Referendums won’t solve real problem with public water supply 

Many Kamloopsians voted last Saturday to remove what they considered a pollutant, fluoride, from our water.  I like the idea of voting pollutants out of our water but referenda are not going to solve the real problem. The problem is that we are not even aware of many pollutants that we add to our water, let alone able to list them for the next referendum.  Like pharmaceuticals, for example.  Health Canada says that 80 per cent of drugs that we ingest are excreted and end up in our water.  Talk about mass medication.

DrugTap

Up to 50 different medications are turning up in trace amounts in our water. “Birth control pills, and hormones. We’re also finding aspirin … anti-depressants, … blood pressure medication, the sort of medication that’s being used widely by the population,”  said Health Canada’s Elizabeth Nielsen.

Canadians are unwitting agents in the pollution of water with drugs.  We are conduits for big pharmaceutical companies who are dumping drugs in the water through us.  We aren’t completely innocent in the process – – Canadians throw perfectly good medicines down the toilet.  There is a solution other than a referendum.

Dosages of medications could be adjusted so that they are completely metabolized.  It’s a matter of finding out how quickly our bodies burn the drugs up.  Also, some drugs with a long shelf life might be returned to dispensaries for redistribution instead of being thrown out.

Health Canada recognizes the problem and is developing new regulations for drugs, foods and cosmetics that will require manufacturers to prove they won’t cause a problem in the environment.

Other water pollutants are the direct cause of agribusiness.  Ontario and Quebec alone produce as much livestock sewage as Japan does with 100 million people.  In this case, it’s the cows who are the unwitting players in the problem.  They are just doing what comes naturally.

The problem is too much manure from too many animals that is running off into fields, rivers and lakes.  The misuse of manure and fertilizer on farmland has damaged our ecosystem says Environment Commissioner Johannes Gelinas.   She understands the nutrient value of manure.  It’s high in nutrients like phosphorus and nitrogen which are an important resource for growing crops.  There is now too much of it to simply spread on the land.  It’s not just the nutrients that are the problem.

The stuff also contains the deadly e-coli bacteria.  The risk is not only to the ecosystem but the health and life of those who drink the polluted water.   Such was the case in Walkerton, where seven people died and more than two thousand others got sick after cattle manure polluted the drinking water.

The problem is that pollutants like medicines and manure can’t be voted out of our water in a referendum.  They need the sustained attention of governments who can work on solutions full time.

The federal Liberals though Health Canada seem to trying.  The B.C. Liberals talk a good line. “Our program will ensure the highest environmental standards and respects the strong environmental concerns of British Columbians,” says premier Campbell in an open letter to his Minister of Air, Land and Water Protection.

But Minister Joyce Murray is getting mixed messages from Campbell.  He also tells Murray that he will reduce regulations “that impair people’s legitimate desire to conduct their affairs in an efficient and helpful manner.”   Ah, therein lies the problem.

You can’t maintain high environmental standards without what industry calls “red tape” — government regulations that prevent industry and agribusiness from doing what they want.

Ordinary people and cows can’t control what they excrete.  Premier Campbell will have to offer more than environmental platitudes.  He will have to put his money where his mouth is.

We elect governments to make tough choices. The B.C. Liberals must decide whether they are going to protect the environment or cut regulations.  They can’t do both.

And our city council will have to govern instead throwing their hands up in despair when the going gets tough.  Referenda are an easy way for governments to avoid making hard choices.  And regrettably, most water pollutants can’t be removed by simply voting them out of existence.

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Paranoid pot law an example of U.S. domination over Canada

Government inaction is required to solve this problem.  That’s right, I said inaction.  If the federal government does nothing in the next 12 months, marijuana possession will no longer be illegal in Ontario. The Ontario Court of Appeal recently ruled that Canada’s laws prohibiting marijuana are unconstitutional because they prevent the medicinal use of the drug.

weed

According to law professor Alan Young, marijuana possession could become legal by default — as did abortions when the Supreme Court of Canada struck down laws that criminalized them. The Government of Canada did nothing and abortions became legal.  If marijuana possession is decriminalized in Ontario, it would be only a matter of time until other provinces follow.

Let me clarify a few things at the start.  The motives of those seeking decriminalization of marijuana are always suspect.  Advocates are often suspected of trying to justifying their own habits (I am not a marijuana user).  Or, they must be trying to push a debauched  lifestyle (I live a sedate, conservative lifestyle).  Must be promoting politics (well, got me there, although I am not a member of any political party).

Another charge is that marijuana advocates are trying to corrupt our youth.  As a father, I take this allegation seriously.  I am not in favour of the recreational use of drugs by teenagers.  But there has to be a better way to control drug abuse.  Marijuana prohibition has failed miserably.  More than one-half of Canadians have tried marijuana, and approximately one-quarter use it regularly.

Prohibition creates an aura of “forbidden fruit”.  As the Bible teaches us, when a fruit is within reach, and we are told not to eat it, it gains an irresistible mystique. It didn’t work for alcohol, it won’t work for marijuana.  The non-medical use of marijuana is a public health issue. Its use can be controlled more effectively through education, similar to the way that advertising campaigns have reduced the consumption of tobacco.

There is another aspect of Canada’s marijuana laws that galls  me.   Marijuana was only criminalized in Canada as a result  of puritanical fervour in the United States.

Lurid rumours of the effects of marijuana use were imported by Canadian  Emily Murphy.  In her book, The Black Candle, she quoted a Los Angles police chief as saying that marijuana use drives peoples “completely insane”.  For good measure, she added “death and abandonment” as effects.

In 1923, the Minister of Health rose in parliament to say that “another drug has been added to the schedule” of the Narcotics Control Act.  Marijuana was not mentioned by name.  No debate took place about the merits of criminalizing a plant that had potential medical applications.  No mention was made about the devastating effect that it had on the growing of hemp — useful for the production of everything from clothing to paper and seed oil.

With one casual act of parliament, based on an American delusion, a whole potential industry was criminalized.  In a strange twist, the agency responsible for the enforcement of American drug laws, the Drug Enforcement Agency, acknowledged in 1988 that marijuana is “one of the safest therapeutic substances”.

Canadians keep feeding American paranoia.  Americans look over their shoulder, and we flinch.  Most recently, arrests for marijuana cultivation in B.C. have increased because of complaints from south of the boarder about exportation of our high grade marijuana.  Americans are setting up a high-tech surveillance system along sections of the B.C.-U.S. boarder, complete with night cameras and motion detectors to stem the flow of drugs and contraband.

The war on drugs in the US has been a war against its own citizens, especially visible minorities and the poor, who have little resources to defend themselves.  Paranoia has reached a high level in politics with the selection of Pat Buchanan as presidential hopeful by a segment of the Reform Party of America.

Buchanan wants to erect a wall, similar to the famous Great Wall of China, along the Canada-U.S. boarder to keep the potent weed and alien hordes out.  Millions of Americans will vote for this man.  Its time we stopped scratching every time Americans get an itch.  Subservience is not getting us anywhere.