Wednesday, June 24, 2009

"Michael Ignatieff"'s response to my email

Ignatieff, Michael - M.P. to me
show details Jun 23 (1 day ago) Reply

Thank you for your email regarding Bill C-15. Please be assured that your concerns have been duly noted and shall be given consideration as we craft our future policies on important issues such as crime and justice.
The Liberal Party believes that strong drug laws are only one small part of what is needed to fight gang violence. Law enforcement agencies need to have sufficient funding to deal with the many types of crimes that affect Canadian families.
To succeed in keeping our streets safe, we need to have a balanced approach. The Liberal Party believes that government can meet its responsibility of making Canadians safer by expanding on the Conservatives’ narrow-minded approach to crime and justice issues and by pushing for more effective prevention and rehabilitation measures.
As the Official Opposition, the Liberal Party will take responsible action on the issue of crime and justice by remaining faithful to its principles and values. We also believe that our democracy is best served by an open and constructive dialogue with all Canadians on important issues such as this. With that in mind, I thank you for taking the time to write and share your concerns with me on this important matter.
Please don’t hesitate to contact me again on this or any other important issue.


Michael Ignatieff, M.P.
Leader of the Opposition
Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Marc Emery Farewell Tour coming to Langley

I am pleased to announce that I am putting together a Marc Emery Farewell Tour appearance in Langley.

Marc ran in the same riding that I did, Fort Langley-Aldergrove, in 2005 for the Marijuana party. It would be cool to have a tour stop in Langley, and our options are to have it in somebody's backyard or perhaps in a park. Marc will give a speech and hang out with everyone, and we can give him a fine farewell before he leaves to serve his prison term.

If you have a large yard and would like to host this event, please email me at or message me on facebook to let me know. If we can't find a good place for a private event we can find a park to host it in.

Join my facebook group "Langley Residents for Drug Policy Reform", as I will send out updates through that group as well as to my email list.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Letter in the Advance

Marijuana: 'Tough' law just election grab
Langley Advance
Published: Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Dear Editor,

Prior to the last election, Stephen Harper introduced legislation which would give a six-month mandatory minimum sentence to anyone caught growing even as little as one marijuana plant.

Now, my opposition to prohibition is well documented, but the opposition to mandatory minimum sentences from prosecutors, defence attorneys, judges, criminologists, and virtually everybody who has a working set of eyes from which to view the evidence is staggering.

The legislation died in the process when the last election was called, but the Harper government felt that marijuana is such a problem that they must reintroduce the bill, which has just recently passed successfully through the house.

Sixteen groups and individuals provided testimony before Parliament, and 13 of the 16 said that mandatory minimum sentences do not work. Each of those witnesses provided at least a couple of legitimate scientific studies to prove their claims.

Three of the 16 said they support mandatory minimums, but not one could provide even a single study to suggest mandatory minimums work, just that they support them.

Why do mandatory minimums not work? First, they do not work as a deterrent, but more importantly, they take away judicial discretion. Bill C-15 would apply the same sentence to the medical user who cannot successfully get a "medpot" licence (less than two per cent who apply get one) and is growing five plants for personal use, and the large scale grower growing 199 plants for an organized criminal organization. Both people would get a mandatory minimum sentence of six months in jail.

This takes small-scale growers out of the market, increasing and protecting the monopoly that gangs have in the drug trade. Why would the Harper government want to do that? Their "tough on crime" approach has not worked as well as they have hoped. By introducing these "tough" sentences, we will see drug prices rise, gang profits rise, turf wars increase, more innocent bystanders get shot, and in turn, the frightened public will call for more prisons, more police, and more powers for the government and law enforcement.

One particularly dark moment in the 2008 US presidential election occurred when a John McCain advisor said that another terrorist attack on the US would help McCain win the election, as the public saw McCain as the "tough on terrorism" candidate.

This is precisely the mentality we see from the Conservatives. If crime increases, their "tough on crime" stance looks much more legitimate, and it will help them succeed politically. How could this objectively terrible bill pass in a minority government? Well, the answer lies in why the Conservatives introduced the bill in the first place. They know that mandatory minimums do not work. They simply want to appear "tough on crime," and most people in the general public are worrying more about putting food on the table for their children, and do not have the time to research whether or not these policies work.

