Scarborough federal election candidates square off on drug issue

News Oct 09, 2015 by Mike Adler Scarborough Mirror

Drugs are back as an election issue in Scarborough, as Conservative candidates warn against legalizing marijuana and opening more safe injection sites.

Marijuana is not the most talked-about topic in local campaigns, but at a Scarborough-Rouge River debate Tuesday, Oct. 6, Green Party candidate Calvin Winter said a lot of resources go into the “war on drugs” to stop illegal trade in marijuana, which is “bread and butter” to criminal organizations.

But if pot is legal and regulated, that will take money out of the criminals’ hands, and the government could tax it, Winter said.

“It would free up police resources to look at crimes that are actually hurting people.”

Seated beside him, Conservative Leslyn Lewis wasn’t swayed. “Marijuana destroys a young mind,” she declared, and Conservatives do not support legalization, regardless of how much revenue it would bring in.

Winter didn’t deny marijuana is bad for children, but said legalizing it will make it harder for children to get. “Prohibition has not made people smoke less,” he said.

The Liberals have said they will legalize marijuana for personal use – a policy the party’s Scarborough Southwest candidate and ex-Toronto police chief Bill Blair has defended in television interviews – but it’s unclear how marijuana regulation would work under its plan.

The New Democratic Party supports decriminalizing personal use of marijuana, but hasn’t said it will legalize it.

In an interview last month, Bin Chang, Conservative candidate in Scarborough-Agincourt, said the Liberal plan for legalization of marijuana “is often talked about” in the riding.

So is the possibility a drug injection site moving into the area. “No one wants it in Scarborough-Agincourt,” she said.

Chang was asked what the source of this fear is. In remarks at the University of British Columbia this year, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau said he’d like to see safe supervised injections sites like Vancouver’s Insite “across the country,” the Tory candidate said, “so people are worried: Is there going to be one on my street?”

Insite opened in 1997 to check the spread of HIV through shared needles and overdose deaths in Vancouver. It has been criticized by Conservatives for a decade.

Trudeau praised Insite, but said he was not in favour of decriminalizing harder drugs, such as heroin.

Stephen Harper’s government passed a bill this year, the Respect for Communities Act, which would make it harder for safe injection sites to open.

Scarborough Centre’s Conservative candidate Roxanne James said she was proud to work on that legislation, but the party is distributing flyers stating the Liberals and NDP would repeal it.

“Unlike the other parties, the Harper Conservatives will continue to combat any growth in use of illegal drugs by our children and in our neighbourhoods,” it states.

Arnold Chan, the Liberal in Scarborough-Agincourt, said he’s aware Conservatives are trying to use drugs in the riding as a wedge issue.

Chan was elected in a byelection last year, when a Conservative, Trevor Ellis, presented himself as the candidate who would “keep drugs out of the hands of our children” by standing against marijuana legalization, saying it was the “Number One issue that concerns parents” he spoke to while canvassing.

The party distributed a flyer during the byelection showing an image of Trudeau hovering beside a boy appearing to smoke marijuana. It said, “Trudeau wants marijuana in local stores, just like alcohol and cigarettes.”

“I don’t think it moved large blocks of voters,” Chan said last month, adding an honest conversation about Liberal policy changes minds. “People start to understand that the current (Conservative) policy isn’t working.”

Under prohibition now, criminal gangs can profit from marijuana. and an offence for possession may follow a young person for life, said Chan, arguing government should focus resources on prevention and intervention with youth, encouraging them to see marijuana as a bad choice.

Conservatives such as Chang have no particular answer on how to reduce marijuana use, just an ideological response, he added.

Sales of marijuana to young people would still be illegal under the Liberal plan, as would trafficking.

Toronto’s Centre for Addiction and Mental Health says marijuana is Canada’s most commonly used illegal drug, and 44 per cent of Canadians have used it at least once, while 46 per cent of Ontario students have tried it by the time they reach Grade 12.

