VANCOUVER, B.C. — If they’re able to elect even a single member in the upcoming provincial election, the B.C. Green party says it would work toward having marijuana decriminalized and prohibiting a newly established provincial police force from using Tasers.
The party released an election platform with some 500 measures on Thursday, in anticipation of the May 12 provincial vote.
Party leader Jane Sterk said she recognizes that the federal government has jurisdiction over the criminal aspects of marijuana, but she feels the province can play a role even without the power to decriminalize the drug.
“We do believe at the provincial level we can (at least) take charge of the negative aspects of what’s happening as a consequence of the war on drugs,” said Sterk, a 62-year-old grandmother of two with a PhD in counselling psychology.
“We can treat the problems related to substance abuse within the public health system as opposed to the criminal justice system.”
Sterk said that she would prefer that the province had control over the regulation, production and distribution of marijuana – and reaped the tax benefits.
“Not only are we losing potential tax revenue but we are putting this in the hands of criminal elements and they have no morals or ethics.”
While she doesn’t envision a scenario like the Netherlands, where marijuana can be consumed in cafes and restaurants, she believes it should be sold in venues like provincial liquor stores.
Establishing a provincial police force – replacing the RCMP in some jurisdictions and municipal police in others – would also help alleviate the problem with gangs and the shootings in Metro Vancouver, she said.
The Greens would also like to ban use of conductive energy weapons by police. The weapons have come under great scrutiny since the death of Robert Dziekanski at Vancouver’s airport after being hit with an RCMP Taser.
“The evidence related to Tasers is strong enough that we need to eliminate them,” she said.
Sterk declined to predict a breakthrough seat for the Greens, who have never elected an MLA in British Columbia or anywhere else.
She is running in Esquimalt-Royal Roads, on Vancouver Island, and says the party so far has nominated 41 candidates and may have hopefuls in place in all 85 ridings by the end of the month.
Sterk said she is not worried that voters might split between the Greens and the NDP, making it easier for the Liberals to get re-elected.
“Our desire in this election is to present a viable third party alternative to B.C.,” she said.
“It’s a very tired argument that we split the vote and therefore we get the wrong government as a consequence of the Green party.”
Sterk, who has taught in the public school system, worked as a psychologist and been a small business owner, joined the provincial Green party in 2001 and ran federally for the party in 2004.
She ran again provincially in 2005 before being elected as a councillor in the 2005 Esquimalt municipal election.
Sterk became Green party leader in 2007.
– Article from The Canadian Press.
• Cannabis Culture Magazine editor Jodie Emery is the BC Green Party candidate in Vancouver-Fraserview! She is running to become a provincial Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) and needs support from people in BC and all across Canada, so check out www.JodieForMLA.ca for more information!