Stephen Harper and The End of Days (of Canada as We Know It)

One year has past since the Conservative Party resumed being the governing party with the election of 144 Members of Parliament in the 308 seat House of Commons.

This essay was recorded as a podcast during Marc’s brief incarceration in 2009. Listen to the audio version here. You can also listen to it in YouTube videos at the bottom of this page.

This 12-month report card identifies ten areas of performance in that time by the Harper government. I’ve contrasted their record with the promises made leading up to the October 14, 2008 Federal election. I have also harkened back to the 1993 Reform Party platform. 1993 is when the Reform Party, under Preston Manning, elected 52 MPs in the wake of the massive collapse of the Brian Mulroney/Kim Campbell Progressive Conservative Party. Stephen Harper was a rookie Reform MP elected that year. The Reform Party – ‘The West wants in’ was its war cry – ran on a platform that railed against Brian Mulroney’s patronage appointments, deficit financing of the government, centralization, expansion of the federal government, and increased taxation. Prominent in the 1993 Reform platform were:

– More free votes in the house (without being punished for not admitting to party lines)
– More citizen input into the democratic process (what Preston Manning called the democratic deficit)
– Accountability in government
– Citizens given the tools to hold government to its promises (recall, citizen initiatives and referendums)
– A triple “E” senate (elected, effective, and equal)
– Abolish partisan appointments to courts, senate, agencies, and bureaucracy
– Abolish the Liberal-Tory gold plated pension plan
– Decentralized authority to the provinces
– Reining in Federal Government spending
– Giving backbenchers more clout
– Reducing the domination of the Prime Minister’s Office

From 1993 to 2006, Reform morphed into the Canadian Alliance (CA) that then absorbed the remnants of the Progressive Conservatives party on May 3, 2003. Peter McKay became leader of the PCs upon promising second-place leadership candidate Peter Orchard that he would never merge with Reform/CA. McKay’s promise was betrayed virtually immediately and the PC Party was absorbed into the Reform/CA on Dec 8, 2003, becoming ‘the Conservative Party’.

The Senate

In the summer of 2008 Stephen Harper appointed 18 new Conservative Senators to the 104-member Senate. The Senate has 104 members who are paid a salary of $130,000 a year and serve until age 75. Senators cannot be fired, dismissed, recalled, or reprimanded in any way, and thus have a great deal of independence. However, it is not in any way a reflection of a democratic society when one half of the government is made up of lifetime appointments with no voter accountability. This is why The Reform Party wanted to abolish the Senate as it currently operates and replace it with a US-style Senate elected by voters in each province.

The job of the elected House of Commons – 308 members, each representing a district in Canada with about 100,000 citizens – is to craft laws (legislation). The political party with the most Members of Parliament (MP’s) is the governing party. All other MPs of the other parties form ‘the Loyal Opposition’ who critique the governing party and suggest alternate ideas and policies.

After laws are passed in the House of Commons, the legislation goes to the Senate. The job of the 104 senators is to review the legislation, make amendments (or not), and submit the finished legislation to the Governor-General, representing Canada and the Queen of England, who is the head of the state (Canada).

As the First Minister in Her Majesty’s government, Stephen Harper is the Head of the Government. The Governor-General is usually a respected Canadian from a diplomatic, political, military, or academic background, chosen by the Prime Minister in five-year rotations.

As you can see, the Prime Minister has enormous power; appointing senators, the Governor-General, Supreme Court judges, federal court judges, provincial court judges, members of commissions, heads of the bureaucracy, ambassadors, the military chief of staff, and much more. Virtually all the power of government is vested in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO). The Prime Minister selects the Cabinet, which are the chief ministers of each government ministry; the Minister of Health, Minister of Justice, Minister of Defense, etc. There are 19 ministries in the Canadian government, and the Prime Minister chooses all of them with advice from his closest assistants in the PMO.

The appointments to the Senate are said to represent the interests of the people of the provinces. As Canada’s Senate was created on July 1, 1867, when only four provinces existed, the make-up of the Senate appointees is disproportionate in that the lion’s share are from Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. Since Canada has had only Liberal and Conservative Prime Ministers for over 140 years, there are no NDP, BLOC or Green Party Senators, just Liberal and Conservative ones.

There are six senators each from BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Newfoundland; 24 each from Ontario and Quebec; 10 each from New Brunswick and Nova Scotia; four from Prince Edward Island; one from the Yukon; one from the Northwest Territories; and two from Nunavut, for a total of 104.

Alberta and BC each have a population of more than one million, yet have fewer senators than New Brunswick, which has a population of under one million, or Nova Scotia with less than a million. PEI’s population is only 250,000 and it has one Senator for every 62,500 people, whereas BC and Alberta have one Senator for every million people.

Liberal Prime Minister Paul Martin, for example, appointed Senator Larry Campbell, to the Senate on August 2, 2005, to represent BC, replacing retiring senator Edward Lawson. As a Liberal appointee, Campbell is in the ‘Liberal’ caucus, although Campbell, previous to his Senate appointment, had never identified himself as a member of the Liberal Party. A party ‘caucus’ in parliament is made up of elected MPs, appointed senators, a few advisors from the party leader’s office, the president of the party, and a few other insiders of each party. Each party in parliament (there are four: the Conservatives, the Liberals, the NDP and the Bloc Quebecois) has these ‘caucus’ meetings every day before appearing in the formal debates in the House of Commons or Senate. These ‘caucus’ meetings are held in camera (A Latin term that counter-intuitively means ‘in private’) and are where issues and strategies are debated in the party so as to determine what questions to ask in question period, what subjects to debate on the floor of the House of Commons, priority in the speaking order, and who shall speak to what matters on behalf of the Party.

Larry Campbell was a popularly elected Mayor of Vancouver from 2002 to 2005. Prior to that he was a coroner (the person who determines the cause of death of a deceased person) and before that an RCMP officer. He will be a Senator until February 2023, when he turns 75.

One of the founding principles of the reform party, when Stephen Harper was first elected, was a triple “E” senate, “elected, effective and equal.”

By having Senators voted by citizens to represent provinces, they would have legitimacy, and therefore would be equal to the House of Commons as a genuine expression of democracy. Senators would reflect provincial populations, so Alberta would have 15 senators and BC would have 16 (15.5% of Canada’s population), instead of six each, as is now the case.

In 2004, as leader of the newly re-minted Conservative Party, Harper scorned the Senate in opposition, repudiating its legitimacy, saying “Despite the fine work of many individual Senators, the upper house remains a dumping ground for the favored cronies of the Prime Minister.”

So did Stephen Harper introduce legislation to change our constitution to permit the democratization of the senate as was advocated by Reform in the 1993, 1997, and 2000 election campaigns, and repeated in the Conservative platform in 2004? The opposite occurred in August 2008, when Harper filled 18 vacancies with appointments, and nine more in August 2009, loading the Senate with a total of 27 Conservatives. Some choices were admirable, like TV journalist Pamela Wallin, others inexplicable, like former hockey coach Jacques Demers who admitted in 2005 that he was functionally illiterate in both official languages. Considering Senators must wade through an exhaustive amount of text containing complex legal terms and review laws that impact on every Canadian, this is the worst possible choice you could make for the Senate.

But in his own words, Harper was not looking for competence, he wants total fidelity to the contemporary Conservative Party agenda, whether in government or out; Demers and the other 26 new Tory senators are to tow the party line. Harper said on August 29, 2009 at the press conference announcing his newest nine senators, “It is my intention to have Senators in there to support the elected Government; Senators who will stop blocking out significant legislation, our anti-crime legislation, our legislation on democratic reform.”

Among the new senators were Doug Finlay, Harper’s former political operations director and husband of Conservative Human Resources Minister Diane Finlay; Carolyn-Stewart Olsen, Harper’s longtime aide; and former Conservative party president Don Plett.

In both the 2006 and 2008 Conservative Party platforms, Harper promised to create a Public Appointments Commission that would award appointments on merit. In 2006, Harper moved to make such a commission, appointing Conservative Party fundraiser Gweyn Morgan to head it. The Opposition objected to Harper appointing one of his cronies to a commission to stop cronyism. Harper then dropped the commission from his plans.

