Most of the Harper gov's tough on crime agenda is so trivial that it's difficult to oppose. Whatever you might think of the legal principles at stake, who really cares if Clifford Robert Oslen loses his pension? As long a nobody is under the impression that any psychopaths out there are going to stop eating nuns because they might lose their CP benefits, why not let such legislation pass? The number of people it would effect is in the low dozens. It just isn't worth a fight.
Or at least, as I understand it, that has been the logic of the LPoC (Liberal Party of Canada) brain trust for the past year or so.
Bill S-10--previously known as C-15--is different, however: mandatory jail-time for small scale drug offenses like growing a half dozen marijuana plants is not only bad law, its ambitious enough to do real harm to society. Just from a regional perspective, such a law would entirely denude British Columbia's Salt Spring and other Gulf Islands of their colonies of retired hippies.
So it is encouraging to see the Liberal Party reconsidering their support for the reincarnation of C-15 that has now been introduced in the Senate, even if its the bill's cost rather than its inherent stupidity that's driving the rethink.
As for the Conservatives, at the party level this, like much of their anti-crime legislation, is driven by pure cynicism: the need to shovel boob-bait to the bubbas in their political base. The grass-roots support, though, is a little harder to explain. It isn't as though there aren't a ton of potheads among Tory supporters. In fact, back in the day, its the young conservatives that would buy absolutely any bag full of dirt you wanted to sell them. You could cut the hashish with vaseline twice and they'd still come back for more; you could string them along for weeks by telling them that yes it was supposed to smell like Oregano, that the two plants were actually related in the biological sense.
But then they'd get high and do a little reading and the weed would serve as a gateway drug to Ayn Rand. I found I couldn't live with myself when that happened.
In any case, I am firmly in the "legalize and tax it" camp when it comes to fighting the drug wars. But if the Harper government really wanted to get tough without getting crazy, they could look at some of the changes made to C-15 when it reached the upper house first time around. Surely between 6 and 200 plants (the Senate figure) there is a number that would make life more difficult on dealers but wouldn't send Grandma Wiccan from Hornby Island to prison.