The shocking part of this is that the Liberal Party has voted in lock step with the Conservatives to pass this bill. They have sold their soul as a party. They do not want to go in to an election looking "soft on crime," so they voted through a bill that they know is terrible.

I have been a federal Liberal supporter my entire life, but the party has now left me. When you go to the polls, as we inevitably will, remember that the Liberals exhibited the same type of "facts optional" approach to policy as the Harper Conservatives.

As for me, I will be voting Green.

Travis Erbacher, Langley

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Something funny I thought I'd share

Props to my friend and BC Green comrade Jeff Hill for sharing this with me, it made me chuckle.


You have 2 cows.
You give one to your neighbor

You have 2 cows.
The State takes both and gives you some milk.

You have 2 cows.
The State takes both and sells you some milk.

You have 2 cows.
The State takes both and shoots you.

You have 2 cows.
The State takes both, shoots one, milks the other, and then throws the milk away.

You have two cows.
You sell one and buy a bull.
Your herd multiplies, and the economy grows.
You sell them and retire on the income.

You have two giraffes.
The government requires you to take harmonica lessons.

You have two cows.
You sell one and force the other to produce the milk of four cows.
Later, you hire a consultant to analyze why the cow has dropped dead.

You have two cows.
You sell three of them to your publicly listed company, using letters of credit opened by your brother-in-law at the bank, then execute a debt/equity swap with an associated general offer so that you get all four cows back, with a tax exemption for five cows.
The milk rights of the six cows are transferred via an intermediary to a Cayman Island company secretly owned by the majority shareholder, who sells the rights to all seven cows back to your listed company.
The annual report says the company owns eight cows, with an option on one more. You sell one cow to buy a new president of the United States, leaving you with nine cows. No balance sheet provided with the release.
The public then buys your bull.

You have two cows.
You go on strike, organize a riot, and block the roads, because you want three cows.

You have two cows.
You redesign them so they are one-tenth the size of an ordinary cow and produce twenty times the milk.
You then create a clever cow cartoon image called “Cowkimon” and market it worldwide.

You have two cows.
You reengineer them so they live for 100 years, eat once are engineerer milk themselves.

You have two cows, but you don’t know where they are.
You decide to have lunch.

You have two cows.
You count them and learn you have five cows.
You count them again and learn you have 42 cows. You count them again and learn you have 2 cows.
You stop counting cows and open another bottle of vodka.

You have 5,000 cows. None of them belong to you.
You charge the owners for storing them.

You have two cows.
You have 300 people milking them.
You claim that you have full employment and high bovine productivity.
You arrest the newsman who reported the real situation.

You have two cows.
You worship them.

You have two cows.
Both are mad.

Everyone thinks you have lots of cows.
You tell them that you have none.
No one believes you, so they bomb the crap out of you and invade your country. You still have no cows, but at least you are now a democracy.

You have two cows.
Business seems pretty good.
You close the office and go for a few beers to celebrate.

You have two cows.
The one on the left looks very attractive.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

A Short Poem

Some sing: "bomb, bomb, bomb Iran"
I'd be worse off if they were gone;
These College students, just like me,
March on Tehran, a see of Green.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

On "Right to die" legislation, from the Langley Times

There is no one view on morality

Published: June 09, 2009 9:00 PM

Editor: Never one to shy away from controversy, I feel like it is my responsibility to resist attempts to restrict personal choice. And it is for this reason that I must respond to Todd Hauptman’s letter “Society must value life over death,” (The Times, June 5).

The first thing I must do is to address the word “must.” This denotes an urgency and sense of authority that does not make sense when talking about values or morality. Values are not some absolute concrete thing — our values are all different.

Morality is a discussion to be had, not one view to be legislated and enforced on all citizens. There are morals that have been evolved over the course of human history that are naturally a part of our brain function, but those that are not are areas to discuss, not to dictate.

Mr. Hauptman may think that it is reprehensible to assist people in pain in their very difficult decision to end their life. However, what we are talking about here is not helping depressed or down people kill themselves. We are talking about the person lying in a hospital bed, developing bedsores, unable to keep down any food, as cancer eats away at their body.

These decisions are not made hastily, and to portray this bill as such is wrong, and is a slap in the face to the families of those who make that tough decision.

Mr. Hauptman frequently referenced the phrase “life is a gift from God” as a reason why we “must” prohibit euthanasia. Well, quite frankly, many religious people believe in the right of one to die with dignity.

Many others do not believe there is a God, from which this “gift” is given. In fact, those who declare themselves atheist or agnostic are the fastest-growing group in North America.

To legislate a prohibition on euthanasia based on theological grounds would be inappropriate, to put it mildly. A country in which one religion’s holy book dictates the law is called a theocracy.

Keeping terminally ill people who are in horrendous pain and wish to end their life alive is tortuous, not only to the person, but their family. I hope that The Times’ readers can see the difference between personal religious beliefs and the necessity for prohibitive legislation. I also hope they see that compassion on the part of physicians, when treating fully consenting terminally-ill patients, is not the same thing as choosing to value death over life.

Let’s cut through the euphemisms here, folks. Let’s have an honest discussion, one grounded in science, reason, and respect for the plurality of belief systems that make up our community and nation.

Travis Erbacher,


Friday, June 5, 2009

Grass: A Marijuana History (Narrated by Woody Harrelson)

As you may know, Woody Harrelson is one of the biggest legalization advocates in hollywood. He narrated this great documentary called 'Grass: A Marijuana History', which gives you a step by step look at how cannabis became illegal, why it became illegal(hint: racism) and how the prohibitionist arguments have changed over the course of the past century.

Part One:

I won't put it all up here as it takes up tons of space, but you can link to the next from this embed player after the first ends.


Tuesday, June 2, 2009

A Dark Day Pt.2

So this morning bill c-15 was debated. The Liberals silence was deafening. They struck down an amendment presented by the NDP to take clause 3 (mandatory minimums for posession of schedule 1 substances) out of the bill.

I applaud the members for Vancouver East, Halifax, and Western Arctic for their eloquent opposition to such a terrible bill. It is good to see that in the absence of leadership from the party that I am today ashamed to belong to, some members of parliament are willing to put the health and safety of Canadians ahead of political positioning. I was particularly impressed by the member from Halifax, Megan Leslie, and her attempt to convey the fact of the matter:

Not a single study


has EVER suggested

that mandatory minimums work.

16 experts testified on the efficacy of mandatory minimums. 13 of which said they do not support the bill, and provided huge numbers of studies from Canada (including from our own justice department), the US, and the UK. Those 3 who said they support the bill could not provide a single study to support their position. A one-sided debate no?

Ms. Leslie also brought up what I think is the most important underlying issue to this bill:

The Conservative party is tabling this bill not because they think it will work. They don't care if it will work or not. The point of introducing this bill is to appear "tough on crime" before the election.

I expect this kind of political and intellectual dishonesty from the Conservatives. But I never thought I would see this despicable behaviour supported by a party that I have a membership with.

A dark day indeed.

A Dark Day in Canadian Politics

So today bill c-15 (mandatory minimum sentences for drug crimes) is set to pass.

The worst part about this? I am a member of the party that helped prop this terrible bill up. I don't know what I am going to do about this. If the Liberal party wants to sacrifice the lives of some of our citizens in order to look "tough" in preparation for the upcoming election, then they are no better than the Conservatives.

This bill escalates the civil war we have been struggling against for a century. I don't know how they can justify this. Previously, decriminalization of cannabis was taken off the agenda as a result of direct pressure and coercion from the American government. However, I figured that with Obama in office, a more reasonable and compassionate man appointed as drug czar, and the Liberals about to take power back from the neo-cons, the climate would change and we could start to do the right thing.

One of the issues that I am going to put forth to Langley's candidates in the upcoming election is that of Canadian sovereignty. Mr.Harper has allowed Canadians to die on death row in the US, despite the fact that we have no death penalty here. That is a despicable, dangerous, and shameful precedent to have set. He also has followed blindly whatever the US has done. He is throwing our money at the auto bail-out nightmare. As well as allowing a Canadian citizen to be extradited to the US for a crime the Canadian authorities deemed too benign to bring someone up on charges for.

We've got to kick the DEA out of Canada, protect our citizens, and remove Washington influence from Ottawa. If the financial crisis can show us anything, it is that we should not let the US pull us down with them, and we need to start looking at how we can be a self sustaining, steady state economy, free of outside influence.