Thursday, May 20, 2010

Tories On Dope

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.


Reality Bites said...

Ayn Rand? Yay! A chance to post my new favourite quote ever!

There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old's life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs.

Robert G. Harvie, Q.C. said...

Why do you need to keep reminding me of the ONE reason that I may reconsider voting Conservative.

Any TRUE conservative should not even remotely support this bill.

a) It will increase the cost of government;
b) It effectively, is another "big brother" sort of law, protecting people from themselves;
c) It will increase the liklihood of people charged with offences moving on to a life of crime - and hence make us LESS safe;
d) It is a cynical effort to capitalize on fear of the electorate to gather votes, while delivering nothing (particularly offensive while you are, at the same time, railing on about the gun registry, which, is basically the same game).

Shiner said...

Any TRUE conservative should not even remotely support this bill.

No, any TRUE liberal wouldn't support that. The Conservative's crime platform is the only thing that's conservative about them.

Jerome Bastien said...

There is nothing conservative about the war on drugs. I know Liberals like to pretend that it is, and they have some reason to believe so, because few if any conservative politician has ever dared to take a principled stand on the issue. But if conservatism is defined as a set of principles, rather than by the actions of right-wing politicians, the war on drugs should be seen as an abomination.

And liberal (or Liberal) politicians have not been much better either.

Like RG Harvie said, nothing is more nanny-state than the war on drugs. It provides major revenues to organized crime. It diverts police and judicial resources away from real crime. It spurs countless derivative crimes. It turns a major potential tax revenue into a major tax expenditure.

In economic matters, the conservative position (low taxes, free market, ...) is the one which empirical evidence suggests is by far the better. Why then apply prohibition which empirical evidence and common sense show is disastrous?

I hope this bill gets shot down. And it would be nice too if at least Michael Ignatieff would be pro-legalization.

Shiner said...

In economic matters, the conservative position (low taxes, free market, ...) is the one which empirical evidence suggests is by far the better.

Ah, the Alan Gregg definition of Conservatism, only Conservatives belive in doing what works.

You two need to hit the history books. A hard justics system has always been a key platform of conservative, and especially Conservative, politics. You neo-liberals have taken over the Conservative Party and then act shocked when traditional aspects on conservatism kick up. Tomorrow you're going to be outraged that there are monarchists among you! And in the case of crime, people in your own camp, supposed libertarians, are rarely in agreement with you when it comes to crime, for christ's sake, it was a key plank of the CPC election campaign, why all the shock now?

The problem Jerome, is that Conservatism is based on two sets of principles, and MacDonald, Bennett, and Diefenbaker are constantly at war with Mulroney, Harper, Reagan, and you guys. You've managed to beat the old school down, but have failed miserably at ridding the CPC of the nastier bits, in fact they've only gotten worse.

sharonapple88 said...

Ayn Rand? Yay! A chance to post my new favourite quote ever!

I believe that's from the Value of Nothing by Raj Patel -- Chapter Ten.

Jerome Bastien said...

Shiner: I dont dispute anything of what you just said. And in fact I agree with a "hard justice system". I just want it applied to rapists, murderers, even drunk drivers, but not pot smokers.

And it shouldnt surprise anyone that there is a fight within conservative circles to define exactly what conservatism stands for, just as there is a similar one in liberal circles. Which wing of a party wins that fight essentially determines the party's viability with the electorate.

When the Liberals are defined by Martin (Martin the prime minister, not Martin the finance Minister), Dion, Rae, Dosanjh, Ignatieff (Iggy the Liberal leader, not Iggy the Harvard prof), they suck and stand at 25% in the polls.

When the Liberals are defined by Chretien, Martin (the finance minister), Manley, Iggy (the Harvard prof), they do much better.

Robert G. Harvie, Q.C. said...

"Hard on Crime".. sounds good, doesn't it.

Kind of like "Gun Control".

I've said it before - political immaturity is when someone says, "I don't care if it works, it's what I believe in."

This is how some approach the "hard on crime" approach of our current government.

To me - reducing crime would be better approached by increasing support for police and prosecutors, and, more importantly, by understanding and reducing the core cause of criminal activity - which is the approach being taken in Alberta by our Provincial Government.

Telling people you're getting "tough on crime" by introducing minimum sentencing, when every study known shows it will not, in the long run, reduce criminal activity and may in fact increase it - but will CERTAINLY increase government spending, is simply appealing the ignorant.

I prefer to have a government respect me enough to appeal to my reason and my intellect.

RuralSandi said...

I watched a panel discussion on Paikin's, The Agenda, the other night.

The tough on crime BS from the Conservatives stems from Nixon, 1964, when his strategists wanted Nixon to appeal to the average person. Included in Nixon's tough on crime BS was the anti-communism stuff - instil fear and all. He also had a image consultant/makeup lady.

