Remembrance Day is supposed to be about remembering our war dead. Although Canadians are told the red poppy sold by the Royal Canadian Legion is supposed to symbolize all war dead, in truth the red poppy symbol has become synonymous with Canadian military veterans and their families in Canada.
Whenever Remembrance Day rolls around, the focus is always on the two World Wars of the 20th Century. Yet World War I wasn’t called World War until there was a second World War. The war that inspired Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae’s famous poem was originally known as “The War to End All Wars.”
But as often happens, the haunting words of Dr McCrae’s poem, “In Flanders Fields,” were used almost from the start as a war promotion.
It is one of the most quoted poems from the war. As a result of its immediate popularity, parts of the poem were used in efforts and appeals to recruit soldiers and raise money selling war bonds. Its references to the red poppies that grew over the graves of fallen soldiers resulted in the remembrance poppy becoming one of the world’s most recognized memorial symbols for soldiers who have died in conflict. The poem and poppy are prominent Remembrance Day symbols throughout the Commonwealth of Nations, particularly in Canada, where “In Flanders Fields” is one of the nation’s best-known literary works. The poem is also widely known in the United States, where it is associated with Veterans Day and Memorial Day.
Although we are admonished “lest we forget,” war is still very much with us. And perhaps the most frightening thing about it is that Canada has been at war for most of the 21st Century, but we are barely aware of this fact. Think of any WWI war movie; no matter where it’s set, everyone everywhere, whether or not they supported the war, everyone was acutely aware it was going on.
Viet Nam changed all that.
When the people at home were faced with the unromanticized horrors of war, up close and personal at their dinner tables, an anti war movement of epic proportions arose, making it near impossible to keep the war going.
Governments learned from this mistake, and so the news coverage shared with the populace in the Main Stream Media is carefully managed.
Here in Canada, those of us at home are barely aware we’re at war at all. Many still bask in the outdated notion that the Canadian military is engaged in Peacekeeping. To get a real look at what the situation actually is, we need to know the facts. Fortunately, the Internet allows us to discover what the MSM fails to tell us.
I’ve heard it said one reason the Canadian Government (whether run by Conservatives or Liberals) insists it can’t afford to adequately compensate our war veterans is because advances in medical technology means 21st Century veterans are much more likely to survive than WWI vets. It used to be that most casualties in war were sustained by the military, but these days that is no longer anywhere close to being true: civilian casualties vastly surpass those of the military.
What Colour is your Poppy?
Even though funds raised through red poppy sales are ostensibly to help our veterans, the symbol is so entwined with the mythos of war that I personally can no longer bear to wear one.
Although I have issues with the colonial origins of our “Thanksgiving” tradition, the idea of expressing public thanks for that for which we are truly thankful is a good one. It is especially easy to forget such things when so many negative things are ongoing, but to be able to continue to work for a sustainable workable future, it is important not to allow despair to prevail. We can draw strength from reminding ourselves that there is still plenty of good in the world, and by harnessing that good, we can build the future we need for our children, and generations to follow.
In 2018 Canada, I am thankful so many of us have come to understand the necessity of adopting a proportional representation voting system, in spite of Mr. Trudeaus’s attempt to shut the idea of a truly representative democracy back in the closet, as his predecessors have done throughout Canadian history.
So I am very thankful that, instead of allowing this to happen:
the Provinces of BC and PEI are holding electoral reform referenda
the Yukon Territory has undertaken a study of electoral reform
a new government has been elected in Quebec after all opposition parties made a public pact to enact Proportional Representation no matter which formed new government
Ontario struggles under an FPTP extremist government which strips its most populous city in the country of almost half its (already) inadequate municipal representation
New Brunswick again suffers an electoral outcome like that which triggered its previous electoral reform process
Alberta looks down the barrel at the prospect of right wing populism in its already toxic atmosphere of polarization
Canadian provinces are pitted against each other by the federal government
PEI political polling suggests the PEI Greens may form the first Green led government in Canada
As an Ontarian, I don’t care who’s first but we can’t afford not to change. Defenders Of The Status Quo fight so hard because once any jurisdiction in Canada adopts Proportional Representation and the sky doesn’t fall, the rest of us will be able to see with our own eyes that the myths they’ve frightened generations of Canadians with have always been pure misinformation. Once that happens, the rest of the country will fall into Proportional Representation like dominoes. We are surely at a Proportional Representation tipping point.
