The Premier of British Columbia received a visit from a group of about 40 protestors on Monday, who were at her office to voice opposition to Conservative Prime Minister Harper’s omnibus crime bill, C-10.
Though Christy Clark wasn’t actually at her West Point Grey constituency office, protestors left behind a bundle of thousands of petitions from activists groups who are collecting signatures in provinces across Canada, urging provincial governments to oppose the Conservative legislation.
The proposed bill, which includes mandatory minimum prison sentences for minor marijuana offences, has been criticized by virtually everyone in The Entire Universe who isn’t a Conservative Party member or high-level RCMP officer.
Protestors said the bill will cost billions of dollars that could be better spent on just about anything.
They say the bill will put thousands more non-violent Canadians behind bars, in many cases introducing them into a violent environment for the first time. Prisons are recruitment centres for gangs that provide protection for their members, and filling them up with average citizens will only contribute to more violence.
They say the bill will destroy families and stain the records of countless Canadians, young and old.
And for what?
Christy says she supports Stephen Harper’s expensive plans to throw more of her fellow Canadians behind bars.
“We do need to be tougher on crime in this country,” Christy told the press. “There are going to be costs associated with this, and we have to work through them with the federal government. But, ultimately, I am not willing to throw the baby out with the bathwater.”
Political pundits chalk it up to an attempt to win-over ex-Lib who are now supporters of the BC Conservative Party.
In light of a recent poll showing that 69 per cent of British Columbians think “arresting marijuana producers and sellers is ineffective and B.C. would be better off taxing and regulating marijuana,” Christy better watch out, her shallow attempt to win votes may backfire on her.
“As concerned citizens,” the Avaaz petition states, “we urge you to immediately declare your opposition to Conservative Justice Minister Rob Nicholson’s backwards crime bill that will cost Provinces and taxpayers many millions of tax dollars — wasting our money on a law that isn’t needed and that won’t make Canada safer.”
The Leadnow.ca message was also addressed to Premiers:
I agree that Canadians should work together to make our country a safer, more just place for everyone. However, I have grave concerns about the proposed federal Bill C-10, the crime bill that is currently being rushed through Parliament in Ottawa.
I don’t want the federal government to impose mandatory sentences that will fill new prisons with people who should not be there. We have seen that strategy fail completely in the United States. Why would we repeat that dangerous experiment here in Canada?
Outside Christy’s office, protest organizer Katherine Trajan spoke to the crowd and explained the petitions.
“There are a lot of Canadians who feel really, really strongly about this.” she said, and suggested there would be an attempt at a personal delivery of the petitions to Christy Clark at the B.C. Legislature. “There will be deliveries today and tomorrow across the country to the other premiers as well.”
Several protestors took turns speaking to the crowd about their reasons for opposing the bill, including CC‘s Jodie Emery, who spoke about the destruction caused by the drug war.
“While we see American states moving forward with progressive drug policy, getting rid of mandatory minimums, reducing their use of imprisonment to solve the crime problem,” Emery said, “Canada under Harper is going in the opposite direction … and we’re going to see the same failure, the expensive loss of peoples lives, the destruction of communities and minorities, the bankrupting of our treasuries and the hand-over of out tax dollars to corrupt prison industries, and we can’t follow that US example.”
See CC’s Flickr gallery of the protest.
B.C.’s cannabis community is rightfully concerned about C-10. Mik Mann, another activist and former B.C. Marijuana Party Candidate, said he had a few questions for the Premier.
“I’d like to know where she thinks we’re going to get this extra money to run these jails,” he said. The costs to the provinces is outrageous, that’s why Quebec and Ontario have said no to this, they won’t support it. So I think we want to see some answers from Christy. … What kind of services are you planning on cutting?”
Watch video of the Protest at Christy Clarks office on Pot TV.