John Tory on the Dope Crusade…
I read the news in the newspaper while in Vancouver, and now that we are back in Toronto – a week later – most people I know, or have talked to at local cafes, seem to be still as perplexed as when it happened.
John Tory, the good mayor of Toronto, in some sudden fit of rage, had the Toronto Police sweep through the city and shut down all the cannabis dispensaries. A ton of pot was seized, hundreds of arrests were made, businesses were shut down.
One day you have an up-and-coming business, finding your way in a new out-of-the-shadows billion dollar market, the next you are a potential felon, looking for a lawyer, your business on the 6 o’clock news.
Given that there seemed to be very little mainstream concern with the growth of pot shops in the city, with everyone expecting the city and/or the province to come out soon with the requisite business by-laws to regulate the new industry, Tory’s actions were a blind-side action straight out of right field.
But nothing is done in politics without a political reason. Tory’s advisors would have strategized this decision seven ways to Sunday.
Why piss off the majority of Torontonians who could care less about the adult consumption of pot? (Even people I know who would never smoke pot don’t understand Tory’s motivation.)
Why would Tory suddenly get bent about pot? The dispensaries had been up and running for months.
If I hadn’t been in Vancouver when the crack down happened I may not have seen the connection.
On the very same day as Toronto’s city-wide raids, at the national Conservative Party convention in Vancouver, the Conservative Party voted down the idea of de-criminalizing pot possession – even for the smallest amounts.
(I should also point out, as a reminder, that the federal Conservatives are currently without a leader.)
To me, Tory’s crackdown makes total sense if you think of it as an opening salvo as John Tory puts out feelers for a 2018 run at the federal Conservative leadership.
Was it a coincidence that the crackdown happened on the same day that the convention came out against pot?
From the 20 minutes or so I spent listening to the local conservative talk-radio station in Toronto (still abuzz about the move a week later), his decision played very well with the conservative audience. People spoke of our moral decay, how it is a bad influence on our children, how pot melts the mind, creates psychosis.
Bad enough that same-sex marriage has been accepted by the federal Conservatives, but pot legalization goes one step too far! Good on Tory for showing some political gumption.
Nevermind the years of academic research, or the mountain of harm reduction studies, or the recommendations of almost every police chief in Canada to legalize pot, to take it out of the back alley shadows of crime and punishment (and the billions of policing dollars this approach costs taxpayers).
So I sat in Vancouver and on one page of a Vancouver newspaper I read how Vancouver’s city council had approved a set of by-laws for the sale of pot and pot shops were moving to meet the required by-laws, and I read on another page how John Tory had just shut down Toronto pot shops and criminalized the store owners.
John Tory wants the leadership of the federal Conservative Party.
It’s the only thing that makes sense.