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Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Tories hide behind “national security” to deny access to information request: Marc Emery update

Canadian libertarian publisher and activist Marc Emery faces extradition to the U.S. on charges related to selling marijuana seeds. While Justice Minister Rob Nicholson could refuse the U.S. extradition request, he is expected to approve the extradition anytime after January 8th, according to Jacob Hunter, Policy Director with Beyond Prohibition Foundation.

Nicholson has ignored the pleas of Canadians to charge Emery in Canada for his so-called crime of selling marijuana seeds. This move would assert Canadian sovereignty over drug policy and likely lead to a legal outcome that would better reflect Canadian attitudes toward marijuana prohibition.

Emery is the publisher of Cannabis Culture magazine, leader of the BC Marijuana Party and owner of the now-defunct Marc Emery Seeds, an online marijuana seed retailer, the profits from which financed much of international movement to liberalize marijuana laws before his arrest.

In late 2009, Emery signed a plea deal for a 5-year sentence in the U.S. prison system.

“I was forced to take this plea deal for five years under great duress,” said Emery.

"If I went to trial in the United States, I would have received a mandatory minimum sentence of 30 years up to life. I shouldn’t be going to prison at all for selling seeds to consenting adults, but five years is preferable to a life sentence,” continued Emery.

Emery was taken into Canadian custody in September 2009 after an extradition hearing in the B.C. Supreme Court, and is currently free on bail awaiting Nicholson’s decision.

Emery’s wife, Jodie Emery, believes her husband should be dealt with in Canada and not the USA.

“Most Canadians agree that Marc should be dealt with in Canada’s justice system. He operated openly in Vancouver, B.C. for over a decade, never went to the U.S.A., and paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in income taxes,” said Jodie Emery.

“The Justice Minister has received tens of thousands of phone calls, letters, post cards and petitions asking him to refuse the extradition. There is no reason my husband should suffer for five years in a foreign prison system, especially when he operated his seed business in Canada at all times,” she continued.

Emery’s lawyer, Kirk Tousaw, made an access to information and privacy (ATIP) request for Justice Department communications related to Emery’s arrest for extradition. After long delays, approximately 60 pages of a 6,000-page document were released with everything blacked out for various “national security” reasons.

Libby Davies, Member of Parliament for Vancouver East, made an Order Paper request in parliament for similar documents, but was also refused any information.

Posted by Matthew Johnston

Posted by westernstandard on January 6, 2010 in Marc Emery | Permalink | Comments (107)

Monday, November 30, 2009

Marc Emery vs. Roman Polanski: A tale of two extraditions

Canadian libertarian publisher and activist Marc Emery faces extradition to the U.S. on charges related to selling marijuana seeds. Movie director Roman Polanski faces extradition to the U.S. on charges related to drugging and raping a 13-year-old girl. While the Canadian government refuses to protect its own peaceful, productive natural-born citizen from extradition, Polanski’s adopted country of France is fighting to keep this confessed sex offender from facing the U.S. justice system.

In a Western Standard column entitled “Marc Emery vs. Roman Polanski: A tale of two extraditions,” Peter Jaworski and Michael Wagner compare the two very different extradition cases.

...Polanski committed a heinous crime. Raping a child is clearly execrable and leaves a very identifiable victim. Selling marijuana seeds isn’t obviously a crime, and is only made to be one through legislation. Furthermore, there were no “victims” of Emery’s crime. No one claims to have been harmed by him, and no one has urged the government to punish him. Canadians, for the most part, find him interesting, admirable, and entertaining. They do not think of him as someone deserving a stint in a prison.

Polanski was actually in the U.S. when he committed his crime, whereas Emery was always in Canada. Polanski can be sent back to the place where he perpetrated his crime. Emery can’t be sent “back” to the U.S. because he wasn’t there in the first place. Polanski was a fugitive from justice, but Emery did not run away from anyone and operated his marijuana seed business openly and transparently. Emery even paid income taxes from being a "marijuana seed vendor," an occupation he volunteered on his tax forms.

