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Sad responses to a tragedy

By G.D. Maxwell I’m at a loss. Confused, saddened, outraged, impotent, and thoroughly, utterly pissed off. The parade’s movin’ at warp speed and I just don’t know which bandwagon to jump onto.

By G.D. Maxwell

I’m at a loss. Confused, saddened, outraged, impotent, and thoroughly, utterly pissed off. The parade’s movin’ at warp speed and I just don’t know which bandwagon to jump onto.

In a country where so few violent murders are committed each year we couldn’t produce even a single deck of Scumbag Murderers playing cards, four Mounties are gunned down in a single incident by a lone town bully from Deliverance, Alberta.

In a country where the only thing more maddening, time-consuming and bureaucratically drawn-out than getting a permit to buy a hunting rifle is waiting in line for an MRI, a nutbar with a long history of arrests, threatening behaviour, and weapons violations has an arsenal on his farm in Deliverance because the police, criminal justice system and his don’t-touch-our-guns neighbours just can’t figure out a way to deal with him, despite the federal government having burned through a billion tax dollars to institute a scandalously ineffective gun registry.

In a country that prides itself on Good Government, two generations of political leaders – those firmly and deeply ensconced in the trough and those whose greatest dream is to join them – mindlessly and opportunistically cry out for longer, tougher penalties for grow ops because the lone town bully from Deliverance was found to be growing 20 pot plants. Why no plaintive wail for longer, tougher jail sentences for people who default on their truck payments?

And in a country whose national police force enjoys a long, glorious history of always getting their man, it’s beginning to seem more and more like what started as backup to a civil seizure against a known, dangerous, town bully and certifiable head case was being choreographed by Mack Sennett instead of Sgt. Preston.

So many bandwagons; so little time.

I am saddened beyond my feeble ability to describe sadness at the deaths of Constables Tony Gordon, Brock Myrol, Peter Schiemann and Leo Johnston. If ever it can be said four RCMP constables, good and true, died for nothing, they did. I honour their memory. But no spin, no politically correct words of comfort, no lies or cover-up will change the fact their deaths were both needless and purposeless. Whatever comfort can be taken from the inevitable lessons the force and the country can learn from their deaths will be the only value received for their four young lives. It’s a pity.

I’m saddened by the knee-jerk, opportunistic way spokesmen for the RCMP initially chose to describe this horrible event as the result of busting a marijuana grow op. I’m even more saddened the national press swallowed this whopper hook, line and sinker and took more than 48 hours to begin reporting the facts about what really happened in Deliverance last Thursday.

And I’m saddened by police and politicians who ruthlessly and mindlessly exploit this fabrication to pound away at their enduring myths that the very real social problems wrought by their miserably failed war on drugs cry out for tougher penalties, more prison time, mandatory sentences and, duh, harsher policing.

When will we grow up? When will we start acting like rational, thinking, evolving adults?

When faced with an intractable problem, most rational, thinking people take a close look at the genesis of the problem, the methods previously used to solve it, the culture grown up around it and the lessons learned from failed, past attempts to solve it. Most rational, thinking people do not then decide the best way of solving the problem is to mindlessly just continue pursuing the failed remedies of the past.

So why is it the best and brightest, the leaders of our country, the people we’ve entrusted to envision a better Canada, look at the problem of illegal drug use and decide the best way to deal with it is trotting out the same, miserably failed strategies that have been failing for the past seven decades?

Wake up people! The war on drugs is over – drugs won!

Four young, stalwart policemen weren’t killed in Alberta by a druggie, dealer and cultivator. They were killed by an antisocial, paranoid, loser, a petty thief and violent paedophile who doesn’t even seem to have used drugs.

So why is Anne McLellan, Public Safety Harpy and blindly loyal mouthpiece for whomever occupies the Prime Minister’s chair at the moment, warning – WARNING! – judges to take marijuana laws seriously and telling them they’ll be held to account if jail terms aren’t imposed on people running grow ops. Whatever happened to the presumption of an independent judiciary, an integral element in the system of checks and balances so necessary to make democratic governments remain democratic?

Annie wants stiffer penalties, more jail time, dark holes of confinement built. So does Tony Cannavino, prez of the Canadian Professional Police Association. Tony says, and I’m not making this up, "We need (mandatory) minimum sentencing. That would have a deterrent effect."

Wake up Tony! Take a look south of the border. Notice the deterrent effect jail time has? Hell, the only effect it has is making prison construction a boom industry and prison guarding the biggest new job creator going.

How many "studies" do we need before we finally believe the data that says, and has said since social scientists began studying the problem, prison has no deterrent effect whatsoever? How long do we keep following the same failed strategy?

The Liberals want to decriminalize simple possession of small amounts of pot. But within the very same bill, they want to increase penalties for cultivation. Yes, these are the same Einsteins who decided to allow medicinal use of marijuana provided the approved sick got their pot from government sources… then couldn’t figure out how to grow the stuff.

Hell, they might as well rename that bill the Grow-Op Operators Guaranteed Retirement Law. By decriminalizing possession and cracking down harder on cultivation, all they’ve accomplished is ensuring organized crime will continue to find the profits from growing pot so attractive they’ll never give the business up. Remember prohibition?

And don’t look to the future for hope. The Young Liberals, at the party’s convention last weekend, adopted motions to legalize prostitution and pot. But passed a motion to toughen penalties for growing pot. We have seen the future and it is just as dumb as the past.

In the ultimate irony, it was Conservative MP Bradley Trost who pointed out to the Libs that decriminalizing possession and cracking down on cultivation is only going to make profits higher and risks more worth the running. A Conservative!

So in 2005 this is the state of affairs. The long ignored Senate report calling for the legalization of pot is long forgotten. We’re going to decriminalize possession, further daemonize cultivation, ensure organized crime stays in cultivation and reaps windfall profits, ignore the tax revenue we might tap by legalizing what amounts to a $7 billion a year industry in B.C. alone, spend bazillions trying to police the impossible, up the odds of increasingly violent clashes between real growers and cops, keep our heads buried in the sand, hope for a miracle, re-elect gormless politicians with no brains, no balls and no vision and put off the inevitable for a few more generations.

Where’s my lighter?