The make-up of the Senate is now 54 liberals and 50 Conservatives, with four Senators to retire in 2010. If Harper continues on as Prime Minister, by March 2010, the Senate will have a Conservative majority for the first time in 85 years. The saving grace of being an appointed Senator for life (until age 75 anyway) is that you can’t be fired for speaking, acting or voting independently, so Senators can, and often do, oppose their party’s position in the House of Commons. That is why nine Senators (six Liberals, three Conservatives) on the 2002 Special Senate Committee on Illegal Drugs all voted to recommend the effective legalization of marijuana, even though that position was not supported by Liberals or Conservatives in the House of Commons. Members of the House of Commons look no further than their current 2-4 year term in the Commons to determine the interests of Canadians; so the legislation is big on optics and messaging, but few long-term effects of legislation are taken seriously by the elected MPs. Thus the long term effects of our military in Afghanistan, deficit financing or crime-producing prohibition “crime” bills, for example, are not seriously considered by elected politicians in the four parties in the House, all are too obsessed with framing ideology for the voters in the next election, 1-3 years away.

Senators can determine the long-term effects of legislation because they will be in office 10-35 years. That is what the 2002 Special Committee did when they recommended repealing marijuana prohibition; they were looking at what was good for Canada in the long term, not concerned with election campaign optics. Stephen Harper betrayed his commitment to a triple “E” Senate, to reforming the Senate, to repudiating partisan patronage, to addressing the democratic deficit.

Parallel to stacking the Senate with loyal minions of questionable competence has been Harper’s appointments to the courts of our land. Harper’s most recent five appointments, made September 9, 2009, to the courts are instructive.

Peter Richardson Bryson was appointed to the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia; he gave $2,750 to the Conservative Party in 2004 and 2006. William Budnett was appointed to the court of the Queen’s Bench; he gave $3,000 to the Conservative Party in 2004 and 2006. Claude D’Allaire was appointed to the Quebec Superior Court; his most recent donation to the Conservative Party was $500 in 2008. Pierre Blais was Attorney General in Brian Mulroney’s Conservative government and was appointed as Chief Justice of the Federal Court of Appeal.

What’s the message here? If you want to be a judge on any court in Canada, open up your wallets and donate to the Conservative Party agenda? Once again, blatant party patronage is corrupting another institution of our democracy.

Three days before the October 14, 2008 Federal election, Stephen Harper said, “We’re not running a deficit, we have planned a realistic scenario. We’ve got conservative budget estimates, we’ve got a modest platform that doesn’t fill the existing fiscal room that we have, and we have plenty of flexibility in how we phase it. So that’s our policy. We’re not getting into deficit.”

Harper added, for further historical irony, “this country will not go into recession this year.”

One year later, the operating deficit for the government of Canada is an unprecedented $56 billion, with Harper predicting operating deficits for the next six fiscal years. Compare that to the average annual operating deficit of the Mulroney conservatives that Harper condemned when he first ran as a Reform candidate in 1993. Mulroney’s Tories ran deficits totaling $284 billion over nine years, averaging $32 billon short in red ink each year over a two-term administration.

It was the Chrétien Liberals with Finance Minister Paul Martin that reversed the deficit-financing trend, operating with budget surpluses from 1998-2005 (after four deficit years 1994-1997). The surpluses in those years were used to pay down the accumulated national debt (which was $460 billion as of 2005).

The Federal Government’s total national debt as of December 22, 2009 was $504 billion. For every federal dollar of taxes we pay, 14 cents of each dollar goes to pay the national debt run up by the Trudeau and Mulroney administrations. In 1990, it was 38 cents of every dollar of tax going to interest on the debt. That was unsustainable and interest rates were much higher in 1990. But budget surpluses to pay down the debt over 11 years (1996 to 2007), along with considerably higher taxes (the GST among them), and unsustainably low interest rates, have reduced it – for now – to 14 cents on the dollar.

Here’s a snapshot of the accumulated Canadian government debt:

1961-1962 budget $14,825,000,000
1970-1971 budget $20,293,000,000
1980-1981 budget $91,948,000,000
1990-1991 budget $377,656,000,000
1996-1997 budget $562,881,000,000
2001-2002 budget $511,946,000,000
2007-2008 budget $457,637,000,000
2008-2009 budget $458,737,000,000
2009-2010 budget $492,437,000,000
2010-2011 budget $522,337,000,000
2011-2012 budget $535,237,000,000 (projected)
2012-2013 budget $542,537,000,000 (projected)

From 2009 to 2013, the Conservative government is set to wipe out the gains made on the National Debt from 1998-2007.

Stephen Harper has an economics degree from the University of Calgary and was the chief spokesman and president of the National Citizens Coalition, a right-wing populist lobby. Established by London Life Insurance President Colin Brown in 1972, the first NCC campaign was “Turn in a Pusher”, which became the T.I.P program in 1973, and eventually Crime Stoppers. Harper the lobbyist, Harper the neophyte Reform candidate in 1993 and Harper the Prime Minister in 2008 railed against deficits, and for good reason. Deficits are a tax on future generations because banks lend governments the money to cover operational budget shortfalls and this borrowed money must be repaid, along with onerous interest payments.

There are about 24,000,000 Canadians (out of a total population of 31,000,000) over the age of 17 paying income taxes on their earnings. A $56 billion operating deficit for just one year must be borrowed from banks, pension funds, individuals who buy government “bonds” such as Canada saving bonds or treasury bonds, and other financial instruments.

This debt is directly payable only by Canadian taxpayers. This year’s debt alone is $56 billion, which is a $2,350 debt for the average taxpayer – you! In just one year of government deficit!

But it’s worse than just a massive delayed tax when the Gov’t borrows money; it sucks that money out of circulation for the use of private enterprise. Businesses that need to borrow for expansion, construction, capitalization, research and development, new machinery, and exploration, find that money available for loans is scarce and often unavailable because government has borrowed $56 billion in one year that would have been available to business.

With all European and North American governments operating with deficits at state and federal levels, there is very little money available for the industries and business that actually provide long-term productive jobs that reflect market demand and grow economics. With governments of the world in debt by about $22 trillion USD (the US alone has a debt of $12 trillion), who is lending them the $600 billion a year just to cover the interest on this debt? I don’t think there is nearly enough private investment capital liquid enough in a recession to actually cover these loans. I think government is printing money out of the thin air, inflating the currency, setting absurd and unsustainable low-interest rates, and printing their way out of debt.

This is how the massive US Federal Government deficits are being accounted for, printing massive quantities of paper money. When this happens, the value of paper money drops relative to commodities like oil, gold, metals and other commodities, which are going up in price during a recession and high unemployment.

How will these massive borrowed operating deficits be paid back?

Any combination of inflation, tax increases, devaluation, collapse of an entire monetary system are all possible and likely scenarios. History is littered with societies ruined by currency inflation as we saw in the 1977-1980 period where interest rates/mortgage rate rose to 12%-24%, followed by a dramatic recession and high unemployment. What are called essential services to Canadians get severely curtailed; health care, hospitals, and doctors get starved for funds; schools, universities, and transit systems see massive cuts in funding; and infrastructure projects are cancelled as money flows toward a huge debt buildup. Transfer payments to the provinces get severely curtailed requiring provincial governments to raise taxes or curtail services. This is what the Liberals had to do from 1994-1999 in order to operate the federal government without deficits. Then from 1998-2005, the Liberals were able to make considerable headway paying down the accumulated National Debt that the Mulroney years inflamed with deficit spending.

Nonetheless, Stephen Harper says it will be five years before the Conservative government has a balanced budget; massive deficits are to incur a national debt on a scale comparable or worse than the Mulroney years, which is what got Stephen Harper and Preston Manning into politics in the first place.

“There will be no deficits in the next year” said Harper on October 12, 2008.

“Canada’s Economic Action Plan” and Harper’s stimulus spending

On October 15, 2009, Conservative Party MPs were seen on TV and in newspapers holding billboard-like presentation checks; taxpayer money doled out to various dubious projects.

The arrogance of these cheesy photo-ops were immediately noticed; many had the Conservative Party logo displayed prominently, others had Stephen Harper’s signature as the payer, all the giant presentation checks representing your money were in shades of Tory blue.

