Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Decent start, both fantasy and reality

So I am officially 1-1 in fantasy football this year. I was fortunate enough to draft Maurice Jones-Drew. I also think Carson Palmer will do well, I like Cincinatti this year. Not many people are starting him but he's been decent thus far, and can do much better.

Meanwhile, my Eagles destroyed the Kansas City Chiefs, without their starting quarterback, starting running back, and second receiver. Kevin Kolb set an NFL record with his two first starts resulting in 300+ yards, and Desean Jackson set a record for three straight games with one 60+ yard touchdown pass to start the season.

Go Birds!

Erbacher v. Summerville pt. 2

So 'The Advance' printed Summerville's and My email's to each other, which were forwarded to 'The Advance'

Monday, September 28, 2009

This is what marijuana prohibition looks like

How many families must be torn apart before we end this civil war?

A dark day in our country's history...

With the departure of Marc Emery to a foreign prison - for political reasons no less - advocates for sensible drug policy have come to a fork in the road. On one hand, the DEA and the United States government could have just achieved the biggest victory since the UN ‘Single Convention on Narcotics’, and that was over 50 years ago. On the other hand, however, 'The Prince of Pot' may very well have given the United States government precisely enough rope with which to hang itself.

As we have seen from the Bush administrations other policies, inflammatory war rhetoric coupled with poorly planned and executed actions are a recipe for disaster. 'Dubya' told enraged Jihadists "bring it on", and displayed similar stupidity in going after the two people who can mobilize and unite drug reformers: Tommy Chong, and Marc Emery.

From Saskatoon correctional in 2003 Emery gave one of the great humanist statements of all time, summarizing the spirit of civil disobedience:
"It is the height of moral conscience to refuse to obey an unjust law. To obey an unjust law is to give credence to its oppressive power. To obey a law that punishes where no crime exists is to surrender to tyranny and, by acquiescence, endorsing the oppression.

The only righteous place for this kind of man is the jail cell. He must break the bad law openly and without apology, and without any victim but the pride of the state, it will be soon apparent to all that an injustice has taken place. Gradually, eventually, a crisis in the public confidence occurs, and in this vacuum, in this opportunity, change will come."

In its simplest form it is referred to as the ‘as if’ principle. Rosa Parks sat at the front of the bus, and in doing so was living ‘as if’ segregation was already abolished. Harvey Milk lived ‘as if’ he was equal to a straight person, even if the law did not consider him so.

The cannabis user must live ‘as if’ prohibition has been abolished. They must break the law in the same way that White Americans and African Americans did in the cannabis-friendly jazz clubs of the 1930’s. They too acted ‘as if’, ignoring both the new hysteria surrounding cannabis as well as racial prejudice. As far as they were concerned they were not hurting anyone, and in fact people were brought together as a result of this act of highly moral ‘criminal’ behavior.

Marc’s extradition is the beginning of the end for drug prohibition. California has introduced a bill to legalize, tax, and regulate marijuana use and cultivation. Many states have decriminalized simple possession, and above the static nonsense that is our modern media a call for both fiscal and moral responsibility with regards to cannabis is beginning to gain traction.

At the same time that America finally begins to move forward, Canada takes a huge step back. The government has introduced mandatory minimum sentences for drug crimes, desperate to fight against the renewed opposition to cannabis prohibition.
People fight hardest when their back is against the wall. This is why it is more important than ever to overgrow this government. The breaking point is almost upon us.

What can you do?

-Come out of the closet. Look to the gay rights movement for inspiration on how to overcome social stigma and systematic oppression.

-Plant the seeds of freedom in public places. When people see that cannabis is simply a plant, the illusions become far less manageable for the government to maintain.

-Write letters to the editor. Local papers, university papers, national papers, hit them all with polite and well reasoned arguments against Marc Emery’s extradition, cannabis prohibition, and the influence of fundamentalist Christianity on our government. Always remember to fact-check and get a friend to proofread, as you will be held up as representative of the entire movement.

