Pubdate: Thu, 08 Aug 2013
Source: Brighton Independent (CN ON)
Copyright: 2013 Metroland Media Group Ltd.
Author: John Cousins


Dear Editor:

Rick Norlock's response to the Liberal party policy of legalizing 
marijuana serves to demonstrate the approach to policy the 
Conservative party takes on many contentious issues. Policy is 
determined in a top-down manner with any ideas that might be 
controversial being ignored or censured by the party brass starting 
with the prime minister. Then they set about attacking the 
spokesperson behind the opposing idea using emotional terms such as 
"simplistic" or "naive," or "lacking in judgment." Or they will 
present some inaccurate facts not based on evidence (e.g. Mr. Norlock 
says that "we have a huge problem with impaired driving" whereas 
Statistics Canada reports, "The rate of impaired driving causing 
death dropped 29 per cent in 2011, reaching its lowest point in over 
25 years.") or even suggest that there is no evidence. (What about 
the LeDaine Commission report?)

This approach is highly cynical and frustrating to people who believe 
government should be listening to new ideas and at least considering 
them through informed debate at their party conventions and 
eventually in the House of Commons. The Liberal policy which appears 
to be well researched and well-thought out is an example of how 
progressive and realistic they are in attempting to deal with the 
failed "war on drugs" and a continuation of outdated thinking on the 
part of the Conservative party.

This Conservative government gained power by appearing to want to 
improve democracy, end corruption, be fiscally responsible, and 
listen to Canadians of all backgrounds. Once in power, they usurped 
the democracy at all levels and have emerged as the complete 
antithesis-a party with top down rule, where members are forced to 
swallow their pride, toe the line, and spout the rhetoric of the 
party leader. Continuing this "war on drugs" with the over $1.5 
billion spent on law enforcement, court costs, and the penal system 
"makes no sense" either and is not fiscally responsible.

Looking at Mr. Norlock's comments, I see some hope that he might 
actually be softening his stand on the marijuana issue when he says 
he would be prepared to really seriously consider decriminalization 
or legalization if presented with studies supporting this. His 
background in law enforcement should also serve to show that his 
government's approach is wrong-headed and there are many in law 
enforcement now who would agree.

While it is valiant to want to create a drug-free society and to do 
everything possible to help people who abuse drugs (that means 
alcohol too), and to educate our young people with the truth, burying 
our heads in the sand and thinking that we can end this problem 
through prohibition is not really "thinking hard" on the issue. A 
recent poll says that nearly 70 per cent of Canadians support either 
decriminalizing or legalizing marijuana. A party that wants to get 
re-elected in 2015 would be wise not to say that this opinion is a 
"knee-jerk" reaction.

John Cousins

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