NDP veteran David Schreck slams pot king Dana Larsen's leadership bid

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      David Schreck says Vancouver pot activist Dana Larsen is only seeking the B.C. New Democratic Party leadership in order to highlight the issue of marijuana legalization.

      Schreck, a former NDP MLA and political commentator, made the statement after Larsen declared on December 29 he will campaign to succeed Carole James, the outgoing party leader.

      “He stands zero chance of either being elected as an MLA or becoming premier,” Schreck told the Georgia Straight by phone. “So he’s seizing on the NDP provincial leadership race to raise his profile and beat on his drum for an issue that’s very legitimate—clearly we’d have a lot less crime if we legalized marijuana—but it’s a federal issue, not a provincial issue.”

      Schreck described Larsen’s leadership bid as an example of “opportunism”. He said Larsen has declared his candidacy even before it has become clear what the entry fee will be for the leadership race.

      “I would think that a serious candidate would wait to see what the rules are to qualify to be a candidate,” he said. “Those haven’t been released yet, and he may not meet the qualification. No other candidate has declared, probably because the rules committee hasn’t put the rules out yet.”

      Larsen, a former B.C. Marijuana Party leader, defended his decision to launch a leadership campaign, arguing that marijuana legalization is relevant in B.C. politics.

      “The province pays for the brunt of the federal drug war,” Larsen told the Straight by phone after his announcement. “We pay for all of the police and courts and prisons involved, as well as the social costs.”

      Larsen rejected the suggestion that his NDP leadership bid is motivated by opportunism.

      “I think everybody who gets involved in politics does it because they believe in issues and they want to make change,” he said. “I’m very serious about my campaign and about my leadership bid.

      “I’m here to promote important issues that I believe in, and I think any leadership candidate is doing the same,” he added.

      Larsen announced his leadership plans during a news conference held at a Vancouver Medicinal Cannabis Dispensary location in the West End.

      Larsen, director of the dispensary, told reporters he supports an end to the “prohibition of cannabis”, saying most British Columbians recognize the “war on marijuana has failed”.

      He also said B.C.’s minimum wage should be increased to $10 from $8 and tied to inflation. He added he opposes “giving away” such provincial assets as B.C. Rail, B.C. Hydro, and B.C. Ferries.

      In 2008, Larsen stepped down as a federal NDP candidate in West Vancouver–Sunshine Coast–Sea to Sky Country when video footage surfaced showing him on drugs.

      “I’m not particularly ashamed of the things that were shown in those videos, but I think that at the time it was appropriate for me to step down and not distract from the focus of the federal campaign,” Larsen said.

      NDP president Moe Sihota has raised questions about Larsen’s eligibility for the leadership contest. Sihota told media on December 29 that Larsen wasn’t a party member and the NDP’s rules committee will have the final say on his candidacy.

      Other potential contenders include NDP MP Peter Julian, who is expected to announce his leadership intentions in the next week or so.




      Dec 29, 2010 at 6:17pm

      Without a regulated cannabis control system to starve gangs of this financial windfall, we will without question see more gun violence and the continued growth of organized crime in this province. What Dana is thinking of doing regarding legalization is touching so many areas that need improvement. Maybe its time for a change of thought regarding this war on drugs.

      City Observer

      Dec 29, 2010 at 8:19pm

      The NDP are interested only in preserving the old boy/girls club, are not at all interested in open, public debate on issues of concern to British Columbians (including the 'war on drugs').

      The Executive, and apparatchiks, of British Columbia's New Democratic Party are interested only in preserving the anti-democratic, non-issue-oriented style of administration championed by recently deposed provincial NPD leader Carole James. It's all more of the same old, same old in the NDP: inside the message box, non-consultative and non-responsive politics.

      The provincial NDP had best listen to the public, and discuss the issues of importance to all British Columbians: the economy ("it's about jobs, stupid"); a sensible health care and education strategy; the provision of safe and affordable child care for the tens of thousands of parents with pre-and-school age children; a multi-faceted transportation strategy focused more on buses, new grade-level street car / 'train' systems across the Lower Mainland, into the Fraser Valley to Chilliwack, and beyond than on more roads and bridges; and a provincial poilitical party that is committed to addressing quality of life issues for all British Columbians: an overtaxed, 'put-upon' middle class trying to raise their families; provision of 'housing' and social programmes for the working poor (and their children), and the homeless; the elimination of child poverty; and all of the environmental issues of concern to the public, from the elimination of the Liberals' damned 'run of river' projects, to moving fish farms inland, to a review of the Liberals' 'mining in parks' leglislation, among a raft of other environmental concerns.

      British Columbians are looking for an alternative to the Liberals, not just a bunch of 'new' NDP faces promising more of the same 'old politics', the 'non-controversial' politics that have contributed to / caused British Columbia's
      current social and economic malaise.

      john b

      Dec 29, 2010 at 8:35pm

      typical NDP, jump all over the first person who states that he wants to run for their leadership. This is a party in complete disarray. First they dump a leader who has over 80 percent support from their ridings and now someone finally has the guts to put his name forward as a leadership hopeful and the party heavyweight jumps down his throat. Who cares if he smokes pot, I would think most of the leadership contenders will have, but no, the heavyweights immediately bring the knives out. Tell me again why I would vote for this party?

      Donald Robb

      Dec 29, 2010 at 9:18pm

      Dana expresses what needs to be said in politics. Let us not beet around the bush the system is falling apart rapidly. Let's take measures to right all the wrong's. Let's take back what has been robbed from us.


      Dec 29, 2010 at 9:20pm

      There has never been a prison ever built on this planet that illegal drugs have never been found in
      So how many more billions of dollars and wasted lives will it take to keep them out of schools?

      The drugs will be here whether you deal with them or not
      I choose to regulate and counter crime
      I choose tax dollars in not police costs out

      All illegal drugs are also sold as legal drugs they just have different names

      Is alcohol safer legal?...or illegal??

      It is shame all other politico's are such cowardly hypocrites

      It is an issue in BC whether you are blind on purpose or not


      glen p robbins

      Dec 29, 2010 at 9:55pm

      As more British Columbians get fed up with the status quo 2 party monopoly - and little teeny weeny opportunity for open discussion - the party which - might have benefitted from this candidate - first out of the gate - taking attention away from BC Liberals -- wants to establish the Rules. Great more Rules from the NDP - certain foreshadowing of things to come from Big G Government.


      Dec 30, 2010 at 1:51am

      hey schreck, that's one of the core values of the ndp -- raising important issues that may not be the most popular. courage is what guides the ndp. the ndp should not be afraid of taken controversial, but right, positions. the part needs to take a stand on issues, not try and capitalize on the demise of the other parties.


      Dec 30, 2010 at 4:58am

      Come on B.C.
      Haven't you had enough of your current government?
      Do yourself's some good and vote for Dana Larsen for leader of the B.C. New Democrats. This man has an extremely good vision for all you people in B.C.

      Support from Atlantic Canada

      Roy Berger

      Dec 30, 2010 at 7:08am

      Mr. Larsen brings clarity, clear thinking, guts and knowledge with his experience. He does not hide and play so close the vest we have to guess his intentions. It's not a surprise that his critics would be scared of him and jump to degradation before the start. Four million Canadians who use marijuana and four million of their friends and realitives admire Dana Larsen's stance. If the NDP had a leader, the NDP would lead from the front, not the rear.


      Dec 30, 2010 at 7:33am

      I wouldn't listen to anyone whos name is Shrek anyway...