Stephen Harper’s signature on presentation cheques? Conservative Party logos? Tory blue colors? Is it King Harper now?

More like Quebec Premier Maurice Duplessis, who ruled Quebec with favors and intimidation in the doling out of taxpayer dollars from 1943 to 1959. In Duplessis’s Quebec, districts that elected his Union Nationale candidates to the Quebec National Assembly received taxpayer dollars for roads, sidewalks, parks, sewers and the like. Those Quebec districts that elected Liberal MLA’s received little or no infrastructure dollars. This was a classic Duplessis bit of extortion; vote for the Liberal at your own peril.

Stephen Harper is the new Duplessis in Canada’s Economic Action Plan, or ‘Stimulus’ spending, it is pork barrel politics; a Canadian political tradition that the Reform Party of 1993 found most offensive.

Delivering the ‘pork’ always has had resonance in Quebec and the Atlantic provinces. These eastern provinces traditionally have high unemployment, seasonal work, old industries and traditional union politics. Transferring wealth from Ontario, and especially the west, in order to buy vote in Québec and the Atlantic provinces was standard operating politics for federal Liberals since W.L. McKenzie King (1945) and even the Diefenbaker and Mulroney Conservatives. Transfer payments have always been the most visible ‘benefit’ of confederation for the Eastern provinces.

The 1993 Reform Party was completely hostile to this transfer of wealth; it came at great lost to Alberta with its dynamic resource industries of oil, natural gas, metals, and cattle, with no benefit in return. The Reform slogan “The West Wants In’ was in reaction to the exploitation of Alberta and BC within confederation.

Originally, Reform understood “Pork”.

Any benefit to transfer payments is illusory. It is the transfer of income from genuine market-created productive jobs, where real wealth is created, to those not working at all or to industries or activities that can’t be sustained without continual infusions of welfare/stimulus payments, courtesy of the expensive and inefficient hand of government. No doubt the recipients of these taxpayer-funded handouts are grateful, but what is required is genuine opportunity; these supplicant populations should migrate to where the market-created jobs are. Instead, high taxes and expensive government stifle the wealth creators. Their ability to reinvest in their successful endeavors is hobbled by the transfer of their good money to bad places, where little authentic growth (through market choices) is possible by persons and industries that receive these stimulus dollars (known as ‘Pork’, ‘Boondoggles’, ‘quangoes’, and ‘bringing home the bacon’) who become dependent on these continual infusions and the political collusion that makes them possible.

Instead of investing in market-motivated growth, these patronized industries become experts in extracting taxpayer largesse out of the political system through political donations, kickbacks, bribery and lobbying.

Harper is delivering the pork in a way that ought to make his former mentor, Reform founder Preston Manning, cringe.

Conservative ridings are receiving a far greater percentage of the pork than Liberal, NDP, or Bloc Quebecois ridings. In Nova Scotia, Tory ridings received 42% more on average than NDP or Liberal ridings.

In Quebec, the 10 Conservative ridings have received 62% more per riding than if the money spent in Quebec under Canada’s Economic Action Plan were evenly divided up. Many Montreal-area ridings with Bloc or Liberal MP’s received just one project with miniscule funding.

In the backhanded tribute to an Ontario decimated by recession, it became the leading pork recipient. Ontario got 54% of the total stimulus spending (with 39% of the population), again weighed in Conservative ridings.

The 51 Tory ridings received on average $2.1 million in make-work, NDP ridings receiving $1.86 million average and $1.36 million average to the Liberal ridings.

Harper’s government so far has refused to even issue a list of all the federal projects and what ridings have received what money, despite the promise of one. The Prime Minister was on TV with a straight face defending the partisan pork: “Conservative MP’s have been working very hard, obviously, in many cases securing projects for their ridings. I would encourage the other parties to work equally hard.”

Accompanying this giant handout of cash – and consequent national debt – to impress voters with their own tax money is a national advertising campaign costing over $35 million, extolling ‘Canada’s Economic Action Plan’

Propaganda can be defined as messaging that manipulates the audience into a foregone conclusion without the benefit of facts, true information, or content. The economic action plan ad campaign assures us in soothing shades of blue, with scenes of clean shiny, happy working Canadians, that the federal government is putting Canada to work ‘again’.

The subtext to the campaign is to sell Canadians on the idea that deficits are unimportant, that government’s primary function is to spend your money to create jobs. These propaganda buys do not point out that ‘stimulus’ spending is achieved with massive deficits that you, the taxpayer, must repay one day thorough inflation, or increased taxes, or reduced services, or a degraded monetary system and other calamites we have yet to experience.

Meanwhile, a huge amount of taxpayer money is flowing to a cash strapped corporate media for this propaganda barrage. This largesse of advertising dollars is both a taxpayer bailout of Canwest-Global, CBC, and CTV and a bribe to the corporate media to mute its criticism of the Tory government. Criticize too loudly and the rich flow of government advertising can arbitrarily be cut at a time when private business has dramatically cut advertising.

$20 billion of the $30 billion in stimulus spending is in the form of tax credits for businesses and individuals. The most popular is the ‘home renovation tax credit’. Fix up your old home and you could get up to $4,500 refunded. Who tends to vote Conservative in elections? Rural homeowners. Renters, students, urban condominium owners (whose new property requires few upgrades), single people, and couples without children tend to vote NDP, Liberal or Green and cannot use this tax credit nearly as much as families with kids who put a lot of wear-and-tear on their home.
Prior to this formalized stimulus-spending plan, there were $8 billion in auto bailouts for Ontario-based auto plants like GM and Chrysler in 2009.

Businesses that go begging for your tax dollars should be boycotted because they are operating inefficiently and the market place has already rejected them – that is you, the buyer, the consumer, have rejected them. They go to the government begging for favors using political influence, extortion, and the threat of moving out of the country, alternately threatening to leave and wailing a tale of woe.

You should not buy a GM or a Chrysler vehicle. Ford, Acura, Honda, Kenworth, Opel-Vauxhall, Suzuki, Toyota, Volkswagon and Zenn all make vehicles in Canada and are properly run without bailout money. In fairness to GM, they have indicated they are making loan repayments of a significant amount in the next 12 months.

In the House of Commons, Transport Minister John Baird was aggressive in defending the Tory cheques and politically influenced vote-buying with the taxpayers’ own money. Baird quoted Jean Chrétien from the 1990’s with this quote from the former Liberal PM, “Listen, we are the government, I don’t see why we can’t try to get credit for what we do. I hope we do so. There’s nothing to be ashamed of that.” Preston Manning must be upchucking his porridge to see what Reform has become – quoting the Liberal Chrétien for legitimacy!

The vital difference in comparing the Chrétien/Martin era with the Harper present is that the Liberals cut the deficit in every budget while distributing pork from 1997 to 2005. Reform was created precisely because Mulroney was exploiting the west, incurring annual operating deficits, and focused on delivering pork to the east. Harper is following that exact same roadmap, only on steroids.

Government spending under Stephen Harper. The first fiscal budget for the Harper Tories was 2006 and it was 222 billion. For 2009, it is $259 billion, an increase of 17% over four fiscal years. Inflation in the same period was under 7%.

Accountability and transparency

Details have been refused by the Harper government in the following areas:
a) A cost of the advertising campaign to Canada’s economic action

b) The details of riding by riding spending on stimulus spending

c) The budget details and total annual spending of our military participation in Afghanistan. Defence Minister Peter McKay claimed the numbers were being concealed for the purposes of National Security, so Al-Qaeda and the Taliban would not be able to deduce our strategies and material by perusing the accounting details of the cost of the war.

d) The cost estimates for the new crime bills. The bills are estimated to add 5,000-7,000 new inmates each year to the prison population, currently there are 39,400 inmates, this will grow to 76,000 by 2015 if all the Harper “Crime” bills get passed. The Harper government refuses to release the estimates – its scary expensive – even though they admit they have them. The forbidding cost of making prison sentences longer and expanding the incarceration net of drug prohibition to add tens of thousands of additional drug offenders is a major change in Canadian society. Bill C-15 (the mandatory minimum jail sentencing drug legislation), the canceling of accelerated parole, and the end of the 2-for-1 remand credit will add tremendous financial burden to the beleaguered Canadian taxpayer. The costs are a compelling argument in rejecting the new legislation but citizens are kept unaware of the staggering expense for absolutely no public benefit. These fill-the-jails laws have bankrupted the state of California and many other states with exploding prison populations since they adopted similar measures in the 1980’s.