Scarborough federal election candidates square off on drug issue

Marijuana would be legalized for personal use by Liberals, decriminalized by NDP, remain prohibited by Conservatives

News Oct 09, 2015 by Mike Adler Scarborough Mirror

Drugs are back as an election issue in Scarborough, as Conservative candidates warn against legalizing marijuana and opening more safe injection sites.

Marijuana is not the most talked-about topic in local campaigns, but at a Scarborough-Rouge River debate Tuesday, Oct. 6, Green Party candidate Calvin Winter said a lot of resources go into the “war on drugs” to stop illegal trade in marijuana, which is “bread and butter” to criminal organizations.

But if pot is legal and regulated, that will take money out of the criminals’ hands, and the government could tax it, Winter said.

“It would free up police resources to look at crimes that are actually hurting people.”

Seated beside him, Conservative Leslyn Lewis wasn’t swayed. “Marijuana destroys a young mind,” she declared, and Conservatives do not support legalization, regardless of how much revenue it would bring in.

Winter didn’t deny marijuana is bad for children, but said legalizing it will make it harder for children to get. “Prohibition has not made people smoke less,” he said.

The Liberals have said they will legalize marijuana for personal use – a policy the party’s Scarborough Southwest candidate and ex-Toronto police chief Bill Blair has defended in television interviews – but it’s unclear how marijuana regulation would work under its plan.

The New Democratic Party supports decriminalizing personal use of marijuana, but hasn’t said it will legalize it.

In an interview last month, Bin Chang, Conservative candidate in Scarborough-Agincourt, said the Liberal plan for legalization of marijuana “is often talked about” in the riding.

So is the possibility a drug injection site moving into the area. “No one wants it in Scarborough-Agincourt,” she said.

Chang was asked what the source of this fear is. In remarks at the University of British Columbia this year, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau said he’d like to see safe supervised injections sites like Vancouver’s Insite “across the country,” the Tory candidate said, “so people are worried: Is there going to be one on my street?”

Insite opened in 1997 to check the spread of HIV through shared needles and overdose deaths in Vancouver. It has been criticized by Conservatives for a decade.

Trudeau praised Insite, but said he was not in favour of decriminalizing harder drugs, such as heroin.

Stephen Harper’s government passed a bill this year, the Respect for Communities Act, which would make it harder for safe injection sites to open.

Scarborough Centre’s Conservative candidate Roxanne James said she was proud to work on that legislation, but the party is distributing flyers stating the Liberals and NDP would repeal it.

“Unlike the other parties, the Harper Conservatives will continue to combat any growth in use of illegal drugs by our children and in our neighbourhoods,” it states.

Arnold Chan, the Liberal in Scarborough-Agincourt, said he’s aware Conservatives are trying to use drugs in the riding as a wedge issue.

Chan was elected in a byelection last year, when a Conservative, Trevor Ellis, presented himself as the candidate who would “keep drugs out of the hands of our children” by standing against marijuana legalization, saying it was the “Number One issue that concerns parents” he spoke to while canvassing.

The party distributed a flyer during the byelection showing an image of Trudeau hovering beside a boy appearing to smoke marijuana. It said, “Trudeau wants marijuana in local stores, just like alcohol and cigarettes.”

“I don’t think it moved large blocks of voters,” Chan said last month, adding an honest conversation about Liberal policy changes minds. “People start to understand that the current (Conservative) policy isn’t working.”

Under prohibition now, criminal gangs can profit from marijuana. and an offence for possession may follow a young person for life, said Chan, arguing government should focus resources on prevention and intervention with youth, encouraging them to see marijuana as a bad choice.

Conservatives such as Chang have no particular answer on how to reduce marijuana use, just an ideological response, he added.

Sales of marijuana to young people would still be illegal under the Liberal plan, as would trafficking.

Toronto’s Centre for Addiction and Mental Health says marijuana is Canada’s most commonly used illegal drug, and 44 per cent of Canadians have used it at least once, while 46 per cent of Ontario students have tried it by the time they reach Grade 12.

