It's time for NDP Leader Jack Layton to call for an end to prohibition

Federal NDP Leader Jack Layton will be in Vancouver Kingsway tomorrow (March 16) to push for more crime prevention and more resources for the police.

This visit comes at a time when the federal NDP is languishing. A March 10 Ipsos Reid poll for Canwest  showed that the federal NDP only has the support of  12 percent of Canadians.

I suspect that Layton is pushing the crime issue because it will help the provincial NDP, which will try to unseat the B.C. Liberals in the May 12 provincial election.

One of Layton’s higher profile MPs, Dawn Black, will run for the provincial NDP in New Westminster. Black is the mother of two Vancouver police officers, and she’ll be talking up the crime issue as well.

Black, along with other New Democrats like Mike Farnworth and Carole James, will say the solution is more police and tougher laws. They probably think this will increase their chances of seizing power.

But so far, the NDP has refused to speak about prohibition, which is the central issue driving a lot of the gangland carnage on our streets.

Last month, retired judge Jerry Paradis told the Straight that the prohibition of alcohol in the 1920s and 1930s led to the proliferation of criminal organizations and widespread violence.

The same could be said for previous bans on gambling in Canada and the United States.

If federal NDP MPs are interested in finding solutions—rather than just electing provincial New Democrats this May—they will set themselves apart from the federal Conservatives and Liberals by pushing for a national debate on the prohibition of drugs.

Vancouver East NDP Libby Davies has set an example by courageously speaking out against prohibition in the sex trade. She has taken a lot of abuse for doing this. But she knows that in the end, this is what will save lives.

Perhaps some of her NDP colleagues in Parliament (Bill Siksay? Don Davies? Peter Julian?) can stiffen their resolve, and start talking about solutions rather than engaging in cheap photo ops designed to pander to the corporate media.

The NDP has nothing to lose. With its current polling numbers, the party will be  decimated in the next federal campaign. Taking a stand against drug prohibition could transform the next federal election because Layton would get lots of coverage from antiprohibitionist journalists, including  Dan Gardner and Ian Mulgrew, just to name a couple. The news media  employ scores of libertarian-minded commentators and reporters who will love this idea.

Often, the NDP and its precursor, the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation, have been vindicated when they weren't afraid to speak the truth to the corporate media. Layton took a risk when he called for the withdrawal of Canadian troops from Afghanistan. He now reflects the dominant view within the country.

In 1970, then-federal NDP leader Tommy Douglas took a stand against then-prime minister Pierre Trudeau’s draconian imposition of the War Measures Act to deal with two political kidnappings. Douglas was vilified, but history has vindicated his position.

The Co-operative Commonwealth Federation wasn’t afraid to call for universal pensions, universal health care, and unemployment insurance—all of which are mainstream concepts today.

The NDP is at the crossroads in 2009. Does it back the status quo on illegal drugs—which amounts to a death sentence for scores of Canadians in the coming years—or will it take a  risk by seeking longlasting solutions, even if those solutions rile our American neighbours?

Layton should forget about those provincial NDP dinosaurs—they're beyond hope when it comes to developing imaginative policies—and get on with the job of serving the country.



Alfie Nielsen

Mar 15, 2009 at 10:12am

Not a socialist or even close to being a supporter of the federal NDP, or provincial (NS) NDP for that matter, but it would be interesting if this topic were brought up. Unfortunately Jack Layton does not have the guts to bring it up along as he maintains the belief he will be PM one day. Second, the debate in the country would not even come close to being rational, which is a shame.I'm a right leaning libertarian who will never vote NDP, maybe Liberal one day, MAYBE; but I for one would give Layton or any national leader who would put this issue on the table for serious discussion their proper due. It's just that the rational debate about it would never materialize. But keep putting these types of stories out there, who knows.


Mar 15, 2009 at 1:51pm

Personally, I think that Layton and all the other NDP'rs should go for a good long walk on a very short pier over deep water. All they did for us here in BC was run the whole province into the ground, waste staggering amounts of money for no positive result whatsoever and generally mislead the people.

