The Canadian Conservatives have lied and used every trick they have to pass Bill S-10.  This law imposes mandatory minimum sentences for drug crimes in Canada.  The United States induced mandatory minimum sentences in the 1980’s at the height of drug war hysteria.  These laws paved the way for the prison industrial complex, consisting of corporate for-profit prisons, that exists today in the US.  As a result the US has the highest prison population in the world and the highest disparity in sentencing between whites and blacks.  This is exactly what the Canadian Conservatives are creating in Canada.

Canada’s neighbors and many countries around the world are beginning to ease up on their marijuana and drug laws.  The Canadian Conservatives however are chasing a failed US policy from the 1980’s.  The Conservatives even have the audacity to announce that this legislation is much welcomed by Canadians.  Justice minister Rob Nicholson on Bill S-10,

“we are absolutely convinced in our consultation with Canadians that this is welcomed across the country.” link1

“It does cost money to incarcerate people and I believe that Canadians have been willing to pay those costs up to this point and they’ll continue to do so. If we don’t, then Canadians will be further victimized. That’s what victims groups tell me all the time.” link2

Right now US states are beginning to take steps to legalize marijuana.  Today marijuana is legal and semi legal in many US states:

  • 15 states with legal medical marijuana
  • 9 with medical marijuana dispensaries
  • 13 states have decriminalized recreational marijuana
  • 4 states have voted on full legalization for recreational use

Most notably Proposition 19 which would have legalized marijuana in California lost 44.1% to 55.9% on Nov 2.  There are a handful of states trying to legalize marijuana in 2011 and 2012 and many others fighting for medical marijuana and decriminalization.  In addition Mexico decriminalized all drugs in 2009 including hard drugs such as cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine.  Canada attempted to decriminalize pot in 2004 but it was shot down by pressure from the US, who ironically had already decriminalized in 13 states.

In a recent visit to Ottawa US Drug Czar, Gil Kerlikowski, had this to say,

Lawmakers in almost every single state in the U.S. are looking to reduce mandatory minimum penalties because prison populations have exploded with non-violent drug offenders.

The Conservatives argue that Bill S-10 will give police to tools to bring down organized crime.  They insist that this law targets “the ‘kingpins’ or major players in the drug trade”.  Since when do the Hells Angels or UN gang run a grow op with only 6 plants?  This law specifically targets small time growers for the purpose of filling prisons.  The Conservatives are not stupid and they do not really believe their own lies.  They are cold manipulative liars with a diabolical agenda.  Here is a breakdown of the penalties that Bill S-10 will impose on Canadians, check out cannabisfacts.ca for more info.

Bill S-10 passed on November 4 with final vote in the Senate of 7 to 4.  That’s all 7 of the Conservative senators on the committee vs the 4 Liberals.  All that is standing in the way of S-10 becoming law is the signature of the Governor General.

The Senate committee heard testimony from numerous witnesses and experts who overwhealmingly showed that S-10 is a bad law and will do the exact opposite of what the Conservatives said it will.

Howard Sapers, the independent ombudsman for federal offenders, told the Senate committee,

“There is a large body of research that points to both the lack of a deterrent effect for mandatory minimum sentences and the fact that they can lead to significant increases in the prison population, with little or no impact on public safety.”

Check out the video of the police officer’s testimony in the senate hearings, testimony.  Here is another link to videos of many other expert speakers on this law.

Bill S-10 is not the only law that Harper’s Conservatives are pushing.  They are on a mission.  In fact 40% of all bills tabled since the Conservatives came to power have to do with reforming the criminal justice system.  Here are some of their recent bills,

  • Bill C-25 (passed) – ends “two-for-one” sentencing credit for time that prisoners spend in pre-trial custody
  • Bill C-19 (passed) – increase maximum sentence for street racing (14 years to life)
  • Bill C-9 (passed) – remove alternative sentencing (house arrest) for serious crimes
  • Bill C-10 (passed) – mandatory minimum sentences for offences involving a firearm
  • Bill C-32 (in senate) – would create an offence of operating a motor vehicle while in possession of a controlled substance
  • Bill C-2 (passed) – group of laws called “Tackling Violent Crime Act”, new tougher sentences
  • Bill S-9 (in senate) mandatory minimums for auto theft
  • Bill S-6 (re-introduced) – repeal “faint hope” clause for life sentences
  • Bill C-36 (in senate) – safety of consumer products, very controversial check out the Facebook group

The crime rate fell three percent in Canada last year, and is down 17 percent in the past decade, while the Crime Severity Index is down 22 percent since 1999. Violent crime is also down and represents less than one-quarter of one percent of all crime, while the homicide rate is two-thirds of its peak in the 1970s.

Despite the fact that there is less crime Harper released this statement in 2006,

If we are to protect our Canadian way of life, we need to crack down on gun, gang and drug crime…. If you do a serious crime, you’re going to do serious time.

Harper’s Conservatives have taken major steps to the corporatization of Canada’s prisons.

