By PAT WATSON
Like the big-game hunter posing for the cliché photograph after the kill, members of Toronto’s finest had their picture taken alongside bags and bags of marijuana last month, with the claim that the 205-kilogram (451 lbs) haul was the “largest seizure to date”.
A relatively small quantity of hashish was also taken in along with some $2.4 million in cash. There were also a few arrests made in Toronto in connection with the yearlong investigation that police dubbed Project Green Giant.
Use of police manpower, time and resources into this alleged transportation of marijuana from British Columbia set for the market in Toronto is an exercise in absurdity. Like the laws in Canada that criminalize the person who pay prostitutes but not prostitution itself, the persecution of the illegal drug trade is nonsensical.
Justin Trudeau, leader of the Liberal Party of Canada, has made it clear that his party would pursue legalization of marijuana. But in the typical style that is oppositional politics, his statements on the matter were soundly criticized, if not mocked, by the current Conservative government, chief among them Justice Minister Peter MacKay.
Oh, but that was last week. This week, the sounds coming out of Ottawa are that the Conservatives are now considering ticketing those who violate the law on marijuana possession. Not legalizing, not decriminalizing, ticketing. So, not ‘sunny and warm’ but ‘sunny and mild’. Here is one more reason maneuvering to influencing voters heading into the 2015 federal election just got a little more interesting.
On the proposed draft legislation MacKay said in Parliament: “The Criminal Code would still be available to police, but we would look at options that would give police the ability, much like the treatment of open liquor … to ticket those types of offences.”
If this move by MacKay goes through, possession of marijuana for personal use outdoors will not result in arrests. People get ticketed for illegal parking too, but automakers are not being hauled in for making the cars involved in thousands of fatalities annually.
What it really looks like is that bags and bags of taxpayer dollars are being spent to give relevancy to this particular type of police work that is fast losing moral and social support. Like our current recalcitrant mayor loudly musing about the money spent on another drug related investigation, shouldn’t we ask what this yearlong investigation cost?
Better justification for the investigation would be to tell the public what the cost is in terms of the related criminal harm done by this illegal activity. Even so, what the public well understands already is that if marijuana – a far less dangerous and far less addictive substance overall than alcohol or tobacco – were no longer illegal, then much of the related criminal activity would subside.
Marijuana itself it not a contributor to criminal behaviour, the legal paraphernalia attached to it is, which is patently absurd. What is the sense in police forces all across Canada engaging in this, and similar types of investigation when at the same time there are police officers given the legal freedom to use marijuana?
Recall that veteran RCMP officer Cpl. Ron Francis of New Brunswick was in the headlines recently because he was using his medically prescribed marijuana while in uniform. Francis was given the prescription to treat posttraumatic stress disorder.
If you want to know why young people would vote for Rob Ford, despite all that mainstream media have don’t to inform the public of his unbecoming character, then pay attention to where he does his campaigning: in nightclubs. The fact is young people don’t go there to play air hockey. They are using for their amusement. So when the police show off another drug haul, the club crowd utters a collective groan, because their supply has been cut.
Who then will get their municipal vote in Toronto come October? Ask Peter MacKay; he seems to have caught on.
A note on post Winter Olympics reminiscences…
With sympathies to beleaguered Ukraine, the vibe that keeps the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia alive in some parts of the world could well be the Jamaican bobsled team song by Sidney Mills, Jon Notar and Groove Guild. The Games are over but we can still “…run the track, it’s bobsled time….”
Pat Watson is the author of the e-book In Through A Coloured Lens. Twitter@patprose.