Well Mr. Premier, you do keep me on my toes – metaphorically speaking. On one hand you’ve made a decision that that I wholeheartedly support – backing the needle exchange program in Vancouver, and on the other hand you continue to ignore the minimum wage issue here in BC. You managed to at least script a green plan that gained accolades from the esteemed Al Gore, but oddly enough, your government supports the development of a liquid natural gas plant on Texada Island. I’m guessing you didn’t tell Al about this part of your agenda eh? Did you by chance mention the whole west coast oil exploration issue to him? You know, the whole idea of oil tankers trucking on down the inside passage seems a bit perilous. Seems we don’t quite yet have the technology to deal with the consequences of even a minor oil spill in such an eco-sensitive area.
I was also actually kind of hoping you’d help Minority Prime Minister Harper appreciate that occasionally using a bit of marijuana does not turn an individual into a raging drug addict needing the heavy handed ministrations of the full weight of the law. Although I don’t necessarily advocate smoking dope any more than our society advocates drinking or smoking tobacco, it’s just not exactly the same as ingesting a pound of cocaine or dealing crack to kids. He seems, in his innocence I’m sure, to somehow believe that his self-assumed role as the “great father” is one that is integral to his role as the Prime Minister. I was particularly moved by the line “if you need help, we’ll be there to help you and if you do drugs, we’ll be there to punish you.” Hmm, shades of Big Brother or Chairman Mao or Dubbya. I wonder, has anyone mentioned to Mr. Harper that this approach hasn’t worked all that well in the United States? Former Vancouver mayor Philip Owen, a member of the Beyond Prohibition Coalition, said last week upon the release of the Conservative anti-drug strategy “you just can't incarcerate your way out of this. The United States locks down 2.3 million people every night." Owen, an architect of Vancouver's drug safe-injection site, told a news conference the Tory government's adoption of policies similar to the failed war on drugs in the United States is "uninformed." The Canadian Press noted that: “A coalition of Vancouver health and social groups says prison terms and attempts to scare users straight won't solve Canada's illegal drug problem."
Oh well, perhaps Mr. Harper figures it’s better to be behind the times and out of touch with contemporary Canadian society. (Now I see why they removed the “progressive” from their new Conservative moniker. Just can’t figure out why they didn’t take on the obvious and descriptive “regressive.”) So Gord, do you figure you can help him out, what with your newly found propensity towards reality? I wonder if the Prime Minister really understands the odd ethical situation his “new government” maintains by benefiting financially from the sale of alcohol and tobacco - both drugs that are known to cause unbelievable harm to individuals and families - and the millions of dollars that governments (including yours) rake in from the gambling addictions of thousands of Canadians. (Have you checked your 6/49 numbers lately?) Dear me, I suspect that if governments (his and yours) could figure out ways to regulate and control pot as they have booze and tobacco, you’d both be in there as deeply and righteously as you are for all of these other addictions. I can only imagine how quickly pot would become legal. Think of the taxes! (Remember that not too long ago it was illegal in Canada to sell lottery tickets. Recall the Irish Sweepstakes?) I wonder Gord, if Mr. Harper appreciates that power can also be an addiction? Hopefully Canada’s “new government” will be able to develop a similar anti-addiction strategy to address the negative impacts of this very serious and insidious compulsion to exercise power and control. If they can, I suspect there’s a market for this strategy in a large variety of countries and corporations.
Now there are a few other things that I suspect need attention while we’re at it. This whole thing about BC continuing to be the Canadian leader in child poverty still has my attention. Hopefully, it will have yours too. And just today I heard that over two million Canadians don’t have food security. In fact, according to the Canadian Association of Food Banks, over 81,000 people in BC needed to use a food bank in 2006 – close to 26,000 of these people were children. That’s a 10% increase from 2005. That’s a lot of kids Gord. Hopefully your government will attend to some of these issues during the fall session of the Legislative Assembly. Now I don’t expect you and your government to solve all these problems, but I do look forward to you and your government debating a few issues that don’t necessarily carry the Olympic logo. I was going to mention BC Ferries, but I understand the new ones – the ones manufactured in Germany - will be all painted up to advertise the Olympics. Any idea what the cost for this might be?
Here’s hoping you and yours enjoyed a great Thanksgiving Mr. Premier. I look forward to continuing our relationship into the next year. When exactly is the next provincial election?
Til next time.
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