Metro Vancouver reported on November 18, 2009 that Marc Emery would be paroled after he promise to surrender to U.S. custody within 72 hours after an extradition order is signed, which could happen as soon as Dec. 1. (h/t to Norm Smith)

MSNBC is reporting Monday that Polanski remains in a Swiss jail despite expectations that he would be released on bail under house arrest. It is believed that Polanski remains in jail because has not yet met his full bail payment of $4.5 million.

Continue reading "Marc Emery vs. Roman Polanski: A tale of two extraditions" here.

Posted by Matthew Johnston on November 30, 2009 in Marc Emery | Permalink | Comments (68)

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 | Comments (34)

Monday, November 09, 2009

Libby Davies restates opposition to extradition of Marc Emery

NDP MP Libby Davies has a lot to offer civil libertarians.

Western Standard blogger, free speech champion and social conservative Paul Tuns wrote disapprovingly here of Davies’ efforts to legalize prostitution, a policy that libertarians, by contrast, support. In fact, I’ve personally written in support of the legalization of prostitution here and here.

Davies is also a champion of drug policy reform. She’s a strong advocate for harm reduction and has publicly opposed the extradition of publisher and libertarian activist Marc Emery, who awaits extradition to the U.S. on charges related to selling marijuana seeds.

Davies continues to be an advocate in parliament for Emery. On October 2, 2009, in an open letter to Justice Minister Rob Nicholson, Davies wrote:

I write once again to ask that you stop the extradition of Canadian Marc Emery to the United States and allow him to serve his prison sentence in Canada.

Canadian law enforcement officials have for a decade ignored Mr. Emery’s well publicized activities. I have expressed to you on many occasions my vehement opposition to sending Mr. Emery or any Canadian to face harsh punishment in another country when we have agreed as a society that these actions are not worthy of prosecution in Canada. Yet, your government has refused to intervene on Mr. Emery’s behalf and he will now serve a five year prison term in the United States.

It is my understanding that the United States government will allow Mr. Emery to remain in Canada to serve his sentence if the Government of Canada agrees. I therefore urge you to act in best the interest of this Canadian citizen and in the interest of Canadian sovereignty and allow Mr. Emery to serve his sentence in Canada.

I look forward to hearing from you as soon as possible on this urgent matter.

While I disagree with Davies more than I agree with her, she has shown courage and intelligence on issues important to libertarians.

NDP leader Jack Layton has also expressed his opposition to the extradition of Marc Emery. You can read his comments here, courtesy of Jacob Hunter.

Posted by Matthew Johnston

Posted by westernstandard on November 9, 2009 in Marc Emery | Permalink | Comments (179)

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Seeds of Liberty: The Marc Emery Story

As publisher of the Western Standard I have commissioned two writers to co-author a full-length book on the life and work of Canadian publisher and libertarian activist Marc Emery.

Emery, #3 on the Western Standard’s Liberty 100, 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.

The monograph has been completed in draft form and editing work is now being done to ensure Emery’s libertarian activism and political views are documented accurately and comprehensively. A final draft of the book is expected in two weeks, at which time it will be copy-edited and printed.

Here’s the current draft outline of the book:




CHAPTER 1 – Introduction: The Political Extradition of a Canadian Libertarian Activist

CHAPTER 2 –Libertarian Ideology and Marijuana Decriminalization: The Ideas That Drive Marc Emery

CHAPTER 3 – Canadian Marijuana Policy and the Influence of the United States: Ceding Canadian Sovereignty

CHAPTER 4 – The Intellectual and Political Development of Marc Emery

CHAPTER 5 – Marc Emery and Canadian Electoral Politics: Building a Coalition for Freedom

CHAPTER 6 – Marc Emery’s Other Political Activities: Sowing the Seeds of Liberty

CHAPTER 7 – The Political Extradition Marc Emery: A Story of Fear and Loathing

CHAPTER 8 – Conclusion: How Will History Judge Marc Emery?

Are we missing anything?

I invite Western Standard readers to submit any thoughts they have on the Marc Emery story before the final draft is completed. Please send your comments to [email protected] and indicate whether or not you would like to be acknowledged in the book for your contribution.

I will release more information on the book in the days to come, including information on where to pre-orders. The profits from the book will be used to launch an advocacy organization that will work toward marijuana policy reform and the release of Marc Emery from prison should he be successfully extradited as expected.


Matthew Johnston
Western Standard

Posted by westernstandard on November 8, 2009 in Marc Emery | Permalink | Comments (50)

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Marc Emery’s “Farewell Tour” rolls through Banff: A report by Krista Zoobkoff

Marc Emery’s “Farewell Tour” rolled through Banff, Alberta on Monday for an event hosted by Krista Zoobkoff, Libertarian Party candidate for the riding of Wild Rose in the last federal election.

In a report for the Western Standard, Zoobkoff wrote:

Marc and Jodie Emery made their way to Banff on their second stop in the Marc Emery "Farewell Tour." The event was teetering on shaky ground, as we prayed for the weather to clear up. The event was held at the gazebo in central park at 4:30 p.m. just as the rain stopped. One hundred Emery supporters braved their way to the outdoor venue, making the Banff stop on the Farewell Tour a success.

Emery is being extradited to the United States for his conspiracy to cultivate marijuana. This is a man who is going to lose his freedom for his part in selling cannabis seeds over the border to the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). This was an act that was non-violent and that had no victims. Cannabis seeds don’t contain THC or any other intoxicant.

As a Canadian, I am outraged at the United States, the DEA, the RCMP, and the Conservative government that has not come to the aid of a Canadian citizen. Canada is not going to be safer with Emery behind bars, further showing the incompetence of the Harper government. The Emery extradition has been a burden to taxpayers, leaving Canadians to suffer the loss of a family member and a friend. These are our tax dollars hard at work.

Emery is going to prison and there is nothing we can do about that. Our next fight is going to be to put pressure on the Conservatives to transfer Emery to Canada so he can do his time where he will be safe and have access to his family and friends. So don’t rest just yet and stay informed on what we can do to get him transferred to Canada.

Thanks for the update, Krista.

Banff marc    

The "Farewell Tour" will be in Lethbridge this evening and Edmonton on Thursday.

(Picture: Marc and Jody Emery in Banff, Alberta)

Posted by Matthew Johnston

Posted by westernstandard on July 7, 2009 in Marc Emery, Marijuana reform | Permalink | Comments (55)

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Facing extradition and jail, Marc Emery plans “farewell tour”

Marc Emery Libertarian publisher and activist Marc Emery has been under an extradition order since 2004 when U.S. authorities, assisted by the Vancouver Police, arrested him on charges related to selling marijuana seeds. In May, Emery announced he would be pleading guilty to the charges in order to secure a deal that would see him face five years in a U.S. jail.

Today, Emery announced his “farewell tour” that will take him through Alberta in what could be his last heroic effort to legalize marijuana.

Marc Emery's Farewell Tour Calgary

July 5th /  6:00 PM - 10:00 PM
Location: Scarboro Community Association
1727 14th Avenue SW
Free event sponsored by The Next Level Inc.

Marc Emery's Farewell Tour Banff

July 6th
Sponsored by Hempire Canada (Banff & Canmore)

Marc Emery's Farewell Tour Lethbridge

July 7 / 6:00 PM
Sponsored by Southern Alberta Cannabis Club
Tickets $10.00
Location: University of Lethbridge Ballroom B

Marc Emery's Farewell Tour Edmonton

July 9th
Sponsored by Edmonton 420 Cannabis Community

(Picture: Marc Emery)

Posted by Matthew Johnston

Posted by westernstandard on June 25, 2009 in Marc Emery | Permalink | Comments (217)

Monday, May 25, 2009

Marc Emery's extradition hearing delayed "to finalize an agreement with U.S. prosecutors"

Picture 2

This is the interesting part:

Emery’s lawyer, Ian Donaldson, told B.C. Supreme Court Madam Justice Anne Mackenzie he needed more time to finalize an agreement with U.S. prosecutors that would end the need for the hearing.

Donaldson noted that two of Emery’s co-accused have pleaded guilty to their part in a scheme in which marijuana seeds were sold for use in grow-ops south of the border.

He said that since the pleas by Michelle Rainey and Gregory Williams were entered in Seattle last month, he has been in discussions with the U.S. prosecuting counsel.

“He and I have a general framework capable of resolving the case for Mr. Emery.”

Donaldson said that under the agreement, Emery would consent to be committed for extradition on one of the three criminal counts he faces. He noted that the Canadian authorities are opposed to such a move.

More here.

Posted by Kalim Kassam on May 25, 2009 in Marc Emery, Marijuana reform | Permalink | Comments (146)

Monday, December 01, 2008

Could the Coalition for Canada save Canadian publisher Marc Emery from a lifetime in a US prison?

In some ways, and at least until the end of February 2009, I consider myself a single issue non-voter...an activist publisher with a single, overriding personal agenda -- to stop the extradition of Canadian publisher, free market drug policy reformer, marijuana seed distributor and friend, Marc Emery.

Why is this a priority for me?

Well, taxes are likely to stay within a fairly narrow range regardless of who is in power and what we do as activist writers and opinion leaders (that's you, Western Standard readers). The left is worse than the right on taxes, no doubt, but only marginally so. Even the left understands the law of diminishing returns, which reminds them that they can’t raise taxes too much before revenues actually begin to fall. (Think of the state as a highly evolved parasite. It usually knows not to kill its host.)

The size of government will also ebb and flow superficially according to whatever is politically expedient and, to a lesser degree, the prevailing ideology. We can’t ignore that the Harper Conservatives increased the size of government, which will ultimately make future tax cuts more unlikely and deficits harder to avoid.

And nobody in a position of authority is advocating for limiting the scope of government. I can’t think of any serious move in recent history to eliminate entirely a specific function of government. (Correct me if I'm wrong here.)

So while we should not abandon these big fights for lower taxes, smaller government and more economic liberty -- in fact, we should steel ourselves to re-fight and re-win the battle of ideas in the realm of free market economics -- there is no immediacy here. It’s a medium and long term project, even in the face of a global financial crisis.

Where I see the need for real immediacy and real opportunity to "make a difference" is in the scheduled extradition hearing of Emery. If it hasn't been postponed again, Emery faces an extradition hearing in February 2009 for DEA charges related to selling marijuana seeds to the US.

Emery is the publisher of Cannabis Culture magazine and a marijuana policy reformer. His marijuana seed business financed his activism, which attracted the attention of the DEA who wanted to cut the flow of money to the marijuana decriminalization movement. Politically motivated DEA agents arrested Emery in Canada and now want him extradited to the US to face a possible lifetime in jail. The punishment in Canada for the “crime” of selling marijuana seeds -- when it is in fact punished -- is a small fine.

There are a number of good reasons to oppose the extradition of Emery. First, there is the issue of Canadian sovereignty. Canadians have chosen, before the Harper Conservatives took over, to take a liberal approach to drug policy. In this political climate, Emery operated his seed business openly, paid his taxes and even helped Health Canada connect medical marijuana users with his reputable marijuana seed distribution company – Marc Emery Seeds.

Second, there is the injustice and failure of drug prohibition. Canadians understand that drug prohibition has been a failure, and there is little appetite for a US-style war on drugs. From every corner of the political spectrum, there is opposition to marijuana prohibition in particular.

NDP leader Jack Layton, Green Party leader Elizabeth May, junior Liberal MP Justin Trudeau, former Canadian Alliance MP turned Liberal Keith Martin, Conservative MP Scott Reid, senior Conservative cabinet minister and former Canadian Alliance leader Stockwell Day -- the list of politicians who think the current marijuana laws are unjust and unworkable is extensive. Extraditing Emery in this environment would not reflect public opinion or the collective views of those who make up the official political culture in Ottawa.

The life of a man who has dedicated his career to advancing liberty hangs in the balance, and it is one of those fights that can be won. In fact, the current disorder in parliament and scramble for power could end in Emery’s favour.

The Coalition for Canada (CFC) is the possible Bloc-Liberal-NDP coalition that hopes to form a coalition minority government to overthrow the Harper Conservatives. If successful, this coalition will set back the movement to reduce the size and scope of government – but, let’s be honest, that movement has not faired well under Harper or any other national leader. The coalition might be useful, however, in blocking the extradition of Emery and repudiating the Harper Conservative’s vicious and ill-considered drug war agenda.

In an interview with Emery today, he said “Keith Martin as Health Minister and Libby Davies in Justice would be great news for medical marijuana legalization.” Emery also said the coalition would likely “reduced penalties for other pot offences, and certainly bring an end to my extradition proceedings.” (I'm sure the guys in charge of "black ops" for the Conservatives will attempt use this comment from Emery to move public opinion against the CFC by suggesting they have ties to radicals.)

I will not go as far as to welcome a Coalition for Canada government, not even for Emery. But should this coalition of socialists be foisted on Canadians, I’ll hope for a happy ending for my friend Emery and for the repudiation of a misguided drug war surge strategy being advanced by the Harper Conservatives.

There will be little else to hope for.

Posted by Matthew Johnston on December 1, 2008 in Marc Emery, Marijuana reform | Permalink | Comments (48) | TrackBack

Thursday, November 27, 2008

New B.C. Civil Liberties Association executive director supports repealing Section 13 of CHRA and opposes extradition of Canadian publisher Marc Emery

David_ebyThe British Columbia Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) announced this week that lawyer David Eby was named Acting Executive Director. Eby will be taking over the role effective December 1, 2008.

“We are confident that the addition of David Eby to our team will enable us to continue advancing the interests of the association, including providing the education and information about civil liberties and defending the rights of Canadians,” said Robert Holmes, president of the BCCLA.

Eby joined the BCCLA board in 2005 and is the author of the organization’s Arrest Handbook, a legal handbook that outlines the rights of people who have been arrested and accused of a crime.

“I am thrilled to have this opportunity to deepen my work with the BCCLA at this stage of historic growth and impact for the organization,” said Eby. “I can’t wait to get to work with the staff, the membership, and the Board on ensuring Canada’s democratic commitments are met.”

Eby has been a legal advocate for police accountability and the rights of the accused, but what does he think of the issues that are especially important to the Western Standard editorial team? In an interview with the Western Standard, Eby shares his thoughts on freedom of speech and expression and the looming extradition of libertarian publisher and marijuana seed distributor Marc Emery.

Western Standard: I was hoping to get your thoughts on the recent Moon report calling for the repeal of Section 13 of the CHRA. This is the provision in the CHRA that governs so-called “hate speech” on the Internet. The Western Standard and our former publisher Ezra Levant faced an Alberta human rights complaint for publishing the Danish cartoons depicting the Muslim prophet Muhammad. Maclean’s magazine also faced a complaint for publishing excerpts of Mark Steyn’s book America Alone. How do you feel about these restrictions on freedom of speech and expression? Are they reasonable? Dangerous?

David Eby: The BCCLA supports repealing Section 13 of the CHRA and its equivalent in the BC and other provincial legislation. We oppose restrictions on freedom of expression generally and any exceptions to that have to be clearly defined and strongly mandated by the facts. Obviously, restrictions are dangerous as they chill more expression than they intend as people seek to shy away from crossing the line and incurring a criminal or other penalty. While for some forms of speech we may disagree with and condemn the content, we still support the right to speak.

