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NDP stands up to S-10

By admin | May 19, 2010

Thank you for your past email outlining your concerns over marijuana
laws in Canada.

Regrettably, the Conservative government has reintroduced legislation to
impose mandatory minimum sentences for drug crimes. Bill S-10, an Act to
amend the Controlled Drug and Substances Act, follows up on their flawed
legislation from last session, Bill C-15.

New Democrats opposed Bill C-15 and continue to believe that this type
of legislation is wrong-headed and costly. The attached letter by my
colleague and NDP Spokesperson for Drug Policy Libby Davies, MP expands
on our position.

Looking forward, we remain committed to seeking other alternatives to
the Conservatives’ heavy-handed US-style war-on-drugs approach. We think
it is time for a common sense drug strategy in Canada, one that
addresses drug use from a public health perspective.

Again, I appreciate hearing from you. All the best.


Jack Layton, MP (Toronto-Danforth)
Leader, Canada’s New Democrats

May, 2010
Dear Friend,
Thanks for your email outlining your opposition to Bill S-10, an Act to amend the
Controlled Drug and Substances Act.
I share your concerns and have been working at every turn to stop this failed, George
Bush style war-on-drugs Bill that proposes mandatory minimum sentences for drug
My NDP colleagues and I voted a resounding NO when this Bill was introduced in the
House as Bill C-15, but it was passed with the support of the Liberal Party. Now we
have a second chance to stop this wrong-headed and costly legislation.
The Conservative Government knows that mandatory minimum sentences for drug
crimes don’t work. After weeks of debate, testimony and studies delivered by
extraordinary expert witnesses at a Parliamentary Justice Committee on the issue, the
evidence was clear that mandatory minimum sentences for drug crimes do not work.
Organizations like the John Howard Society, the Canadian Bar Association and Canadian
HIV/AIDS Legal Network all warned that these sentences mostly target low-level drug
users and street dealers, and not the drug-lords and king-pins that the Conservatives
have promised to go after.
Canada spends 73% of its drug policy budget on enforcement for what is essentially a
public health issue. I will continue to push for the proven four pillar approach to drug
use – including enforcement, but with real resources going to prevention, treatment
and harm reduction. The Conservatives’ iron fisted approach that criminalizes drug
users is taking Canada in the wrong direction.
Libby Davies, MP Vancouver East
NDP Spokesperson for Drug Policy

Atamanenko decries Conservative crime bill
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Atamanenko decries Conservative crime bill
May 7,2010

Colin Payne, Daily News staff

Alex Atamanenko says the new crime bill by the federal government that would impose mandatory minimum sentences on marijuana growers is ineffective and panders to the party’s voter base.

“The Conservatives are selling this bill on organized crime, but the reality that we’re finding is. . . that mandatory minimum sentences do not deter organized crime. They usually affect small dealers, street level traffickers, but not violent offenders,” the BC Southern Interior MP said.

The bill was passed in Parliament in December 2009, but amended in the Senate by Liberal senators to remove the clause that would see people found guilty of growing six to 200 plants get a minimum of six months in jail

When the government prorogued Parliament in February for the Olympics, the bill fell off the table along with a number of others – but was reintroduced to the Senate by the government on Wednesday.

All that could result from the government’s proposed new crime law would be an overcrowded justice and corrections system which will place a burden on the provinces to fund, Atamanenko said.

He added that the move is a shift toward an American-style system that the United States is currently moving away from because of expensive, overcrowded prisons.

Atamanenko pointed out his party, the NDP, and former Liberal governments have all focused on a “four pillar” approach to justice that focuses on prevention, treatment and harm reduction – but the Conservatives have strayed far from that system.

“It their 2007 budget the Conservatives introduced their new anti-drug strategy that removed all references to harm reduction,” Atamanenko noted. “Seventy three per cent of the drug policy budget is spent on enforcement.”

He feels putting people in jail for growing small amounts of marijuana is not sensible policy.

“The idea of someone with a few plants of marijuana getting a minimum of six months in jail, it doesn’t make any sense at all,” Atamanenko noted.

“It’s designed to appeal to the hardcore Conservative base. It’s oversimplified. It targets street level users and small traffickers and doesn’t address the problems of organized crime.”

The bill must pass through Parliament again before being made into law.

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