Thursday, September 28, 2006

Liberal Martha Hall Findlay Favors Legalization of Marijuana and Public Dental Care

I emailed out the following survey to all Liberal candidates. Martha Hall Findlay is the only one to respond thus far. The questions are in bold, her answers in full highlighted. I have responded to some. Most of her answers are fairly par for the course, but there are a few that are really interesting.

1) A hypothetical: If a vote on Afghan mission was held today and there had been rigorous debate on the subject, would you vote to extend the mission through 2009?

Only if (i) in the process of the debate I was persuaded, with all of the relevant facts, that this was the right decision; and (ii) in conjunction with a domestic debate, we also engaged with our NATO and UN partners in a thorough review of the circumstances, of what our REAL goals in Afghanistan are, whether those goals are in fact achievable, and if so, how---and in the course of that debate we also determined that it was the right thing to do.

I was trying to avoid the debate fig leaf answer, but alas to no avail. Anyway, it is not unreasonable to expect Liberal candidates to have an opinion one way or the other. They can not hide behind there was no debate so I do not have opinion on the matter forever. Of course, one may rethink one’s position if new evidence or arguments come to light.

2) Suppose next spring there was no let up in the number of Taliban attacks and in the number of Canadians dying, would you call for an end to the mission?

My answer to this follows on my answer to #1. We need to have a full review and analysis, not only domestically but also with our NATO and UN partners, to determine goals, and if they are achievable, then how we can best achieve them. In making this commitment, Canada knew, and knows, that it is and will continue to be difficult, and that lives will be lost. If that decision is made appropriately, given all of the facts and review, then we must not simply pull up and away from our commitment when things get tough. My father landed on D-Day and helped liberate Holland in WW II. If we Canadians decide that something is important and worth doing, then we do it, even when it's tough.

3) Given that Al Qaeda has singled Canada out because of our presence in Afghanistan and given that the alleged motivation of the Ontario 17 was our presence in Afghanistan , does our presence in Afghanistan make it more likely that Canada will be attacked by terrorists, home grown or otherwise?

I'm not sure that Canada is being "singled out" by Al Qaeda, given the presence of a significant number of NATO members in Afghanistan . However, the chances of increased threat is possible, and one of the many factors that I would insist on considering in that full and thorough review, with our NATO partners, that I'm calling for. Again, though---if it's the right decision, properly arrived at considering all of the factors, then we don't shrink from taking the right action because of fear.

Personally I do not think there is any doubt. Canada is more likely to be attacked because of our presence in Afghanistan . I dare say I am not alone in this regard.
“When asked about the likelihood of Canada being a terror target because of its military presence in Afghanistan , 56 per cent said we are more likely to be attacked.

This represents an increase of 18 per cent compared to one year ago. Thirty-four per cent say the military presence has no bearing; while five per cent say having soldiers in Afghanistan make us less susceptible to an attack."

As for Al Qaeda, right wing commentators take a perverse delight in noting that Al Qaeda has singled Canada out for attack. They see it as proof that Canadians are hopelessly naïve not to whole heartedly support the war on terror. What they fail to note, however, and this is testament to their complete lack of intellectual honesty, is why Al Qaeda singled Canada out for attack. Canada was singled out because of our presence in Afghanistan.

“What do your governments want from their alliance with America in attacking us in Afghanistan? I mention in particular Britain , France , Italy , Canada , Germany and Australia .

We warned Australia before not to join in the war in Afghanistan , and against its despicable effort to separate East Timor . It ignored the warning until it woke up to the sounds of explosions in Bali."

That being said the greater threat comes not from Al Qaeda per say, but from so called home grown terrorists.

All this begs the question is the increased likelihood of attack a reason for getting out of Afghanistan? I do not think anyone would claim it is a sufficient reason. However, given the futility of the mission, its cost both in human and financial terms and how little Canadian interests are furthered by our being there, it is reason enough.

4) Can NATO succeed in both stabilizing Afghanistan and destroying the country's number one industry?

I'm not sure which industry you believe is Afghanistan 's #1. If you mean the harbouring of terrorists and the growth of terrorism, then my answer is, unfortunately, that I don't know. That would be part of that larger, full review---a key component of those discussions would, of course, be whether that is an achievable goal. It is certainly one of the goals now, but whether it is achievable has come under some debate. If, however, you are referring to the opium trade, it's a different answer. I'm not sure that we should be so quick to insist on the destruction of the poppy crop. Western society is, after all, the biggest consumer of opiates. Suggesting a switch to other crops, such as corn, disregards the economic realities of corn being a crop that cannot earn nearly as much money, particularly when markets (including our own and those of the US and Europe ) are so subsidized and so protected. One alternative might be for the world to agree to pay decent prices for the crops for use in medicinal opiates, morphine for example, which is in fact in short supply.

I should have specified that I meant the opium crop, but is harbouring terrorists really an industry?


5) Does it make any sense to on the one hand decriminalize marijuana possession under the guise that current punishments are far out of proportion to the act while on the hand increasing the penalties for trafficking?

No. Prohibition didn't work for alcohol---it only spawned tremendous crime, some of it violent. We are seeing exactly the same thing with marijuana. There is an interesting study by the Fraser Institute ( which suggests that continued criminalization of marijuana does not make sense—for the same reasons that prohibition didn't work for alcohol.

It should be noted that this is a rejection of official Liberal policy.

6) Are concerns about so called "potent pot" valid?

Yes, but the concerns would be more easily addressed if, with some legalization, the product could be properly controlled.

I disagree; the evidence that today’s pot is substantially stronger than the pot of old rests on pretty shaky ground.