Even in the unlikely event PR is staved off a little longer, at least Canadians are beginning to understand that even with our existing grotesquely inequitable voting system, we need to stop being bullied into voting ‘strategically’ for lesser evils but instead vote for what we want.
I am thankful that all five Waterloo Region Greens ranked in the top 20% of Ontario Green Party candidates in the 2018 provincial election.
I am thankful that, in spite of staggering odds against, and in the face of the Broadcast Consortium’s exclusion from the Ontario Leadership debates, Mike Schreiner made history this year by winning election as our first Ontario Greens Member of Provincial Parliament.
And so I would like to wish us all a Happy Thanksgiving from everyone at WRgreens!
During the 2018 Election the WRGreens were able to host a conversation in our Downtown Kitchener Office with Green Party of Canada Deputy Leader Jo-Ann Roberts. It wasn’t just an election pep talk, it was also a terrific opportunity to discuss all manner of things Green, including the way forward.
In this era of knee-jerk partisanship and decision-based evidence making, the currency of actual ideas has become sadly devalued in Canadian politics. Veteran broadcaster (and Green Party Deputy Leader) Jo-Ann Roberts is changing all that with the new podcast *People, Politics and Planet*, a wide-ranging audio journey through some fascinating political terrain where you’ll meet some of the country’s most thought-provoking policy innovators.
Sure, they mostly lean towards Green — but, as Jo-Ann finds out, that’s where the all interesting stuff is happening.
For those of us unable to attend the 2018 Green Party of Canada Convention in BC, we can watch the the high points being streamed online via the GPC Facebook Page. You can also follow the Convention on Twitter at #greenconv18
This year we’re looking forward to having our very first Waterloo Region Greens information booth at KULTRÚN.
The local World Music festival created by Neruda Arts began in Waterloo Square but quickly outgrew the space so they moved to Victoria Park. Kultrún always has a stunning mix of great music from around the world. (That’s where I became a fan of the Jerry Cans last year). Victoria Park has room for two full size stages, one by the Clocktower and the other down by the water. This lets them squeeze in even more music, with stage crews setting up one stage while the music flows on the other. It also keeps the audience moving back and forth, handy for an event dubbed “KW’s largest outdoor dance party.”
Pictured on my mini poster are Eliana Cuevas from the 2014 Jazz Festival and Alysha Brilla performing at this year’s Multicultural Festival. If you haven’t yet been, here’s a taste of what’s in store for you this year:
Cannabis should never have been made illegal, but since it was, the Green Party supports good public policy to rectify the mistakes of the past.
The Green Party is pleased that Canadians will soon be able to access marijuana openly and safely — free from the threat of being criminally charged.
However, many thousands of Canadians who previously smoked or possessed cannabis, but were caught by police, will remain criminals in the eyes of the law. A disproportionate number of racialized Canadians have been charged, and all those convicted face serious obstacles applying for jobs and travelling abroad.
Join us in demanding the Liberal government provide amnesty for all Canadians convicted solely on charges of marijuana possession.
The Green Party is committed to being honest about the problems we face and always acting with integrity. We work across party lines and with advocacy groups to achieve common goals.
In this spirit, Waterloo Region Greens fully supports the goals of the #DoneWaiting campaign. We commend the Canadian Labour Congress for pushing for an end to wage discrimination, sexual harassment and violence, and the chronic underfunding of child care.
Our plan for a provincial child care strategy in Ontario builds on the 2015 federal Green platform for high-quality affordable child care for all Canadians.
Greens understand that we need strong legislation to shrink the inexcusable wage gap, and to deliver a living wage for all workers. At the same time, we will help small businesses shoulder these costs by doubling the Employer Health Tax exemption limit.
Greens support a basic income guarantee that will provide stability for workers who are moving between jobs or starting a family.
These policies are not only a response to current events; they have been part of our platform in election after election.
Greens have always been committed to doing politics differently, and we’re happy to re-affirm that we’re done waiting, too.
