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Sep 26 2011

Tories’ steamroller government targets Canadian autonomy from US law

Back on Talk Like a Pirate Day, our friend sinned34 posted the following, which ought to give any Canuck pause, all pirate talk aside.

Seems th’ Cons in power here been schemin’ wit’ the Prez o’ them United States to allow the Queen’s navy to cross the border soutwards, in return for allowin’ the longish arm o’ the Amerikin law to reach up in ta Canada, unner the guise o’ chasin’ down terrists an’ protectin’ the public from varyin’ forms o’piracy. He s’posedly be doin’ this inna hopes of convincin’ that Republikin lap dog Obama to open up th’ border to more trade. But the way the Yanks been tossin’ their freedoms and due process overboard to the sharks be makin’ me fear they be exportin’ even more of the US-type prison system up northwards.

To translate that for those of you who don’t speak Piratese (for shame!), Harper plans on allowing cross-border police raids. Ostensibly it’ll allow our police and/or RCMP to cross the border to the States, but given the levels of crime between our particular jurisdictions, all we’ll likely end up with is the States raiding us. So much for our more liberal laws — between this and the omnibus legislation looking to turn Canada’s copyright laws into DMCA Mk. II, they’ll all be forfeit shortly. Sinned continues:

Stephen Harper has been working to introduce minimum sentencing rules and increase the penalties for drug offenses, especially targeting cannabis, and he’s building more prisons, so one can expect that he’s planning more legislation to fill those prisons. However, due to the general Canadian acceptance of cannabis use (a 2009 Angus Reid poll had 53% of Canadians agreeing with the statement, “The use of marijuana should be legalized”), it might cost him politically if he were to pursue a drug war with too much zeal.

If the Conservatives can’t convince Canadians to embrace the war on drugs, the next best thing would be to almost literally import the American war on drugs into the Great White North. The ability of American drug enforcement to enter Canada while investigating drug crime is the simplest way to bring US drug law across the border.

He’s absolutely right in this assessment. The last set of laws that were passed to combat terrorism was used primarily for domestic cannabis cases. We’re not talking about those evil drug dealers whose money supposedly funds terrorists, either — the international drug cartels that have gained their power through the very demonization of their product. We’re talking about the local asshole growing a few plants in his basement and getting thrown in jail for a long time for possession with intent to sell.

The War on Some Drugs has, traditionally, not been about the drugs themselves at all. It has, as near as I can figure, been an effort to turn jails into a moneymaking scheme. When people call for legalization and taxation, I can’t help but chuckle. See, there is far too much money in turning an entire class of citizens into criminals in a culture with for-profit prisons; in driving a market for a specific, popular and generally harmless* recreational pharmaceutical, that happens to grow like a weed, underground. Prohibition on alcohol was too much for the system to handle, and the shock of it turned just about everyone into a criminal, in such a way that the “war on drugs” was not just a figure of speech but an actual, violent war between organized crime and police. Too many innocents were caught in the crossfire. Prohibition of marijuana seems to be a “just right” amount of war, generating enough “criminals” to warrant megajails and the likes.

This is the culture Harper evidently wants to import to Canada. This is how he shuffles the war on some drugs into Canada by the side door. Once Canada becomes a fiefdom to the States’ drug laws, we’re at the top of the slippery slope, and if anything called for a slippery slope argument, this is it. We’re about to be dragged, kicking and screaming, into the war on drugs whether Canada cares about cannabis use or not.

And worse, even the FBI admits this war was never meant to be won.

* There is a large cohort study suggesting that cannabis increases risk of psychosis. I’m not going to dismiss this study outright, but it involves self-reporting, and does not control for previous family history of psychosis, each of which is a large enough flaw that I’d like to see independent verification.

9 comments

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  1. 1
    'Tis Himself

    those of you who don’t speak Piratese

    The pseudo-piratese Jason refers to is actually sailing jargon and late 18th Century English sailors’ slang. “Avast”, “belay”, “halyard”, “lubber” (or “landlubber”) and “bilge” are sailing jargon.* “Bilge rat” and “shiver me timbers” were sailors’ slang.

    Incidentally, when I was sailing last Saturday, I did tell someone “avast heaving on the main sheet.” So he stopped pulling on the rope which controls how the mainsail is trimmed.

    *Translations provided upon request.

  2. 2
    Jason Thibeault

    Tis: I’d contend Piratese has evolved into its own pidgin with so many constructions unique to pirate-related media and fiction (e.g. Pirates of the Caribbean). Though yes, that’s definitely its origin. You’ll never go wrong with nautical jargon on TLaPD.

  3. 3
    sinned34

    Thanks for the link love, Jase.