A male in a Canadian jail for one-year costs the taxpayer $101,000, and a female inmate costs $185,000.

In Bill C-15, a person growing 10 marijuana plants in a rented home would receive a minimum nine months in jail, causing misery at a cost of $75,000. With the flurry of Tory anti-crime bills, up to 10 new prisons and remand centers would need to be built annually. Private prison companies like Corrections Corporation of America are being invited to run these new prisons. The new Edmonton remand center that opened in October, 2009 cost $640 million. Ten new prisons annually will cost $6.5 billion.

‘Budget officer to probe cost of Tory crime bills’
Bill Burry, Globe and Mail

Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page is launching the first stages of a financial analysis aimed at the pinning down the total cost of the Conservative government’s tough-on-crime agenda.

The preliminary work is being done in response to a written request by Liberal MP hopes it will determine the financial implications of three crime bills already passed into law and four others that are still being debated in Parliament. “The government has supplied Parliament with no costing for these policies, despite the fact that the cost to our correctional system will inevitably be in the hundreds of millions of dollars as a significant influx of new federal inmates will result.” Mr.Holland wrote.

Public Saftey Minister Peter Van Loan, who is responsible for Correctional Service Canada, said this month that the government is in fact preparing for more inmates. The service’s budget for prison infrastructure has doubled since 2006 when the Conservatives took office.

Mr. Van Loan has said the government has internal estimates showing the expected rise in prison inmates that will be attributed to each new measure, but is declining to make those figures public.

Canada’s prison population has remained static for about 30 years, there have been 34,000 to 39,000 inmates total in all Canadian detention facilities in any given year from 1979 to 2009. By contrast, the US prison population exploded from 380,000 in 1980 to 2.4 million in 2009; exclusively due to 3-strikes laws, mandatory minimum jail for drug offenses, lengthy sentences, and the elimination of federal parole in the US federal prison system.

Yet, crime in Canada has continued a downward trend over 30 years, excluding drug and particularly marijuana-related offenses. Existing Canadian law can be severe if a judge chooses to be severe. No new legislation is required.

Justice Minister Rob Nicholson could not produce any science or reports to back these new ‘crime’ bills or show they would to improving public safety. When asked in committee by MP Libby Davies if he had the science to show that mandatory minimum jail sentences create desirable social benefits (particularly since the US experience has produced only tremendous expense without any corresponding safety), the Minister replied:

“It’s been a long time since we has a number of these mandatory penalties here and we are absolutely convinced in our consultations with Canadians that this is exactly what Canadians want us to do.”

When pushed again by Davies with the questions, “Do you have any evidence? Any Studies?” Nicholson reported, “We have evidence that Canadians have told us that, and with respect to resources, I can tell you this is welcome across the country.”

If Nicholson’s nonsensical and politically partisan remarks strike you as unscientific, remember that this guy was Brian Mulroney’s Minister of Science from 1989 to 1991. Scary, eh?

There are several ‘crime’ bills. Bill C-15 brings mandatory minimum jail sentences for all illegal drug sellers, growers, and producers. Bill C-25 eliminates the 2-for-1 day served credit inmates received for their time in maximum-security remand or pre-trial facilities prior to sentencing. Bill C-43 eliminates accelerated parole for most offenders. Bill C-52 increases jail time for fraud, embezzlement, auto theft, trafficking in stolen property. Police have been given greater wiretap powers, surveillance of email, Facebook, MySpace and all electronic communication.

Canada currently imprisons one out of every 680 citizens. The US incarcerates one citizen in 99; the world’s highest rate with 5% of the world’s population. The US has 25% of the planets prisoners.

‘Drug crimes’, which have fueled the rapid increase of prison population in the US, are government policy-manufactured offences. All scientific evidence points to prohibition as the primary engine driving the lucrative profits of the illegal drug trade. As enforcement increases so does the price of illegal drugs. When price goes up, the drug trade becomes more attractive because of huge potential gains. Tens of thousands of Canadians are lured into the illegal drug trade for this reason each year.

Despite having 900,000 inmates in US jails for drug-related offenses, there has been no deterrent effect on consumption, production, or distribution of illegal drugs in the last 30 years. Politicians who support prohibition therefore support organized crime by handing gangs a fantastically profitable monopoly. Gangs use these profits to disrupt civil society and a proper work ethic.

Five to seven million Canadians have consumed marijuana in the last year. 250,000 to 400,000 Canadians have consumed cocaine in the same period. 250,000 to 350,000 Canadians are involved in cultivation, selling, and distributing marijuana alone, a rich target for Bill C-15. The current financial return for marijuana production, invaluable to rural economies in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, Alberta and British Columbia is estimated at $8 to $14 billion a year. If marijuana and other currently prohibited substances were legalized, and a regulated and taxed system of transparent distribution put into place, 80%-90% of gang profits would be eliminated, with a corresponding reduction in gang membership. The approach of jailing youthful drug dealers is also counter-productive, because many gangs recruit from jail. The Red Scorpions gang was formed in the jails of the lower mainland of BC, and jails are the primary source of its recruitment. Many young people in jail have had chaotic childhoods with a missing father. Gangs offer comradeship and male bonding, a father-substitute with potentially perilous results.

Legalizing drugs would arrest the decay of our inner cities, far fewer women would prostitute themselves for drugs, and the spread of hepatitis C, HIV, and AIDS would be greatly diminished.

Marijuana use represents everything Stephen Harper wants eliminated from acceptable Canadian society. Harper, when launching the National Anti-Drug Strategy on October 4, 2007, cited permissive values of the 1960’s when launching his latter-day crusade against the infidels.

“A simple war on drugs is not going to be successful,” he said, “but neither is simply being soft on the question going to be successful. We are up against a culture that, since the 1960’s, has had at the minimum not discouraged drug use and often romanticized it, or made it cool. My son is listening to my Beatles records and asking me what all these lyrics mean. I love these records. I’m not putting them away. But we have to change the culture.”

When asked about his use of marijuana, the Prime Minister’s now notorious retort was, “I was offered a joint once, but I was too drunk to take it.”

Yet, there in October 2009, was Stephen Harper playing piano and singing along at the National Arts Gallery to “(I Get High) With a Little Help From My Friends”, a Beatles song that Paul McCartney and John Lennon were inspired to write after a night of marijuana use. Harper’s zeal for this anti-drug crusade, he said, was provoked when his 11-year-old son Benjamin asked what the lyrics in the Beatles’ Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album meant.

To Harper, the ‘culture’ or ‘cannabis culture’ is the most dangerous of all because its appeal to Canadians is steeped in liberal or libertarian values, philosophies that Harper regards as degenerate.

At this point, let us discuss Stephen Harper’s core belief system and what makes him tick.

Canada has a new commission – Canada’s Mental Health Commission – whose head is a pre-millennial fundamentalist Christian named Chris Summerville, a Pastor of the associated Gospel Churches of Canada, which has 140 churches.

Pre-millennialists believe that Jesus will return to earth in our lifetime to bring all true believers in Christ to Heaven, while the rest of us infidels will burn in a lake of fire as promised in the Book of Revelations.

Stephen Harper assigned Summerville the specific task of finding a link between cannabis and schizophrenia. Summerville has no training in mental health but believes ‘Satan walks among men’. Summerville claims to talk to God regularly, (which to me seems like a sort of schizophrenia).

As is true with all his partisan appointments, Harper only appoints people who believe what he believes. Appointing a Book of Revelation End-of-Days pastor like Summerville as head of the Mental Health Commission is a sign that Harper thinks mental illness is moral failing combined with bad values, and requires a kind of exorcism, a repentance, and spiritual renewal. Summerville and members of these 140 churches believe (according to their website) that Satan is a person who walks amongst us today, and that the Holy Scripture constitutes the only supreme authority in matters of faith, teaching and behavior.

