US drug-war in Canada!

Illustration: SijayIllustration: Sijay“The DEA has taken over the RCMP,” Paddy Roberts told me as our teeth chattered through winter beers at a local pub last January. Paddy was charged with smuggling massive loads of marijuana to the US by plane in a story that made national news last Winter on CBC’s The Fifth Estate, a Canadian investigative news program. “I was also busted in ’87 for flying a Cessna with 800 pounds of sensi from the Bahamas to New Brunswick,” Paddy told me. “I spent a total seventeen months in jail on a five year sentence for that one.”
Paddy Roberts was particularly concerned about how American authorities have been directing and funding a Canadian drug war against BC bud. US narcs are using the same tactics in BC that proved successful in Colombia, which is now in the midst of an unresolvable, economically devastating civil war (CC#20, The South American holocaust).

What The Fifth Estate didn’t report was how the American approach to BC bud shifted after the 1997 Salmon War, which saw former BC Premier Glen Clark pull out of free-trade talks with the US? talks that would have joined British Columbia and Alberta to the western United States in an economic confederation called “Cascadia.”

“The Americans are a big bully down there and they don’t hesitate to use whatever tactic they have to get their way,” Glen Clark told Cannabis Culture during a telephone interview.

The shift in approach by the US reflects a larger concern with US/Canada trade relations, and how drug-enforcement will be handled when borders between the two countries evaporate in the heat of free trade deals now being negotiated at the world level.

Colombia and British Columbia

If what is happening in South America is any example of what can be expected in Canada, some day US-funded troops may be claiming that innocent Canadians are “narcoguerillas”, rounding them up and then slaughtering them for their land and resources on behalf of corporations like British Petroleum (CC#23, Colombia’s corporate killers). It may seem unlikely that such excesses will ever come to Canada, but disturbing similarities between Canada and South America have arisen as the world moves towards what is called by some the “global economy,” and by others the “New World Order.”

In the 1980’s, South American countries were strong-armed into free trade deals in return for leniency on development loans that they had received from the World Bank and IMF in the 70’s. Colombia resisted free-trade deals longer than most South American countries, and fulfilled its loan obligations with cash from billions in cocaine and marijuana sales.

The resilience of the Colombian economy was a threat to Western multinational corporate interests (especially in the US) that sought to penetrate the country and extract its rich oil and emerald resources through free trade. Before the end of the 80’s, US President Ronald Reagan had successfully infiltrated Colombia with a speedily accelerated drug war.

Colombia’s doors were forced open to the DEA and CIA, who set up shop inside her borders and initiated an era of butchering drug-war oppression against the Colombian people that destroyed local economies, created a massive rebel movement, bit deeply into government marijuana and coca profits, and precipitated the government’s acceptance of free-trade reforms in the early 90’s.

The only hiccup in the process came after “left-leaning” Colombian President Ernesto Samper’s 1994 election. Samper refused to make as many concessions as US interests demanded. Under Samper, convicted drug lords were protected from extradition to the US. Samper was also suspected of having ties with anti-American guerrilla groups that wanted less crop eradication and more crop substitution, which meant diminished US military involvement in the country, a stronger local economy, and less opportunity to slaughter villagers for the profit of multinational corporations.1

The US repeatedly scandalized Samper’s presidency with allegations that he had used drug money from anti-American groups to fund his 1994 presidential campaign, and eventually the US used that as an excuse to decertify Colombia and withdraw foreign aid.2 Rumours eventually arose that the CIA were deeply involved in generating the Samper scandal.3

In 1998, Samper was replaced with US Puppet-President Pastrana, Colombia was recertified, and deals were signed to guarantee extensive US drug war presence in the beleaguered country.

The Canadian connection

Unlike Colombia, Canadian diplomats have welcomed the free-trade concept, promoting it worldwide. Like Colombia, however, the renegade province of British Columbia ? with its cash crop of euphorant plants ? has been the source of some nasty free-trade hiccups. Like in the Summer of 1997, when a potentially war-like dispute arose between Canada and the US. Fishermen in Washington and Alaska were at odds with fishermen in BC over how much salmon each of them should be allowed to take, and hence the dispute was called the “Salmon War”. War it almost was.

BC Premier Glen Clark, of the left-leaning New Democratic Party (NDP), responded to the conflict by threatening to evict the US from a torpedo testing range owned by the province, and canceled BC’s participation in a meeting of the Pacific North-West Economic Region (PNWER) ? a free trade forum for western US states and Canadian provinces. According to Clark’s estimates, the torpedo-testing range had saved the Americans $2.4 billion US over 32 years,4 According to its own estimates PNWER generates $350 billion US in GDP annually.5 Clark’s antics ? like Samper’s ? were sure to bring a strong response from the US.

