Crime stance brings benefit to criminals

The government can fill the countryside with bigger and better prisons, while the criminals only get richer

As the Conservative government uses its majority powers to effectively silence debate on the Safe Streets and Communities Act, the growing call for measures that would actually make our streets safer continues to fall on deaf ears in Ottawa.

Last week, five Vancouver mayors past and present joined the chorus — one that includes police chiefs, economists and politicians of all political stripes — to overturn Canada’s marijuana prohibition.

“Marijuana prohibition is — without question — a failed policy. It is creating violent, gang-related crime in our communities and fear among our citizens, and adding financial costs for all levels of government at a time when we can least afford them,” stated a letter from former Vancouver mayors Larry Campbell, Michael Harcourt, Sam Sullivan and Phillip Owen. Current Mayor Gregor Robinson has since added his voice to the cause.

And the cause is nothing new. Back in 1991, Nobel Prize-winning conservative economist Milton Friedman noted: “If you look at the drug war from a purely economic point of view, the role of the government is to protect the drug cartel.”

Canada’s drug kingpins are no doubt relieved that Prime Minister Stephen Harper is in no hurry to end that protection. He was quick to rule out any consideration of changing the government’s stance on marijuana — despite polling that shows the vast majority of Canadians disagree.

One need look no further than Canada’s stance on tobacco — a drug most health experts contend is far more dangerous than marijuana. Tobacco use has witnessed a sharp and steady decline over the past 50 years. And this was achieved without building one more prison to house chain-smokers, but rather through a government commitment to education and regulation.

The government can fill the countryside with bigger and better prisons, but until the Conservatives begin to focus on the problem instead of ideology, the criminals will only get richer.

— Penticton Western News