Saturday, July 11, 2009

Why Did Liberal MPs Support Bill C-15?

From the 2009 Liberal Convention, in Vancouver, British Columbia,

Justice and Constitutional Resolutions:

53. Legalize and Regulate Marijuana

WHEREAS, despite almost a century of prohibition, millions of Canadians today regularly consume marijuana and other cannabis products;

AND WHEREAS the failed prohibition of marijuana has exhausted countless billions of dollars spent on ineffective or incomplete enforcement and has resulted in unnecessarily dangerous and expensive congestion in our judicial system;

AND WHEREAS various marijuana decriminalization or legalization policy prescriptions have been recommended by the 1969-72 Commission of Enquiry into the Non-Medical Use of Drugs, the 2002 Canadian Senate Special Committee on Illegal Drugs, and the 2002 House of Commons Special Committee on the Non-Medical Use of Drugs;

AND WHEREAS the legal status quo for the criminal regulation of marijuana continues to endanger Canadians by generating significant resources for gang-related violent criminal activity and weapons smuggling - a reality which could be very easily confronted by the regulation and legitimization of Canada's marijuana industry;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that a new Liberal government will legalize marijuana and
ensure the regulation and taxation of its production, distribution, and use, while enacting strict penalties for illegal trafficking, illegal importation and exportation, and impaired driving.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that a new Liberal government will invest significant resources in prevention and education programs designed to promote awareness of the health risks and consequences of marijuana use and dependency, especially amongst youth.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that a new Liberal government will extend amnesty to all
Canadians previously convicted of simple and minimal marijuana possession, and ensure the elimination of all criminal records related thereto.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that a new Liberal government will work with the provinces and local governments of Canada on a coordinated regulatory approach to marijuana which maintains significant federal responsibility for marijuana control while respecting provincial health jurisdiction and particular regional concerns and practices.
~Liberal Party of Canada (British Columbia) - April 30 - May 3, 2009.


Before the vote on Bill C-15: A number of prominent Liberals challenged their party's puzzling support for Bill C-15. Dozens of bloggers, riding association presidents and other party members publicly complained about Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff pressuring the party to back the new law.

Yet, when it came to the April 8th. parliamentary vote, every Liberal present voted for the bill, except for Liberal MP Keith Martin who supports decriminalization. Martin abstained from the vote. The NDP and Bloc all voted against it.

"In the context of some occasions where the sentences have not been appropriate, we're in support of C-15," said Ignatieff. "We support stronger measures."


To recap, at their biannual convention the Liberals promise to legalize Cannabis if elected, but when push comes to shove they hop on the PC Drug War bandwagon and support a bill that will bring harsher penalties regarding Cannabis. They endorsed this policy without any estimate of how much it will cost Canadian taxpayers. And they want us to trust them? They want us to vote for them? Until the Liberals come clean with their true intentions regarding cannabis prohibition what are are we Canadians to believe?

Our Hope - The Senate

The week of June 25th. senators voted to delay their decision regarding Bill C-15 by a 38-33 vote. Justice Minister Rob Nicholson ranted, accusing Liberal senators of blocking the Conservatives agenda. The following is an excerpt from a June 22nd. feature article from Cannabis Culture magazine:

Conservative Justice Minister Rob Nicholson lashed out at the Senate today, accusing them of blocking the Conservatives so called “law and order' agenda.

Nicholson specifically targeted the Senate for failing to act fast enough on C-15, the Conservatives' bill that includes mandatory minimum prison terms for drug offenses and has been almost universally criticized by criminal justice experts. The bill, which took more than 14 weeks to pass the House of Commons, has been in the Senate for less than two weeks and has already passed First Reading.

Despite the passing of the bill by Liberals in the house, Senate Liberals seem to be standing up to the Conservative bullying.

“They want to appear to be tough on crime,” Senate Opposition Leader James Cowan said. “If they were really serious about this, they would have introduced these bills at the beginning of the session and processed them through the House and gotten them to us before the end of the session.”

