forum and mock-election scheduled for students on Tuesday at 10:15 AM at the high school. All of the other political parties are invited to intend. Also present at the meeting was teacher and event organizer Ernie Armitage.
“I was contacted by Mr Armitage last week and assured me that the school would allow me to attend,” said Damuzi. “The purpose of his call, Armitage told me, was to ask me not to bring marijuana to the school. I informed him that I had no intentions of doing so, and told him that the marijuana party does not advocate that minors use cannabis. He said that he looked forward to meeting me at the forum.”
But by Friday, the school had reversed its decision. During the November 20 meeting with Damuzi, Armitage and DeBiasio reported that they were concerned about an article that appeared in the Friday, Nov 17 edition of the Nelson Daily News, entitled “Marijuana Party candidate puts high school in tough position,” and cited concerns over the reputation of the school.
They also denied that public opinion was their only concern, despite their earlier willingness to accept Damuzi at the forum.
“We wouldn’t allow a political party that advocates marijuana legalization to be present at the forum anymore than we would allow a party that advocates child abuse, theft or Anarchy,” said Armitage during the meeting. Afterward, he denied comparing marijuana use to child abuse, and claimed that he was just giving examples of illegal acts. Damuzi was shocked by the naked bias of school officials.
“Why don’t they ban the Reform Party?” said Damuzi afterward. “If you can ban a party for advocating law reform, then the Reform Party’s stance on changing Bill C-85, the gun control legislation, should be enough to have them banned from the forum as well! Not registering your gun is just as illegal as smoking marijuana. Other candidates in this riding have also spoken both for legalization and against gun control, and none of those candidates are being banned.”
Damuzi is concerned that banning him from the forum will send the wrong message to students.
“There are voting-age students and teachers that will attend that forum and not even know that the marijuana party is a legitimate choice for them. The student’s forum is supposed to introduce many new and soon-to-be voters to the concept of elections, inspiring a characteristically apathetic segment of our population to participate. Banning me will have the exact opposite effect. It will disillusion students with the perception that the electoral process is rigged, corrupt and unfairly influencable by the biased opinions of authorities who have no place meddling in a federal election.”
Marijuana Party candidates have already participated in student forums across the country over the past couple of weeks. This is the first time any candidate, of any party, has ever been excluded from such a forum. The Marijuana Party has notified Elections Canada and is presently considering a law-suit against the school. Damuzi intends to demonstrate at the school and hand out pamphlets before, during and after the forum. Marijuana Party leader Marc-Boris St-Maurice has shuffled his cross-Canada electoral tour to be present at the school during the demonstration.