Tag Archives: Justin Trudeau

Opportunity or Catastrophe? Weighing in on the Upcoming Legalization of Pot in Canada

Legalizing recreational marijuana was part of Justin Trudeau’s election campaign platform, but it wasn’t something many people took seriously. What with the common mistrust of politicians and the opposition of the very powerful Hell’s Angels gang, who stand to lose a lot of revenue if pot becomes legal, it was hard to take Trudeau’s proposition seriously.

That’s why I was surprised to hear that the Federal Health Minister had announced plans to legalize marijuana by 2017. CBC’s recent episode of Cross Country Checkup gave Canadians an opportunity to respond with a few of their thoughts on the new legislation. Many of the callers brought some great points to my attention, some of which I’ve touched on below. However, it was apparent that some callers were still buying into weed propaganda, from exaggerated health benefits to exaggerated threats. For this post I decided to pull together a few of the best arguments I’ve heard from both camps and try to find at least a little research to support their claims.

Pros of Legalization

1. Legalization could reduce an unnecessary drain on police resources

Cannabis related offences are the most common type of drug offence in Canada, especially here in British Columbia.

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Source: Statistics Canada, Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, Aggregate Uniform Crime Reporting Survey.

According to Stats Canada, “in 2012, 43% of Canadians reported that they had used marijuana at some time in their lives, and 12% reported using it in the past year”. That means half of all Canadians could have been charged with possession at one time or another. Although in some places police will turn a blind eye to mere pot possession, there are still a significant number of cases reported by police. CBC explains that 

there were 57,314 marijuana possession-related “incidents” reported by police nationwide, according to Statistics Canada. More than 24,540 people were charged as a result. The year before that, 25,819 Canadians faced charges.

What’s disconcerting about this grey area of crime is that police can often use their discretion when it comes to actually prosecuting an offence. According to a recent CBC News analysis, where you live can affect if you will be charged. They report that “you’re almost 23 times more likely to face a possession charge in Kelowna, B.C., than in St. John’s.”

Marijuana use is so widespread that it is taking a massive amount of police resources to even pursue pot users. According to a report last year, “police report a pot possession incident every 9 minutes in Canada”. Inevitably, chasing down the almost endless amount of pot users and dealers takes police away from pursuing other criminal activity. Continue reading

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The Remnants of Colonization in La Loche: What Factors Lead to Tragedy?

On January 22nd, a 17-year-old student killed four individuals in La Loche, Saskatchewan.

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The four victims of the La Loche shooting, Adam Wood, Marie Janvier, and Dayne and Drayden Fontaine.

When I first heard about this heartbreaking tragedy I was shocked. Since then, I’ve been reading more and more about the town of La Loche in order to better understand the context of what happened. Below I’ve shared some of what I’ve learned about the situation this small Northern town has faced.

1. Rural isolation

Canada has become an urban nation, so the city is where most of our jobs and resources are.

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In some ways the popular Canadian cliche of a “vast, empty wilderness” is still true today. Just like the “discovery” of Canada – when a country filled with many different nations was considered “empty” by explorers – today Canadians still consider the jobless pockets of Northern Canada “empty”.

While settler-Canadians have congregated primarily in the region of Canada closest to the American border, First Nations peoples still tend to be the majority in Northern rural areas. In La Loche, for example, more than 2,400 of the 2,600 community members identify as First Nations or Metis.

However, these communities have changed considerably since “the discovery” of Canada. Generations of First Nations peoples were forced to give up their cultural practices during their time in the Residential school system, which lasted from the 1870s all the way into the 1990s. They also gave up huge portions of land to white settlers. Not as a gift, but in an exchange drafted out in treaties that the Canadian government has yet to honour.

First Nations communities continue to survive, despite the loss of many traditional practices and lands. While these communities struggle to overcome their isolation, many settler-Canadians continue to ask why they don’t move south to find more jobs and a “better lifestyle”. In her article responding to this question, Susanna Kelley argues that many rural reserve members are forced to give up their land and community support if they want to find employment and education.

“First of all, the overwhelming majority of [rural] reserve residents have not completed high school and have no place to work once they hit the urban south. And many fly in reserves don’t have high schools.  Would you like to send your 13-year-old to live 70 km. away for months at a time?

Many who do come to the cities end up in the sex and drug trade.  They simply are unqualified to make a living other ways…

Which is why many [First Nations] people stay where they are, close to family and their community.

But what most Canadians don’t know is that our nation is legally bound to provide housing, health care and education to [First Nations people] who live on reserves.

The federal government isn’t just doing it out of the goodness of its heart.

The obligation comes from legally binding agreements made by treaty many years ago.”

Continue reading

This is What Environmental Racism Looks Like

Environmental racism was one of the most surprising concepts I encountered during my undergrad. It had just never occurred to me that where and how we polluted our environment would be intentionally arranged to affect some racial communities more than others.

In the States there have been several famous instances of environmental racism.

After the Second World War, for example, Chicago kindly provided African American veterans the opportunity to live in a housing community built atop an abandoned landfill. After serving their country and surviving the war these veterans came home to Altgeld Gardens Homes, a community that would have significantly high cancer rates because of exposure to toxic chemicals.

Then, in the 1970s and 80s, there was the Warren County PBC Landfill case, when the state of North Carolina decided to bury soil that had been contaminated with toxic polychlorinated biphenyls in Warren Country, a community with primarily black residents and a much lower income rate than the rest of the state.

With the very likely possibility of their drinking water being contaminated by the toxic material, residents, civil rights groups, environmental leaders, and clergymen all joined together to protest the state’s decision…

…and then got arrested.

Continue reading

Justin Trudeau Makes Me Cry: The Trouble with Strategic Voting

I love democracy. No bullshit. The idea of “one citizen, one vote” fills me with hope and pride. As a woman, a Canadian, and a self-declared citizen of the world I am acutely aware that voting is a hard-won privilege. People my age (particularly women) have given life and limb to make voting my right. So usually, when I vote, I swell with pride. This year I hated voting. Voting made me so sad. Because this year I voted strategically. In Vancouver South Liberal party candidate Harjit Sajjan is most likely to beat Conservative candidate Wai Young. So I voted Liberal.

Before I get too far I need to note I’m not a right-wing-hater. In fact, I pride myself on being relatively non-partisan (but left). I don’t think that people who vote Conservative have bad hearts. In fact I am sure there is enormous goodness in the heart of your average Conservative MP. Good hearts aren’t hard to come by. I do think that the government, as it is, has gone too far. I believe that Stephen Harper’s once good heart has been corrupted by unchecked power. And that’s why I lied on my ballot.

Nor am I a Liberal-hater. Like many of his Conservative competitors and coworkers Justin Trudeau has a good heart. Since I was a child I loved Justin Trudeau. He was my political celebrity crush. He was my rock star. He was like the sensitive one from a political boy band.

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Photo by Jean-Marc Carisse – CC BY 2.0, 

I had so much hope for his solo career. And that childhood crush sort of lingered through until adulthood. I was SO excited when I heard that he (he!) would be speaking at my university (mine!!!). I was going to get to be in the same room as Justin Trudeau! I couldn’t wait to hear what political wisdoms he would impart and what solutions he would offer to the Conservative infestation we seemed to be having in the cabinet. I arrived two hours early and helped set up chairs. Then he started to speak. At first I was confused. Then I got sad. Then his stupid face started to piss me off. Continue reading