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Thursday, November 12, 2009

Seeds of Liberty: The Marc Emery Story (Michael Wagner)

On November 8, 2009, I announced that the Western Standard has commissioned two writers to co-author a full-length book on the life and work of Canadian publisher and libertarian activist Marc Emery.

Western Standard readers will know that Emery, #3 on the Western Standard’s Liberty 100 list of Canadians who have made contributions to either economic or personal liberty, is currently being held in a B.C. prison awaiting extradition to a U.S. prison on charges related to selling marijuana seeds. (You can learn more about his case here.)

In my post on November 8th, I shared with readers the outline for the book, which has been completed in draft form.

Today, I would like to share the name of one of the co-authors of the book: Dr. Michael Wagner.

Michael Wagner is the author of Standing on Guard for Thee: The Past, Present and Future of Canada’s Christian Right and Alberta: Separatism Then and Now. He has a PhD in Political Science from the University of Alberta and lives in Edmonton with his wife and nine children.

Wagner is not a libertarian, but took the #75 spot on the Liberty 100 for his research in the area of private education and homeschooling in Alberta, and for his defence of religious freedom in Standing on Guard for Thee.

Wagner has been a Western Standard newsmaker. You can read about him here, here, here and here.

Since Wagner is not a libertarian, it begs the question: Why would he be chosen to co-author the Marc Emery story?

There are several good reasons for this:

1. Wagner is an excellent researcher and a clear and effective writer, something he has demonstrated with both his published books.

2. He was able to tackle the Marc Emery story objectively and impartially, without the passion that might have distracted another author from the story.

3.  Wagner is a social conservative who is respectful of, and familiar with, libertarian ideas – ideas that continue to motivate Marc Emery’s political activism and business interests – and is interested in the “interface between conservative and libertarian ideas,” as he puts it in his preface to the book.

Wagner has done an excellent job documenting the complete Marc Emery story, but the libertarian tone and sympathetic treatment of Emery in the book is largely the responsibility of his co-author, whose name will be released shortly.

Below is Wagner’s preface to the book, but please keep in mind that book has yet to go through the copy editing stage:

This isn't the kind of book I would have decided to write on my own initiative. That credit must go to Matthew Johnston. He asked me to write this because he wanted to keep Marc Emery's situation before the public in the hope that Emery could avoid extradition or at least be returned to Canada sooner than otherwise.

Before working on this book I had never spent any time looking at the marijuana decriminalization issue. It's still not an issue at the top of my priorities. But I am interested in the interface between conservative and libertarian ideas, and this seemed like one of the venues where those two perspectives would clash.

I am a conservative rather than a libertarian, yet I have a lot of respect for libertarianism and many of its adherents. In most cases the libertarian position on particular issues is strong intellectually, so they are worth considering.

The fact that I co-wrote this book should not be taken as an endorsement of the use of marijuana or an endorsement of the marijuana-legalization movement. Personally, I still think that marijuana is harmful and shouldn't be used, although I don't oppose the use of marijuana as a medical treatment. Physicians should probably be able to prescribe marijuana as a treatment if they honestly believe it will help.

The argumentation for decriminalizing marijuana is generally strong. But I haven't had time to consider the overall debate in its entirety, so I don't know enough to conscientiously endorse this position. Nevertheless, the tone of the book probably comes across as pro-decriminalization, and that's okay considering the topic and theme.

Also, I like the police. I think they do a good job for the most part and I don't like the constant criticism they receive in the media and from marijuana activists. They have tough work to do and they risk their lives every day. From my perspective, writing this book is not meant to be a slam against the police.

This book was written in a very short period of time. It was felt that the imminent extradition of Marc Emery created an urgent situation requiring something to inform the public of the broader issues surrounding his case. Hopefully this book will fulfill that purpose.

Michael Wagner
Edmonton, Alberta
October, 2009

As I noted in my last post, I invite Western Standard readers to submit any thoughts they have on the Marc Emery story before the final draft is completed, including suggestions on how the market the completed manuscript. Thanks to everyone who has emailed me with suggestions so far. To everyone else, please send your comments to [email protected] and indicate whether or not you would like to be acknowledged in the book for your contribution.