Here’s another quote from Summerville’s website:

We believe the total corruption of human nature has been transmitted to the entire race of human beings; every child of Adam is born into the world with a sinful nature. We believe in the eternal blessed of the saved and the eternal punishment of the lost. We further believe there is an appointed day for the judgment of the wicked when they will be cast into the lake of fire, there to remain forever and ever in varying degrees of torment according to their works.

Summerville’s beliefs are informed, as are Harper’s, by the Book of Revelations – specially Revelations 20:10 the devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and false prophet are and they will be tormented day and night forever 20:7 Now when the thousand years have expired, Satan will be released from his prison (8) and will go out and deceive the nations which are at the four corners of the earth 20:13 and they were judged each one according to his works 20:15 and anyone not found in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.

21:8 The cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, the sexually immoral, the sorcerers (which include drug users, psychedelic plant users) idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake of fire which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.

It is this last reference, sorcerers being put to death, that justified the killing of two to seventeen million women as witches and sorcerers for their use of plants and herbs in the 500-year Spanish Inquisition and from the Dark Ages to 1832.
Harper expressed the philosophy that informs his reactionary social conservative policy making in a 2003 speech to the Civitas Group.

“Conservatives need to reassess our understanding of the modern left,” he said. “It has moved beyond old socialistic morality or even moral relativism to something much darker. It has become moral nihilism. A post-Marxist (nihilism) with deep resentments. Serious Conservative Parties simply cannot stay away from values questions on a wide range of public policy questions including foreign affairs, defense, criminal justice and corrections, family and childcare, health care and social services. Social values are increasingly the big issues.”

Defined, nihilism means life without objective meaning, purpose or intrinsic valve. It can also mean the belief that the destruction of existing political or social institutions is necessary for future improvement.

Indeed, the Center for Research on Canadian Evangelism shows growth for the Conservative Party with fundamentalists of all religious stripes, Christian, Muslim and Judaic. In 1996, of those who identified themselves as evangelical or fundamentalist voters in the four western provinces, only 33% voted for Reform. Nine years later, 71% of self identified evangelicals or fundamentalists in the west said they voted Conservative in the 2006 election.

On March 11, 2009 Harper gave a speech to kick off a three-day conference of conservatives at a fundraising dinner for the Preston Manning Institute for Democracy called “Three values of conservatism; Faith, Family, Freedom”. From that speech, Harper said, “Faith in all its forms teaches that there is a right and wrong beyond mere opinion or desire, more importantly it teaches us that how freedom is exercised matters as much as freedom itself.”

Many parliamentarians of avowed religious bents have close relationships with alcohol and its abuse. Stephen Harper’s rejection of a joint occurred in his years at the University of Calgary (getting his economics degree), a period when Harper engaged in binge drinking on most weekends. He wasn’t and isn’t alone in that dangerous behavior.
Alcohol kills 12,000 Canadians annually and is a component of most rapes, domestic violence, assaults and dangerous behavior.

Cannabis, on the other hand, is considered the world’s most utilitarian plant: useful in the manufacture of clothing, its seeds contain essential fatty acids (Omega 3,6 and 9), the best fibers, and can produce industrial plastic substitutes, food, medicine, biomass fuel, oils of all kinds, and is a non-toxic euphoric. Humans have specific cannabinoid receptors in the brain to receive its consciousness-raising attributes, as well as cannabinoid receptors throughout the body (as do all mammals) to receive its medicinal and therapeutic benefits.

A May 1, 2009 Angus-Reid poll asked British Columbians whether to legalize or further criminalize Canadians according to this premise: “the illegal marijuana industry is linked to much of the gang violence on BC streets. Some say violence would be reduced if marijuana were legalized, while others say violence would decrease if penalties for marijuana trafficking were significantly increased.”

%65 said legalize
%35 said increase penalties

An Angus-Reid poll of March 5, 2009 showed 50% of Canadians nationwide want marijuana legalized, while 65% of respondents from BC wanted marijuana legalized.

The original 1993 Reform platform promised more citizen input into the democratic process; yet not a single member of Canada’s elected House of Commons has ever spoken on behalf of that 50% who want marijuana legalized – ever!

In the 2008 Federal election, Conservative MP for Edmonton-Strathcona Rahim Jaffer was defeated because he bought radio ads condemning NDP Leader Jack Layton’s support in 2003 for legalizing marijuana. Over the final week of the October 2008 campaign, Jaffer spent $15,000 on these ads to defeat NDP rival Linda Duncan. Only one other NDP MP has ever been elected from Alberta to the House of Commons in 50 years. Ross Harvie was NDP MP from Edmonton East from 1988-1993. Duncan was a newcomer and Jaffer had won his seat only two years earlier by over 5,000 votes.

The two ads that ran on radio in the final two weeks of Jaffer’s campaign:

“Edmontonians understand how difficult it is to make sure our children make the right choices, especially on serious issues like drug use. The Conservative Party supports drug-free schools and getting tough with drug dealers. Don’t let our schools go up in smoke. Vote Conservative Rahim Jaffer.”

Radio ad #2 aired extensively for one week before the October 14 election date:

“Jack Layton and the Ottawa NDP have publicly supported the legalization of marijuana. In fact, when asked about marijuana, Jack Layton called it a wonderful substance, which Canadians should be free to smoke at home, or at a café. Edmontonians understand how difficult it is to make sure our children make the right choices especially on serious issues and getting tough with drug dealers who sell illegal drugs to our children. Don’t let our schools go up in smoke, on October 14 vote Conservative.”

Once out of office, Jaffer married Conservative MP Helen Guergis. Recently, he was arrested drunk driving in possession of a bag of cocaine. Like most alcoholics and drug abusers, it is not likely this was Jaffer’s first time behind the wheel on booze or cocaine. Jaffer was a star Conservative MP from 1997-2008. He was chair of the Conservative caucus. He sat on the parliamentary standing committee of Justice and Human Rights. During this time his party was formulating Bill C-15, and Jaffer was a leading crusader against marijuana.

Jaffer is still married to a cabinet minister in the Harper government, so he is politically relevant, despite attempts by the Harperites to dismiss him as a private citizen. It is fair and accurate to say Jaffer’s view on drugs is expressed in Harper’s decision to launch a war against a “culture” and that Bill C-15 is the way to do it. By obtaining organized crime cocaine, Jaffer left himself, his cabinet minister wife, and thereby the Canadian government, open to blackmail. Who was supplying Jaffer and what do they want?

In Columbia, Mexico and Afghanistan, organized crime supports democratic governments because prohibition compromises national security and fosters trans-border smuggling, pan-regional organized crime, and other profitable expansion of criminal organizations. Often these criminal organizations have banks supportively regulated by the local government, which they influence by bribes, election financing, death threats, etc. Police and politicians, the two groups that support prohibition, drink a lot of booze, meet a lot of criminals, and take a lot of drugs. They are very vulnerable to blackmail and extortion.

Have Harper’s prohibition laws, which he has admitted target a “culture” and not a crime, opened the Canadian government and law enforcement to infiltration by organized crime?

Why are police, politicians and gangsters the ones who support prohibition? Who does prohibition help? It helps police to build bigger budgets and get more repressive laws and gives them fantastic latitude in violating our precious constitutional safeguards. Prohibition helps gangsters and cartels make more money than governments. Who does prohibition hurt? Everyone else: our children, our families, out justice system, our health care system, and our country. Prohibition corrupts everything decent in human society.

Voters on October 14 endorsed what Jaffer tried to condemn, electing an NDP MP, and many voters cited Layton’s strong verbal support of legalization as their motivation to get out the vote for Duncan.

Of course, this only validates Harper’s worldview that the cannabis culture is a left wing idea, part of what Harper calls a “Philosophy of Nihilism”, the belief that existing social and political institutions need to be swept away to make improvements to society. Confirming Harper’s worldview are the MPs in Parliament who have at times been vocal in their support of the cannabis culture (and myself as leader of the cannabis culture) including Libby Davies, Svend Robinson, Bill Siksay and Keith Martin. Davies, Robinson, Siksay are left-wing and homosexual and Martin is a Liberal who defected from Reform after accusing Harper of being a religious fundamentalist.