Cowan said other bills have taken several months to pass the House, but Nicholson is demanding they pass the Senate in only two or three days.

“We’re not going to be pushed into doing that,” Cowan said, suggesting the Conservatives are trying to distract attention away from the economy and the isotope shortage.

Critics of the bill say evidence overwhelming shows mandatory minimums simply don't work, can be extremely expensive to enforce, and cause more harm than good.

“Rob Nicholson has ignored the preponderance of scientific evidence and international experience, and now he is ignoring the Constitution”, said Kirk Tousaw, Executive Director of the Beyond Prohibition Foundation. “C-15 has profound implications for our criminal justice system and provincial budgets, the Senate has a constitutional obligation to study the implications of this bill, especially considering that the Conservatives did not.”

“For Rob Nicholson to attempt to push through a bill he could not produce a single piece of evidence to support is absurd”, (Marc) Emery said, “The Conservative Party may take it's cues from the Republicans, but thankfully, the Senate does not”. ~ Read the whole article here.


Of the 16 experts called to testify on C-15, 13 called for the outright dismissal of the bill. When prompted, the Conservatives declined to provide evidence for the bill, and instead accused the opposition of being soft on crime.


While the final answers about Bill C-15 are cautiously awaited and won't be known until at least September 15th when parliament resumes, we pin our hopes on the belief that Liberal Senators will be the wise voice of reason and reject it. Anything less is an assault on the freedom of every single Canadian.

The War on Drugs has failed - it's time for Canada to step up and develop drug policy in an intelligent, common sense manner. Drugs are a health issue, not a criminal one. If we don't change our draconian prohibition laws the consequences will be tragic.

If the the Liberal Party had fortitude, they would champion cannabis legalization and bring honour back to law enforcement. We had more faith in the justice system when police pledged and respected their motto: "To Protect and Serve", Canadians would rather not live in our current prohibition induced "Us vs. Them" state. Canadians long for Members of Parliament who represent our best interests and stand up for freedom and personal autonomy.

While the Conservatives seem intent on chipping away at our rights, Liberal flip-flopping leaves constituents feeling even more disillusioned and disappointed in our politicians. 'Tis such a sad state of affairs.... no wonder Canadians aren't voting. It's really too bad we don't have a James Gray. Canadians sure could use a politician like him.

For more information on Bill C-15, please visit


  1. I wouldn't give up on the Liberals. They will either decriminalize or possibly legalize marijuana once they take Canada back from the dark days of the Harper government. If you are serious about a movement, you should get behind the Liberals (or NDP in non-Liberal ridings) and campaign hard for them, whether they publicly support decriminalization or not. It may not be something to bring up during an election, but surely they will decriminalize once in power. They tried once before and were derailed. They are the only reasonable party that has a chance to be elected to gov't.

  2. @LobbyCanada Why *not* campaign about ending prohibition? The Libs should be trumpeting that they are being smart about crime every time a con calls them soft on it. By being secretive about their intentions they gain no support from me. I will not vote for any politician who supports prohibition - and neither should anyone else. The biggest danger from Cannabis is being busted for Cannabis. Gov has created a crime where no victim exists.

    The Liberals supporting Bill C-15 proves to me they are not standing up for the freedom of all Canadians. You can't tailor your beliefs according to what you think people want to hear, you have to be honest and tell the truth. The War on Drugs has been an utter failure and its time Canada changes these draconian laws.

    And yes, the Libs could have made great strides in this area, instead they decided to buckle to the Americans and John Walters of the DEA. That's very different from being "derailed". Sorry, but we have enough spineless politicians, we don't need more who won't fight for the rights and freedom of Canadians.

    Right now I am voting Green, they are the only party who has come right out and said they disagree with prohibition and will end it. Unless Ignatieff makes his position of supporting legalization 100% clear, he has no chance of earning my vote.

  3. Good information. Thank you!


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