Waterloo Region Greens represents the provincial and federal Green Party riding associations for Waterloo, Kitchener Centre, Kitchener South-Hespeler, Kitchener-Conestoga, and Cambridge.
December 6th, 1917 was the day thousands of people died, and thousands more were injured in Halifax, Nova Scotia. The Halifax Explosionwas the largest explosion the world had ever seen before the nuclear age. Today is the hundredth anniversary of that horrific event. But bad as it was, it was an accident.
The same can not be said for the tragic event of December 6th, 1989.
A disturbed young man deliberately murdered Geneviève Bergeron, Hélène Colgan, Nathalie Croteau, Barbara Daigneault, Anne-Marie Edward, Maud Haviernick, Maryse Laganière, Maryse Leclair, Anne-Marie Lemay, Sonia Pelletier, Michèle Richard, Annie St-Arneault, Annie Turcotte, Barbara Klucznik-Widajewicz at the École Polytechnique.
Because they were women.
I chose to use the roses because they were part of a candlelight vigil in on December 6th, 2016 in Chilliwack, BC. People across Canada continue to share in this sorrow.
Cannabis is believed to be one of the oldest domesticated crops. Throughout history, humans have grown different varieties of cannabis for industrial and medical uses.
Tall, sturdy plants were grown by early civilizations to make a variety of foods, oils and textiles, such as rope and fabrics. These plants were bred with other plants with the same characteristics, leading to the type of cannabis we now know as hemp.
Other plants were recognized for being psychoactive and were bred selectively for medical and religious purposes. This led to unique varieties of cannabis that we now know as marijuana.
The war on drugs put an end to medicinal cannabis in Canada..
But pain management has always been critically important for the quality of life of many who have suffered injury or chronic illness.
Although Canadians can access a wide variety of drugs through a doctor’s prescription, there are many variables. When it comes to medicine, one size does not fit all:
what works for some patients doesn’t work for others.
long term use can decrease the effectiveness of pain killers, and
addiction and other side effects can reduce a patient’s quality of life.
Even as the emerging 20th Century pharmaceutical industry exploded into a rainbow of pain killers, anti-inflammatories, anti-depressants, analgesics and the like, not every patient or disease is adequately served by prescription medicines.
And so, illegal or not, in the latter part of the 20th Century, growing numbers of Canadians sought pain relief from cannabis.
“Compassion clubs came to Canada in the late 1990s, based on similar medicinal marijuana clubs in the United States. The goal of compassion clubs is to provide safe access to medicinal, or medical, marijuana when there is no government-sanctioned program, or when such a program is not effectively meeting the need.
“Compassion clubs exist to provide medical marijuana to people in need, but not all their members are licensed by Health Canada. While the clubs usually have their own strict guidelines for membership and providing cannabis—for chronic conditions, most clubs require a doctor’s note confirming a patient’s condition; for some conditions, a doctor’s prescription may be required—this does not make unlicensed members’ use legal. So, fear of prosecution is still a concern.
“Compassion club operations, in fact, are illegal under Canadian law.”
One day before the expiration of the court ordered time limit (July 30, 2001) the government implemented the Marihuana Medical Access Regulations (MMAR) (PDF). The MMAR created a framework that allowed (only) patients suffering from designated severe and extreme conditions to go through a lengthy and complicated application process that might result in a government license allowing them to possess and use marijuana legally.
Worse, the regulations failed to provide patients with any way to actually obtain a legal cannabis supply. This serious deficiency resulted in a succession of court challenges that eventually resulted in amendments that allowed patients to:
purchase dried marijuana from a single government supplier, or
grow their own, or
select a grower to grow cannabis for them
Many patients found the quality of theHealth Canada’s cannabis to be inferiorto cannabis available through Compassion Clubs or even the black market. The nonprofit BC Compassion Club (BCCCS) was founded in 1997, and has built a good reputation using knowledge and expertise to help patients find the best strain to address their health needs.
“Most of the harm associated with cannabis is actually due to the act of combusting,” notes [Jay Leung,communications coordinator for the BCCCS]. He adds that BCCCS has vaporizers for their clients to use, which produce the same effects as smoking without the health risks. The club also provides non-smoking options such as cannabis-infused oils and butter, tinctures (cannabinoids are extracted into an alcohol or glycerine base, then dropped or sprayed orally) and a variety of baked goods. And the dispensary sells items such as the vaporizers, forest-friendly rolling papers, glass pipes and more, which help members consume cannabis safely and effectively.”