Randy White, Reform/CA/Conservative MP for Abbotsford mission from 1993 to 2005 confessed to me over lunch in 2004 that he was an alcoholic for 15 years of his adult life, frequently driving drunk and behaving abusively with alcohol before becoming clean and sober. However, sobriety did not make White a compassionate man as MP when it came to persecuting the cannabis culture.

Matthew Johnston, Rahim Jaffer’s executive assistant, told me of an 2001 incident in an Ottawa bar regarding Rookie Conservative MP James Moore. (I had occasions to debate Moore in his Port Coquitlam riding in the November 2000 Federal election about marijuana legalization as a Marijuana Party candidate that year.)

Moore was opposed to any normalization of the cannabis culture and in fact, added, “I think the stigma against marijuana use and marijuana users is a good thing and should continue.”

Johnston, now publisher of the online Western Standard was with Moore in an Ottawa bar in early 2001. Moore was getting increasingly drunk and began propositioning a woman nearby, rather explicitly, who rebuffed his drunken advances.

Upon rejection, Moore drank more and brooded. As he left the bar, he went up to the woman and threw a glass full of alcohol in her face and called her a ‘whore’ very loudly in front of Johnson and three other CA executive assistants.

Other well-known alcohol abusers in politics include BC Premier Gordon Campbell, convicted of drunk and dangerous driving; and former Alberta premier Ralph Klein, who once, when wildly drunk, went into a homeless shelter to berate and abuse the indigent men there. Former BC Solicitor-General Rich Coleman, who handed over the ‘Marc Emery File’ to the United States DEA and co-operated to have a US indictment against my seed sales in 2005, is a former alcoholic.

Jack Layton used to be a pot smoker as recently as 2004, toking with students at NDP clubs on university campuses in 2003-2004. Since that time, Layton has stopped smoking pot and has since been evasive and disinterested in advancing the repeal of marijuana prohibition. He was most recently seen at the NDP convention in Halifax in August 2009 quite inebriated, as political conventions feature numerous opportunities for alcohol consumption. Politics can change men from free thinkers into conformist drunks; it would seem Layton isn’t alone amongst politicians who once smoked pot and then left that behind, or who, upon their election to the House of Commons, became brazen hypocrites on the matter of the cannabis culture.

Justin Trudeau, rookie MP for Quebec’s Papineau riding and son of former prime minister Pierre Trudeau, smoked marijuana with me on 4th Ave in Vancouver, out on the patio at a favorite karaoke restaurant of an astrophysicist mutual friend of ours. This was in 2002 when Trudeau lived in Vancouver working as a kindergarten teacher.

Trudeau was asked about our smoke session and denied smoking pot with me, but several others were present at the restaurant. Yet, there Justin was, leaping to his feet during the House of Commons role call to vote Yes on Bill C-15, which will undoubtedly have the effect of jailing some of the very young people he taught. Eighty percent of students will consume marijuana at some point in their teen years, many will sell or share pot – and there is pot smoker Trudeau eagerly jumping up to signal his endorsement that they should go to jail.

In recent video, young Trudeau accurately identified the dangers of Bill C-15, and denied smoking pot with me, making him disingenuous on two subjects within 30 seconds. Oh how Ottawa makes mice of men!

In fairness to individual MPs, their Party imposes a “whip” on each of them. If they don’t vote the way the leader of the Party tells them, they can be ejected from the Caucus (like Conservative Bill Casey was when he voted against his government’s budget in 2006), or deprived of promotion and any possibility of a cabinet position one day. The Liberal and Conservative leader can decline to allow any of his MPs to stand in the next election if they deviate from party lines. Canada essentially is ruled by the four leaders and those working in the Prime Minister’s office, none of whom were voted for by 99% of Canada.

Bill C-15 is the mandatory minimum jail sentence legislation that has already passed the House of Commons with the Liberals and Conservatives supporting (Keith Martin of the Liberals and Scott Reid of the Conservatives abstained, making no vote) and the NDP and Bloc Quebecois opposed.

For the Cannabis culture, it is an ominously draconian bill that will send thousands more to jail each year, impacting on tens of thousands of family members of the scores who will be jailed. Cannabis is a Schedule 2 drug under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. (CDSA)

Growing six or 10 or 20 plants would almost never result in jail under the current law, although cultivation of any number of cannabis plants could still get you a jail sentence of up to five years. Because judges do not generally send growers of under 50 plants to jail, this legislation is meant to override the judge’s discretion (or leniency as Harper would consider it) and force the judge to jail virtually everyone who grows any kind of cannabis beyond a few plants. No exception exists in bill C-15 for medical use or industrial hemp (which, while not psychoactive, still has small concentrations of cannabinoids).

Nonetheless, prior to the imposition of penalties in Bill C-15, a person caught by police with six or 10 or 20 or 35 plants growing in their dwelling would receive a fine of up $2,000 to $4,000 and at least a night in jail until bail was posted. A lawyer would have to be hired at $2,000-$5,000. It would also result in a criminal record that would prevent traveling to the United States (or even traveling on a plane landing in the US). The charge could appear in the newspapers and result in job-loss and the loss of child custody. Bail conditions would remain until a trial and drug testing may be required. If convicted, onerous probationary conditions would likely follow.

All of that would be traumatic for someone growing just five or 10 or 35 of the world’s most beneficial plants, that’s used by 170 million people worldwide with no fatal toxicity. Arrests and consequences happen several times a day in Canada like the scenario described.

Bill C-15 makes the following key change in the CDSA, to wit;

5(3)(a) of the C.D.S.A is replaced by trafficking in any hard drugs 3 kilos or more of cannabis, LSD, cocaine, methamphetamine, MDMA (Ecstacy).

Therefore, the sale of any amount of cocaine, methamphetamine, MDMA, heroin or opiate derivatives, or any Schedule 1 drug, plus any amount of dried cannabis over 3kg, cannabis baked goods over 3kg, or any amount of hashish, cannabis resin, or oil qualifies for the following mandatory minimum jail penalties:

– For cannabis cultivation or distribution of above Schedule 1 drugs involving a ‘criminal organization’ (defined as three or more people acting together); a minimum of one year in jail up to life imprisonment.

– If a weapon is used or threatened to be used or carried during the offense, it is one-year minimum to life.

– A minimum of one year in jail to life if you have a previous drug conviction in the last 10 years

– Two years minimum if the offense is on or near a school or any place frequented by persons under 18.

– Two years minimum if the offense was committed in prison or on its grounds.

– It is two years minimum if a person under the age of 18 is used in the commission of an offense.

– Sales of cannabis/oil, hashish, tincture, cookies, cakes in any quantity is one year minimum jail to life and 18 months minimum jail to life if sold in rented premises, or in a place considered a safety hazard.

– A minimum of six months in jail for 6-200 plants if it can be shown the plants were grown for sale or distribution

– A minimum of nine months in jail for 6-200 plants if it can be shown the plants were grown for sale or distribution in a rented premises or is considered a potential safety hazard to children in the premises or anyone in the neighborhood

– One year minimum jail sentence for 201-500 plants

– 18 months minimum jail

– Two years minimum jail for more than 500 plants

– Three year minimum for 500 or more plants

Punishments for all Schedule 1 drugs are more severe than cannabis. One of the compelling factors in attracting Canadians to grow or sell marijuana for a living is chronic or sudden unemployment in Canada, which has skyrocketed to their highest levels in 28 years. When Harper became Prime Minister on January 23, 2006, the unemployment rate was 6.1% of the work force. In October 2008, when Harper announced there would be no deficit and no recession, the unemployment rate was 6.2% (1,119,300 out of work)

A year later, in October 2009, the unemployment rate was 8.4% of the work force (1,549,100)

That’s 330,000 more Canadians out of work in one year, or 28,000 job losses each month. With fewer jobs in the private sector, and opportunity for a job prospect diminished by the recession, many more Canadians will become pot growers, particularly as the cannabis prices will rise due to the risk imposed by Bill C-15.

Our military continues to wage a futile 7-year, $24 billion war in Afghanistan. Canadians forget that if Stephen Harper were prime minister in 2002 or 2003, Canadians would have died in Iraq as well; Harper was eager to join the Holy Christian crusade against Islam in Iraq; Chrétien said no, Harper said yes.

