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Thursday, September 18, 2008

Some tough questions for Jack Layton on the Dana Larsen resignation

NDP leader Jack Layton was a guest on Pot-TV, so why is he now acting surprised about candidate Dana Larsen’s anti-drug war advocacy and commentaries on that same station?

Western Standard editor, Peter Jaworski, wrote that “The NDP...is insisting that Larsen's marijuana-related activities played no role whatsoever [in his resignation as the NDP candidate for West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky Country], but that his involvement with coca seeds was the real concern.”

But Larsen was open about his involvement with “rare and medicinal plant species” on his website and in the many messages that came through his partisan advocacy organization eNDProhibition. It might be possible that, despite being a guest on the station, Layton is unfamiliar with Pot-TV, but I doubt he is unfamiliar with Larsen's work with eNDProhition, which has been active at every provincial and federal party convention since its founding.

Furthermore, marijuana-related activities may, in fact, have played a role in Larsen's resignation. In an email from Larsen on July 24, 2008, he wrote “Right now I am getting a little heat from the local NDP over my plan to open a medical cannabis dispensary while I am also currently the federal NDP candidate in my riding.” Why would he be “getting a little heat” for a medical cannabis dispensary from a party that is supposed to be committed to legal access to medical marijuana?

So here’s my take on the Larsen affair, and I haven’t yet had a chance to speak to him directly since his resignation: Layton and the NDP courted the marijuana legalization and drug reform community vote but then got cold feet when they actually showed up to the dance.

The relationship between drug reformers and the NDP was tested in 2004, after Layton refused to condemn a judge's ruling that sentenced Marc Emery to 92 days in jail for sharing a joint (that's a marijuana cigarette). Since then, the relationship has always been dysfunctional as culturally conservative trade union members don't get along well with the hippies and civil libertarians in the party. Yesterday the separation was made official with Larsen's resignation.

Left-of-centre opponents of the war on drugs should now probably look to the Green Party which supports marijuana legalization, not just decriminalization, which was the NDP policy. If you are a culturally conservative critic of drug prohibition, if you believe in both economic and personal freedom, you should vote for the Libertarian Party.

As for Larsen, he is one of Canada’s most articulate and effective opponents of the socialist war on drugs. I look forward to following his next move and the rest of his career as an activist.

When they forced Larsen out of their party, NDPers lost their best asset, which I regard as the silver lining in this sad story of cowardice and betrayal. Larsen was lending his trusted relationship with freedom-minded marijuana law reformers to a party that has shown nothing but hostility to the freedom movement. Larsen should find a political home elsewhere.

“The war on drugs is a failure because it is a socialist enterprise.” -- Nobel Laureate Milton Friedman

Posted by Matthew Johnston

Posted by westernstandard on September 18, 2008 in Current Affairs | Permalink


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