Prison Blog: Still Waiting for Canada to Approve Transfer

Marc and Jodie, March 2013Today is October 16th. I’m pleased to say that last September was my final one in captivity. I’d also like to think that was my last summer I’ll spend in captivity, but I’m getting increasingly skeptical about the Canadian government approving my treaty transfer back to Canada.

The International Transfer of Offenders Act was passed in 1977 by a Liberal government with NDP and Conservative support. It requires the Canadian Government to repatriate into the Canadian Correctional system any Canadian imprisoned abroad whose transfer has been authorized by that imprisoning government. The only grounds in law for rejection by the Canadian Government are that the person applying is a member of organized crime, and/or a threat to the public safety.

From that year until 2005, all Canadians abroad who qualified were approved by the Mulroney (Conservative) and Trudeau/Chretien/Martin (Liberal) governments in that time. In 2006, when the Harper Conservatives came to power, that all changed; the Conservatives began rejecting most applicants, or ignored them. They still continue to do so, even though it is illegal to do so and several judges have ordered the Conservatives to obey the treaty, obey the law, and repatriate these Canadians imprisoned abroad.

The Conservatives have further amended the protocols by extending the sentences of transferees well beyond what any Canadian with the equivalent sentence would be required to serve. For example, under the law before the Conservatives amended it in 2012, I would have been released upon my return to Canada at two-thirds of my sentence served, which was this previous July, 2013. Now, however, I have to serve virtually the entire US sentence amount (to July 9th, 2014) that I would serve if I remain in the US; that is, I would only get out of Canadian prison next May or June, if I am transferred at all.

The Corrections Services of Canada (CSC), which is part of the Ministry of Public Safety, has submitted a review of my case and history to Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney. The CSC essentially endorsed my transfer as being widely supported by the public, and their report also says it is in the public interest to transfer me, and that I qualify under the criteria set out by the International Transfer of Offenders Act.

The US Department of Justice approved my transfer in July this year, which led to a Province newspaper editorial calling for me to be repatriated, and now all that is needed is the signature of the Minister of Public Safety. It has been sitting on his desk unsigned for three months now.

To me it seems that Minister Blaney has no intention of signing it. It is also obvious that not enough voter pressure has been put on Minister Blaney and the Conservatives to compel him to sign it. Therein lies the problem – and the challenge.

Now, I know I’m not the only supplicant for the activism and support of Canadians going on in Canada. Dana Larsen and Sensible BC have reached the mid-way point of their heroic decriminalization referendum signature drive in BC, and it has been magnificent ( but still requires a lot of activism work. In addition, the new federal medical marijuana regulations take effect in February. These regulations to eliminate home grows for medical users, while increasing police enforcement of the worsened prohibition punishments, promise difficult times ahead for many.

So there are a number of campaigns across the country working on preventing further harm, and pushing for law reform, so I understand that our movement is already dealing with a lot. I just have a request for those who believe I should be able to return home.

My wife Jodie is holding a press conference inside Parliament, on Parliament Hill, on Tuesday, October 29th and she will be urging the government to do its job under the law and treaty to repatriate me back into the Canadian system. She will be accompanied at this press conference near the House of Commons by Members of Parliament Libby Davies (NDP–Vancouver East), Elizabeth May (Green Party–Saanich and the Gulf Islands) and hopefully other MPs as well.

Jodie is working on gathering endorsement signatures from elected representatives of all levels of government for a letter to be presented at the press conference. (Please contact her at [email protected] if you know of any sympathetic politicians who might sign!) She is also seeking petition signatures from Canadians who want me brought home (email Jodie to get the petition file to collect signatures from the people you know), and is organizing a phone call campaign to coincide with the press conference in Parliament.

But weekly phone-call blitzes are required, and ultimately I believe it will eventually be necessary to occupy the constituency offices of Conservative Members of Parliament (as was done to protest my extradition in 2010) in order to make my transfer happen.

Unfortunately, Minister Blaney doesn’t like pot and scorns the cannabis culture, and the entire Conservative caucus regards me as an enemy. This is, after all, the same government that extradited me for sending seeds by mail, knowing I would get five years in a US federal prison. They could have charged me in Canada under a deal offered by the US government, but chose not to. This is the government that has made Canada’s marijuana prohibition laws and enforcement more severe, and created medical marijuana regulations that are more punitive for patients.

Despite all that, I still encourage people to contact the Minister endorsing my transfer, if they would like to see me back at home. I’d like to thank the hundreds of people who called Minister Blaney’s offices on September 10th, the most recent phone blitz. I’d also like to thank those who attended a ‘Repatriate Marc Emery’ rally in Port Credit, Ontario that was sponsored by the Mississauga South NDP association on Sunday, September 29. These events produced positive media, but thus far the Minister remains unmoved.

Jodie will continue to organize events designed to put pressure on Minister Blaney. Please watch her weekly Jodie Emery Show on Pot TV, and follower her and I on Twitter (Jodie & Marc) and Facebook (Jodie & Marc). I shall happily acknowledge all of your efforts for my repatriation on the cross-Canada speaking tour that Jodie and I will begin after a year from now, when I am returned – one way or another. Can’t wait to see you on the road, Canadians!

Marc Emery #40252-086
FCC Yazoo – Medium E1
PO Box 5888
Yazoo City, MS

Marc Emery
Marc Emery

Marc Emery is a Canadian cannabis activist, entrepreneur, and politician. Known to his fans as the Prince of Pot, Emery has been a notable advocate of international cannabis policy reform for decades. Marc is the founding publisher of Cannabis Culture and Pot TV.