Pubdate: Thu, 19 Jan 2012
Source: Devon Dispatch News (CN ON)
Copyright: 2012 Sun Media
Author: Mark Wierzbicki


Last weekend's Liberal Convention went out in a blaze of glory.

Well maybe it wasn't quite that dramatic, but
something pretty amazing did happen.

The convention, held in Ottawa this past weekend,
ended with a mind-blowing resolution. An
overwhelming majority of convention-goers voted
in favour of adding marijuana legalization to the
official party platform. A fringe issue? Perhaps.
But it could also be a bellwether for the future
of the party that was considered to be, just a
few short years ago, Canada's =93natural ruling party=94.

It's been less than a year since the Liberals
were decimated in the 2011 federal election,
reduced to third party status in a result so
pathetic it almost rivalled the disaster that
destroyed the Federal PC's some twenty years ago.

But it wasn't the Conservatives who dealt them
this defeat. It was the NDP who ate their lunch, most dramatically among

Some polls showed the total youth vote more than
doubling from that of the 2008 election, with
more than half of those votes going to the NDP.
That's some serious heat, and if the NDP plays it
right, it could be the key to lasting success through the next several

But the Liberals will be fighting tooth and nail
to keep that from happening, as any NDP increase
almost necessarily eats from the pool of
potential Liberal voters. Just as a decade ago
Canada's divided right wing faced an uncertain
political future before coalescing into the
modern Conservative Party, the next few years
will be defined by which party can manage to
control both the left and the centre.

Youth are after all, by and large, leftists who
haven't yet discovered that they are in fact
centrists. Claim the youth vote now, and you will
own the centrist vote for the next 40-50 years.
And as everyone knows, he who controls the centre
in Canadian politics, controls the nation.

Which is where marijuana legalization comes in.

With the late Jack Layton now out of the picture,
a major proportion of new NDP voters will be
subconsciously looking for excuses to re-defect
back to the Liberals, and claiming ersatz
NDP/Green policies, like legalization, could be just the ticket.

And it's not all pure politics. There are many
excellent principled and pragmatic arguments for freeing the weed.

Now, drug use is almost always unwise, and
depending on your worldview, could also be
morally wrong. But government is not, and should
not be, a moral arbiter, and just because a
choice is unwise, that doesn't mean it must be
governmentally proscribed. Ask yourself - If
heroin were legalized on Monday, would you be a junkie on Tuesday?

Besides, considering the mounting evidence that,
when used very moderately, or according to
doctor's orders, marijuana is either not harmful
or actually beneficial, we have to ask ourselves if our laws are consistent.

Also, legalization would not be in any way a declaration of lawlessness.

How would it be regulated, sold and taxed? The
same way we regulate, sell and tax alcohol or cigarette sales.

What about people using it in bars or while/just
before driving? These actions are already illegal under existing laws.

The truth is that marijuana prohibition is a
relic of a time when, perhaps with good reason,
(damn hippies) its use was thought to be much
more dangerous than it really is. Whereas alcohol
use has very few redeeming qualities healthwise,
medical marijuana is increasingly widespread in
use, and even its recreational, moderate
consumption is thought to be almost entirely harmless.

But the government profiting off taxing drug use,
it is argued, is a moral hazard. This is true in
a sense, but since marijuana has proven health
benefits, the argument is very poorly applied.
Besides, the government already taxes both the
sale of alcohol, which no doctor has prescribed
since the prewar era, and cigarettes, which are pure poison.

Anyways, these views are slowly hitting the
mainstream and soon enough will be held by a
majority of Canadians. It might not be the type
of position that a political party should place
at the centre of its platform, but getting ahead
of the curve, as the Liberal convention did,
could be an early indicator of future success.

That said, the convention vote is nonbinding, and
is not guaranteed to appear on any official
Liberal Party platform. In fact, it probably won't.

Which begs the question =96 why aren't the
Conservatives doing this? There's certainly a
strong libertarian case to be made for drug
legalization, and if it's going to be made, it
might as well be made for marijuana. And since
the official Libertarian Party barely edged out
the Marijuana Party (and for that matter, the
Marxist-Leninist Party) for support in the last
election, the only ones who could conceivably
make that case nationally are the Conservatives.

But they won't do it either, even though it could
help steal the youth/future centrist vote from
both the NDP and the Liberals for at least a generation.

They used to say that marijuana use would lead to
insanity. I disagree. The real cause is expecting
common sense from Canadian politics.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom