Sunday, December 16, 2007

Let's Get Back on Track on Liberal Issues

I recently watched a very enjoyable long interview with Jean Chretien on Allan Gregg's show on TVO. The experience reminded me why I like Jean Chretien: his candor and willingness to share his insights without any pretense. One thing that came up that I had forgotten about was that at the end of his term he tried, unsuccessfully, to legalize marijuana.

Legalizing marijuana is one of those things that I tend to forget about because I don't use marijuana or spend any time with anyone who does. But when I do think about it, I realize that it should be a bigger issue. Noone should have a criminal record or spend time in prison because of soft drug use. There is no evidence that marijuana ever leads to other crimes, as more addictive drugs do. There's plenty of evidence that marijuana is less harmful than alcohol. Back in 2001, the US National Review even thought we were about to do it. Let's do it.

While we're at it, let's address some of those other liberal ideas that seem to have got forgotten during two years of right wing rule. Let's take back the government and take on a humanist agenda:

* Social issues
We managed to legalize gay marriage and the fall of western civilization didn't happen. In fact, the biggest issue of the day (when the law was being discussed, I was chased down driveways while canvassing for the Liberal party because people were so upset about it) has turned into a complete non-issue. Let's take on the causes of other people who are treated poorly by our society, such as people with disabilities. Once we acknowledge a problem, making it better is frequently not that difficult.

* Making real improvements on the environment
There is so much that we need to do. Two items at the top of the list: Ontario consumers need to reduce electricity consumption so that we can shut down the Nanticoke coal-fired generating station; and we need to do something now (not 20 years from now) about pollution from the Alberta tar sands. We also need public education to reverse a trend to consume more and more. As long as we continue to build domiciles that are designed to require air conditioning, to build cities that require long car trips to buy a carton of milk, to shut down intercity transit, and on and on and on, we'll get nowhere. In fact, our disposable-consumer society gets worse every day, with a recent trend towards disposable cooking and cleaning products (Swiffer disposal brooms and mops; disposable crock pot liners; disposable microwave bags; and on and on).

* Creating stronger regulations to protect employees
Civil servants with their strong unions may forget this, but most Canadians don't have pensions. Complete reliance on self-directed RRSPs can lead to disaster in these volatile times. We need stronger regulations to protect employees from unjustified firing... and so on.

* Keeping people out of jail
Stephen Harper wants to build more jails and fill them, especially with young people (link). I want to do the opposite: make every effort to keep people out of jails, especially young people.


1 comment:

Charlotte Robinson said...

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The truth will set them free…