Moreover, even if it were true, saying that potent pot is reason for keeping marijuana illegal is akin to saying that alcohol should be banned because gin has higher alcohol content than beer. Indeed, if anything potent pot should be welcomed. After all, the most prominent health effect related to marijuana is that it is usually smoked. The more potent the pot, the less people have to smoke to achieve the same high.

All that being said, MHF is using the de jour argument against marijuana legalization against the drug warriors. She is arguing that if potent pot is as much as a concern as they say it is, keeping it illegal makes the situation worse and not better. The potency of pot can be insured if regulated and it can only be regulated if legal.

7) The Senate committee on marijuana concluded that the "Scientific evidence overwhelmingly indicates that cannabis is substantially less harmful than alcohol"? Do you agree with this conclusion?

Ok I think there is enough here to out MHF as a supporter of legalization.

Vacation Time

8) Canada lags behind far behind virtually every other Western nation in terms of the number vacation days its citizens are guaranteed. Is it time that Canada bridge the vacation gap?

EU minimum is 4 weeks
Switzerland 4 weeks
New Zealand 4 weeks (starting in 2007)
Norway 5 weeks

It is something worth reviewing, but it must be done in consideration of overall productivity, costs of employment for employers, and compensation for employees. There are interesting studies that show that with a bit more time off, people can in fact be more productive during the hours actually working.

My attitude is that if the entire Western world, minus the US can do it, so can we.


9) Should Canada pass an euthanasia law, a la Holland ?

A very tough question. If we were to consider it, we would of course require incredibly strong parameters and controls. My preference is to educate more people on the benefits of living wills and let them make their own decisions about who might decide, when, not to resuscitate.

Passive euthanasia, (e.g., dehydration) is already a reality in Canada and is extremely common. All the proponents of most common form of legalized euthanasia are calling for is for option of making some of those passive cases active.

Dental care

10) Other Western countries (e.g., Germany, Finland and Britain)have public dental care. Should Canada?

Certain basic dental procedures should be considered as part of an overall health care plan. A lot of Canadians do not have access to dental insurance.

I am boarding the bus.


11) Given his support for "Empire Lite", does Ignatieff have the potential to be as divisive a figure within the party as Tony Blair has become within his party?

Mr. Ignatieff and I disagree on a number of issues, but agree on many others. On the former, I would prefer to disagree, and engage in the vigorous discussion necessary for truly effective policy development with someone who holds views that are different than mine, but holds them honestly, than to agree with someone whose views are more politically expedient than honest.

This was not what I asked, but it was unreasonable to expect her to answer. Ignatieff has the potential to rip the party apart, a la Tony Blair; he also has to potential to good leader a la Tony Blair.

Heroin Maintenance

12) Do you support a proposed heroin maintenance program for Vancouver?

I am a full supporter of the Insite site in Vancouver.

The heroin maintenance and Insite are two different things. Insite is Vancouver’s safe injection site. Vancouver ’s heroin maintenance program involves, as should be obvious, giving a group of identified addicts heroin. The evidence for the effectiveness of both is overwhelming.


13) Name the last 4 books you have read.

Andrew Cohen's "While Canada Slept"
Roy MacGregor 's "The Dog and I"
Andre Pratte's "Aux Pays des Merveilles"
Harry Frankfurt's "On Bullshit"

I have only read Frankfurt ’s “On Bullshit”; I liked it.


14) Name the last 2 movies you have seen.

United 93

Both are excellent.


15) What was the first car you owned?

An old milk truck (the kind with the sliding doors) that had been converted into a camper—panelled in pine with an old black wood burning stove and stove pipe out the roof. My second car was a second-hand Toyota pick-up.

My Pet Policy Idea

16) In order to attract more international grad students and just as importantly keep a higher percentage of international grad students in country after they graduate, Canada should offer citizenship to those foreign graduate students who complete a graduate degree from, and this important, a public Canadian university. Does this idea have any merit?

Yes, it has merit---it should be considered as part of a larger, but immediately needed review of our immigration point system. We'd like to encourage a reverse brain drain, but (as just one example) we also have thousands and thousands of people working here in the construction trades, illegally, because although we clearly need their skills, the point system doesn't recognize it.

I know I know; it was nasty to ask this question. She is not in a position to say that this is the dumbest idea she has ever come across. That said, I would like to ignore that fact; in fact, my head feels bigger already.

Many Thanks to Martha Hall Findlay for taking the time and for having the courage to take the survey.


Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...

to hell with alchol ,to dangeres,to much trouble cant drive on it without trouble canabis you can

raswyahrb said...

any thing in the area of forward movement to stop the persecution of our fellow citizens for the medical, spiritual , recreational and cultural and industrial use of marijuana. the canadian liberal house have set the standard in the medical marijuana access regulation of year ending 2000-- 2001. now there are manny challenges in the court that have proved the need for more leadership in allowing access to the citizens of canada all who use this multi- purpose plant. in the year of focus on a cleaner, safer and just environment; many have turned away from fossil fuel and the many problems it causes. the redemption of pre 1937 laws and repealing of proihibition of cannabis / hemp act. victory will be decleared and the persecuted people of the planet will be free to use all the trees of the garden of eden. the trade and utilization of cannabis will be an agricultural, health and commercial enterprize and no longer a criminal / justice dominated issue. the legal place for criminal / justice will entails the safety, quality control, and regulation and taxing of this market place. if canada do the right thing and stop the punishment of nonviolent offender by the law of reconcilliation and negotiation to a peaceful agreement ; we as a nation will have change course to a more progressive way of life and culture. the legalization of cannabis / hemp into a regulated market will ensure not only safety, service, civility and tax revenues but,a cleaner and balance environment... peace & love from; bb/ab raswyah.

AMIT said...

Thanks for such a good article on this topic.

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