Conservative ministers and their aides are consulting with “keen” U.S. government officials on a new national drug strategy, according to internal documents obtained by CanWest. “There have been various senior-level meetings between U.S. officials and ministers/minister’s offices,” states a summary of a June 16, 2006, meeting on the Tory drug initiative involving top federal bureaucrats at nine federal departments and agencies. “U.S. officials have been keen to discuss drug issues with the current government.”
Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s 2006 election platform promised a new drug strategy that would include a national youth awareness strategy. He also called for mandatory minimum sentences and large fines for serious drug offenders.
The Tory government has since come under criticism for taking a tough U.S.-style approach to drug crime while downplaying the so-called “harm reduction” approach that led to the 2003 establishment of a supervised injection site for Vancouver drug addicts.
The five-page summary, obtained through the Access to Information Act, noted U.S. “drug czar” John Walters – a frequent critic of Canadian drug policy under the Liberal government – was planning to visit Canada this autumn.
“The meeting was postponed for scheduling reasons. It’s anticipated the meeting will take place early in the new year,” said Rodney Moore, spokesman for Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada.
The national drug strategy will be launched in the fall or winter, the documents note, after which Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada “will need to do outreach with the U.S. and our like-minded countries.”