Canadian politicians should be drug
tested: Marijuana advocates
Politics Watch ® News Services
October 2, 2007, updated 4:35 p.m.
|Political staffers and public servants are
not tested or screened for drugs in Canada.
OTTAWA — Supporters
of legalizing marijuana said Tuesday if the federal government is going to go ahead with a national illicit drug strategy then it's only fair that MPs and top government officials
be subjected to mandatory drug testing.
"I would like to see it happen for sure," John Akpata,
Marijuana Party candidate for Ottawa-Centre, said at a press conference on Parliament Hill in response to a question from PoliticsWatch.com.
"I would like to see every Member of Parliament tested for cocaine and whatever substances you want to test them for, but it's never going to
"The politicians themselves would never submit to that because I've met
politicians that have smoked weed, I've met politicians who drink too much, I've met politicians that use cocaine and still they function and do their job."
The federal government is planning a crackdown on drugs after a
decade of Canadian politicians admitting past drug use. In 2005,
then Parti Quebecois leader André Boisclair admitted to using cocaine between 1996 and 2003
while he was a cabinet minister in Quebec's provincial
Health Minister Tony Clement said on the weekend the Conservative government would launch its $64 million national drug strategy in the coming days.
Clement's message is that the "party's over" for drug users and the government plans to clear up a lot of the confusion about Canada's marijuana possession laws.
Under the previous Liberal government, legislation to decriminalize possession of marijuana under 15 grams was introduced. The tabling of the bill received headlines around the world, but it was eventually abandoned by former prime minister
Paul Martin and never reintroduced by the Conservatives.
The government's plan to crackdown on drugs is also drawing criticism from medical marijuana advocates.
Christine Lowe of Patients Against Ignorance and Discrimination on Cannabis
called the government's planned drug strategy part of a "culture war" that will create more problems than it solves.
She also agreed that government officials should have to undergo drug testing if they plan on cracking down on everyone else.
"I honestly agree if politicians, government officials, police everybody is going to be imposing these types of restrictions on us for using medicine, I think it would only be fair if they also get tested, have their rights violated, have their privacy breached," she said.
"If we did put all of these officials under a drug test, I don't think anyone would show up at the House of Commons."
Currently, there are no drug policies for those who work in ministers' offices or the federal bureaucracy.
This is in direct contrast to the U.S. where drug testing and drug screening of federal employees was mandated by an executive order from former president
Ronald Reagan in 1986.
Treasury Board told PoliticsWatch this summer that it does not test or screen federal public servants for illicit drugs.
The Treasury Board position is based on the Canadian Human Rights Act's
view that that alcohol and substance abuse constitutes a disability and thus drug testing would be discriminatory.
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