-Organize a local activist group. Begin with protests at your MP’s office, or stand at a busy intersection handing out literature and educating local people about cannabis prohibition. This is important particularly in small rural towns with Conservative MP’s. The revolution will begin and end where oppression is at its strongest. The resistance must be stronger.

-Get out in the media. Call local papers and news channels before protests. Try to debate your MP into a corner in front of reporters (it’s not difficult). Call into radio shows.

-Get involved in the political process. Seek the nomination of your local Green, NDP, Marijuana, or Libertarian party. Attend all candidates debates and ask quality questions about drug policy of the candidates.

And most importantly... VOTE! Most truly intelligent people realize our political system has been bought and sold by special interest groups, and therefore don’t bother voting. If the NDP has a real chance of winning, vote for and assist them. Same goes for the Liberals(but let them know you only support them because you want the Conservatives out). If not, support your local Green party candidate. The Green party of Canada is the only mainstream party with legalization of cannabis in their platform.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Rally for the Prince...

So today's 'Worldwide rally for Marc Emery' went very well. Thousands of people from Vancouver, to South Africa, to Germany, to the Southern US protested the extradition of Marc Emery.

In Vancouver, several hundred gathered to celebrate the accomplishments of Marc, and the movement as a whole, as well as to send a message to the Conservative government: You are going down, and we aren't going anywhere.

The extradition of Marc Emery is clearly a political hit-job. The DEA and US government is feeling pressure to legalize marijuana, so they decided to take out the leader of the movement to stifle it. All this has done, however, is galvanize and motivate those fighting for freedom and rationality.

Letter of the day #2

I unearth the racist roots of drug prohibition, and demand an apology from PM Harper

Monday, September 14, 2009

Yet another Quarterback..

So Donovan broke a rib in the third quarter on Sunday, unfortunately. This caused me to freak out a little, as the backup is Kevin Kolb, who may be the worst backup in the NFL. What do the Eagles do?

They sign Jeff Garcia.

This team is for real, they look like they are willing to make any move necessary to win.

I love it.

Sunday, September 13, 2009


So it isn't even half-time yet, and my Eagles are up 31-7 on the Carolina Panthers. Abiamiri scored a defensive touchdown off of a Delhomme fumble (enjoy that ridiculous contract, Panther fans), and my main man, DeSean Jackson, returned a punt for a touchdown.

The Browns-Vikings game has been very entertaining. It will be interesting to see how Eric Mangini does in Cleveland this year. I hope Bret Favre throws 30 interceptions this year for Minnesota.

So again I am playing fantasy FB, here is my team:

QB Carson Palmer

WR Greg Jennings

WR Steve Smith

WR Jerricho Cotchery

RB Maurice Jones-Drew (Best fantasy player IMO)

RB Larry Johnson

TE Owen Daniels

K Stephen Gostkowski

DEF Dallas


Wes Welker (Injured)
(NE - WR)

BN Kevin Walter

BN Willie Parker

BN Matt Hasselbeck
(Sea - QB) QBBN StL Sun

BN Anthony Fasano
(Mia - TE)

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

A special letter..

Mike Harvey, who has a letter in the paper nearly every day, mentioned me and 5 others in a letter to the Advance which you can read here.

I'd just like to say that I wish there were more people like Mr.Harvey. He cares about his community, and cares about the world of conflicting ideas that surrounds him.

Mr.Harvey is a deeply religious man, from what I see. He took the time to mention that he enjoyed all of the letters in the paper, including mine, which attacked Stephen Harper for appointing religious figures to government posts. This is an attitude I am unused to seeing from the deeply religious, and is something to be commended.

I guess this is just to say that I honestly appreciate this letter, and Mr.Harvey's contribution to the community. As much as I like riling people up and making them angry, it is nice for once to have someone who may not necessarily agree with me recognize that we are both working to change our world, which we share, for the better.