WS: Another issue that the Western Standard spends considerable time on is the extradition of Marc Emery. Emery is the publisher of Cannabis Culture magazine and a drug policy reformer. His marijuana seed business financed his activism, which attracted the attention of the DEA. DEA agents arrested him in Canada and want him extradited to the US to face a possible lifetime in jail. The punishment in Canada for this “crime” -- when it is punished -- is a fine. Would the BCCLA oppose the extradition of Marc Emery?

DE:  The BCCLA opposes the extradition of Marc Emery in principle; however, we do not have an active file on that particular matter. BCCLA director Kirk Tousaw is acting for Mr. Emery in the extradition hearing, but not on behalf of the organization. The “mirror” principle of Canadian extradition law holds that if something is not criminal in Canada, we would not extradite a Canadian to a foreign state where that same activity is criminal. Accordingly, given that we hold the position that the criminalization of marijuana in Canada is problematic; the extradition of Mr. Emery to the United States to face marijuana trafficking charges is similarly wrong-headed.

WS: What is your priority for the BCCLA as the new acting executive director?

DE: My first priority is to continue the high standard of political critique, analysis and litigation coming out of our office through supporting our hard working staff and volunteer board members. Our organization’s policy and direction is set by our board, and my role is to support that as best as possible. In these difficult financial times, I can foresee that much of my role will involve ensuring that the finances of the organization remain on track so that we may maintain our current level of service to the public.

WS: Do you have any thoughts on the distinction between civil libertarians and libertarians of the Walter Block-variety, who I believe was once a director with the BCCLA? What policy priorities do you think would best embody this distinction?

DE: Walter Block was before my time, but I know the distinction you’re referring to. Between libertarians and civil libertarians, while we share a number of concerns and principles, the civil libertarian view that a larger government role is required around due process, non-discrimination and equality rights being observed probably sets us apart from strict libertarians.

(Picture: David Eby is Acting Executive Director of the BCCLA)

Posted by Matthew Johnston on November 27, 2008 in Current Affairs, Marc Emery | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Marc Emery wants Vancouverites to get serious about the economic downturn ahead, but voters just want their pet projects paid for and the media wants its circus

If you don’t pay close attention to Marc Emery, you might think his advocacy and activism is nothing more than playful public mischief, or even self-aggrandizement. But those who do pay attention know Emery to be serious, principled and uncompromising, not just in his efforts to legalize marijuana, but in his work to advance a wider agenda for liberty.

His generosity also knows no bounds – even when it should. He gives all his money away to campaigns across the globe to legalize marijuana or ploughs it back into his own many ventures from Cannabis Culture magazine to a non-profit drug treatment centre to his own self-financed campaigns for public office.

Emery’s brash style and bombastic rhetoric have been the secret to much of his media success – the self-styled “Prince of Pot” always makes for good copy, and he knows it. But his international standing as the spokesperson for marijuana legalization has come about for reasons other than style. Emery has a brilliant mind, a firm understanding of libertarian philosophy and economics, an insatiable appetite for public policy and organizational abilities unmatched in the Canadian freedom movement. All of this was properly acknowledged when Emery was invited to speak at Idea City alongside some of Canada’s most respected political, academic, business and culture leaders.

Knowing this, it is no surprise that Emery has grown frustrated with his own campaign for Mayor of Vancouver. The media wants its circus, and voters want their pet projects financed. Nobody wants to hear from Emery that Vancouver faces serious economic problems for which the bloated and ever-expanding public sector is at least partially responsible – and, at the very least, will never solve.

Will Emery get a hearing before the November 15th municipal vote? I doubt it, but the Western Standard has published an opinion piece by Emery to ensure that his warnings are not forgotten by history.