  1. In April 2007, then-Minister of Public Safety Stockwell Day created a panel to conduct a sweeping review of the federal prison system.
  2. Day’s panel released their final report titled “A Roadmap to Strengthening Public Safety.
  3. A task force was created to strategically implement the Roadmap titled ‘The Transformation Team.’

One recommendation of the Roadmap was to ‘modernize’ Corrections’physical infrastructure by building ‘regional complexes’ (super prisons) containing up to 2200 cells, combining minimum, medium, and maximum security, as well as a ‘special handling unit’ aimed at long-term incarceration in complete isolation and under heavy surveillance.

Canada’s first corporate super jail was the Central North Correctional Centre built at Penetaguishene, Ont.  This prison was run by an American corporation called “Management and Training Corporation“.

The Roadmap also called for a strengthening of so-called Public-Private Partnerships (P3s) in super prison construction. While it falls short of advocating for full private management, which was the case in Penetanguishene, it advocates for the privatization of every other part of the process: financing, construction, maintenance, and service delivery (e.g. foodproviders). This process is called backdoor privatization; when carried out to its logical endpoint, it results in a weak, token public agency charged with overseeing an operation entirely carried out by a far more robust profit-driven private sector.   The Roadmap also recommended to eliminate credit for time served before trial which as already come to pass in the form of Bill C-25.

Soon after its inception the Transformation Team began to scale-back maintenance investment in the existing prison infrastructure.  This led to the decay of present facilities and created the need for constructing new infrastructure.

In March 2010 Stockwell Day announced that the federal government needs to spend $9 billion on “much-needed” new prisons.  His reason was “unreported crimes

“We’re very concerned about the increase in the amount of unreported crimes that surveys clearly show are happening,” Stockwell Day

The irony is that unreported crimes are crimes for which nobody is charged or imprisoned.  Despite this obvious attempt to pull the wool over our eyes the spending was approved and the Conservatives are moving ahead with their corporate prison agenda.

Mandatory sentences along with corporate prisons and government policies have created the enormous prison population in the US.  The United States adult prison population now exceeds two million inmates, an average of 724 citizens per 100,000 members of the American population.  In Canada the current rate is 102 prisoners per 100,000 population (one seventh that of the United States).  We are on track to reach US numbers if the Conservative plan is allowed to continue.  Comparable rates in other countries are 98 in Germany, 92 in Italy, 80 in France, 64 in Sweden, 61 in Denmark and 69 in Iceland.

Despite overwhelming evidence that mandatory sentences and corporate prisons have zero effect on crime rates the Conservatives are going forward with their law and order agenda.  The current government under Harper will not change direction based on moral persuasion or sound logic.  This government is driven by a merger of hardened ideologues and religious fundamentalists.  Any strategy based on persuading the Conservatives to ‘do the right thing’ is doomed to fail.  Wake the fuck up Canada.  We need to get rid of Harper and his deranged political party before it is too late.

UPDATE FEBRUARY 2011:

Bill S-10 got sent back to house of commons.  That is not the typical process for a Canadian bill and it has already been through the house.  I don’t understand how or why it happened but thank god it did.  The NDP and Liberals are poised to vote against the bill which will kill the bastard where it lies, LINK.  Its not over yet but if there is a shred of democracy left in this country reason will prevail.

Here is some mainstream news articles about the same subject, LINK1, LINK2.

The prime minister of Canada, Stephen Harper, had a Youtube just like Obama did a few months ago. Questions were added and voted on by the public on youtube.com/talkcanada. With nearly 170,000 votes on over 6000 questions marijuana legalization took the top 4 spots. Cannabis prohibition also ranked high on the US version but the question was not included in the final Obama interview. Surprisingly the question of marijuana legalization was asked tonight, Harper’s response was not surprising.

The question was,

“A majority of Canadians when polled say they believe marijuana sould be legal for adults and taxed just like alcohol. Why don’t you end the war on drugs and focus on violent criminals.”

What we got was pretty much the kind of response you would expect from a guy like Harper.

He started out ranting about his kids.  Harper went on to say,

[Marijuana use] is the last thing I want to see for my kids or anyone else’s children.

First of all the question said marijuana should be legal for adults. What the fuck does that have to do with his or anyone else’s children. Second, prohibition does absolutely nothing to keep drugs out of the hands of children. High school students continually claim that marijuana is easier to get than alcohol.

“I’ve been very fortunate to live a drug free life and I don’t meet many people who’ve lived drug free life and regret it …”

OK that is your opinion, Harper.  So when you made a bet with Obama during the Olympics involving a case of beer you weren’t going to drink it, right?  What he meant to say is “I’ve been very fortunate to live an illicit drug free life”.  When asked in 2004 if he had ever smoked pot Harper has this to say (source),

No I have not. I was offered a joint once and I was too drunk.

Even though alcohol is a much more dangerous drug it is perfectly acceptable, but marijuana will murder babies in South America.

He basically said the same thing when asked about his proposed mandatory minimum sentences. “We think its bad and we’re going to punish people for it.” He’s going for the moral approach here just like his role model George W Bush.