Posted by Matthew Johnston

You can get to know Dr. Michael Wagner better, and support the Western Standard, by purchasing his most recent book.

Posted by westernstandard on November 12, 2009 in Marc Emery | Permalink


Who picked this person to write an important book like this anyway.
Posted by: Lightning Rod of Controversy | 2009-11-12 11:17:41 PM

This isn't the kind of book I would have decided to write on my own initiative. That credit must go to Matthew Johnston. He asked me to write this because he wanted.......
Michael Wagner Edmonton, Alberta October, 2009

You obviously never read the whole post or you're completely stupid. Which one is it?

Posted by: The Stig | 2009-11-13 7:05:40 AM

"Also, I like the police. I think they do a good job for the most part and I don't like the constant criticism they receive in the media and from marijuana activists." -Michael Wagner

It is true that they take a lot of heat.
My father's best friend is RCMP. He is one of the greatest people I've ever met in my life. My best friend is the son of my father's best friend. We were born within a couple of months of eachother, and like brothers, we were best buddies before we could even speak. It may be for this reason that I am less inclined than some to blame the police for everything. On the other side of the coin, I have lost two family members, largely as a result of inaction of the RCMP when their action was legally required. I don't blame the individuals, I blame the policies that were involved.
When good people become police officers, they are good police officers. However, not all of the people who pass the tests are "great people".

I think respect should be earned, not granted. If the police treat me with respect, I will gladly return it. Given their role as enforcers, they are in a position of authority over citizens, much like parents have authority over children. Anybody can become a parent just as anybody can earn a badge (assuming they meet the physical requirements). I do not believe that positions of authority dictate that the holder of that position be respected. If anything, a position of authority should dictate a higher level of respect be shown by the position holder, just as parents should set a positive example for their children. People in authority positions make mistakes just as frequently as people who are not in authority.

Being pulled over for a speeding ticket, and having an irate officer yell into my window while talking down to me and issuing a fine regardless of what circumstances may have prompted me to speed is not a display of respect. It is for this reason that reasonable people become less respectful of police. Yes, they are doing their job, and yes I shouldn't have been speeding, but I am not a child, and a badge doesn't give you the right to be an asshole.

Posted by: EndtheFed | 2009-11-13 9:11:37 AM

Oh, goody. Another thread on the heroic struggle of Marc Emery.

Keep repeating until those who stand in the way are worn down, then claim victory.


Posted by: set you free | 2009-11-13 1:31:13 PM

Just referring to the ‘wear you down and claim victory tactic."

You sound offended.

I'm sure mommy can make it all better.

Posted by: set you free | 2009-11-13 2:02:55 PM


"Just referring to the ‘wear you down and claim victory tactic."

That sounds more like one of your conservative pals than anything else.

It's obvious that the editors and writers at the WS think this is an important issue. Your accusation is illogical. Where do you see anyone "claiming victory"? Do you regularly go on conservative websites and accuse them of trying to "wear you down" on issues they find important? Or is it simply that you don't like seeing numerous posts which take positions you disagree with? If so, I suggest you get used to it or visit other sites ...

Posted by: Charles | 2009-11-13 2:18:34 PM

This used to be a good site with plenty of intelligent discourse.

Its recent obsession with lionizing Emery as some sort of freedom fighter has greatly damaged its credibility.

Posted by: set you free | 2009-11-13 2:26:31 PM

Charles said:
"That sounds more like one of your conservative pals than anything else."

Haha true.
I second that.

Posted by: EndtheFed | 2009-11-13 2:58:50 PM

SYF, these guys have a good point; seems like your just looking to pick a fight.

Posted by: EndtheFed | 2009-11-13 3:00:55 PM

OK, if you believe Marc Emery's struggle against oppression represents a prevailing viewpoint, then it truly is a Western Standard.