SOCIALISM is a dying concept for a very good reason. It ignores human nature entirely and focuses on utterly unsupportable ideologies that can NEVER work as long as people are people.

In my opinion, Layton, like Carol James, is a blow hard. Neither could manage their way out of a wet paper bag so far as I can tell. Certainly, all they seem to do is come out with what to me are idiotic, knee-jerk reactions unworthy of public attention.


Mar 15, 2009 at 1:53pm

As for legalization of marijuana... Of for god's sake forget it. The stuff rots the mind -- just try and hold an in-depth conversation with any long-term user. You will find out fast enough that their neurons do not work. Certainly, that is my experience. Maybe that is why so many of the political left are pot smokers? Yeah.. that would make sense to me!


Mar 15, 2009 at 6:07pm

"The stuff rots the mind -- just try and hold an in-depth conversation with any long-term user. You will find out fast enough that their neurons do not work..."

Oh please, can't you come up with something better than 1950s propaganda about marijuana? That is patently false. It would only be true if the person were abusing other drugs as well. However, there is no proof whatsoever that marijuana destroys brain cells or has any long-term effects on cognitive ability. I know quite a few people who smoke daily for years, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with them or their neurons.

Have you seen the devastating effects that ALCOHOL has on people who abuse it? Alcohol DOES kill brain cells and damage other parts of the brain and body when abused. Fetal-Alcohol Syndrome is particularly nasty and irreversible. You can even overdose on alcohol and die from it, if you don't jump in a car and kill someone else first. Why isn't all alcohol illegal as well?

We will NEVER fix this problem when people make uninformed comments about a topic they know little about. The gangs, crime and other side-effects of prohibition are caused by this flawed ideology and downright stupidity, not a harmless plant has been around since we have.

Ian Weniger

Mar 15, 2009 at 9:59pm

I thought social democratic parties started going for law and order during a counter-revolution. I must have missed the barricades, occupations and general strikes in the last couple of months. If all "comrade" Sinclair can do for GM Place workers is ask people not to come to a game instead of getting a mass picket out to really defend jobs and services, then it's time for a new socialist alternative.

Or go underground until King Stephen dies...

Ian Weniger, Vancouver


Mar 15, 2009 at 10:36pm

Contrary to mr flyers statements, the BC Liberals are the most incompetent government Canada has ever seen. The total bill for their PPP and IPP waste will cost the BC taxpayer over 60 billion dollars by the time it all gets added up.

The only Liberal MLA with any business experience is Ralph Sultan who is kept on the back benches out of the way of the corrupt fools leading Gordo's gang.


Mar 19, 2009 at 11:13am

Untill some "brain dead politician" (Canada has a lot of them) realizes that the "gun and drug problem is smuggled from the most lawless nation in the world", the "crimesters" will continue to control the streets. America boasts 30,000 gun deaths each year. Americans consume 350 metric tons of cocaine and 20 metric tons of heroin each year. The problem is Our Sovereignty is breached by "gang insurgents, smuggling guns and drugs from the u.s.a".
Our military will 'protect Afghanistan's Sovereignty' but not Canadian Sovereignty? Taxes are payed to 'public servants' and 'dereliction of duty' under the Consitution Act 1867' is all We get in return.
We can't rely on Our inept police servants to 'serve and protect' Canadian Sovereignty!
Jack Layton doesn't have the guts to do the job. He's just like the 'little yapping chiwawa dog'. S__t or get off the pot Jack.
Wake-up people!

Facilitator Peter W

Mar 19, 2009 at 4:24pm

I agree that prohibition with reference to the responsible use of drugs is detrimental to Society. Prohibition creates unnecessary violent crimes. .Responsible use of Drugs - Meaning that the responsible use of drugs includes, no excuse for Acts of Evil, claiming the you were not responsible for your actions, as you took the drugs. This will allow for cheaper, reliable quality drugs, thus reduce the need to steal, collection of taxes, free up the Police Force to address violent and white collar crimes more effectively.