Thank you, Mr.Harvey. Keep on writing.

Two local letters...

The first is my friend Dan Grice, two time federal Green candidate, on the HST and why we should not let the Conservatives emerge unscathed.

The second is BC Green leader Jane Sterk on how the BC Green approach is different from the BC Liberal approach.

Dance to the radio...

So I will be on CKCU radio tomorrow morning at 630 AM pacific time to discuss pastor Summerville and the role of religion in the Harper government. You can listen live at www.ckcufm.com and I will post a link or file when available.

I watched a great documentary about Joy Division today, hence the post title and the video:

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Jesus Christ on Marijuana

(This video courtesy of Russell Barth)

Friday, September 4, 2009

Yet Another Letter...

I assess the motives and merits of Stephen Harper's senate appointments in 'The Advance'

Not a bad week for me, 3 or 4 letters published with one more pending, a response to one from a local MLA, and a meeting set up to meet Harper's head of mental health research.

Plus I got to meet a great ally, Jeff Hill, and visit with the Prince of Pot.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Second fight of the week: Erbacher Vs. Polak

So here is an exchange between Langley MLA Mary Polak and I in the Langley Times. The first is my initial letter on the HST, the second Mary's response, the third my yet to be published response.

My initial letter

Mary Polak's response

And this is my response to her response:

Mary Polak is correct in saying that both the BC Green party and the BC Conservatives have supported bringing in the HST. However, the point that I was trying to make, and the point that Ms. Polak missed, is that a more competitive electoral system would keep the ruling party in check. I was not saying that the HST would not have been brought in, but rather that it could have been done differently. For example, the BC Green party recommends that the HST be at 10%, rather than simply combining the two taxes for a sales tax rate of 12%. This approach would make the transition much easier for consumers. We also recommend exemptions be brought in for items such as bicycles, and many measures could be brought in to make the HST less painful for the average person who is still hurting in todays economy. Other provinces have made an effort to help low income people manage the transition, which the BC Liberals have neglected to do so far.

I am not sure why Ms. Polak missed this crucial point, as I made it certain to point out that the HST could be done in a much better way and is not an inherently bad policy. I agree with Ms. Polak that simplifying the sales tax is a good thing. I stressed in my previous letter that the timing of the HST, as well as the way the BC Liberals have handled it has been very poor.

Our electoral system is broken, and is not conducive to quality discussion. One significant improvement to be made with electoral reform is that the Conservatives and Greens, parties that are fiscally responsible, would have been more prominent and could have spoken out to greater effect against the reckless spending of the BC Liberals. Cutting funding to healthcare and education while spending billions on the olympics is reprehensible.

The BC Liberals have run up the biggest deficit in the history of this province, which I and other fiscal conservative are not comfortable with.

I appreciate Ms.Polak's response and hope that the BC Liberals will listen to the suggestions coming from the other parties as well as from the general public, as so far their handling of our tax dollars has been less than stellar.

Travis Erbacher, BC Green Party

Here is Jane Sterk on the HST, which I basically re-stated in my first letter

Another Radio Show..

Following my letter on pastor Summerville's appointment, I was contacted by a woman named Heather Bruce who hosts a radio show called "Sound Mind" on CKCU (Carleton University) radio in Ottawa. The show deals with topics related to mental health, which relates to the subject of pastor Summerville's study, cannabis and schizophrenia.

Major props to my main man, Russell Barth, for sending pastor Summerville my letter and attracting this attention.

I shall post a link of the radio show when available.

It will be interesting getting up at 6 AM for this though...

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The Letter, The Rebuttal, and the Response

So The Advance printed my letter on Pastor Chris Summerville's appointment, it can be found Here.

Mr. Summerville seemingly didn't like my letter. Russell Barth sent him the letter and elicited this response:

Mr. Travis Erbacher, the founder of Langley Residents for Drug Policy Reform, was the Green Party's candidate for the Fort Langley-Aldergrove riding in BC’s last provincial election. I have visited a number of web sites that have provided me information on Mr. Erbacker’s philosophy and political views, as well as his
blog, http://erbacher.blogspot.com/ .

