So there was Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre today, calling the opening of illegal Cannabis Culture shops in Montreal on Thursday a pointless stunt and justifying the raids and arrests of 10 of the chain’s employees on Friday, including its owner and Canada’s biggest pot activist, Marc Emery.
Coderre knows a thing or two about stunts. He used a jackhammer to destroy the concrete foundation of a community mailbox in 2015, in protest against Canada Post’s plan to phase out most home delivery and make people use community mailboxes. It was a publicity stunt, with all sorts of media attention. If the average Joe had committed such a crime, he would have been charged with mischief and vandalism at the very least, and no doubt would have had to pay for the damage along with a hefty fine.
But Coderre was not charged. He wasn’t even arrested, even though the media showed video footage of the vandalism (see CBC/YouTube video below).
A CBC report last December had this: At the time, he brushed off concerns that what he was doing was illegal, saying “Some people ask me, ‘Are you afraid to be sued?’ Sue me. I don’t care. But at the end of the day, I have to take a stand.”
Which is all very admirable, even if he didn’t have to face the consequences of his actions. It once again reconfirmed for many that authorities are often willing to look the other way when people in high places commit illegal acts.
Some may say his actions were pointless and nothing more that a pathetic publicity stunt. But I give him the benefit of the doubt: he took a stand for a principle he felt was important — and that many other people felt was important.
And so did the owners of Cannabis Culture, who knew they would be arrested this week when they opened some shops in Montreal. They were making a stand against what they see as the hypocrisy of the Canadian government, and in particular Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who has called for authorities to enforce unjust, archaic anti-marijuana laws even though the same government plans to pass a bill in the spring that would legalize pot for recreational use.
Because it may be legalized, Coderre feels the Cannabis Culture “stunt” was pointless. But it wasn’t pointless to the Cannabis Culture owners and their many supporters, who don’t trust Trudeau all that much anymore after some of his recent doublespeak on marijuana and his almost Soviet-style call for the current law to be enforced. They felt they had to make a stand, and they did, just like Coderre did with his jackhammer.
There’s more to this than meets the eye, of course. And it’s something that will probably get more press in the days and weeks to come. Suffice to say that it may involve people with influence who may not want to see Cannabis Culture getting a foothold in Montreal for reasons that have nothing to do with current laws or the relaxed laws to come.
Meanwhile, unrelated to the preceding sentence, there are other illegal cannabis dispensaries in Montreal that cater to people with medical prescriptions that don’t get raided, even though a Montreal police spokesperson said on the news tonight that possession of marijuana (without a medical prescription) is still illegal and the police will enforce that law. They don’t really do that. People smoke pot on the mountain every weekend in the summer without fear of being busted. I’ve seen them myself, and I’ve seen the cops patrolling there, turning a blind eye. People smoke pot all over the city, and nobody gets busted for possession — except for the owners and staff of Cannabis Culture, who also were charged with trafficking in some cases.
So, yes, the same laws are applied differently in this part of the world, depending on who is committing the crime and who is ordering the police to make arrests.
In both cases, though, federal crimes were committed. Denis Coderre destroyed property belonging to the federal government, and the police chose not to arrest him and the crown chose not to prosecute him. The Cannabis Culture folks also crossed swords with the federal government, and the police were quickly sent in . . . by someone. And the crown has already laid charges.
Such is the two-faced law of the land in Canada.
Photo: Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre. (Photo credit: Ville de Montréal via Foter.com / CC BY-ND)