Thursday, February 22, 2007

Rumblings in Ottawa

It's time to get active about Insite again.

Here's why: Perhaps in preparation for the Dec '07 deadline on the legislative extension allowing Insite to function, or perhaps in response to the eternal threat of an election (and possible Conservative majority) it looks like action on drug policy is happening here in Ottawa.

At a luncheon here today US "Drug Czar" John Walters was invited by the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse (a curious move given that the CCSA is a supposedly independant, non-partisan but federally funded agency). Here's the content of an email I recieved at the end of last week from a contact and InSite for Community Safety:

"U.S. Drug Czar John Walters has been invited by the Canadian Center on Substance Abuse to try and rationalize U.S. drug policy to a Canadian audience. Mr. Walters is a reputed zealot, known for an eagerness to drug test every student in America. He is also an infamous purveyor of anti-cannabis propaganda. As Eugene Oscapella from the Canadian Foundation for Drug Policy said: "We in Canada have agreed to take John Walters off your [US] hands for a few hours on February 22. I am more than a little perplexed as to why the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse, a supposedly independent drug policy agency, is inviting him to speak without using a panel format that would allow his statements to be challenged. There will be a question and answer session after his speech, but that will hardly offer the opportunity for a balanced debate. I wonder if these were the only terms on which he would speak here."

Drug Policy in the United States: A Presentation by John P. Walters Director, White House Office of National Drug Control Policy You are cordially invited to a luncheon event with featured speaker John P. Walters, Director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. Mr. Walters will provide an overview of the U.S. National Drug Control Strategy, its progress and challenges. Opening remarks will be delivered by Michel Perron, Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse (CCSA), Canada's national addictions organization. An informal question and answer period will follow the presentation.

Date: February 22, 2007 Time: 11:45 am - 1:15 pm (lunch is included)
Location: Fairmont Chateau Laurier, Tudor Room (1 Rideau Street, Ottawa, ON K1N 8S7) Registration: Seating is limited and RSVPs are required.

Since I wasn't the one cordially invited I had no luck finagling my way into the lunch (although it was looking good there for a while...) despite RSVP'ing and talking to the communications person a couple of times.

Here's the official response the press release about the press conference that happened up in Centre Block of the Hill today:


Who: Senator Larry Campbell, Ethan Nadelmann, Line Beauchance, Eugene Oscapella
Where: Charles Lynch Press Theatre, Parliament Hill, Ottawa
When: Thursday, February 22, 2007 at 1:30 p.m.

OTTAWA AND NEW YORK, February 21, 2007: The Canadian Foundation for Drug
Policy (Ottawa) and the Drug Policy Alliance (New York) will be holding a press conference in the Charles Lynch Room, Centre Block, Parliament Hill, Ottawa, at 1:30 pm, Thursday, February 22, 2007. The press conference is being held on the occasion of the visit to Ottawa by the head of the US Office of National Drug Control Policy (the US "drug czar") John Walters. Speakers at the press conference will challenge the continuing criticism of Canada's drug control efforts by Mr. Walters, and discuss pressure by the US Administration on the Government of Canada to follow the American model of drug control, which is based heavily the use of the criminal law, policing and incarceration ("criminal prohibition). Speakers at the press conference will also address the failure of US drug control policies in the United States, the misleading rhetoric by the US Administration about Canada's contribution to US drug problems, and the damaging effects of US drug control policies on Canada, including the risks US poppy eradication policies pose for Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan.

Speaking at the press conference will be:

  • The Honourable Larry W. Campbell, Senator, former Mayor of Vancouver, former RCMP Drug Squad member, and former Chief Coroner of British Columbia.
  • Ethan Nadelmann, founder and executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, New York, the leading organization in the United States promoting alternatives to the war on drugs. Mr. Nadelmann is a former Princeton University professor and author of several books and articles on policing, crime control and drug policy.
  • Professor Line Beauchesne, Department of Criminology, University of Ottawa,
    the author of several books on drug policy, and co-founder, Canadian Foundation for Drug Policy.
  • Eugene Oscapella, Ottawa lawyer, co-founder, Canadian Foundation for Drug
    Policy, and lecturer on drug policy in the Department of Criminology, University of Ottawa.

Canadian Foundation for Drug Policy:
Drug Policy Alliance:

Time to get the letter-writing started.

No comments: