HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Marijuana Party's Message Popular With Sign Thieves
Pubdate: Fri, 08 Sep 2000
Source: Vancouver Sun (CN BC)
Copyright: The Vancouver Sun 2000
Contact:  200 Granville Street, Ste.#1, Vancouver BC V6C 3N3
Fax: (604) 605-2323
Page: A-4
Bookmark: additional articles on Canada are available at and articles on cannabis are available at


Boris St-Maurice is charming Okanagan voters, but his marijuana leaf-logo 
signs are proving a bit too popular.

PENTICTON- A sign of the times here in the Okanagan greets travellers 
coming and going.

Just beyond Penticton city limits at the airport turnoff, a green and white 
cottage proudly announces to passersby that it is the home of The Valley 
Hemp Company a.k.a. The Hemp Store.

"It's not a war on drugs," the sign over the front door says, "it's a war 
on personal freedom."

Inside, 19 year-old Dug Drouin- His parents dropped the "o" in his first 
name, he says, to differentiate him from another Doug in the 
family-welcomes visitors with a relaxed air, a deadpan sense of humour, and 
a slick sales pitch.

"We sell hemp, hemp cosmetics, hemp clothing, [and] peace of mind" he 
says.  "As you can see, we do sell water pipes. We do sell vaporisers, 
bongs. We sell a lot of glass. Hackey sacks. Pretty much anything you could 

Everything except marijuana or marijuana seeds, although there are books 
for sale that tell you how to grow the stuff in the comfort of your own home.

"This is a perfect little shop," Drouin says. "It's the only one of it's 
kind in the valley this complete."

It's also the perfect illustration of the increasingly relaxed attitude 
towards marijuana that has permitted such a shop to open- and survive-in 
what has traditionally been a conservative town.

"It also helps explain why Marc (Boris) St. Maurice, the Marijuana Party 
candidate in the Okanagan-Coquihalla byelection, has been so well received 

Even Glen Duncan, campaign manager for front-runner Stockwell Day of the 
right-wing Alliance party, seems to have a soft spot for St. Maurice, whom 
he refers to as "My man, Boris."

"How do I say this?," Duncan said Wednesday, leaning back in his chair at 
Alliance headquarters in Penticton. "He's bright, articulate. He's a single 
issue-he makes no bones about it.

"He doesn't denigrate any of the other candidates. He's respectful of all 
the other candidates, and manages to spin every question back to his issue, 
which is the decriminalization of marijuana."

"And I think he's become a favourite-one of the few favourites of the whole 
audience- at the all-candidates meetings."

Then, as if realizing what he's just said, Duncan quickly adds: "Besides 
Stock, who's everybody's favourite."

Stock, for the record, has said there should be no jail time for simple 
possession and that the drug should be legal for medicinal use. But he 
stopped short of favouring decriminalisation and said people caught using 
the drug should be fined.

St. Maurice applauded Day's stance, but will not rest, he says, until the 
end of prohibition.

A likeble 31-year-old bass player with the Montreal punk band Grimskunk, 
St. Maurice arrived in Penticton three and a half weeks ago.

With few contacts in the area, he did a bit of "couch surfing," before 
hooking up with the Wasabi Collective, a group of musicians, who have 
provided him with a more permanent place to sleep-on their couch.

"But I am pretty autonomous," he said Wednesday at the bandshell in Gyro 
Park, where St. Maurice conducts many of his media interviews.

"I mean, with laptops and cell phones and my car, I could run this campaign 
from the top of a mountain. Just the weather and the isolation might get to 

St. Maurice prefers meeting and hanging out with people, and he has found 
the residents of Penticton most welcoming.

"This may be a real conservative town, but it's also a big marijuana 
growing region," St. Maurice says. "And these people have learned to 
coexist quite peacefully."

"Actually, God, I mean, Penticton is a nice friendly town. There're giving 
the bible belt a good name. People seem respectful and tolerant of what I 
have to say and that is outstanding."

In some ways, St. Maurice and his message have been to popular for his own 
good. His signs, which picture a metre-high marijuana leaf, a check mark 
and the words "Vote Boris," have been disappearing rapidly- apparently the 
victim of souvenir hunters.

St. Maurice said he put up one sign and watched as people began to 
congregate around it.

"I came over and talked to them, said, 'Hey, why don't you leave the sign 
up? You know, we need the exposure.'"

But when St. Maurice returned later the signs where gone.

"Now, obviously they were into it, because they were like, 'Oh yeah, I like 
what you are doing,'" he says. "The motivation behind those thieves is 
flattering. It's kind of nice.

Whether that translates into votes is another thing. St. Maurice hopes to 
woo traditional supporters of the Liberals and the Progressive 
Conservatives, since neither party has a candidate up for election on 
Sept.  11.

"Dare I say, if all the Conservatives and Liberals that have no one to vote 
for voted for the Marijuana Party, we'd come a strong second."

But whatever happens, St. Maurice said his campaign and the tolerance 
people have shown it says much about Canada. And his main message in the 
waning days of the election is simply: Vote.

"God, I mean, people in Haiti would just die to have the democratic 
privileges we have here," he says. "And the fact that I can start a 
marijuana party and run it in a credible fashion using the system we have- 
I mean, that say's a lot for what a great country we live in."
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