Pubdate: Fri, 05 Oct 2007
Source: Calgary Sun, The (CN AB)
Copyright: 2007 The Calgary Sun
Author: Steve Lambert, Canadian Press
Bookmark: (Marijuana - Canada)
Bookmark: (Cocaine)
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine - Canada)


Harper Blames 1960s, Beatles-Era Culture for 'Romanticizing' Drug

WINNIPEG -- Prime Minister Stephen Harper is promising to put more
drug dealers behind bars and help users kick the habit as part of a
$64-million anti-drug strategy.

Blaming a culture "that since the 1960s has at the minimum not
encouraged drug use and often romanticized it or made it cool, made it
acceptable," Harper said yesterday the government will be taking a
tougher stand in the war on drugs.

The Conservatives plan to introduce legislation this fall to make
prison time mandatory for serious drug offences, Harper said.

But he refused to be specific other than to say the proposed law would
focus on dealers.

"There are no minimum prison sentences for producing and trafficking
dangerous drugs like methamphetamine and cocaine," Harper told workers
at a Salvation Army in downtown Winnipeg.

"These are serious crimes. Those who commit them should do serious

He said the government wants to make "a distinction between those who
would simply be a user or an addict, and those who actually deal and
produce drugs in order to profit from other people's addiction."

The plan includes a pledge to help border guards find drugs and the
products used to manufacture crystal meth and other substances.

There will also be more resources for police to close down marijuana

But Harper took pains to stress a compassionate side to the program as
well, with two-thirds of the money going to prevention and treatment
for addicts and to campaigns encouraging young people to stay away
from drugs.

While the federal New Democrats have called the plan a heavy-handed,
American-style war on drugs, police and addictions workers were quick
to applaud it.

"I like the idea of having two tracks, with the emphasis on prevention
and treatment," said John Borody, head of the Addictions Foundation of

Tony Cannavino, head of the Canadian Professional Police Association,
said it sends "a strong message."

Canada's best-known marijuana activist warned the looming crackdowns
might be much tougher than it sounds.

"All marijuana smokers are dealers, in a way, because we pass joints
and it's considered trafficking," said Marc Emery from Vancouver.

But Harper said there can't be a soft side to the war on drugs,
suggesting a certain degree of drug use has already become too acceptable.

"My son is listening to my Beatles records and asking me what all
these lyrics mean," said Harper.

"But that said, the reality is there has been a culture that has not
fought drug use.

"And that's what we're up against." 
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