The whole conservative leaning tough on crime was actually propoganda that is still used today.

Fillibluster said...

The thing about the neocon agenda is how nicely everything dovetails together.

1. Take money out of education, healthcare and social programs leading to ignorance, anger and more neo-con supporters.

2. Deregulate banks and industry leading to concentration of wealth in fewer hands.

3. Sign "free trade" deals sending jobs offshore to bypass local labour and environmental standards (job shortages also enzure a compliant workforce at home).

4. Privatize profitable government assets to hobble the ability of future governments to provide services, and create a situation in which only the well-off can afford the necessities of life.

5. Build more jails to handle the influx of the homeless and destitute.

6. Privatize prisons and enact stricter laws to ensure a constant supply of inmates.

Ultimately, the purpose of this agenda is the transfer of wealth from the collective purse to the private, and the social costs be damned.

Robert G. Harvie, Q.C. said...

..and then there is the rantings fo the ideologues on the other side of the spectrum a la Fillibuster.

Does anyone, anymore, just talk about the issues, without needing to turn it into a grand conspiracy to either:

a) create a Nazi Germany fascist state; or

b) create a Soviet Union communist state.

Anonymous said...

Rantings? Fillibuster provides a pretty good description of right-wing policy in this country. Between the federal government and the the provincial government here in B.C. I've seen all these things, save, perhaps, the privatization of prisons. The only one who mentioned "Nazis" was you.

Did you mean Hornby Island?

ridenrain said...

And yet Iggy voted for it but that was back when Liberals were still distancing themselves from the Marijuana party. That was also before the Liberal leader was so deep in the polls and so desperate to change things.
I applaud them taking a stand but I question the resolve of something that resembles and election promise.

bigcitylib said...


Yeah. Change made. Been awhile since I've been West.

Tof KW said...

Fillibluster said...
1. Take money out of education, healthcare and social programs...
2. Deregulate banks and industry...
3. Sign "free trade" deals...
4. Privatize profitable government assets...

Actually Fillibluster, these are central economic planks in classic liberalism - but now fully adopted by the conservative movement since the Reagan-Thatcher-Mulroney years. Study it and you soon see there's nothing 'conservative' about this, for it conserves neither prosperity nor probity. It’s junk neo-liberal economics promoted over the past several decades by ideologues like Friedman and the Austrian School fools who got obsessed with a thoroughly mistaken idea that taxation is automatically theft, a ridiculous doctrine which, regrettably, became a standard part of the New-Right’s catechism of (poorly examined and ill-advised) beliefs.

However the 'tough on crime' philosophy has been a central plank of Canadian and UK conservatism ever since the later half of the 1800's.

Robert G. Harvie, Q.C. said...


And we wonder why political parties pander to blind partisanship.

Shiner said...

Get over yourself Rob, you're as partisan a person as I've ever seen. If you have specific issues with what Fillibuster said, or dispute TofKW's point say so, and show your work.

Jim said...

So, let me get this straight, you earned your liberal arts degree by selling fake pot to the youth of Canada?

No wonder your victims are conservatives now!


Tof KW said...

Mr Harvie, I’m not a weird ‘lefty’ conspiracy theorist that thinks a Harper majority would lead to a fascist state – if that’s the impression I’ve given.

My political views came from my father who got our family out from behind the iron curtain in the 1960’s to escape communism. He was a strong conservative supporter because back then they were the party all about keeping a level playing field for the common man to enter the market. I feel this is no longer true, and I’m uncertain if any party is truly committed to this philosophy anymore.

I am also a firm disbeliever in supply-side theory, and I’m fairly certain that Harper has not abandoned his beliefs regardless of EAP spending. Given a majority I have no doubt that his inner libertarian economist would emerge and attempt deficit reduction solely by cutting social programs – the ‘starve the beast’ theory. It would also hamstring future Liberal governments from being able to adopt any new social program spending. Canada has had ringside seats to this very experiment for the past 30 years, and we should be very wary of this approach. The US is now saddled with a mind-numbing debt and is hard-pressed to maintain basic infrastructure spending. Some states are becoming like Greece, but for a totally different reason.

The conservative movement in Canada has unwisely adopted the short-sited economic policies of the US Republican party, who are all about populism and lacked the delicate balance of individual liberties and collective prosperity which was a hallmark of UK/Canadian Tories ever since Disraeli created the modern Conservative party. If you don’t feel that these points I’ve listed above are pure neo-liberal economic policy, please show me otherwise. There was a time when Tories realized that maintaining a managed welfare state was a requirement to conserving the overall prosperity of the nation, and that taxes were a necessary evil (revolution insurance as Churchill once described it). I wish they would respect Keynes a little more, and Friedman a lot less. In other words to become the party I remember prior to the mid-1980’s.