Encourage Jack Layton to call for Drug Law Reform

March 16, 2009 at 2:19 pm | Posted in Politics | 1 Comment

Federal NDP Leader Jack Layton is in Vancouver Kingsway today to push for more crime prevention and more resources for the police. Charlie Smith @ The Georgia Straight suspects that Layton is pushing the crime issue because it will help the provincial NDP, which will try to unseat the B.C. Liberals in the May 12 provincial election.

Now when it comes to saving lives, I’m all for more resources for the police. But gee-golly, it would sure be nice to hear politicians, even one politician, talk about strategies other than tougher laws. For example, Vancouver East NDP Libby Davies has set an example by courageously speaking out against prohibition in the sex trade. She has taken a lot of abuse for doing this. But she knows that in the end, this is what will save lives.

Smith suggest that if federal NDP MPs are interested in finding solutions—rather than just electing provincial New Democrats this May—they will set themselves apart from the federal Conservatives and Liberals by pushing for a national debate on the prohibition of drugs.

Now, ending prohibition of drugs could could mean a lot of things, and I can imagine some scenarios that I would not support with my vote. However, I have been onboard with the idea of decriminalization of marijuana for a long time now and I am trying to keep an open mind on legalization. As a Canadian voter who sometimes has trouble finding the motivation to follow the issues, I would love to see Layton distinguish his party on an issue that is profoundly affecting my beloved Vancouver.

And I think that the artist formerly known as Taliban Jack is just the politician to make this bold move. But would such a move really be so bold?

The NDP has nothing to lose. With its current polling numbers, the party will be decimated in the next federal campaign. Taking a stand against drug prohibition could transform the next federal election because Layton would get lots of coverage from antiprohibitionist journalists, including Dan Gardner and Ian Mulgrew, just to name a couple. The news media employ scores of libertarian-minded commentators and reporters who will love this idea.

And don’t forget the recent advice from a major non-partisan economic journal as well as polls showing B.C. residents “strongly support a series of proposed justice reforms to curb gang activity and nearly two-thirds also back the legalization of marijuana. Another quote from Smith:

In 1970, then-federal NDP leader Tommy Douglas took a stand against then-prime minister Pierre Trudeau’s draconian imposition of the War Measures Act to deal with two political kidnappings. Douglas was vilified, but history has vindicated his position.

The Co-operative Commonwealth Federation wasn’t afraid to call for universal pensions, universal health care, and unemployment insurance—all of which are mainstream concepts today.

The NDP is at the crossroads in 2009. Does it back the status quo on illegal drugs—which amounts to a death sentence for scores of Canadians in the coming years—or will it take a risk by seeking longlasting solutions, even if those solutions rile our American neighbours?

Layton should forget about those provincial NDP dinosaurs—they’re beyond hope when it comes to developing imaginative policies—and get on with the job of serving the country.

What can you do? Well feel free to pass this post around, as well as Charlie Smith’s Article, my review of The Economists call for the Legilisation of Drugs, and the Angus Reid Poll showing B.C. residents strongly support a series of proposed justice reforms to curb gang activity and nearly two-thirds also back the legalization of marijuana.

You could also Send Jack Layton an email. Don’t know what to say? Well here’s what I’m saying; feel free to copy and paste:

Dear Mr. Layton,

Congratulations on your recent vindication involving Canada’s involvement in Afghanistan. I admire the courage you displayed in 2006 when you stood up to blind patriotism and offered an alternative view. I hope that now the party of Tommy Douglas will earn my vote by taking a stand against conventional thinking and offer Canadians a real choice in the fight against gang violence.

As you may know on March 5th, The Economist, a journal that has backed conservatives such as Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, made the argument that “Prohibition has failed; legalisation is the least bad solution”.

You may also know that an Angus Reid poll shows B.C. residents strongly support a series of proposed justice reforms to curb gang activity and nearly two-thirds also back the legalization of marijuana.

This is not really surprising given the success and popularity of Insite, the first legal supervised injection site in North America.

Even though there was opposition to Insite when it was proposed BC politician, businesses, and residents admitted that the “injection drug epidemic” was not going to be solved with prisons, but instead with pragmatism and compassion.

I’m no anarchist. I don’t believe that all laws should be eliminated, but with frequent stories of drug related murders, I am eager to see new solutions where traditional strategies have failed. I believe that a majority of BC residents are also ready and looking for a Canadian party to offer true opposition to the American style “War on Drugs”.

Please Mr. Layton, please give Canadians the chance to choose pragmatism over prison.

Thank you,
[your name]

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  1. I think it’s a nice ideal and all, but that kind of support for decriminalizing Marijuana exists only in BC. For the rest of Canada, the NDP may as well just give up now if they want to take that tack.

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