Any threat to free trade is a very big deal to American politicians and multinational corporations alike. Since NAFTA (The North American Free Trade Agreement) was signed, trade has grown 69% between the two countries, with 22% of American exports going to Canada, an amount greater than all US exports to European nations combined.6 It was the first time since the War of 1812 that a Canadian official had taken such a strong stand against the US.

The US responded immediately with military threats. Afraid of US retaliation, the Canadian Federal Liberal government quickly promised that they would castrate Clark’s cockiness; they seized the torpedo test range from BC, unilaterally declared it to be federal property, and told the American military they could stay. Premier Clark was later scandalized out of power, similar to Colombian President Samper. PNWER was quickly back on track.

US attacks BC

US pressure against Canada increased, particularly targeting BC bud and guaranteeing more extensive US enforcement presence in the province.

In 1997, the entire area along the BC/Washington border was declared a High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, under the jurisdiction of the US Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), which coordinated the DEA, local enforcement officials, and US Customs in a war against Canadian weed headed south. Border patrols were increased dramatically, and stringent tests of random Canadian vehicles headed to the US became commonplace. US customs agents began swiping windows and testing fibre from car seats for THC. The CIA declared Canada a “Marijuana Exporting Nation”, a designation still in place four years later.7 In 1999, the US State Department seriously considered decertifying Canada in the drug war because of BC bud8 even while ? that same year ? Glen Clark resigned from office and US politicians reluctantly signed a new treaty that officially ended the free-trade-endangering Salmon War.

Although the Pacific Salmon treaty ensured less anti-free-trade public-relations nightmares with the US, the unpopular Salmon War was simply exchanged for the unpopular Drug War. So who really won? The entire salmon run is worth a measly $300 million, split between US and BC fishermen. But estimates peg the marijuana trade at a whopping $2 to 4 billion a year for BC alone!9 Much of that is generated through smuggling to the US.

Whether you think that Glen Clark or Ernesto Samper were dirty politicians or not, there are striking similarities between their resistance to US military presence, their threats to multinational corporations’ profits, what has happened to their careers, and how the US drug war has since escalated in the regions they governed. In both countries, an escalated drug war furthers both US presence and US economic dominance. Exactly such drug-war shenanigans have been common strategy for Western nations seeking military and trade dominance throughout history (CC#13, Multinational corporations will kill for drugs).

Of course there are profound differences between Canada and Colombia as well: the drug war in Canada is much less pronounced, Canada’s trade ties with the US are much stronger, and Canada isn’t yet in the midst of a civil war inflamed by the American drug-war machine.

Glen Clark: ?...powerful interests take every opportunity to see their way to victory.Glen Clark: ?…powerful interests take every opportunity to see their way to victory.BC premier on drugs

In an interview with Cannabis Culture, former BC Premier Glen Clark made clear his deep distrust of American power and its influence on Canada. We asked him if he saw a connection between the Salmon War and his removal from office.

“Lots of people think that too,” said Clark. “I wouldn’t be surprised either … In my case, I think the police, the Liberal Party and media worked pretty hard. The police spent $4 or 5 million trying to prove that I didn’t pay full market value for the little four-foot deck on my house.”

Clark was referring to allegations that he used political leverage to get a casino license for a friend in exchange for bargain-basement sundeck renovations. It seemed surprising that the RCMP would focus on such a relatively trivial charge with such determination and expenditure.

“I don’t think you can say there’s …” Clark stopped. “I just think that there are pretty powerful forces, vested interests in politics generally and that those powerful interests take every opportunity to see their way to victory. So I don’t know… it’s an elaborate business and I’ve become much more paranoid than I used to be.

“If you want to know more about American power, read Harper’s magazine. Very, very interesting article on Kissinger… The story is called ‘A case against Henry Kissinger,’ and suggests that he should be charged with war crimes. What has happened is a lot of information has become declassified over time. And so now they can see the direct involvement of the CIA and, really, the president in covert operations internationally.”

Clark indicated that, during the Salmon War, the US was prepared to substantially escalate the threat of military intervention.

“Senator Stevens? suggested they bring the military in to escort their ships through if we continued, and [made]sort of veiled threats like ‘nobody closes an American military base,'” revealed Clark. “The Americans are tough bargainers, and they would have been very, very tough, and they have all kinds of things they could have threatened. But the Americans didn’t really have to get that far in threats, because Canada caved in within a day. I mean they literally raced down to Washington to tell them that they would do something.”

Did Clark realize that the Salmon War was followed immediately by US drug war escalation against Canada?

“I would not at all be surprised,” Clark said. “I mean I know how they operate… The Americans are sort of … they are a big bully down there and they don’t hesitate to use whatever tactic they have to get their way. It is pretty obvious that the cost of continuing the drug war outweighs any perceived benefit and we need to rethink our strategy on drugs? any thinking person understands that? Unfortunately, next door to the Americans it is very difficult to do something. And, as we’ve shown in BC, it’s difficult to do something with a provincial government in the face of a national government, in the face of a North American pervasive view [against pot].”

When Clark was removed from the Premier’s office, the NDP replaced him with Ujjal Dosanjh, the former BC Attorney General. Dosanjh had already demonstrated his compliance with the US drug war by publicly and radically opposing harm reduction strategies in Vancouver.

“He is a very conservative guy, to put it mildly,” Clark observed. “I think that there is no question that Mr Dosanjh’s position is to support the police, period.”

Ujjal Dosanjh: (Former) BC Premier or US toady?Ujjal Dosanjh: (Former) BC Premier or US toady?Global Franken-states

A part of the Jack-the-Ripper, free-trade, global-economy concept is to chop living countries limb from limb, sometimes sewing the parts of two together to form an economic Franken-state, ruled by corporate interests.

The PNWER meeting that Premier Clark canceled is a forum where corporate interests meet with government officials and legislatures to plan the sewing together of Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington, British Columbia, Alberta and the Yukon into a single region-state known as “Cascadia.” In his 1995 address to the St John Board of Trade, Preston Manning, former leader of the Reform Party and Cascadia pioneer, described a similar union of Eastern Canada and the US, called “Atlantica.”10

Patrick Mazza is a writer and Cascadia theorist with a website dedicated to the region-state concept, called “Cascadia Planet.”

“Region states are supplanting the nation state in the global economy,” Mazza told Cannabis Culture. “A couple of years ago Robert Caplan wrote Empire Wilderness, in which he talked about Cascadia? as far advanced in the process as any place on the planet.”

Mazza talked about how Cascadia is both an economic region and a bioregion. He talked about how both environmentalists and economists seem to agree that dealing with the region as a single unit makes sense. “For people like me who study regionalism, it is kind of ironic to see people from a couple of different viewpoints migrating to the regional standpoint,” said Mazza.

Possibly the most active defenders of the forests in the region call themselves the “Cascadia Forest Alliance”. In reality, however, environmentalists and economists have very little in common in their vision of the region ? except the name.

“Free trade in forest products really hurts Canada badly, because of the low stumpage rates,” said Ivan Maluski, an environmental organizer who is strongly involved in the Cascadia Forest Alliance. “They can just completely dump Canadian logs on the US market in a free trade situation. It shuts down mills here, but it leads to liquidation of Canada’s rainforests.”

Patrick Mazza admits that the reality of Cascadia at the government level is “pretty free trade.” A conservative think tank called “The Discovery Institute” is also heavily involved in the project, and Mazza describes them as “free-trade, neo-conservative, not libertarian, not limited-government types.”

Preston Manning’s seminal address to the Saint John Board of Trade also mentions free trade as a key factor in the development of Canada/US region states. Yet the very mention of free trade is an abomination to environmentalist groups. The Cascadia Forest Alliance has no truck or trade with the Discovery Institute and their ilk.

What hope does a newly formed economic union like Cascadia have to protect the environment, represent the will of the people or prevent human rights abuses when even democratic governments are failing and dissolving under corporate pressure?

Colombian officer signals to a US-donated helicopter. BC`s future?Colombian officer signals to a US-donated helicopter. BC`s future?Borders or no borders?

Super-highways, mega-canals and bullet-trains. Such are the lightening bolts of emerging global franken-states. In Colombia, there are plans for a new Atlantic/Pacific channel to replace the Panama canal (CC#23, Colombia’s corporate killers). In Cascadia, there are plans for cross-border monorails and super-highways between BC and Washington, called the International Mobility Trade Corridor project (IMTC), that would draw BC’s abundant overseas tourist industry south of the border.11 Despite the obvious benefit to the US, Canada is prepared to foot the vast majority of the bill.

Meanwhile, the bug-bear of BC bud is being blamed for ever-stricter border controls that would make more roads and trains a pointless venture. How can trade flow freely when the borders look like prison walls? We spoke to Molly Laster ? a border-issues expert from the Discovery Institute’s Cascadia Project ? about cannabis and Cascadia.