As regards Mr. Erbacher’s letter to the editor of the Langley Advance on Tuesday, September 01, 2009, allow me to make several remarks.

Mr. Erbacher is to be congratulated as a young man for his commitment to a more just and fair society for all in Canada.
He is entitled to hold to his anti-Conservative Party and anti-Christianity views and to express them without any censorship.
His letter to the editor reveals much bias, prejudice and lack of doing his homework or getting the facts straight.
I wonder if Mr. Erbacher would be so bold to write as critically of and prejudicially against Aboriginal worldview of “body, mind and spirit”!

As regards my own life, views and the Schizophrenia Society of Canada’s Cannabis and Psychosis Project,
I have not been a pastor of any congregation since 1995. While obtaining my doctorate, Dr. Paul Meir a psychiatrist was one of my professors. I am certified with US Psychiatric Rehabilitation as a certified psychosocial rehabilitation practitioner. Dr. Pam Forsythe, a psychiatrist, and I presented last week at the Canadian Psychiatric Association’s National Conference in St. John’s, NF at the invitation of the Association’s President, Dr. Susan Abbey.
I have been the CEO (not interim) of SSC for over a year and the Executive director of the Manitoba Schizophrenia Society for 15 years.
Yes, I am a Christian. More specifically I am a “progressive evangelical” as an imperfect follower of Christ Jesus. Progressive in that I am not aligned with the “far right” side of politics and actually find myself in agreement with several platform positions of the NDP and Green Party.
Yes, I do believe in a God of creation, call it intelligent design, etc. Over 90% of the world’s population holds to religious/spiritual beliefs.
I am not a fundamentalist as “Christian” fundamentalist groups would never allow me to be a member due to my social liberal views, nor do I wish to join such as I do not have a fundamentalist Christian agenda. I am pro-life, pro-environment, pro-poor, and pro-civil rights, etc. I believe in the medical/therapeutic use of cannabis.
Yes, I do believe in the “dark side of life” as does Steven Spielberg and George Lucas who are Buddhists. Whatever you want to call that evil force, I believe we can connect with it and it can influence our lives. When we are faced with any adversity in life I believe there are psychological and spiritual ramifications in how we journey those adversities.
Schizophrenia, as with all mental illnesses, has a strong genetic component. I hold to the stress-vulnerability model of illness and treatment (bio-psycho-social-spiritual). Schizophrenia is not demon-possession, etc.
I have never performed or tried to perform an “exorcism.”
I have not heard of or read, “A member of his evangelical group said this is ‘a wonderful opportunity’ for Christians to influence public policy.” However I believe in a democratic society where any person of any faith group may seek to influence public policy. That is the nature of democracy.
Scientific studies as regards cannabis and its relationship to psychosis and schizophrenia point to either causality or correlation. Dr. Richard Williams of the Early Psychosis Clinic in Victoria believes strongly in causality. See articles below in Evisions Journal. Yes, science is divided. (Christians aren’t the only ones!)
All political parties are “motivated” by some philosophy of life and political viewpoints. All hold to “presuppositions” that have some support in society. Thus, that’s why we have elections.
The SSC project is not anti or pro cannabis use. It is not anti or pro Conservative Party. It is not pro or anti Christianity or any faith group. It is a participatory research project in which people with lived experience of schizophrenia or psychosis and also lived experience of use of cannabis will interview other youth to determine how to address mental health promotion among that demographic as it come to substance use.
The use of the term “schizoid” is an improper, non-scientific use of the term. Schizoid personality disorder (SPD) is a personality disorder characterized by a lack of interest in social relationships, a tendency towards a solitary lifestyle, secretiveness, and emotional coldness. (Authur S. Reber- Dictionary of Psychology, Penguin p.690 1995.) My psychiatrist has not given me that diagnosis. Nor does Prime Minister Harper have that diagnosis! Mr. Erbacher engages in social prejudice and stigma in his usage of the words, “He has mental health issues” in referring to me. And associates such with those holding to creationism and a literal reading of scripture.
Families affected by mental illness have long suffered from the social prejudice within our society towards those with mental illness. The Schizophrenia Society of Canada, along with its provincial counterparts, seeks to improve the quality of life for all affected by schizophrenia and psychosis. Towards that end we welcome all regardless of their political affiliation or religious views to join us in promoting research for a cure, enhancing treatment options and eradicating society’s stigma towards those living with mental illness.


