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News (Media Awareness Project) - Canada: Editorial: Liberals Show They Are Serious About
Title:Canada: Editorial: Liberals Show They Are Serious About
Published On:2012-01-18
Source:Globe and Mail (Canada)
Fetched On:2012-01-24 06:02:51

The Liberal Party policy conference last weekend suggested the party
is serious about rebuilding and is open to new faces and new ideas.
The election of Mike Crawley as party president and the adoption of a
more open leadership selection format are welcome signs of renewal.

One goal must be to better differentiate the party from the ruling
Conservatives, and in that respect, a new policy on cannabis
legalization represents a start.

There has been no public clamour for a war on drugs in Canada, yet the
Tories are pursuing one as part of their costly crime agenda, with
measures such as legislating mandatory minimum prison terms for people
caught growing a handful of pot plants.

Even in the U.S., some conservatives are disowning the Reaganite
policy, as the crackdown has had little impact on actual use, has
proved enormously costly in fiscal and human terms and created fertile
ground for drug gangs.

Whether legalization is the best solution is open to debate. This
newspaper has previously favoured decriminalization. But the Liberals
are right to make it a political issue.

In 2009, police reported 48,981 incidents of cannabis possession. A
2002 Senate report placed the cost of enforcing cannabis laws at
$300-million annually -- a figure that has surely risen. Given the
fiscal restraint being preached by the Tories, it is reasonable to ask
whether this country can afford laws, toughened laws, for a substance
generally considered to be safer than alcohol.

A robust Liberal Party is in the best interest of the country, to
provide an effective, centrist opposition, and a credible alternative
to the ruling Conservatives.

But the Liberals need to go beyond a single, attention-grabbing issue.
They need to determinedly stake out positions on issues where they
offer a clear alternative to the Conservatives, and not only issues
that will appeal to the political left.
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