“Marijuana’s the federal government’s big issue [at the BC/US border],” Laster asserted. “What we do is try to remind federal officials that it’s not parallel to the Mexican border. Because back in Washington DC, there’s this push to strengthen the Southern border against cocaine, crack, heroin, illicit drugs and illegal immigrants? so they apply it to the North as well. That kind of gets translated into trying to fight BC bud. I’d say that’s the one way we get involved in that. Remind the federal level folks that it’s not the same kind of problem.”

Molly Laster revealed that even during the Salmon War, the Cascadia project and other planners secretly maintained their connections with the NDP, indicating the lack of support Clark had for his radical anti-US stance right from the start, even within his own party.

“Throughout that time we sort of stayed in touch,” said Laster. “The Cascadia project worked closely with Mike Harcourt.”

Harcourt is now the BC co-chair of the BC/Washington Corridor Task Force. The Corridor Task Force represents government and industry interests in the Cascadia highways and trains projects, and is the most likely recipient and distributor of high-level funding.

The Discovery Institute, the ideology-pusher behind Cascadia, is more drug-war conservative than Molly Laster and the NDP combined, and has often been the inspiration for presidential policy. In an article entitled The reality of drugs belies a cartoon-style answer, the Institute’s president, Bruce Chapman, made a chilling recommendation about how to deal with marijuana and other illicit substances.

“Let’s increase drug interdiction and drug eradication, overseas as well as at home,” he wrote. “From my own service as US representative to the UN narcotics agencies in Vienna in the ’80’s, I would argue that we should solicit more international cooperation and financial support for these tasks.”

The future of drug enforcement

Cascadia President Bruce Chapman’s recommendation is a window on how free-trade pundits plan to deal with the “problem” of drugs in a world without national borders. Just as trade is becoming multinational ? planned and administered by unelected international organizations ? so too is the drug war being wrested from the hands of democratic governments.

Every international organization connected with free trade also heavily promotes escalated drug war aggressions throughout the word. The UN’s free-trade promoting Economic and Social Council has a hand in electing the 13 member board of the UN International Narcotics Control Board (INCB). The Organization of American States, where the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) is being negotiated, also has an office of drug control.

The FTAA will supplant NAFTA, creating free trade between every country of South, Central and North America. Even the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) which gives loans to South American countries ? provided that they implement free trade reforms ? has a drug-war department. These international bodies dictate Canada’s drug policy.

Cascadia planners are already forging strong drug-war connections. The Washington Department of Community Trade and Tourism coordinates local free-trade implementation for Washington (including Cascadia). In 1999, Mike Harcourt’s Washington equivalent on the Corridor Task Force was co-chair Kathy Kreiter, who was also acting director of the Washington Department of Community, Trade and Tourism. The Washington Department of Community, Trade and Tourism is listed on the ONDCP website as a partner in the anti-drug enforcement efforts that have plagued the Canadian border since the Salmon War.

“Smuggling at the US/Canadian border is on the increase,” warns the ONDCP’s High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area program (HIDTA) on their website. “Potent Canadian-grown marijuana is in demand throughout the United States creating increasing cross-border smuggling events.” Nowhere does the website denounce the many tons of cocaine flowing North to Canada.

Instead, the HIDTA website reveals the deformed birth of US/Canada drug-enforcement squads to target BC bud: “Multi-agency border enforcement teams were developed and deployed in partnership with Canadian authorities? responding to increases in drug smuggling on the US/Canada border. Both sides of the border are worked by this model of international law enforcement cooperation called ‘IBET’ ? Integrated Border Enforcement Team.” On the US side, IBET includes the DEA, local enforcement officials and US Customs agents. On the Canadian side it includes Canadian Customs officials, the RCMP and Canada’s newly formed Organized Crime Agency (OCA). IBET it doesn’t take much wits figure out who is in control of this anti-drug monster!

Paddy Roberts: `The DEA has taken over the RCMP.`Paddy Roberts: `The DEA has taken over the RCMP.`BC bud smugglers?

Paddy Roberts ? the daring pilot at the beginning of our story who police say smuggled loads of marijuana into the US ? went to The Fifth Estate with a tale of cross-border corruption. By the time the The Fifth Estate finished their investigation, they had found that “international law enforcement cooperation” really means that the US is pressuring Canada into attacking the BC pot culture on all levels? growers, dealers, users and smugglers alike.

According to The Fifth Estate reporter Gloria Macarenko, in May of 1998 Washington Attorney General, Christine Gregoire, called high ranking RCMP officers and BC’s Attorney General (now Premier) Ujjal Dosanjh down to the US for a scolding.

“What came out of our summit was a very clear encouragement to BC,” Gregoire told The Fifth Estate, “to enhance its penalties, to enhance its prosecutions, to enhance the time in which it makes those prosecutions, so that they’re much more effective. BC’s attorney general? came on side.”

