July 30, 2007
Canadian Press, lying as usual
Bob Tarantino pointed me to this CP item:
OTTAWA–The number of people arrested for smoking pot rose dramatically in several Canadian cities last year after the Conservatives took office and killed a bill to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana.
First of all, the Conservatives did not kill the bill; it died automatically when the 38th Parliament fell in November 2005. Can Mr. Panetta really be this ignorant of the Canadian parliamentary system, given that it's his job to report on it?
Toronto, Vancouver, Ottawa and Halifax reported increases of between 20 and 50 per cent in 2006, while Montreal and Calgary saw their number of arrests dip a few percentage points from the previous year.
So in other words, they're blaming the federal Conservatives for something that is entirely the result of decisions by local police forces.
As a result, thousands of people were charged with a criminal offence that recently was within a whisker of extinction.
Every party in the House of Commons except the Conservatives supported the decriminalization bill, but the Liberal government that sponsored it never brought it to a final vote.
Didn't bring it to a "final vote," you say? In fact, over the course of the entire term they didn't do anything more than refer it to a committee! (And the Liberals also failed to pass two earlier versions of the bill in the 37th Parliament, despite having a majority at the time.)
Also, for what it's worth this pro-marijuana site claims that the Liberal bills would have done little to reduce the penalty on small-time cannabis users, and possibly have made them harsher (such as fining users who previously would have just gotten a warning).