Harper pacified an already cowed NDP opposition by saying our participation will end there in 2011, but Harper is now modifying that by saying our combat role will be wound down in 2011.

With 130 Canadians dead, over 600 wounded, and possibly 3,000 suffering post-traumatic stress syndrome for no visible improvement in any measurable goals (stable Afghan government, democracy, women’s rights, infrastructure) and with the Taliban more powerful than ever – occupying or controlling fully 2/3 of the countryside – the Harper government continues to mismanage our forces and the objectives of our participation.

Captured Afghans arrested by Canadian forces are handed to Afghans who routinely torture them. Canadian soldiers observe with impunity Afghan soldiers, police, and authorities raping boys as young as eight years old. The Harper government has steadfastly refused to co-operate with a military police complaints commission probe into Afghan detainee abuse.
Former Canadian commander-in-chief in Afghanistan, Rick Hillier, has said Canadian forces are badly served by the government and bureaucracy in Ottawa. In his book A Soldier First just released, Hillier recalls many instances where the Harper government tried to silence or marginalize him and his critical reports on conduct of the war.

The financial costs of the war are now classified, unavailable to the media or opposition, with the explanation that such details would be used by Al-Qaeda to attack Canadian troops.


Stephen Harper is a fundamentalist zealot out to punish those he regards as infidels, both here and abroad. He has broken and betrayed every promise made by the Reform Party in 1993. Unemployment is greater under his watch, government spending is exploding, the deficit in one year is unprecedented with worse to come, the Senate has not been reformed but exploited, the courts are being stacked with reactionaries, patronage has never been more partisan or brazen, more prisons are being built at an unprecedented rate to house a huge increase in prisoners, pork-barrel politics is brazen, a war that can’t be won stagnates our military, all the power of government is in the Prime Minister’s Office, and Tory backbenchers are more acquiescent than ever. There are no ‘free’ votes in Parliament; every vote is a confidence vote according to the bully Harper. Imagine what a Conservative majority would do to this country!

It’s all pretty grim, but that is why Canadian must know: our country as we’ve known it, tolerant, democratic, safe and relatively free, is at great risk of being lost.

So what can you do?

Silence and inertia is not options! Get off your ass and assert yourself as a citizen!

Join a political party and go to their meetings. Get involved in the candidate nomination process. Give donations of money to the few good MP’s out there and any new candidates with promise. Make an appointment for 10 minutes to speak with your MP on the weekend when they are at their constituency office. Tell them what you think and why and watch how they vote in Ottawa.
Most potheads don’t vote, but our enemies and adversaries do. Huge mistake for us! Look what inaction has done for us – big trouble ahead.

Hold a sign in front of your MP’s constituency office. If they continue their evil ways, even four hours of demonstrating one day a week with a good effective sign could lose that MP hundreds of votes come Election Day.

Give money to Jodie Emery’s Green Party candidacy in the upcoming federal election. Jodie’s campaign is all about bashing the Conservative Party record.

Inaction on your part is to invite worsening persecution of our culture.

Consider what I have given you to work with – the facts of Harper’s terrifying record and his apocalyptic agenda for our way of life in Canada – and go out and make a difference.

I did this from an 8′ X 10′ jail cell, every word of it. Imagine what you can do out there.

You are not yet in a jail cell, but you might well be if you don’t act now.

Marc is a marijuana activist who was imprisoned in North Fraser Pretrial Centre in Port Coquitlam, BC awaiting extradition to the United States for selling marijuana seeds and using the profits to fund pot activist groups. On November 18, Marc was temporarily released on bail while he waits for the Justice Minister to sign his extradition papers. This essay was recorded as a podcast before his release. Listen to the Podcast here.

Click here for more Episodes of Marc Emery’s Prison Potcast.

Subscribe on iTunes

Click here to read more about Marc Emery.



  1. Anonymous on


  2. Anonymous on

    What a joke Canadian politics is. They’re still using a system designed in what I consider ancient times. Now we’re in the bizarre situation where everyone can see that the system is neither a fair nor productive one but there’s nothing we can do about it. The system was designed to make sure that Canada will forever be firmly under the control of a few lawyers and economists, people whose only concern is money.

    How can a major western nation like Canada still have the gall to have an entirely appointed senate? Kind of an important job to give to anybody the Prime Minister happens to like. And how can the PM be able to appoint Supreme Court judges and just about every other public service position you can think of? Who would be stupid enough to give one guy that much power, especially when the PM isn’t even elected by the public? The citizens of Canada really got suckered. Now we’re doomed to live in a shit country for eternity, where one wingnut who thinks the universe is only 6000 years old is given absolute power to do whatever the hell he wants. How long before he brings back mandatory prayers in schools? Canada is at the mercy of a madman. “God is great, God is good, let us thank him for our food, amen”. Man that was irritating. I just wanna drink my Beep, you bastards.

  3. Anonymous on

    oh god I fucking know, thank MARC for this podcast. And perhaps also thank god for Marc. I didn’t know that stuff until I heard him dictate the essay from prison… that was a long night. Could not have thought harder about this shit….

    they taught me in seventh grade that we borrowed the structure of our democracy from the Iroquois nation. What a load of fucking horse shit. Our teachers were the stupidest fucking people on the planet, my own mother said that about the lady who taught that very class. And class is something my mother has, but it had to be said… we’re taught by fucking idiots. So anyone who is a fucking idiot is never truly afforded an opportunity to change. We really can do so much better.

  4. Montreal resident on

    Marc, I congratulate you for writing such a high caliber, well researched article. I will be forwarding it to, if you don’t mind. This is so refreshing in comparison to the non-stop stream of garbage being emitted by the CanWest corporate news monopoly, which is essentially the propaganda arm of the government and the ruling class corporate interests.

  5. Anonymous on

    Doesn’t anybody think the following scenario is just a tad dangerous to the country and open to rampant corruption?

    “3. Prime Minister

    The Prime Minister is chosen by the Governor General, but the choice of the Governor General is usually determined by the results of the elections. After an election the leader of the political party which holds at least a plurality and normally a majority of seats in the House of Commons must be called upon to become the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister sits in the House of Commons with the other elected Members of Parliament. He or she represents the people from his or her constituency.

    The Prime Minister is the head of government. The powers of the Prime Minister are not clearly defined in the Constitution. Nevertheless, he or she has broad powers at his or her disposal. He or she is the leader of the party which, normally, has the majority of the seats in the House of Commons and thereby which controls the House. The Prime Minister appoints his or her ministers and their tenure as well as their portfolios depend almost solely on him or her. The Prime Minister also makes a wide range of appointments – senators, judges, ambassadors and many other senior bureaucrats. He or she controls the organization of government. Moreover, by advising the Governor General to dissolve Parliament, he or she decides when the elections are held. Finally, the Prime Minister is responsible for representing Canada in international affairs.”

  6. Anonymous on

    Also this quote is interesting;

    “the government is responsible to the House of Commons. It must have the confidence of the House of Commons and if it loses it, the government must resign.”

    How does that tit Harper and his puppet government still have the confidence of the House of Commons? That should have went out the door the day he came up with the mandatory jail sentences bill, designed to send Canada back to the dark ages like the US. What, the country doesn’t have enough debt now, we need to add a bunch more to keep small time weed growers off the streets to ensure less competition for the Vietnamese gangs? The House of Commons should take a good close look at Harper’s pussy face and then ask themselves how confident they are that he is capable of managing a whole friggin country? He looks like a damn Mormon. I’m expecting him to stand on a street corner and hand out bibles and second now. Ask him how old the earth is and if he says something other than 4.5 billion years you know he’s a loon and has to be ejected from the House as an imbecile.

  7. Anonymous on

    Harper knows very well that an appointed senate is wrong. His own previous parties railed against it. Now not only does he like everything about the appointed senate but he used it in exactly the way his previous parties were afraid of, stacked it in his own party’s favor. Very clear case of a two faced self serving evil politician. Congratulations, Harper, you have become the very thing you previously sought to prevent, an out of control wacko given way too much authority by that dumb bitch the Queen.