When people are buying from the drug trade they are not buying from their neighbor they are buying from international cartels that are involved in unbelievable violence and intimidation, social disaster and catastrophe all across the world.

Wow! So my neighbor who grows weed and sells it to me is actually a terrorist in disguise? I guess we’ll just have to take your word for it, Harper. Wonder where he got that idea? It is true that drug cartels and many terrorist groups are funded by drug profits that does not mean drugs = terrorism.

Canada is a marijuana exporter, nearly 100% of the marijuana consumed in Canada is grown in Canada. So we really are buying weed from our neighbor. If it was not for the prohibition induced black market we would have a very successful domestic marijuana economy. Gangs reap massive profits and control the majority of the marijuana black market exactly the same as they did during alcohol prohibition. The organized crime element is caused by prohibition not a reason for it.

I know that some people say if you legalized it you would get the money and all would be well. But I think that rests on the assumption that somehow drugs are bad because they are illegal. The reason drugs are illegal is because they are bad.

Here he used the old debater’s trick, the straw man. He built up a phony aspect of the argument (the straw man) and easily knocked it down. Nobody thinks drugs are bad because they are illegal and nobody would argue that. The question is not whether drugs are bad or not. The question is, why is marijuana illegal when 1/6 Canadians are using it? Good or bad people are going to be using it. The prohibition approach has done nothing to stop people from using pot. Prohibition has done very little in preventing drug use, in fact it has failed completely. Prohibition has made billionaires out of villans and ruined the lives of countless good honest citizens.

… and even if these things were legalized I predict with great confidence that these would never be respectable businesses run by respectable people, because of the very nature of the dependency that they create, the damage that they create, social upheaval they create.

So Harper thinks the marijuana business could never be respectable. I wonder if he thinks all the breweries, wineries, bars, and liquor stores in Canada are respectable? This is another example of his moral objection to marijuana. It is also absolutely false.

To sum up Harper’s arguments

I don’t give a fuck if Canada votes to legalize marijuana I think it is morally wrong.

It’s nice to see someone like you steering the ship Harper. Here’s one more question for you, what is the shelf life for bad legislation?

Last night (Dec 28) I caught an anti-marijuana commercial while watching TV. Nothing unusual except this was put on by the Canadian government. It showed a kid being offered a pull on a joint, he then had flashbacks of getting busted for ecstasy and other drugs. You can watch the ad below.

Incidentally I witnessed the beginning of Prime Minister Harper’s new anti-drug media campaign. Anotner step towards the americanization of Canada. The campaign includes advertisements in buses, trains, subways and shopping malls across Canada, as well as Internet banners on websites popular with teens. The strategy is an exact copy of the Partnership for a Drug Free America (PDFA) which has been going on since the 80s and has been proven to be ineffective. The PDFA brought us such ads as “this is your brain on drugs” and the recent “above the influence” camaign. The not4me.ca website is clearly inspired by abovetheinfluence.com. It uses a more appealing website design than standard Canadian government pages to keep young people’s attention. Compare this site to this one and you’ll see what I mean.

A major, and critical, difference between PDFA and the new Conservative campaign is that PDFA is sponsored by corporations not governemnt. Check out the list of sponsors for Harper’s campaign, SPONSOR LIST. Many contributers are Canadian police groups including: Canadian Police Association, Justice Canada, and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Another one that really stands out is Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada. Nearly all the sponsors are organizations funded by taxpayer money. Harper is once again using our own money against us.

To Harper’s credit the “facts” section stays closer to the real facts than PDFA and DEA. While the PDFA says,

Marijuana is addictive with more teens in treatment with a primary diagnosis of marijuana dependence than for all other illicit drugs combined.

The Conservative campaign uses carful wording using words like “may” and “has the potential”. The not4me.ca website says,

Cannabis has the potential to be psychologically and physically addictive.

Here’s another quote that really disturbed me,

Marijuana has over 400 chemicals and some of the same toxic substances found in tobacco smoke that can cause cancer.

If you read that sentence carfully it does not actually say marijuana causes cancer. Although the sentence is technically true it gives a very negative impression of marijuana.  That is exactly what Harper is counting on.  Marijuana has not been proven to cause cancer, in fact it has been proven to cure cancer (articleRick Simpson). The Conservative government has launched a Canadian war on drugs. Its a little late in the game though, the US is taking baby steps towards legalization and the rest of the world is easing their pot laws. I don’t think Harper got the memo.

The national anti-drug srategy is new government plan to ramp up the war on drugs in Canada. Only a few years after the Liberal government tried to decriminalize in 2004 (shot down by pressure from the US) the Harper regime took a U-turn. Look at the budget on this thing, from the drug strategy backgrounder,

The Government of Canada has committed $30 million in new funding over five years to support the Prevention Action Plan.

Conservatives introduced legislation like bill C-15 (mandatory minimum sentences, increased maximums), increased justice budgets and put more cops on the street. They are also promoting DEA style drug courts and other tenants of the failed US drug war. Drug courts promote court-monitored rehab over prison (more on rehab).

Harper is Canada’s George W Bush. We need to get that fucker out before its too late!