HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html B.C. Judge Tells U.S. To Butt Out Of Canada's Drug
Pubdate: Sat, 04 Mar 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
Author: Jeff Lee


VANCOUVER (CP) - The United States should butt out of Canada's
judicial business when it comes to drug enforcement and sentencing,
British Columbia's top provincial judge said Friday.

he United States has more drug problems than any country he knows of,
despite tough sentencing, said Robert Metzger.
It has no business criticizing British Columbia or Canada for what it
considers to be lax treatment of drug dealers, said Metzger, chief
judge of the B.C. Provincial Court.

"I want to say to them: 'Don't talk to me about how to get rid of a
drug problem,' " he said. "You hand out long sentences and your jails
are full of people, but your problem isn't going away.
"If I want to listen to anybody, it would be a country that doesn't
have a drug problem, and that has solved their drug problem."

Metzger's comments come in the wake of an international narcotics
control strategy report issued this week by the U.S. State
Department's Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement

The report, which assessed drug enforcement and judicial initiatives
in Canada, Mexico and Central America, was critical of British
Columbia's conviction rate.

It said strong efforts by the RCMP and U.S. co-operative agencies are
undermined by a Canadian judiciary that often gives more weight to a
drug trafficker's rights under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms than
it does to society's needs.

Metzger said the report seeks to imprint on other countries a faulty
U.S. law enforcement system that engages in passive racial and social

They have a horrendously disproportionate number of black and poor
people in their jails," he said. "They don't seem to have a grip on
their problems; I don't see why they should be criticizing us for ours.
"Their whole thing is based on the false premise that if you hand out
increased penalties, you will see a reduction in crime," Metzger said.
"But we know that isn't the case. If that was, they wouldn't have the
highest concentration of prison population in the world."

Statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau show that in 1996, more than
19,000 people were convicted in U.S. district courts of drug offences
that year.

Of those, 16,492 were sent to jail for an average of 82

Metzger said judges are limited in the kind and range of sentences
they can hand out.

The B.C. Court of Appeal has set out sentencing ranges and deviating
beyond those ranges for ordinary drug cases would only encourage
appeals, he said.

Attorney General Andrew Petter didn't want to comment about the U.S.
report, but his staff said British Columbia has complained in the past
to both the United States and Ottawa about the lack of tough sentences.
Federal Justice Minister Anne McLellan was not available for comment.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Allan Wilkinson