  8. Libertarian on

    Well my dear friends,
    why do we still fuzz around with the symptoms of our sickness rather then address what is making us ill.
    See, to expend governments and its powers you need a source of founding to pay for all the expenses that come along – you either tax the hell out of the people or you need someone that promises to provide you [Gov] with endless credit. This “endless” credit comes from central banks – they get the power of a nations currency and as trade they provide obedient “Governments”. The credit they provide is bought with inflation of the value of the nations currency, the interest for the credit are paid off with our taxes. Without such a central bank no nation’s Government could afford to start prohibitions and imprison 1/100 of it total population nor commit aggressive acts of war, afford a standing army, spin the nightmare of socialism/fascism/totalitarianism.

    We will continue to witness such developments as long as we don’t destroy the central banks of our nations, making sure that our currencies aren’t seen as “elastic” commodities that you can inflate at will and that our Representatives can’t “buy” our votes with pork that either we have paid already for or our children will have to pay for.

    People as Harper, Obama, Bush, Hitler, Stalin, Mao – you name em – that promise us heaven on earth if we just follow them blindly won’t die out as long as we don’t cut their founding.

    A happy Christmas to everyone

  9. Anonymous on

    No Olympics on Stolen Land: Get Your Torch Off Our Land

    Press Release
    Photo: Kalle Anka

    Anti-Olympic Protesters bring their message of resistance across Canada; Olympic Torch shamed

    Monday, December 21 2009, Vancouver Unceded Coast Salish Territories- Protesters are bringing their anti-Olympic message with chants of “No Olympics on Stolen Native Land”, “Get your torch off our land, we don’t want your Olympic scam” and “2010 Homes not 2010 Games” across Canada. In many instances, activists have successfully disrupted the Torch Relay, forcing delays and route cancellations, with at least four arrests associated with anti-Torch related actions.
    Today, Six Nations community members have declared that the Olympic Torch will not pass through their territory. A Declaration by the Onkwehonwe (people) of the Grand River Territory states “This land is not conquered. We are not Canadian… We hereby affirm our peaceful opposition to the entry and progression of the 2010 Olympic torch into and through our territory.”
    In the coming weeks, dissenters are also expected to converge in Kitchener, Calgary, Edmonton, Stratford, and Guelph.
    In Toronto over 250 people took to the streets on December 17, blocking major intersections and forcing the cancellation of the Torch in parts of downtown Toronto. A banner dropped directly across the stage read “Gego Olympics Da-Te-Snoon Nishnaabe-Giing Ga-Gmooding” (“No Olympics on Stolen Native Land” in Anishinaabemowin). (Visit; or email [email protected])
    At least four communities in the province of Quebec have opposed the Torch Relay: Sept-Iles, Montreal, Kanahwake First Nations, and Quebec City. In Montreal, over 200 people converged and delayed the relay as well as the main ceremonies and concert. (Visit:; On October 30, over 400 people gathered to oppose the Torch Relay launch in Victoria. An Anti-Olympics Festival and Zombie March succeeded in disrupting the relay. Security personnel were forced to extinguish the torch, load it in a van, and reroute it.
    Actions have also occurred in cities as diverse as Comox Valley, Kingston, Halifax, Ottawa, and St. John’s. With the number of protesters equaling or exceeding spectators, dissatisfaction to the 2010 Winter Olympics is growing across Canada. According to a November 2009 Angus-Reid poll, over 30% of B.C. residents feel the Olympics will have a negative impact and almost 40% of residents support protesters.
    Protesters note that the Olympics are not simply about the athletes; rather the corporate Games are leaving a legacy of displacement, militarization, and repression. Public funds invested by all levels of government are nearing $7 billion. According to the Olympic Resistance Network, “While Olympic corporate sponsors are getting bailed out, Indigenous lands are being stolen, people are becoming homeless, thousands are losing their jobs and access to public services, the environment is being destroyed, and civil liberties are being eroded with almost a billion dollars sunk into surveillance. The negative Olympic legacy is turning into an anti-Olympic legacy of resistance across the country.”
    Social justice activists also believe that the Olympic Torch is a $25 million propaganda tool for corporate sponsors who have some of the worst social and environmental practices. The Royal Bank of Canada has been under fire for its financing of the environmentally devastating Alberta Tar Sands, while Coca Cola has been responsible for massive depletion of groundwater and toxic waste pollution in India.
    Posted by [email protected] at 8:20 AM 0 comments Links to this post

  10. Anonymous on

    This is a very interesting read so far, I’m about halfway, (Can’t finish now have to help cook Christmas dinner). But unless I’m blind, there’s no sources to this. Where is all this information coming from? I agree with most of what I’ve read so far, but until I see a list of references how can I or anyone accurately judge the quality of this?

  11. Anonymous on

    Somebody should write a fictional book about how an evil person could wreak havoc by becoming the leader of a Canadian political party and then waiting for that party to win a national election. He then has absolute power and promptly has most of the senate killed in, a mysterious multiple bus accident on the way to the first annual senate picnic, and replaces them with his trusted henchmen. He then makes Petey and Pauly Supreme Court judges fills the rest of the appointed positions with loyal party family members. He then establishes a fund for advertising the promotion of national unity and siphons off billions into the Caymans. Later he declares war on the Azores to test out some new missiles and the Azores get lucky and destroy Canada with some nukes they bought from Russia. See how dangerous the Canadian political structure is? It led to the country’s utter destruction. All because Harper didn’t change it when he had the chance. You bastard, Harper.

  12. Anonymous on

    I love Canada, grew up in Syracuse. People of Canada wake the hell up or you will be in the same mess we just got out of, and will have to live with the mistakes for years caused by simple minded conservatives. The Right Wing movement should be buried with other relics of times past. I beg Canada to remain as free as possible and to refrain from becoming homogenized and ruled by the ones that pose as sheep but are wolves underneath. Believe it or not in this period of time in the world, it is Canada NOT America that represents better the freedoms we all over the world wish to enjoy. Fight for your rights do not become complacent like we did here in America and let it almost slide away.

  13. joe on

    I have always taken it as libertarians pot smokers like us are detested by the left and the right. To me it is proof that we libertarians are in our god given right as a human being to smoke pot. What we ingest into our own body is our choice. Because the left and the right who have power are authoritarian who wish to use the force of government to make society in their own images and to compel others to live in their approve way of life. We know that they truly hate us for the choices that we make by ingesting a plant that is a protein when eaten also is a medicine. They hate us so much They will even put us in jail break up family`s all in the name of law. And when the Supreme Court refuses to protect us from the left and the rights religious belief and laws that prove that when Governments appoint a judge that has their same views and beliefs is not a free Country but a dictator ship country just like Canada and the USA. And to say that Canadian soldiers are dying for freedom is an insult to all the solders and a disgrace to their families. The left and the right differences can never be overcome as long as they remain in power. The one thing that will open up people eyes will be a ballooning deficit in which the majority of tax payer will have to pick up the $$$ tab for their way of life because dictatorship will come at a cost. Because a Country cannot be free when ruled by religion dictatorship and under what religion are we being force to follow.

  14. mARK sMITH on

    the “only man” that can “save” this country is in a US PRISON!!!! go figure…

  15. mARK sMITH on


  16. T.O.Double.D on

    Grab a gun, its time. A revolution in this country need to happen. We the people need to take back our country. The people should not fear there goverment, the goverment should fear its people. Our hands are so tied, on every issue, that its starting to cut off the circulation. We can debate or bitch all we want, but does it ever change? No. Its time Canada! We have tried civilized debate and protest. Has it worked? No. Lets take it back! Sidition? No. The reality is that If we do not act, Canada is going to be America jr. There will be blood shed. Yes and it will be violent. There is no other way! The time to act is now.
    We must take it back!

  17. Anonymous on

    have you just one be there?
    You don’t think so you fucking “Canadian, ho and a speck French, ai from quebeeeeec” so gay
    if you attack Portugal, we would attack you and fuck us ass up a destroy approx. 1\4 of gay in earth, the res are French

    But the war would stop because the azoreans have broth the best weed made there, one of the 3 best places to cultivate – jack herer sayed

    bonjur ou wtf so speech

  18. John Loughlin on

    Hi Mark,

    Are you from Scarborough, Ontario?