When police found large amounts of cannabis-infused olive oil and cookies in the apartment of Owen Smith, former head baker for the Cannabis Buyers Club of Canada, Smith was charged with unlawful possession of marijuana and possession for the purpose of trafficking under the Marihuana Medical Access Regulations. At the time, Canadian Law only allowed patients to consume Medical Marijuana by smoking it in dried form in spite of numerous studies about the health risks associated with smoking.
In 2014 the Harper Government changed the regulations, replacing the MMAR with Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations (MMPR) on April 1st, 2014. The new regulations prohibited patients from growing their own, instead, they were required to purchase their supply of medicine from licensed commercial growers.
The 2015 federal election gave the Justin Trudeau Liberals a “majority” government with a mandate to legalize cannabis in Canada. The new government placed the legalization file in the hands of rookie MP Bill Blair, better known as Toronto’s top cop during the infamous Toronto G20. Understandably cannabis activists have not been reassured by this choice.
Given that Cannabis was criminalized here without anything resembling scientific evidence, debate, or even any need for such a policy in 1923, Canada has undertaken little or no legitimate scientific study of the prohibited plant. As a result, the scarcity of official empirical evidence frees opponents of legalization to make unfounded and often ridiculous claims in support of their own preconceived notions.
Frightening tales without any basis in fact repeated over and over during the decades of Cannabis Prohibition are blindly accepted by some. Sometimes even counsellors tell “friend-of-a-friend” stories— urban legends—about people dying from eating pot brownies.
There have even been cases like the one where a professional pathologist imagined someone died from smoking a joint. The reality is that there’s no evidence cannabis use has ever killed anyone. On the contrary, the evidence we do have indicates such a thing is not possible.
“7. Drugs used in medicine are routinely given what is called an LD-50. The LD-50 rating indicates at what dosage fifty percent of test animals receiving a drug will die as a result of drug induced toxicity. A number of researchers have attempted to determine marijuana’s LD-50 rating in test animals, without success. Simply stated, researchers have been unable to give animals enough marijuana to induce death.
“8. At present it is estimated that marijuana’s LD-50 is around 1:20,000 or 1:40,000. In layman terms this means that in order to induce death a marijuana smoker would have to consume 20,000 to 40,000 times as much marijuana as is contained in one marijuana cigarette. NIDA-supplied marijuana cigarettes weigh approximately .9 grams. A smoker would theoretically have to consume nearly 1,500 pounds of marijuana within about fifteen minutes to induce a lethal response.
“9. In practical terms, marijuana cannot induce a lethal response as a result of drug-related toxicity.”
Former sources of information once considered to be an authority in substance use are being questioned with good reason: “Reefer Madness” has taken on new forms to serve corporate special interests. As legalization approaches, the need for credible education is desperate.
In spite of promises of legalization by July 2018, heavy handed law enforcement crack downs on grey market dispensaries are justified by the government because Cannabis is still illegal.
But the “offense of compassion” committed by medical marijuana dispensaries’ clearly has public support. Justices tasked with sentencing the owners of these facilities are giving absolute discharges.
Producers Licensed under the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulationshave been recalling product mailed to patients. It’s the users who are suffering most. Unsurprisingly people seeking access through medical marijuana dispensaries are being pushed back into the black market. What is the point of that?
Grey market dispensaries, like the Toronto Compassion Club, have been managing physician prescribed access to medical marijuana since 1997. The majority of public safety concerns stem from a lack of understanding of the values which created these grey markets in the first place.
Lisa Campbell, chairwoman of Women Grow Toronto, told VICE she’s hoping there will be a constructive conversation about regulating recreational versus medical dispensaries instead of having knee-jerk policies put in place. NormlCanada declares that the criminal prohibition of the cultivation and use of cannabis is no longer the most suitable measure for protecting public health and welfare and preventing the diversion of drugs into illicit traffic.