Chris Summerville, D.Min., CPRP
Chief Executive Officer/Chef de la direction
Schizophrenia Society of Canada/Société canadienne de la schizophrénie

Wow, the CEO of the Schizophrenia Society of Canada reads my blog! Anyways, here is my response to his rebuttal:

Dear Mr. Summerville,

I greatly appreciate your response to my letter, and the debate has generated some controversy.

In no way have I stated that your being a person of faith disqualifies you from a position such as this. The intent of my letter was to ask why someone who is not a doctor, and has no background in conducting scientific research was appointed to such a position.

My concern about your religion may have been misplaced. You can understand why I, as a non-christian, would not want a christian agenda financed by my tax dollars. Imagine the position you would be in if an Imam was appointed to this position and a member of his mosque said that this is a great opportunity for Islam to influence public policy. I of course can not hold you accountable for what someone associated with you has said, however you can understand why I would not want a religious agenda financed by public funds. Science and reason alone should influence public policy, and at the very least you chose your words very poorly when you stated that: "Satan will use any opportunity to attack, including mental illness". That is a very shocking statement, and it entails a lot of metaphysical baggage, and beliefs that may in fact impact the nature of your work. I am glad to hear you say this agenda is not an explicitly religious one, but those original concerns remain.

To characterize my views as anti-Conservative party and anti-Christianity are not quite accurate. In fact, if the Conservative party had fact based views on the environment and drug policy, I would probably be a member of the Conservative party. I have never once stated that people should not be allowed to freely believe whatever they wish. Obviously I don't have a problem with people of faith serving in public positions as we have Christians, Jews, Muslims, Sikhs, and Atheists serving side by side. The issue arises when one espouses a statement like you did, one which suggests a literal reading of a holy book that will interfere with reason and in turn policy.

I am glad to hear you are not a fundamentalist and that you will approach this with some sense of scientific objectivity. That remains to be determined.

The charge of bias I could not be acquitted of, I have strong beliefs and I express them. I too believe you have the right to say whatever you want, and if someone were to try to suppress freedom of religion or expression you could count on me to be one of the people on the front lines fighting for those rights. Few people believe more in freedom of religion than people who have no religion. Freedom of includes freedom from, which is why this seemingly religious agenda troubles many people. (I am not the only one who takes issue, merely the first to write about it.)

I would be so bold as to criticize the Aboriginal view of "mind body and spirit". You would be unwise to challenge my boldness, Mr. Summerville. Any belief that is not grounded in evidence is equally ridiculous. However, we are talking about a pastor who literally believes in a devil that can cause mental illness, not an Aboriginal priest influencing public policy based on his unfounded beliefs in spirits or the afterlife. This is a non-sequiter and I wonder why you jumped to citing Aboriginal sprititual belief. Let us talk about the issue at hand.

However, first as a citizen who pays taxes, and second as a politically active person aiming to change Canada for the better, I have a right to clarify disturbing statements made by public people, and to ensure that my country is not being taken down a road that it should not be.

I appreciate your response. Mental illness is an issue we can all agree on, so long as we keep the discussion on the grounds of reason.

PS: My original title was "Theocracy comes to Canada". I have 2 years of university level psych and I am aware that schizoid is an unscientific term. The title was put on the letter by the editor.


Travis Erbacher