April 2, 2004  
Volume 97, Issue 97  

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NEWS

NDP forum focuses on energy and weed

By Angela Marie Denstedt
Gazette Staff

In a forum held Wednesday in the University Community Centre atrium entitled “Cleaner Cars and Cannabis,” local representatives of the New Democratic Party suggested government time could be better spent on environmental issues and marijuana legalization.

“Paying off old debt has become a mantra of right-wing government; meanwhile, there are plenty of social and environmental problems which can be fixed — and this needs to change,” said Irene Mathyssen, NDP representative for London-Fanshawe, expressing her eagerness to see the federal government change hands.

“These changes include an intelligent, visionary government, as well as a higher priority placed on environmental issues,” Mathyssen said, adding that lower emissions standards would be an ideal first step. “We know how to make cleaner cars more energy and fuel-efficient, yet we continue to drift along in the same status quo.”

“It’s time to look at things a little more realistically if you want to address the environmental problems in this country,” said Rob LeBlanc, a third-year political science student and candidate for the position of London-West NDP representative.

On an even greener note, the legalization of marijuana was also a top concern for NDP supporters.

Marc Emery, head of the British Columbia Marijuana Party, was a scheduled guest speaker for Wednesday’s presentation but was unable to attend. Early last week while attending a smiliar event at the University of Saskatchewan — he was arrested off campus and charged with trafficking marijuana — he was passing a joint, explained legalization activist Hailey McPhail.

Emery did make an appearance by video from Saskatoon.

“I was originally head of the Green Party, but I am now giving full support to the NDP,” Emery said. “The vision of this party can fix the problems we face as a nation with either a Liberal or Conservative party running the country. The government is wasting millions of taxpayers’ dollars prosecuting people for the possession or use of marijuana, which is far less harmful than cigarettes or alcohol.”

“The legalization of marijuana would be a proactive start to cutting back on wasted tax dollars,” said Louise Collins, a third-year political science student.

 

 

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