The City of Kitchener has not been very responsive to those seeking permits to offer safe access to cannabis, or lounges for consumption. Dispensaries that had been operating within the region were threatened with fines. Some closed their doors, while others continued to supply patients until they were raided.
ACCA believes that craft cannabis, like craft beer, has a place in the market; their primary goal is to educate the public, which includes the acknowledgement there is good and bad everywhere.
“Everyone wants it (a lounge), but no one wants their name on it.”
— Tony Millar
Court decisions continue to uphold patient rights, while the the Minister of Health claims the government needs more time to work on designing an appropriate regulatory system to develop and implement regulations. ACCA acknowledges information provided by Health Canada is updated regularly, and cite current publications in order to maintain credibility.
Professor David Hammondat the University of Waterloo, has been a great resource for ACCA, with his graduate and student supervision. Hammond, CIHR-PHAC Chair in Applied Public Health, focuses his research on chronic disease prevention and global health in the areas of tobacco control policy, health diets and obesity prevention, as well as harm reduction and drug policy. Professor Hammond is studying the effects of vaporizing cannabis, to better support students with related research interests in cannabis and harm reduction related research interests.
ACCA began hosting information sessions at UC VapeSeptember 15th 2017.
The first information night was inspired by Lisa Campbell’s presentation to the Toronto Business Licensing Committee and R v Smith.
The second information night included live demonstrations with a hydraulic rosin press by Rosin Artsand a live ice water extraction using Bubble Bags. These presses and bags will potentially be made available for rental in the near future. Another partner,Blue River will be the supplier of terpenes. According to their website, Blue River “offers the widest selection of award winning full spectrum essential oils naturally derived from whole plant cultivars. Our prices are based on grade, yield, and availability. Our pure essential oil products are designed to be used as a diluent for aromatherapy and vaporization.”
Abi Roach reminisced about when she started renting out a vaporizer back in 2003, to people looking for a place to consume their cannabis. The Hotbox Cafe in Toronto is celebrating it’s 14th year in operation. In the evenings “Hot Box Afterdark” hosts music and special events after 7pm. The Afterdark promotes itself as a great alternative to the bar scene. Abi spoke about how people need to consider what they’re advocating against, and that people shouldn’t have to get their pot from bikers.
Canna Relief, a product that will soon to be on shelves at your local Shoppers Drug Mart, was available for sample. The CBD drink is a specially formulated supplement containing a synergistic blend of vitamins, herbs, amino acids, and 20mg of pure CO2 extracted CBD derived from hemp stalk and seed. CannaSafety are confident that CannaRelief will help you control and manage THC anxiety so that you can safely and therapeutically benefit from your personal medicine.
Patients First “Action Plan for Heath Care” [download PDF] aims to bridge the gap for patients to Access, Connect, Inform, Protect.
“Although dispensaries were not a focus of the parties’ submissions, I find Ms. Shaw’s evidence [as a representative of the dispensaries] to be extremely important as dispensaries are at the heart of cannabis access,”
—Justice Michael Phelan, Reasons for Judgment (February 2016) Allard decision [download PDF]
“Municipalities seem to want to help, but don’t want to put themselves at risk” said Millar. Provinces are going to have to manage the regulatory aspects, but the proposed framework for new legislation does not leave room for the current market. On their website, the Liberal Party says “We will legalize, regulate, and restrict access to marijuana.”
New penalties would range from a simple police citation to 14 years behind bars, along with a “zero-tolerance approach” to drug-impaired driving, and a “robust” public awareness campaign.
“Because there were no advocates for the treatment of drug users prior to the late 1950s, it was easy for enforcement-related interests to implement harsh anti-drug legislation. This also meant that although drug users were often thought of as “sick,” imprisonment was a priority over treatment (Blackwell 1988:163).
“In addition, because habitual drug use was associated mostly with Chinese immigrants, many Canadians felt they were “immune from the effects of harsh drug legislation” (Alexander 1990:32).”
Canadians deserve evidence based harm reduction strategies. Alternative Cannabis Consumption Awareness is working with front runners in the early stages of a legal market, to provide the most up to date information, and in the near future, a place where the culture can thrive. Safe consumption sites will help integrate the shift in consciousness, as stigma is replaced by awareness.