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Sunday, 23 June 2013

Social engineering - case examples of government manipulated substance related issues

Most Canadian health professionals will have caught two key pieces of legislation tabled by the Harper government.   The first were regulatory changes to the 2001 Medical Marihuana Medical Access Program.   

Lest we forget, the original legislation was passed during the Chr├ętien years, so these subtle changes are unilateral efforts to address some legitimate concerns with the legislation, comply with the Supreme Court decisions on reasonable access to marijuana for medical purposes, and align the Harper regime’s tough on drugs mentality.

The outline of the changes are found at regulation changes .  Most notably is the opening comment “following broad consultation with stakeholders” .   The exact same words were used in a December 2012 press release.  The wording of the final regulation does not appear to be majorly modified from the initial postings in February 2012 – begging the question, other than stating that there was broad consultation – what was the real input from the health community?  While the normal public process supposedly was followed, there is not a public consultation document to be found.  

The full regulation can be found at legal text   

The second major announcement was the Respect for Communities Act linked to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, currently referenced as C-65.  The Act was introduced for first reading June 6 and its progress should be trackable at Parlimentary bill tracking  for the current house sitting.  At least the press release didn’t attempt to suggest communities had been consulted, only the Canadian Police Association has been given status in the release statement.  Very notably, no health organizations, local governments, or user groups are quoted.  Official media release .  The legislation effectively gives police veto status on such sites.  A power akin to public health officials vetoing the courts from applying mandatory minimum sentencing.   And, the later makes more sense as the evidence demonstrates ineffectiveness on all fronts. 

The similarly in these two processes is that for a government that is supposed to speak for the people, it is clear that not only is it ignoring the public, but it is using its massive public relations machinery to misdirect Canadians in a fashion that makes it appear that the Harper position is supported.  

In a society where our Constitution Act guarantees certain freedoms of expression and opinion, ensures reasonable judicial process, and provides for equality irrespective of disabilities – why are we tolerating social manipulation in the name of “good government”?  Public health has at times been accused of social engineering, however the textbook example of social manipulation is entrenched in the parliamentary halls of Ottawa.