Pubdate: Fri, 28 Dec 2012
Source: Alberni Valley Times (CN BC)
Copyright: 2012 Alberni Valley Times
Author: Kristi Dobson


Mik Mann is known for his passion for pot, but he is also a man who
uses his creativity and ingenuity to live a life he enjoys. A
political activist, Mann is primarily self-taught in his knowledge,
but made a living using his hands.

Born and raised in Toronto, Mann went to work right out of high
school. Jobs were plentiful through the 1970s and 1980s and he was
able to move around to various positions.

He got behind the wheel driving a cab and as a courier for the Bankers
Dispatch Company, but construction and painting were his trades of
choice. While in the big city, Mann became interested in racing an
Austin Mini car as an amateur when the vehicle was first introduced to

In the late 1970's, Mann wanted to try more rural living and decided
to head to British Columbia.

"I came out here with my parents when I was about 12 years old and
knew I wanted to live here," Mann said.

While his father, late mother and sister remained in Ontario, Mann
made the trek west. His first stop was Kimberly, where he worked in a
large underground zinc mine for Cominco, The Consolidated Mining and
Smelting Company of Canada.

As the largest zinc mine in the world, the company employed about 200
workers. Mann worked in the transportation sector, driving the train
to haul men in and out of the crushing chamber.

"The crushing chamber was the size of a three-story apartment," Mann
said. "It was a brightly lit, white-walled site where ore went into
large crushers."

He also took a position there as a wood picker, something he
considered a mind-numbing job.

"I sat on a chair by the belt and picked off any wood that went by to
throw it away. I had to keep my eyes on the belt and if I moved them
away to something stationary, it looked like things were still
moving," he said.

It sounds like a dangerous job, and it could be, Mann said, but the
workers were extensively trained in safety measures. He remembers
taking a three-day safety class on all aspects of emergency training
including how to use a self-rescuer.

After two years in Kimberly, Mann took some time to travel within the
Interior and on Vancouver Island. He led a bit of a nomadic life,
finding it easy to pick up work and a place to stay.

"It was a good way to meet people, and if you were willing to get your
hands dirty, you were able to get by in B.C.," he said.

Through the late 1980's, Mann lived in Victoria and started getting
into politics, particularly with the Marijuana Party.

"I was growing pot in the summers in the bush and always had some
degree of success with it. It was when Chretien was in power and it
almost looked like the government would legalize it," Mann remembers.
"It was everywhere and no one cared."

It was when Mann began seeking a new doctor for his spinal arthritis
and degenerative disc disease that he became even more of an advocate
for medicinal use of marijuana.

The doctor he found, who he still sees today, was one who attended an
all-candidates meeting in the 2001 Oak Bay/Gordon Head riding of the
provincial election and consequently cast his vote for Mann. He saw
the benefits of its use and signed the papers allowing Mann access to
the medical marijuana program.

Always interested in politics, public speaking and education, Mann
discovered the Marijuana Party of Canada to be a perfect fit. He was
encouraged, however, by a phone call from Marc Emery, someone he
admires greatly not for his activism so much as his business sense.

"In 2001, I heard Marc Emery was looking for people to run in the
election," Mann said. "I wanted to get the message out and called the
office. Within five minutes Marc called me back himself."

Surprised, Mann stopped what he was doing and headed to the B.C.
Elections office. It escalated from there. His intention was not to
win, since he had no interest in running the country, but to spread
his message and hope for changes in the laws surrounding marijuana
use. In that respect, he feels his campaign was a success, with calls
from the media daily and 161 days of continuous stories mentioning the
Marijuana Party in newspapers and television news stations.

"I don't like to use the word legalize, I think we should repeal
prohibition," Mann said.

He said that way there would be rules like alcohol and it would be
taxed like any basic commodity.

When he moved to Port Alberni, Mann continued his campaigning in the
provincial election in 2004 and federally in 2005. He came to town to
retire, but with a background in several trades, there was always
something to fall back on.

Currently the vice-president of the local Toy Run Society, it was one
of the first organizations Mann joined. As a motorcycle enthusiast and
member of the Vancouver Island Compassion Society board, the
organization fit his skills and interests. Mann also enjoys flying
remote control airplanes, of which he owns three, and improving his
game on the golf course.

"I really get into the game (of golf)," he said. "Out there, there are
no politics and I can just enjoy the park-like setting. I try to play
well, but still like to have a good time."

Mann's other recreational pursuits include photography, videography
and writing. He is currently penning a book about his own activism and
hopes to have it complete and published within a year.

When asked if he plans to step into the political game again, Mann
said he has no plans.

"It doesn't make sense to take votes away from people who can make a
change in the government we have today," he said.

Instead, Mann hopes to live a full life on a similar path as Richard
Branson, one of a few high profile individuals who he regards as an

"I admire him because he has a lot of money but can still say what he
wants to," Mann said. "I admire people who have the most to lose but
still come out and say stuff."

Mann, too, is open with his views and is willing to talk about his
opinions to anyone who is willing to listen. 
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