Prof in the pot
Huge kudos to Professor Doug Hutchinson (NOW, September 28-October 4) for teaching the faculty and staff at the University of Toronto that medical marijuana exemptees have rights here, too.
It has taken me, as a retired law enforcement officer and a drug reform advocate, many years to educate the Canadian public about cannabis as medicine. We are still a long way from where we should be.
Professor Hutchinson has brought the issue of cannabis for his undisclosed health issue out in a very different way. I am so proud of him. I was even more excited when I realized this would not be the last we hear from the professor, as he plans to be much more politically active.
Thank you so much, Professor, for assisting those of us who truly want to make this an easy transition for the people of Canada. You have helped us more than you know.
The Medical Marijuana Mission
Drug war distortions
Thank you for Gwynne Dyer's in telligent article on the drug war against Afghanistan's poppy farmers (NOW, September 28-October 4).
I have an even better idea how to deal with this problem. Let them grow and legally sell cannabis.
Afghanistan once produced some of the finest cannabis and hashish on the planet. Due to the economic distortions of the drug war, it is now more profitable for them to produce opium.
Santa Cruz, California
Defusing Afghan H bomb
Re Poppycock. Heroin produced in Afghanistan is primarily consumed in Europe, a continent already experimenting with harm reduction alternatives. Switzerland's heroin maintenance trials have been shown to reduce drug-related disease, death and crime among chronic users. Heroin maintenance pilot projects are under way in Canada, Germany, Spain and the Netherlands.
If expanded, prescription heroin maintenance would deprive organized crime of a core client base. This would render illegal heroin trafficking unprofitable and spare future generations addiction. Putting public health before politics may send the wrong message to children, but I like to think the children are more important than the message.
Common Sense for Drug Policy
NDP's Taliban talk trippy
Re Suffering Withdrawal (now, September 28-October 4). Jack Layton's call for negotiations with the Taliban, an organization not without terrorist sympathies, is pathetic. So is Andrew Cash's commentary on the subject.
Lefties' odd train of thought
Mike Smith has a point when he says, "Lefties backing Bombardier deal have yet to raise a single argument against an open process" (NOW, September 28-October 4).
The irony for lefties is that Bombardier is a capitalist, profit-making, private company. True, if the subway cars are made in Ontario rather than China, jobs are created in Ontario.
But why stop with subway cars? Why not have our clothing and shoes and a thousand other manufactured goods and trinkets that are made in China and other countries also made in Ontario to keep jobs here?
What about the garment workers, shoemakers and factory workers who have lost jobs because of imports from China or other countries?
Glenn Wheeler says that public interest lawyer Charles Halpern's turning to Buddhism was "weird" (NOW, September 28-October 4). And he finds Halpern's suggestion that contemplative awareness can help individuals "get beyond their entrenched views" a little far out. This reveals Wheeler's ignorance of Buddhism.
Buddhist nun Pema Chodron, the resident teacher of Gampo Abbey, the Buddhist monastic centre in Cape Breton, has talked about the connection between entrenched views and self-righteousness: "You have to lose your self-righteousness. You have to realize that you cannot continue to have your habitual reaction to something."
How many of NOW's activist writers and readers would be willing to give up their self-righteous beliefs that they are right about feminism, global warming, Iraq, the Taliban, Israel - you name it?
Far from being "a little far out," Halpern is advocating the use of contemplative awareness to transform ourselves at a core level in order to facilitate creative approaches to solving social problems.
Poo on Perlich
Re Booby Trap (now, september 28- October 4). Down, doggie! That's all I can think to say to Tim Perlich. I was more than surprised to read the statement: "The anglophile-slanted jury decided to give Owen Pallette $20,000 to buy a new sailor suit." Oh, dang. Golly, maybe Pallette won the prize because he deserves it, he's innovative and amazing, and maybe, just maybe, Malajube is an average rock bank. Put your françois preference aside, Perlich. Have you even heard He Poos Clouds? Hopefully, they poo on you.
Male violence blame shame
In response to Steve Morgan's letter, amusingly titled Feminists Need To Fess Up (NOW, September 28-October 4). It's comforting to know that Morgan "wholeheartedly" agrees that as a society we tend to ignore male violence. What's unsettling is that he's so obviously ignorant about the work feminists do and the complexities of male violence that he would point the finger of blame.
I wonder if Morgan has done any research regarding the resources that feminists have at their disposal so that they might take you up on your suggestion and work with the perpetrators of these violent offences.
Pick up a newspaper or turn on the news and you will notice that PM Stephen Harper has recently dealt another blow to the feminist community and women in general by cutting $5 million from the budget of Status of Women Canada.
Let's keep from making assumptions and placing blame on a community that has fought the battle against sexism and patriarchy while the rest of society turned away.
Our greatest test
Thank you for printing Susan G. Cole's very important article on the Montreal shootings (NOW, September 21-27).
It may seem far-fetched at first, but our world's most serious ills can be traced, at least in part, to male violence and a bully mentality. Another major factor we seem incapable of exposing is greed. The point I really wish to make, though, is the connection to our military involvement in Afghanistan. In his recent speech to the UN, Prime Minister Harper said that staying the course (whatever that means) will be our greatest test.
I argue that our greatest test, and one at which we have failed miserably, is to renounce all violence.
After September 11, the U.S. missed the opportunity to set a brilliant example for the world. We as Canadians must stand up and be that example.
A pope not to ignore
I have to say I really do enjoy your paper. I like that the columns are bold and your coverage timely. That said, I have a small bone to pick with Pope's Private War (NOW, September 21-27).
If the Pope's lecture had been given by anyone else in the world, there would not be much reaction. I personally agree with him. It's very hard to ignore planes being flown into buildings and suicide bombers killing innocent civilians.
OCAP image fix
Just to clarify, CUPE 4308's support for OCAP has nothing to do with improving the group's "public image" (NOW, September 21-27).
CUPE 4308 and our membership support OCAP because they are our ally in the struggle for justice for poor and working people. Our support for OCAP also includes a commitment to join with them in fighting for housing, stopping evictions and fighting for services for poor communities in Toronto. CUPE 4308, like OCAP, believes in the power of resistance - that is why we support them.
CUPE 4308, Toronto
Phantom of the Pantages
In his letter, Peter A. Reich makes a reasoned point in questioning Sheila Gostick's framing of the Imperial Six (later the Pantages/Canon Theatre) as "destroyed" (NOW, August 31-September 6). Nevertheless, an argument can be made that while the fabric's still there as "one of the city's shining jewels," the lusciously grubby people's soul of lowbrow Hollywood fare, as opposed to middlebrow touristy "Phantom" fare, is gone.
And while it may seem paradoxical to defend a grand old movie palace in its multiplex era, Mandel Sprachman's silvery futuristic 1973 frontage of the Imperial Six, with its ground-floor TV screens and giant circular cutouts, remains an indelible visual gateway to pleasure - cinematic, carnal, whatever - for those who grew up in Toronto in the 70s and 80s.
There are probably plenty of discerning people out there who'd take, on aesthetic grounds, the 1973 facade over today's faux copy of the Pantages original.