You can read "My manifesto for the city of Vancouver" here or simply enjoy the excerpts below the fold. (I would highly recommend reading the excerpt related to Emery's qualifications to be Mayor.)

Marc Emery on the Vancouver mayoral election:

Saturday night, I was due to give a five-minute performance at the Creative City Cabaret. In Vancouver, candidates are asked to do almost anything but discuss issues relevant to managing the city government. I committed to doing a rendition of the scene from Monty Python & The Holy Grail where Arthur meets up with the peasant; it’s a great scene, and perhaps my favourite scene ever. But I can’t do it. I’m not running to be Court Jester. The job I’m applying for is to be Mayor of Vancouver in a time of imminent and dire crisis. I’ll bomb, I’m sure, but the only thing I’ve ever really been good at before an audience is telling them uncomfortable truths.


I haven’t met a single voter who cares about my issues, my perspective or asks my questions, so I am truly a gadfly this election. In the next three years, Vancouver will face an economic contraction, collapse, recession, that is unprecedented in the last 50 years. Construction activity will dry up in 2009 and more so in 2010. Retail stores will be closing in large numbers after this Christmas, and many businesses here have begun substantial lay-offs that will worsen in the winter and spring ahead. Rising unemployment, homelessness, business closings, will see greater pressure on charities, Food Banks, the Salvation Army. In the next two years, the auto industry, forestry, construction, retail, restaurants will all be suffering terrible reductions in activity. This means dramatically less tax revenues to the federal government, the province and city, as great a reduction in tax revenues as we have ever seen perhaps.

The perfect storm of unfortunate circumstances will batter this Boomtown. The Olympics are here in 15 months, and it couldn’t be worse timing. That will be the trough of the recession, the worst part. Revenue to the Olympics will be much less than anticipated, while Olympic over-runs are legacies guaranteed by the taxpayers of Vancouver and British Columbia.


My only “radical” assertion as Mayor would be to unilaterally end drug prohibition. Prohibition is an extremely expensive and failed policy. It enriches crime gangs, taxes our police force, fuels property crimes against cars and homes, feeds the pawnshops with stolen goods, motivates addicted women to become prostitutes, lures young people into the drug trade, creates the conditions for gangland killings and violence, makes the situation of the mentally ill and homeless much worse, and damages our reputation with tourists because the drug problems look terrible.


Is Emery qualified to be mayor?

• I have been a businessman for 38 years. My first retail catalogue was issued January 1, 1971. I have been a downtown Vancouver businessman for 14 years, with up to 50 employees, supervising $3 - $5 million in sales each year. I currently employ 30 people.

• I have been a community activist for 29 years, since 1980. I have been instrumental in repealing two laws (The Sunday Shopping laws in 1988, the Banned literature laws in 1995) and financed the Canadian Supreme Court challenge to the Marijuana prohibition in 2003, which lost 6-3.

• I have been a publisher of community newspapers and magazines since 1981. I have been publisher of Cannabis Culture Magazine since 1994 and publisher of POT.TV since 2000.

• I have been featured in a positive light in every major North American media, including a front-page portrait in The Wall Street Journal (Dec. 5, 1995), feature stories in Rolling Stone magazine, The New York Times, Time Magazine, The Economist, 60 Minutes (CBS Television), and numerous others. The documentary film by CBC called “The Prince of Pot: The US vs. Marc Emery” has a resume of my activist career.

• As leading industry spokesperson for the cannabis culture I have been responsible for bringing hundreds of millions of dollars to British Columbia since 1994, providing more wealth to this province than possibly any other single individual. British Columbia’s marijuana industry is second largest in the province, and by 2010, will eclipse construction as the leading generator of income in the province.

• I have never declared bankruptcy or not paid a debt in 38 years of business. Despite being arrested 23 times, jailed 17 times and raided 6 times for my activism, I have been resilient enough to survive as a businessman and bounce back each time, learning important skills in survival and prudent money management. I know how to scale back spending to deal with emergency crises!