Otherwise, it's a hijacking of a once-proud brand.

Posted by: set you free | 2009-11-13 3:01:16 PM

SYF said:
"Otherwise, it's a hijacking of a once-proud brand."

I don't get it. Would you care to clarify?

Posted by: EndtheFed | 2009-11-13 3:07:42 PM

Set you free?? Don't you mean Lock you up? F$#king idiot.

Posted by: Steve Bottrell | 2009-11-13 3:18:00 PM


You need to chill. Light up a reefer, would ya?

Posted by: set you free | 2009-11-13 3:20:28 PM

syf said:
"You need to chill. Light up a reefer, would ya?"

Light up a radical reefer dude, gnaaarly man.

What is this the 60s?

Posted by: EndtheFed | 2009-11-13 3:41:31 PM

set you free "Its recent obsession with lionizing Emery as some sort of freedom fighter has greatly damaged its credibility."

If you don't like it, don't read it

Posted by: Doug Gilchrist | 2009-11-13 3:53:27 PM

If I don't read it, how would I know if I didn't like it?

Posted by: set you free | 2009-11-13 5:52:16 PM

"This used to be a good site with plenty of intelligent discourse."

...right after you left.

Posted by: Marc | 2009-11-14 12:19:44 AM

@set you free:

It is precisely because Emery is NOT an easy champion of liberty to defend against the biases of the conservative establishment and much of the public at large, that his cause is legit.

Credibility is earned, and I believe the WS has done some heavy lifting toward that end.

If every new fight for liberty was passed up for fear of burning off credibility capital, we'd have no freedom at all.

Posted by: JC | 2009-11-14 1:17:50 AM

Prince changed his name to "The Artist Formerly Known As Prince". His music didn't change at all.

So it is with a couple of folks on the Western Standard blog. See a doctor guys. There's medicine for that.

Posted by: Paul McKeever | 2009-11-14 6:44:52 AM

Marc is a champion for personal liberty.

Conservative policies of imposing morality laws are oppressive and inconsistent with liberty and small government. They also breed disrespect for government, police and justice.

Mind your own business and have another drink, hypocrites.

Posted by: Denis P | 2009-11-14 9:29:43 AM


Yeah, that's it.

People who study such things made plans to oppress you before you were even born. Not research scientists, mind you, but conservatives.

They did this so once you discovered you were a loser, you would have somebody to blame.

Posted by: set you free | 2009-11-14 3:43:02 PM

Posted by: Marc | 2009-11-14 12:19:44 AM

Hey, mon ami.

Why is it your fellow Quebeckers have turned their backs on the Bloc?

Doesn't it bug you that they love Canada more than you hate everybody outside your tribe?

Posted by: set you free | 2009-11-14 3:50:19 PM

"Doesn't it bug you that they love Canada more than you hate everybody outside your tribe?"

CPC voters doesn't like Canada.
Doesn't like Freedom.
...and take pride in being a minority government for such a long period.

Posted by: Marc | 2009-11-14 9:02:41 PM


Dey gets more o da votes den the Bloc eds, eh? Even in Quebec.

Your time has passed, dinosaur.

Posted by: set you free | 2009-11-14 9:51:15 PM

Seriously, why this obesession with a law-breaking socialist?

Why don't we fight for true personal liberty, instead of defening someone who tries to convert people into docile pigs?

"Farmers feed marijuana to the pigs to keep them docile, hungry and fat."

Think about it.

Posted by: Johan i Kanada | 2009-11-15 8:38:47 AM

Well, LROC, check reality (e.g. in Bhutan) and then comment.

Posted by: Johan i Kanada | 2009-11-15 7:50:50 PM

" libertarian activist Marc Emery."

Emery is a socialist activist who brags that he has signed up "thousands" of NDP members. He is not a libertarian activist, but rather a man who supports a party that wants to massively infringe on peoples' liberty.

You can only call black white for so long, Matthew and Co., before you look really, really silly.

