Retirement Turned into Fund Raiser for Fix
There will be no retirement dinner with lengthy and mushy tributes for
outgoing Vancouver Mayor Philip Owen.
There will be no fund raiser where he hands over a pile of money to
the new NPA mayoral candidate.
Instead, the mayor who has become a champion for the city's drug
addicts has decided that he wants his goodbye to the city to be used
to raise money to support a powerful about-to-be-released documentary
film that portrays the tragedy and conflict in the Downtown Eastside
and Owen's own difficult political battles to find a solution.
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A Note To The New Vancouver Police Chief:
Once you settle into your new offices, you're going to have to get after
those cowboy cops in the Odd Squad. They're still up to their old tricks,
bad-mouthing the city's drug policy here and abroad.
There's an internal investigation into their role at last May's IDEAS drug
conference in Vancouver. That little gathering, funded in part by the
ultra-right, Florida-based Drug Free America and the deep pockets of local
religious fundamentalist Bob Bentall, was set up solely to attack Mayor
Philip Owen's "four pillar" approach to dealing with this city's chronic
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A Symposium Launches A Counterattack Against Pro-Drug 'Harm Reduction' Programs
In early May, Marc Emery, the president of the B.C. Marijuana Party, bought
full-page newspaper advertisements to announce his intention to run for the
mayoralty of Vancouver. The one-day media blitz, estimated to have cost him
$25,000, centred on Mr. Emery's contention that the use of marijuana should
be decriminalized. But in coincidental interviews with reporters, the drug
libertarian went much further. He said, for example, that a Marijuana Party
administration would order city hall to set up a program to deliver free
heroin and cocaine to addicts.
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Vancouver Police Department Odd Squad constable Toby Hinton told the
Courier he was speaking "as an individual" when he slagged police board
chairman Mayor Philip Owen and the police department's official drug policy.
Police spokesman Scott Driemel excused the Vancouver cops who organized and
participated in a controversial drug conference designed to discredit the
city and the department, saying they were "on their own time, acting as
civilians." These statements are not simply ludicrous, they fly in the face
of policy directives that govern off-duty police and public servants in
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Once you understand just who that Vancouver cop was supposed to be
chauffeuring to the IDEAS drug conference in a "nice unmarked police car,"
you'll be able to figure out the size of the problem we have on our hands.
The cop is Const. Chris Graham. He is a member of the Odd Squad, a small
group of Vancouver cops who made a name for themselves shooting an NFB film
about junkies on the Downtown Eastside. The two senior members of the Odd
Squad are constables Al Arsenault and Toby Hinton.
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One of the Vancouver police officers whose involvement in an anti-drug
conference last weekend is under scrutiny says he joined the controversial
organization because he believes in its philosophy.
Const. Toby Hinton declined to discuss his role in the conference while
it's under review, but said that like Bob and Lynda Bentall, who formed the
International Drug Education and Awareness Society, he doesn't believe
"harm reduction" methods like safe-injection sites would solve the city's
drug crisis. Harm reduction is one of the four pillars in Mayor Philip
Owen's drug policy.
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Vancouver police are conducting an internal review after questions were
raised about confidential documents on criminal records being posted at a
controversial drug symposium last week.
Chief Constable Terry Blythe said Monday the review will also look at
whether police officers used an unmarked police car to pick up symposium
delegates from the airport.
The review will determine whether more investigation is necessary.
Vancouver Mayor Philip Owen, who was not invited to the gathering, said he
is also concerned police members took part in a meeting that was restricted
to people who oppose harm reduction and the concept of supervised drug
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Last week I was trying to get press credentials to the IDEAS conference,
the big anti-drug powwow for Vancouver's creme de la creme sponsored by
local real estate mogul Bob Bentall and his wife Lynda in partnership with
the Drug Free America Foundation.
Drug Free America...hee haw...that's a good one.
Why, without addiction to sit-coms, Budweiser, Marlboro's, artificial
sweeteners, slot machines, internet porn and Viagra, the U.S. economy would
flounder. If banks and stockbrokers stopped laundering obvious illegal drug
profits the system would expire for want of fluid cash. The very notion
smacks of treason and terrorism.
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The agenda item Friday morning at the drug conference in the Vancouver
Convention and Exhibition Centre was: "The media: Friend or foe?"
The event was sponsored by IDEAS, the International Drug Education and
Awareness Society, a group of fundamentalist crusaders in the War on Drugs.
IDEAS is run by the deep pockets of Bob and Lynda Bentall, along with two
Vancouver cops, Al Arsenault and Toby Hinton, members of the film-making
Odd squad cops on the VPD payroll were to provide the conference with
"staff support and logistics." According to a technical agenda CBC radio
picked up, Odd Squad cop Chris Graham would chauffeur conference guests in
a "nice unmarked police car."
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Health Canada Will Have Final Say On Drug Abuse Pilot Project
Vancouver city council agreed Thursday to participate in a national pilot
project that would take a harm-reduction approach to drug addiction,
including supervised drug injection sites.
In a move applauded by advocates of Mayor Philip Owen's "four pillar"
approach to solving the city's drug problems, councillors voted unanimously
to take part in the Health Canada project, which would conduct scientific
research at a handful of such sites.
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It was a simple message, forcibly told.
"Drugs are bad," experts from around the world told a Vancouver audience
And any measure to set up safe-injection sites or to decriminalize drugs is
Delegates to the International Drug Education and Awareness Symposium came
with a tough anti-drug message -- and only that message.
Attendance was by invitation only and no harm-reduction theorists were
"Safe-injection sites are plain stupidity," said Torgny Peterson, director
of European Cities Against Drugs.
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Vancouver - A Vancouver anti-drug conference is being targeted by advocates
of a more permissive approach to illegal drug usage.
The B.C. Marijuana Party held a rally outside the trade and convention
centre, because the International Drug Education and Awareness (IDEA)
symposium is not open to anyone who supports drug use.
B.C. Compassion Club president Hilary Black says the conference is about
oppression, not education.
"The war on drugs hurt people and more tolerant drug laws allow us to deal
with health concerns and deal with real problems around drugs not
oppression," she says.
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Vancouverites Hotly Polarized Over Drug Conference, And Whether City Should
Help Users Get Their Fix
Bob Bentall, whose family-owned business has assets of $2-billion, is
spending a lot of time these days thinking about drugs: crack,cocaine and
I'm trying to understand. It's about my education as much as anything,"
says Mr.Bentall, sitting in his office in one of the cluster of five towers
in downtown Vancouver that carry the Bentall name.
This week Mr. Bentall, his wife, Lynda, and two police officers will host
an international conference that targets the illicit drug problem, but
their conference has itself become the focus of protests.
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