    I figured that since that was my first serious post in a while that I should make it seems a little more ridiculous by speaking in a pirate-ese that is as pathetic as my fake British (London) accent. Also, it was TLaPD, and I was too lazy to do two separate posts.

    Either way, just think: we’re not even six months into the 4-year Stephen Harper-Con majority. What horrors await us going on into the future, and will the left (NDP/Liberal/Green) coalesce to help overcome the solid right voting block, and will they even be able (or willing) to overturn these evils that Harper is legislating?

  4. 4
    Graham Martin-Royle

    The war on drugs is a waste of both time and money. It doesn’t stop drug use, it doesn’t stop the buying and selling of drugs. It makes criminals rich (I’m talking about those who would be criminals anyway, drug laws or no drug laws) and it gives criminal records to people who do not deserve them, thereby ruining countless lives.

    In the U.K. homosexuality was illegal until the mid 60′s. Anyone caught engaging in homosexual act before then received a criminal record which they still have to this day. How many lives did that policy ruin before it was changed? How many people are still going around with the stigma of a criminal record just because they are gay? How many were pushed into a lifetime of criminal activity because of that record? And how many people are being pushed down the same road because of a misguided policy on drugs that isn’t working and never will?

  5. 5
    sinned34

    Graham,

    You missed two other very important aspect of the War On Drugs: it funnels huge amounts of money to militarize police forces (and what government wouldn’t love to have essentially TWO militaries? One to blow up brown people, and the other to bash hippies), while allowing politicians to appear “tough on crime”.

    To quote Sideshow Bob, “Your guilty conscience may move you to vote Democratic, but deep down you long for a cold-hearted Republican government to lower taxes, brutalize criminals, and rule you like a king!

    I can think of one really good way to stop the passing of tougher drug legislation: demand mandatory drug testing for politicians and police officers, with double the minimum sentence for offenders.

  6. 6
    P Smith

    Harper is a fucking traitor. If he wants to live in the US, revoke his citizenship and dump him over the border. The US’s drug problems are their own – caused by their own actions, so they are theirs to solve.

    The last time US soldiers entered Canada on an imperialistic mission to seize territory was 1812. They got their asses kicked back to Washington and the White House was burnt down. Canada may not be able to put up the same resistance now as then, but the same response is due: yankee go home.

    Unfortunately, the US far right would be perfectly happy to use this as a pretext for invading to “acquire” water and “liberate” the oil in Alberta’s tar sands. This could be the beginning of the end for my country.

    “Lunatic fringe
    In the twilight’s last gleaming
    This is open season
    But you won’t get too far

    ‘Cause you’ve got to blame someone
    For your own confusion
    But we’re on guard this time
    Against your final solution”

    - Red Rider, “Lunatic Fringe” (1981)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IK-nVzp5NbE

    .

  7. 7
    DuWayne

    A little nitpick, though not a big one. While it is exceedingly unlikely that cannabis increases the risk of psychosis*, there are other problems associated – including a not insignificant risk of abuse or addiction. While many cannabis users will claim they don’t have a problem, many of those same users will continue to use when their job is at risk (due to testing), they’re on probation with regular testing, when they can’t afford the rent, etc. When it causes harm, or creates a significant risk of harm it *may* be a substance use disorder.

    Sorry, this is just one of my major pet peeves. All too many people make assertions that would indicate that cannabis can cause little to no harm – as though admission of any harm = supporting the status quo.

    * Without controls, that sort of study is almost, but not quite entirely useless. At best, it would indicate that further exploration would be warranted. While I haven’t actually clicked over to the study you link yet, I sincerely doubt it is even that. Self-reporting on the alleged cause of mental illness is fucking ridiculous. I might buy it if we were talking about extremely refined hash oil, but given how very rare that is it is just about as likely as me growing another arm.

  8. 8
    sinned34

    I second DuWayne’s comment about cannabis. I have anecdotal evidence from a couple of people close to me that supports the idea that marijuana is an addictive substance (insert comment “multiple anecdotes does not equal data” here). Mind-altering drugs are rarely harmless, but then, the War On Drugs isn’t really about protecting people from themselves, either.

    This is where I find drug prohibition to be so frustrating. Most people supporting prohibition will point to a substance’s addictive and damaging qualities as evidence enough that people should not be allowed access to certain drugs. A number of those same people will then often get furious while downing a glass of scotch, insisting that the government regulation of cooking oils used in restaurants, the availability of sugary soft drinks in schools, vehicle mileage, and automatic weapons is an abuse of power.

    Of course, applying criticism equally isn’t a skill most people have developed, nor are most people open to learning how to be consistent in their opinions.

  9. 9
    sinned34

    Oh, fucking HELL!

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