• I have raised 4 adopted children who lived with me from 1980 to 2001 (all on their own now) and know what it is like to raise children and provide for a family.

• I donated at least $3,500,000 to activist groups, individuals, organizations, symposiums, conferences, lobby groups, marches, rallies, in Vancouver and across the globe from 1994 to 2005, about $300,000 to $400,000 a year in that period.

Posted by Matthew Johnston on November 13, 2008 in Canadian libertarian politics, Marc Emery | Permalink | Comments (34) | TrackBack

Thursday, February 21, 2008

WStv: Marc Emery addresses Western Standard readers

UPDATE: Jacob Sullum at Reason magazine has posted about our videos of Emery here.


Conservative opposition to the war on drugs has been building for over a decade.

It began in earnest with a Fraser Institute publication in June 1998 titled “Reassessing the War on Drugs.” This publication was a collection of essays on the failure of drug prohibition and included polling data that showed “only one in ten Canadians is staunchly against seeing marijuana use removed from the list of criminal code offences.” The Fraser Institute challenged its fiscal and law-and-order conservative supporters to seriously rethink the war on drugs, with Institute scholars like Patrick Basham leading this charge.

In May 2000, Stockwell Day joined the discussion. During his successful "Freedom Train" leadership campaign, Day told the Vancouver Sun that marijuana users should not go to jail:  “if you’re talking about simple possession, no, that should not be jail.” Day became the first leader of the Canadian Alliance and is now Minister of Public Safety with the Harper government.

In October 2001, Scott Reid made a powerful case for ending drug prohibition in the journal Policy Options. Scott Reid is the Member of Parliament for Lanark-Carleton and part of Harper’s brain trust.

The tag line on Reid’s article reads: “The views expressed here are not necessarily those of the Canadian Alliance Party.” And his views are still officially not those of the Conservative Party, although support for moderate drug liberalization is shared by many conservative-minded MPs.

Regular readers of the Shotgun blog may recall Peter Jaworski’s post about prominent conservatives who oppose the war on drugs. The list includes Nobel Laureate Milton Friedman and National Review founder William F. Buckley.

All of this is to say that conservative opposition to the war on drugs does exist. But while conservatives have tested the waters of drug liberalization, few are ready to dive into the deep end in support of marijuana legalization advocate Marc Emery. Vancouver’s "Prince of Pot," Emery is still facing the possibility of extradition to the United States to face drug charges for selling marijuana seeds. He was arrested in Canada by the U.S. DEA and, if extradited and convicted, could spend a lifetime in a U.S. prison. We covered Emery's case in "Seeding Sovereignty," a feature-length article by Western Standard reporter William Hopper.

The legal case against Emery's extradition should be strong. The Canadian government allowed Emery to operate openly. He paid taxes on his illegal seed business. Health Canada directed medical marijuana patients  to purchase seeds from him. He often ran for public office. Is this the kind of person Canadians, even conservative Canadians, want to see spend a lifetime in a U.S. prison? Probably not, but Emery’s uncompromising views and public, non-violent civil disobedience scares away conservative sympathizers. Emery is also not just philosophically committed to drug legalization; he promotes the drug culture with his magazine Cannabis Culture and his popular on-line video website POT.TV. This is too much for cultural conservatives, even those convinced of the failure of drug prohibition.

But like it or not, Marc Emery is at the centre of the debate over the legalization of marijuana in Canada, which is why we invited him to create a broadcast message specifically for Western Standard readers. Many will be impressed by Emery’s commitment to liberty and free market ideas. Others will no doubt be shocked by Jodie Emery's open marijuana use. Emery is a hero to many libertarians and drug peaceniks, but can he win the hearts and minds of conservatives?

This is Marc Emery in his own words, unbound:

Parts Two and Three below the fold

Part Two:

Part Three:

Posted by westernstandard on February 21, 2008 in Marc Emery, WStv | Permalink | Comments (109) | TrackBack