In, albeit not their sleaziest act, the Harper government blanketed the Ontario federal riding of Scarborough-Agincourt with flyers, aimed at the Liberals, for the upcoming bi-election.
Not unusual during an election campaign.
What made these flyers beyond the pale, was their content. Hoping to tap into the abundant immigrant community for votes, they suggest that Justin Trudeau will encourage their children to smoke pot, by making it available in stores.
Says Joan Bryden for the Canadian Press:
In fact, Trudeau argues that legalizing, regulating and taxing pot would help keep it out of the hands of children and starve organized crime of its lucrative marijuana trade.This is not the first time that Stephen Harper has tried to exploit new Canadians with misleading information.
In 2005, he began attending multi-cultural events denouncing same-sex marriage, telling the crowds that the Liberals were going to force their churches to perform the ceremonies. A lie, but it didn't matter. He was recruiting for his base.
Ronald Reagan and the War on Drugs
Ronald Reagan, who had always taken a divide and conquer approach to politics, saw this war as one he could win. Not the actual drug war, but the war against liberalism.
Most conservatives blamed drugs, in particular marijuana, for the conceived ills of modern society. Says Dan Baum in his book: Smoke and Mirrors: The War on Drugs and the Politics of Failure
Conservative parents' groups opposed to marijuana had helped to ignite the Reagan Revolution. Marijuana symbolized the weakness and permissiveness of a liberal society; it was held responsible for the slovenly appearance of teenagers and their lack of motivation. Carlton Turner, Reagan's first drug czar, believed that marijuana use was inextricably linked to "the present young-adult generation's involvement in anti-military, anti-nuclear power, anti-big business, anti-authority demonstrations." A public-health approach to drug control was replaced by an emphasis on law enforcement. Drug abuse was no longer considered a form of illness; all drug use was deemed immoral, and punishing drug offenders was thought to be more important than getting them off drugs.Politicians began calling for tougher sentences for drug users and abusers, with Newt Gingrich going so far as to draft a bill that demanded a ' life sentence or the death penalty for anyone caught bringing more than two ounces of marijuana into the United States.' (Baum)
So Harper's new Gingrich style crime bills, that include mandatory minimums for Marijuana growers, are not about putting youth on the straight and narrow, but pandering to his anti-liberal base.
But will it work? This is not the 1980s and attitudes toward pot have changed. Those "slovenly teenagers" are now adults, who grew up in an atmosphere of "reefer madness" hysteria, and know that it was more hyperbole than sound judgement.
Cigarette smoking is more harmful to your health than marijuana, and alcoholism just as damaging to families as drug addiction.
Also important to note is that half of the deaths caused by drug overdose, were from prescription medicines, and today's youth are increasingly turning to 'legal' drugs to get high. So will there be a war on big-pharma?
The Conservatives may shoot themselves in the foot with this newest ammunition in their arsenal, but who knows? We've witnessed some of the most bizarre attacks on their opponents and reason itself, yet they're still standing.
Pandering to core supporters with nonsense, while discouraging reasonable Canadians from engaging in politics, is not without it's merits.
When it comes to legalizing and decriminalizing marijuana, let's hope that good sense prevails.