Monday, April 16, 2012

Canadian PM admits Drug War “is not working”

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Prime Minister Stephen Harper
PM Stephen Harper

For all the rap that Canadian Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper gets for supposedly being a sell-out to the United States and whatnot, it’s important to remember that just as a Republican from Massachusetts is still more liberal than a Texas hippie (so to speak), our Right-wing ruler is still prone to being more reasonable than even the supposedly liberal President Obama on certain issues, such as when it comes to drug policy:

Harper met Canadian journalists at the summit in Cartagena, Colombia, on Sunday and readily admitted there are differences among the leaders over the exclusion of Cuba from the Latin America summit. He admitted, too, that there was a disagreement over British rule in the Falkland Islands.

But Harper was not ready to agree that the division over drug policy is so clear-cut. Rather, he insisted that there is much agreement. Then came the most interesting quote of the day.

"What I think everybody believes," Harper said, "is that the current approach is not working. But it is not clear what we should do."

This would be intriguing from any prime minister. From Stephen Harper, whose government's crime bill ratchets up the penalties for drug possession, it was startling.

Of course, Harper then makes it clear that he’s firmly within the “drugs are teh evil!” clan, but the very fact that he’s able to recognize the bloody waste that is the War on Drugs is still better than President Obama, who was at the same conference:

President Barack Obama said Saturday legalizing drug use is not the answer to trafficking in illegal narcotics in the Americas, countering a growing chorus in Latin America to discuss decriminalization as a way to ease deadly cartel violence.

Mr. Obama says he is open to having a debate about legalization, but he doesn't believe it will lead to an agreement to legalize drugs.


The president said the answer to the drug cartels is societies that have strong economics, rules of law, and a law enforcement infrastructure that is sound.

His response to a Draconian and broken system that results in millions being jailed for decades for nonviolent “offenses” while thousands of others are slaughtered in a never-ending and continually escalating cartel war? Bah, more of the same. And sure, he’d like to have a discussion – just so long as everyone understands he’s not going to change his answer.

Meet the new boss and all that.

Edit (04/17/12 1:22 PM ET) – Fixed a typo and a made couple tiny edits.