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Canada declares war on drug dealers
Politics Watch ® News Services
October 4, 2007, updated 6:05 p.m.

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced plans Thursday to introduce legislation mandating minimum sentences for those convicted of serious drug offences.

OTTAWA  (PoliticsWatch.com) —  Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced a wide ranging national drug strategy Thursday aimed at getting tough on drug dealers and educating Canada's youth and parents about the dangers of drugs.  

"It’s time to be straight with Canadians, so Canadians who use drugs can get straight," the prime minister said at a press conference in Winnipeg. 

The government's new $64 million anti-drug strategy is designed to crack down on drug dealers and assist drug users, who the prime minister  described as "victims." 

Two-thirds of the new money is aimed at prevention and rehabilitation and the remaining one-third will go towards greater law enforcement. 

"Our message is clear," the prime minister said. "Drugs are dangerous and destructive. If drugs do get hold of you – there’s help to get you off them. 
And if you sell or produce drugs – you’ll pay with jail time."

Harper said Justice Minister Rob Nicholson will introduce legislation in the fall that will propose mandatory prison sentences for people convicted of "serious drug offences." 

When asked what constitutes a serious drug offence, Harper told reporters they will have to wait until Nicholson unveils legislation to get those details. 

Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day summed up the crackdown strategy this way: "We will be dealing with the ones who are doing the dealing."

On the prevention side, the government plans to launch a $10 million awareness campaign for children and parents with a strong message against drug use. 

The prime minister said this campaign will help in changing Canada's culture, which he said has tolerated drug use. 
"What we are up against in trying to resolve this problem ... is a culture that since the 1960s has at the minimum not encouraged drug use and often romanticized it," Harper said. 

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime released a study this summer that found Canada had the highest percentage of regular marijuana users in the developed world. 

According to the survey, 16.8 per cent of Canadians between the ages of 15 and 64 used marijuana in 2004.

The Prime Minister's Office and Health Minister Tony Clement's office declined again to provide comment when asked by PoliticsWatch if public office holders should be subjected to mandatory drug testing as part of this new government initiative. 

In the 1980s when then U.S. President Ronald Reagan launched his ambitious anti-drug campaign part of it included Executive Order 12564 -- Drug Free Federal Workplace, which requires federal employees refrain from drug use and allowed for mandatory testing. 

Currently, there are no drug policies for those who work in ministers' offices or the federal bureaucracy. 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. 

:  Related Links

> Canadian politicians should be drug tested- Marijuana advocates
> Are Canadian politicians and public servants on drugs?  

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