Dana Larsen: A fresh vision of direct democracy, regulated marijuana for B.C.

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      I am running for the leadership of the B.C. NDP because I offer a fresh vision for my party and our province. My campaign will engage those who feel disenfranchised and cynical about the state of politics in B.C.

      I have been a community organizer and activist for all of my adult life. Over my career I have worked as a journalist, editor, and small business owner. For the past two years I have served as director and manager of the Vancouver Medicinal Cannabis Dispensary Society, which serves 2,500 patients across the Lower Mainland from two locations. I am honoured to assist so many suffering patients to access the benefits of this amazing medicinal herb.

      My leadership campaign is based on four principles: democracy, sustainability, social justice, and being smart on crime.

      In terms of democracy, I believe that the people of B.C. should be able to vote more often on the issues of the day, through referendums and ballot initiatives.

      The NDP brought in our current ballot initiative system in 1995, but since then the only item ever to come forward for a vote will be the HST. I believe in direct democracy, and as premier I would lower the threshold to make it easier for a referendum item to be put on the ballot.

      A common complaint is that our political process is “bought and paid for” by the wealthy elite. I would change this by banning corporations and unions from making donations to political parties in British Columbia.

      As party leader, I would bring more democracy back into the B.C. NDP. I’d empower our membership to get directly involved in policy, using the Internet and other tools to ensure that we remain a truly grassroots party where every member has a real voice.

      An example of the bottom-up way I believe the B.C. NDP should be run, I strongly support “Sustainable B.C.” which was passed unanimously at convention but sadly never made it onto our election platform. Sustainability B.C. says that every British Columbian has the right to clean air and water, adequate shelter, quality education, health care, safe surroundings, and active participation in the economy.

      I also see sustainability as meaning we should preserve our public institutions for the common good. As premier, I would stop and reverse the corporate giveaways, to ensure that B.C. Ferries, B.C. Hydro, and B.C. Rail are maintained for the benefit of all British Columbians.

      Social justice means ensuring that our poorest and most vulnerable citizens are not left behind. I advocate for a $10 minimum wage, indexed to inflation. I also support reforming our welfare system so that everyone is guaranteed an adequate minimum income.

      Finally, I call for B.C. to get smart on crime. We need to accept the overwhelming evidence that more prisons and more police does not lead to a safe and civil society. As premier I would implement NDP policy to remove marijuana users from the criminal justice system, so that we could tax and regulate adult use. This would free police resources to focus on dangerous criminals and not pot smokers.

      Taxed and regulated marijuana would also be a financial windfall that provided benefits to all British Columbians. This would allow us to pay down the Liberals’ debt and maintain social programs without raising taxes.

      Being smart on crime also entails recognizing that prison is not a solution for homelessness, drug addiction, or mental health issues. As premier, I would tell Stephen Harper that enough is enough, and that the people of British Columbia prefer to spend our tax dollars on programs that help keep nonviolent and vulnerable people out of prison. B.C. should not foot the bill for Stephen Harper’s prison spending spree.

      If you support the principles of democracy, sustainability, social justice, and being smart on crime, then please join the B.C. NDP and support my leadership bid. You can visit my campaign online at votedana.ca/.

      Dana Larsen is a B.C. NDP leadership candidate.



      Christy Clark Fan

      Jan 17, 2011 at 1:15pm

      Dana, thanks for running. I think people want to see how a stoned MLA acts!


      Jan 17, 2011 at 1:58pm

      Add universal dental care to your platform. What dentists charge for dental care is out of reach for a lot of voters in this province.


      Jan 17, 2011 at 2:47pm

      breath of fresh air?


      Jan 17, 2011 at 3:02pm

      Clearly the legalize marijuana crowd is too stoned to think through the logic of the free market, government regulation and taxation to understand that their plan would never work.


      Jan 17, 2011 at 3:31pm

      Clearly the American influenced 30+ year old war on drugs is not working. It's time for some innovative, non status quo, outside of the box thinking and government policies. Maybe people shouldn't be so quick to renew old "stoner" stereotypes.


      Jan 17, 2011 at 3:42pm

      Clearly Canadian criminal statutes are federal matters and the future premier of our province will have his hands full with matters that actually ARE his or her responsibility. Regardless of how much one's very being is intertwined with pot, its decriminalization will never be a provincial matter.

      glen p robbins

      Jan 17, 2011 at 4:49pm

      CCF - I'll take stoned over stone cold stupid.

      Hank Boyd

      Jan 17, 2011 at 5:42pm

      Bruno15 hasn't learned much about the nature of Confederation if he thinks it's that cut and dry. Marijuana prohibition has massive effects on BC's economy and social fabric. Other provinces have leaders that stick up for their interests-see Quebec, Newfoundland, Alberta... It's time for BC to start actually making it's case and to address the fact that a major sector of our economy is controlled by organized crime. There are states in the US with more progressive approaches than us, so the sky is falling crap about the wraith of our southern neighbour doesn't fly either.

      BC can legalize now

      Jan 17, 2011 at 6:47pm

      So when Christy Clark and Kevin Falcon call for "longer sentences" for "drug dealers" that is Provincial jurisdiction? But when Dana Larsen calls to end the stupid war on marijuana, that is not provincial jurisdiction?

      Provincial AG's have been supporting the Conservatives "mandatory minimums" for marijuana crimes, saying they think it's a good idea. So then why can't the BCNDP tell the feds that we DON'T want to spend our money on cops and prisons to enforce their ridiculous and expensive war on pot?

      InSite is provincial jurisdiction, health care is provincial jurisdiction, medicinal marijuana at least should be run by the provinces.


      Jan 17, 2011 at 8:40pm

      Don't just maintain the social services at the current rediculous low level they are down to. Spend more to improve them, to get caught up on surgeries. We need more hospitals, better services and a timely medical system, not more jails. Spend the money on medical and home support, and the jails will be half empty.