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Abortion and Liberty

Monday, 30 April 2012 09:13

When Conservative MP Stephen Woodworth introduced a private member's motion on the status of the fetus last week, the government was expected to distance itself. But when Conservative whip Gordon O'Connor stood to deliver the government line, he did far more than that.

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  • Source © Ottawa Citizen

Ending the War on Drugs

Wednesday, 18 April 2012 09:24
On the weekend, at the Summit of the Americas, Prime Minister Stephen Harper expressed doubt about the war on drugs. "I think what everybody believes and agrees with, and to be frank myself, is that the current approach is not working, but it is not clear what we should do."

It's admirable for a politician to admit uncertainty. And rare. Especially for a politician who has never expressed anything less than unshakable conviction in the Reaganite nostrums of drug prohibition. But Harper had good reason to be a little shaken.

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  • Source © Ottawa Citizen

Controversial Ideas? Think Local

Friday, 13 April 2012 09:19

Many people hate the idea of clinics where people can inject illicit drugs under the supervision of nurses and counsellors. Others want them set up immediately. They include the University of Toronto researchers who recommended this week that supervised injection sites be opened in Toronto and Ottawa.

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  • Source © Ottawa Citizen

The "Potent Pot" Zombie

Monday, 14 November 2011 10:16

You can't kill a zombie with a pen. Jab it in the eye. Spear it in the chest. It will just keep shuffling along, moaning and snarling and trying to eat your brain.

Here comes one now.

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  • Source © Ottawa Citizen

Mandatory Minimum, Maximum Madness

Monday, 17 October 2011 08:38

The standard argument in favour of mandatory minimum sentences is that they deliver certainty. "If you do X, the minimum punishment you will receive is Y." It's simple, clear, and predictable. And that makes mandatory minimum sentences a powerful deterrent against crime.

The standard response to that argument is: "Look at the research. There's stacks of it. It proves that mandatory minimum sentences don't deter crime."

The standard response to that standard response is, well, nothing. Supporters of mandatory minimums simply ignore the research on deterrence. So let's save a little time today and skip it.

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  • Source © Ottawa Citizen

Minds Welded Shut

Wednesday, 05 October 2011 08:55

Let's compare and contrast statements about Insite, the supervised injection centre in Vancouver's downtown eastside neighbourhood.

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  • Source © Ottawa Citizen

Why Do Drug Users Inject?

Wednesday, 27 July 2011 08:57

The United Nations and national governments the world over, including Canada's, are actively promoting an epidemic. They are infecting people by the tens and hundreds of thousands. God knows how many will die.

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  • Source © Ottawa Citizen

Drug War Deja Vu

Friday, 03 June 2011 10:41

On Thursday, a panel of eminent persons released a report calling on the world's governments to dramatically change how they deal with illicit drugs. "The global war on drugs has failed, with devastating consequences for individuals and societies around the world," concluded the Global Commission on Drug Policy.

The 19 members of the commission include former presidents of Colombia, Mexico, and Brazil, as well legendary former United States Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker, former Canadian Supreme Court justice Louise Arbour, and former secretary of state under Ronald Reagan, George Shultz. But for those who know the history of the war on drugs, and the central role played by the United Nations, the most striking name on the list is that of Kofi Annan.

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  • Source © Ottawa Citizen

Insite, Evidence, and Stephen Harper

Thursday, 19 May 2011 07:47

A scene that said much about Prime Minister Stephen Harper unfolded last week at the Supreme Court of Canada.

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  • Source © Ottawa Citizen

Emotions aside, registry doesn't matter

Friday, 17 September 2010 13:30
There's a good chance that a private member's bill to scrap the long-gun registry will be defeated next week. If it is, there's an even better chance that the registry will be a major issue in the next election. And that's absurd, because the gun registry isn't important.

Yes, people feel passionately about it, pro and con. Yes, it has played, and continues to play, a major role in politics. But as a matter of public policy, it is trivial. Consider the benefits and costs.

Benefits? There's lots of rhetoric and high-minded intentions. But that's not evidence of actual benefit. And as far as I can tell, there is precious little of that.

Not even that famous RCMP report -- the one that recommended keeping the registry, which is now an RCMP program -- makes much of a case. The online registry takes "an average of 6,900 queries per day," the report notes.

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