Within a month, US Attorney General Janet Reno called another meeting to discuss BC marijuana smuggling, during which Canadian Solicitor General Andy Scott promised American officials that he would send a special RCMP team to do the dirty bidding of their US masters, and attack BC bud smugglers. The DEA was also given leave to meet monthly with the RCMP, to direct Canadian anti-pot activity and to send US agents to “help” with Canadian investigations. The threat that ensured Canadian compliance with this scheme? US Congressman Lamar Smith had sent an envoy to the RCMP warning of “unilateral action” against Canada, including the threat of a total shut down of the Canada/US border.

The Fifth Estate also found that while the RCMP and US anti-drug officials were busy focusing on BC bud, cocaine investigations had fallen to the wayside. Even though an estimated 15 tons of coke travel from the US to Canada every year, US border officials hadn’t busted a single cocaine smuggler for over a year. Similarly, RCMP cocaine busts had dropped to a seven-year low.

In particular, Paddy’s case revealed how hard US anti-drug pluggers work to portray America as the poor victim, surrounded by hordes of evil drug-producing nations. After the police investigation into Paddy, the RCMP (under the direction of the DEA) paid BC coke-dealer Dennis Dober $440,000 for infiltrating and ratting out BC marijuana smugglers. After three years of tails, surveillance and wiretaps, the bust netted 44 pounds of marijuana from the trunk of a car and $550,000 in cash. Dober himself faced no charges, which had his community outraged.

Most of the cocaine that Dober sold likely passed over the US/BC border, but that doesn’t worry US officials. What draws their attention is how cocaine passes through Mexico on its way to the US. For that transgression, Mexico is targeted for even worse drug-war oppression than Canada.

Canadian officials have learned that cross-border enforcement doesn’t go both ways. In February, when a BC Organized Crime Agency officer went into the US in the course of a drug investigation, he was arrested and almost charged by the DEA!12 There is no doubt as to which country gets to play the role of anti-drug hero, and which plays the role of drug-pandering villain in the new global theatre.

Last February, the UN’s INCB, exposed as an “American mouthpiece” by the Ottawa Citizen’s star journalist Dan Gardner,13 pointed the dirty drug-war finger at Canada. The INCB blamed the western pot industry on BC judges’ “liberal attitudes,” while praising the US ? which produces over half of its own supply and is the world’s largest pot market. In the emerging global marketplace of Cascadia, British Columbians can look forward to even worse drug-war oppression, with US and international agencies likely wresting full control of Canada’s law-enforcement teams and turning them against one of BC’s most lucrative growth industries.

Paddy Roberts left me with one last haunting thought as I stiffly rolled a joint on the table at the pub. “Associate Chief Justice Dohm only took 30 minutes to sign the search warrant in my case, but our lawyers found that it would have taken him three hours just to read the warrant application placed before him,” observed Paddy. “And Dohm only took 15 minutes to sign the search warrant for Glen Clark’s home, the one that sunk Clark in the casino scandal.” In this war, Canada’s justice system may be the first victim.Paddy Roberts: `The DEA has taken over the RCMP.`


1. “Elections Reveal ‘Two’ Colombias,” by Diana Jean Schemo. Wire: New York Times website. Tuesday, October 28, 1997.
2. “US DEA Chief, Colombian President Patch Up Ties.” Colombia: Wire: Reuters. August 13, 1998.
3. “Planning the CIA’s Next Secret War,” by Michael Moran. MSNBC Commentary.
4. “Clark defends his tactics in fish war.” Vancouver Sun. Monday, July 14, 1997.
5. See PNWER website:
6. “Rethinking Canada for the 21st Century, Keynote Address: The View from Outside,” by James Blanchard, former U.S. Ambassador to Canada and former Governor of Michigan. Summer Conference, 1998.
7. From the CIA world factbook at
8. “Losing The War On Drugs, Part 1a,” by Dan Gardner. Ottawa Citizen. Teusday, September 5, 2000.
9. “BC’s Grass Really is Greener,” by Thomas Walkom. Toronto Star. Saturday, June 27, 1998.
10. “‘Atlantica’ Excerpts from an Address by Preston Manning, MP, Leader of the Reform Party of Canada to the Saint John Board of Trade,” May 11, 1995.
11. “Tourism industry nulls ‘Cascadia’ plan” by Christopher Solomon.
12. “Drug-Buster Apologizes For ‘Uncleared’ US Pot Sting.” The Province. Thursday, February 15, 2001.
13. “US says jump, we say how high?” by Dan Gardner. The Ottawa Citizen. Wednesday, February 28, 2001.