Posted by: Self Determination For All | 2009-11-19 10:00:24 AM

The NDP have a lot more to offer libertarians than the authoritarian fascist Conservatives and their paternalistic leader herr Harper. The NDP have opposed ALL recent Conservative attempts to trample individual liberties.

Posted by: DrGreenthumb | 2009-11-20 3:14:48 PM

The NDP are run by MI6 using their feeder groups like the I.S. Coffee anyone?

Posted by: Rudeboy | 2009-12-22 1:13:06 AM

That sweet smell in the air during next month's Olympic Games might be the smell of success. Then again, it could just be the pot.

Both police and marijuana advocates say Vancouver's relaxed attitude towards the drug won't change during the 2010 Games.

"Our officers show an exceptional amount of discretion with respect to people smoking marijuana and that will continue," said Const. Lindsey Houghton, a spokesperson for the Vancouver Police Department.

More deck chairs Zeb?

Shut your fascist pie hole.

Posted by: Andrew Stevens | 2010-01-26 9:23:53 PM

So nothing changes. What. A. Shock. I guess my hopes that they would publicly execute druggies in the city center without trial during the Olympics have been dashed forever. Oh woe is me.

One person who won't be going to the Olympics is Emery. He'll be in jail.

Posted by: Zebulon Pike | 2010-01-26 9:44:51 PM

I agree Andrew

Zeb is proof that you can think you know everything about everything and still not have a clue about what is going on.

Take a puff and get the fuk over yourself Zeb.
you will quickly realize what all the fuss is about... nothing.

Someday when the terrorists finally succeed at blowing up the data centers and the plastic in your wallet no longer works you will sit and wonder why you spent so much time worrying about Bob the postman smoking a king dong joint on saturday night.


Posted by: Bill Harris | 2010-01-26 10:35:37 PM

Angry, petty, control freak wipeheads...
chiming in on a long closed thread..
so add time distortion to the thc poisoning symptom list

Behold.. the wipeheads' sole solution to every problem, amply demonstrated is to get stoned and induce the same drugged indifference unto others..
...............just like alcoholics

And pot is held up and apologized for as
" just slightly less harmful than alcohol ? "

.......BIG DEAL.........

Al Capone was a black market bootlegger who made his fortune enabling libertine public access to alcohol-- voila Marc Emery, doing exactly the same thing with marijuana..


we look forward to the release of this new book- will it be shelved as fiction or fantasy?

Posted by: 419 | 2010-01-27 6:16:25 AM

Dear 419: it is just wrong to compare Emery to Al Capone. The former is a small town hood who deluded himself into thinking he was doing a public service. He interpreted the permissive political environment around him as tolerance and acceptance of his drug cult. Unlike Capone, Emery never had to resort to bribery, violence or other coercive means in order to operate. Capone's operation was so big, strong and ruthless that he could operate in spite of the law. Why Emery went beyond this to sell seeds over the border is a mystery because he had it rather good where he was. Sucks to be him in jail. And remember: Capone went down too.

If doing drugs would turn me into one of you people, I disrespectfully and contemptuously decline. It's much more fulfilling to beat you people because of your passive, inert ways. It's like using a punching bag - always come back for more.

Posted by: Zebulon Pike | 2010-01-27 6:30:15 AM

well brother Zebulon, I sort of over reached my comparatives as you pointed out, but it served my point to do so. I agree that Mr Capone was a big time criminal with admirable leadership skills and Emery is a lesser dope fiend going down for selling " Overgrow the Government" ammunition, in the form of viable seeds across International borders

A comparison between gangster Capone and gangster Emery that cannot be argued away is that they both ended up with venereal disease.. Unfortunate, painful but none the less true This forthcoming project , the mark Emery colouring book should be pretty funny-they would never want to tell half the truth about him as it would make their sociopath wipehead hero come off as the fast talking, greedy little scammer he actually is.

Not to worry-
hes marching south any day now
to become a jailhouse legend

Posted by: 419 | 2010-01-27 7:09:47 AM

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