Scarborough federal election candidates square off on drug issue

Marijuana would be legalized for personal use by Liberals, decriminalized by NDP, remain prohibited by Conservatives

News Oct 09, 2015 by Mike Adler Scarborough Mirror

Drugs are back as an election issue in Scarborough, as Conservative candidates warn against legalizing marijuana and opening more safe injection sites.

Marijuana is not the most talked-about topic in local campaigns, but at a Scarborough-Rouge River debate Tuesday, Oct. 6, Green Party candidate Calvin Winter said a lot of resources go into the “war on drugs” to stop illegal trade in marijuana, which is “bread and butter” to criminal organizations.

But if pot is legal and regulated, that will take money out of the criminals’ hands, and the government could tax it, Winter said.

“It would free up police resources to look at crimes that are actually hurting people.”

Seated beside him, Conservative Leslyn Lewis wasn’t swayed. “Marijuana destroys a young mind,” she declared, and Conservatives do not support legalization, regardless of how much revenue it would bring in.

Winter didn’t deny marijuana is bad for children, but said legalizing it will make it harder for children to get. “Prohibition has not made people smoke less,” he said.

The Liberals have said they will legalize marijuana for personal use – a policy the party’s Scarborough Southwest candidate and ex-Toronto police chief Bill Blair has defended in television interviews – but it’s unclear how marijuana regulation would work under its plan.

The New Democratic Party supports decriminalizing personal use of marijuana, but hasn’t said it will legalize it.

In an interview last month, Bin Chang, Conservative candidate in Scarborough-Agincourt, said the Liberal plan for legalization of marijuana “is often talked about” in the riding.

So is the possibility a drug injection site moving into the area. “No one wants it in Scarborough-Agincourt,” she said.

Chang was asked what the source of this fear is. In remarks at the University of British Columbia this year, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau said he’d like to see safe supervised injections sites like Vancouver’s Insite “across the country,” the Tory candidate said, “so people are worried: Is there going to be one on my street?”

Insite opened in 1997 to check the spread of HIV through shared needles and overdose deaths in Vancouver. It has been criticized by Conservatives for a decade.

Trudeau praised Insite, but said he was not in favour of decriminalizing harder drugs, such as heroin.

Stephen Harper’s government passed a bill this year, the Respect for Communities Act, which would make it harder for safe injection sites to open.

Scarborough Centre’s Conservative candidate Roxanne James said she was proud to work on that legislation, but the party is distributing flyers stating the Liberals and NDP would repeal it.

“Unlike the other parties, the Harper Conservatives will continue to combat any growth in use of illegal drugs by our children and in our neighbourhoods,” it states.

Arnold Chan, the Liberal in Scarborough-Agincourt, said he’s aware Conservatives are trying to use drugs in the riding as a wedge issue.

Chan was elected in a byelection last year, when a Conservative, Trevor Ellis, presented himself as the candidate who would “keep drugs out of the hands of our children” by standing against marijuana legalization, saying it was the “Number One issue that concerns parents” he spoke to while canvassing.

The party distributed a flyer during the byelection showing an image of Trudeau hovering beside a boy appearing to smoke marijuana. It said, “Trudeau wants marijuana in local stores, just like alcohol and cigarettes.”

“I don’t think it moved large blocks of voters,” Chan said last month, adding an honest conversation about Liberal policy changes minds. “People start to understand that the current (Conservative) policy isn’t working.”

Under prohibition now, criminal gangs can profit from marijuana. and an offence for possession may follow a young person for life, said Chan, arguing government should focus resources on prevention and intervention with youth, encouraging them to see marijuana as a bad choice.

Conservatives such as Chang have no particular answer on how to reduce marijuana use, just an ideological response, he added.

Sales of marijuana to young people would still be illegal under the Liberal plan, as would trafficking.

Toronto’s Centre for Addiction and Mental Health says marijuana is Canada’s most commonly used illegal drug, and 44 per cent of Canadians have used it at least once, while 46 per cent of Ontario students have tried it by the time they reach Grade 12.