BC Decriminalizes Hard Drugs

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British Columbia has learned that punishing drug users doesn’t stop drug use or the negative impact drugs have on our society. The province decided to shift from a punishment approach to drug control to a health focussed approach, as in they will help people get off of drugs instead of incarcerating them. The first step in that process is to decriminalize the drugs in question, note this is not legalization (like alcohol and marijuana).

The goal of decriminalization is to reduce the harms of arrest and drug seizure on individual users, officials said, and to reduce the stigma around substance use that prevents people from seeking health care or accessing adequate housing and employment.

“In the short term, decriminalization will stop seizures and arrests and connect people with services and supports,” said Malcolmson, noting that reducing stigma will be a long-term goal.

Fear of arrest and of losing employment, housing or custody of children often prevents people who use drugs from accessing harm reduction and health supports, or from telling family and friends about their substance use.

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Canada Implements Handgun Ban

Mass shootings in the USA have tripled in the last few decades with mass shootings becoming an almost daily occurrence. Canadians are no strangers to mass shoutings either, with too many happening within the country. Obviously, that’s not good. The Canadian government has responded to this dangerous increase in firearm usage by banning certain guns, limiting others, eliminating toy guns that look like real ones, and to try and reduce the inflow of guns smuggled into the country from the States.

It’s good to see Canada acting to enforce existing laws while increasing limits on who can legally use a gun. In this case it’s a clear example of policy before police.

Canada’s government introduced legislation Monday to implement a “national freeze” on the sale and purchase of handguns as part of a gun control package that would also limit magazine capacities and ban some toys that look like guns.

Authorities do not expect a run on handguns in anticipation of the freeze, in part because they are so heavily regulated already, an official said in a briefing.

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Canadians Need to Know Snow-washing

Us Canadians need to live up to the stereotype that we are a nice, peaceful, and safe country. Clearly the so-called trucker protest tarnished our reputation, but in financial circles our reputation is tarnished thanks to our neglect of corporate accountability. Internationally Canada is seen as a great place to launder illegal obtained funds akin to third world tax havens. Laundering money in Canada is known as snow-washing.

Thanks to excellent research to Transparency International Canada (and more organizations) we finally know the extent of snow-washing. In order to address the problem we must first understand it. So let’s hope Canadian politicians step up to fight this corporate corruption in our government.

Although Canada has vowed to establish a publicly accessible corporate beneficial ownership registry, a database that will store details about who ultimately owns and controls millions of private companies, it won’t be operational until at least 2025.

“Open data allows journalists, civil society and other stakeholders to investigate wrongdoing,” the report says. “This is particularly important for Canada, where law enforcement and regulatory authorities have limited capacity to investigate domestic crime, let alone criminal activity beyond our borders.”

As an example, one of the report’s case studies about a Russian transnational laundromat builds on previous reporting by investigative journalists, including The Globe’s Mark MacKinnon.

For far too long, Canada has been saddled with a reputation as an international haven for financial crime. As the report rightly argues, transparency is the only antidote.

Read more.

Read the snow-washing report.

Thanks to Delaney!

One Way Maritimers can Drastically Reduce their Energy Consumption

Solar panels on grass

Canada’s Maritime provinces are blustery, cold, and powered by coal. The weather is fine for most people (and lovely in the summer), but they know they need to transition to renewable energy quickly or risk losing more land to the seas and worsening storms due to climate change. The work to get the power grid to be a green one is underway.

Researchers and policy makers are looking into ways to make their power grid more robust by incorporating modern battery technology. The technology varies from smart water heaters to store heat to phase-change energy storage which is gaining popularity around the world.

Several companies in the Maritimes are investigating the possibility of integrating phase-change materials into heat sources to allow more integration of renewables. 

One is Fredericton-based Stash Energy. Dan Curwin, director of business development, said they’ve developed heat pumps with phase-change material storage built in, to store energy from renewable sources like hydro when it’s plentiful, such as overnight, and discharge it in the morning when demand is high, to be stored up again from renewables like solar during the day. 

This can help with the integration of renewables and with greater adoption of electric heat pumps, which are the most efficient heating option but risk overburdening the grid. 

Curwin said the company has partnerships with efficiency agencies across Atlantic Canada and New England, as well as housing authorities such as Housing Nova Scotia that recognize the particular burden posed by heating costs. 

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Thanks to Mike!

Pandora Papers Resonate in Canada

The Pandora Papers were released just last week and they are already having in impact in Canada. The non-profit Canadians for Tax Fairness is pushing the recently elected politicians to get on closing loopholes and exploits that only the rich get to use. All parties support tax reform to address the growing wealth divide in the country, and with the Pandora leak the need for tax reform is clear. Two Canadian celebrity athletes were exposed in the financial papers leak, which has hurt their reputations.

Support for tax fairness in Canada appears overwhelming. Eighty-nine per cent of Canadians want to see a wealth tax of one per cent paid by the richest Canadians as part of the country’s pandemic recovery, according to a recent Abacus Data pollbased on the NDP’s 2021 platform, and 92 per cent support closing tax loopholes and making it harder for corporations to strategically book profits in tax havens.

“There seems to be universal acknowledgment across the parties that economic inequality is a problem, and it’s a problem that requires government action,” said Cochrane.

In a blog post for C4TF, Cochrane outlined policies the major parties could work together on, based on similarities between party platforms, and identified an excess profits tax as one possibility.

Read more.

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