Repatriation Under Incarceration: Marc Emery's Politicized Detention

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Free Marc Emery

Marc Emery was arrested on July 29, 2005 for the sale of marijuana seeds to private citizens in America. He sold these seeds from his offices in downtown Vancouver. He was sentenced to 5-years in a US federal penitentiary in 2010 after a lengthy 4-year extradition process. His early release date, contingent on good behaviour, is set for July 9, 2014.  On July 9, 2013, the US Department of Justice informed Marc’s wife, Jody Emery, that he was eligible to return to Canada to serve the remainder of his sentence. This transfer is contingent on approval of the Federal Government of Canada who, after the retirement of Vic “you-either-stand-with-the-government-or-you-stand-with-the-pederasts” Toews on July 9, 2013 lacks a Minister of Public Safety.

The Emery’s could be waiting for a while. The Harper Government™ is not predisposed to allowing violent radicals back into the country (note: The Harper Government™ reserves the right to brand as violent radicals whomsoever they choose. See: Omar Khadr, any and all Environmentalists. They have yet to likewise smear Mr. Emery, but the night is young).

Aschcroft and Gonzales: Freedom Fighters

The arrest of Marc Emery occurred in those heady days known as “the Bush Years” in American politics. Historians are still debating whether this term refers to the name of the man who happened to be President, or to the level of play to which American politics devolved at the time (that is, “Bush League”). The War on Drugs took on a renewed vigour under President Bush and his Attorney Generals, John Aschcroft (February 2, 2001 – February 3, 2005) and Alberto Gonzalez (February 3, 2005 – September 17, 2007).

John Aschcroft is perhaps most hilariously known for losing his 2000 Senate race to a dead guy in Missouri and, after being awarded for that bit of buffoonery by W. with the posting of Attorney General of the US, spending $8,000 on blue drapes to cover the topless Spirit of Justice statue. The mind reels.

Alberto Gonzales deemed the Geneva Conventions quaint and unnecessary as the White House General Consul before being promoted to AG in 2005. His reign as AG was punctuated by the politicization of the Justice Department and accusations of perjury before Congress. Upon accepting Mr. Gonzales’ resignation, President Bush praised his old chum, as politicians are wont to do.

You may be wondering why all this focus on American politics? Marc Emery was and is a Canadian citizen. He was arrested on Canadian soil by Canadian police with the consent of the Canadian government. The problem, however, is that his arrest was spearheaded by the American Drug Enforcement Agency and the American Attorney General. This kowtowing by the Canadian Federal Government (under the Liberals) represented a significant blow to Canadian sovereignty. By allowing Emery to be arrested and extradited at the behest of the American Department of Justice, Canada ceded a portion of its sovereignty, all in the name of a political arrest.

A DEA Administrator and an activist walk into a bar…

Indeed, the DEA Administrator at the time, Karen Tandy was poignantly aware of the political nature of the arrest. Take a look at her statement on the day Emery was arrested:

“Today’s DEA arrest of Marc Scott Emery, publisher of Cannabis Culture Magazine, and the founder of a marijuana legalization group — is a significant blow not only to the marijuana trafficking trade in the U.S. and Canada, but also to the marijuana legalization movement.

His marijuana trade and propagandist marijuana magazine have generated nearly $5 million a year in profits that bolstered his trafficking efforts, but those have gone up in smoke today.”

[One can assume Ms. Tandy paused after that beauty bit of wordplay, if only to make room for the laugh track in her head, before continuing:]

“Emery and his organization had been designated as one of the Attorney General’s most wanted international drug trafficking organizational targets — one of only 46 in the world and the only one from Canada.

Hundreds of thousands of dollars of Emery’s illicit profits are known to have been channeled to marijuana legalization groups active in the United States and Canada. Drug legalization lobbyists now have one less pot of money to rely on.”

That last pun feels accidental, doesn’t it? Hell, maybe Ms. Tandy had been wiping her ass with pun-a-day toilet paper and the poor DEA Administrator couldn’t help herself. The fact that Marc Emery had been shortlisted with 46 other drug trafficking organizations by the US Attorney General should be a matter of public pride amongst Canadians—he was, after all, the only syrup-huffer to make the grade; and to be in the cross-hairs of two of the most bumbling and ideologically anachronistic Attorney Generals since Ed Meese…well, kudos to you, Mr. Emery.

Going back to Canada

But back to my point, did you notice that the trafficking aspect of his arrest feels almost secondary? She seems to be all but admitting to the fact that his arrest was a political one. In her words, his arrest was “…[a blow to] the marijuana legalization movement.” She bemoans the profitability of his “propagandist marijuana magazine” and the fact that these funds have “been channeled to marijuana legalization groups active in the United States in Canada.” So nice of her to mention Canada in her statement, wasn’t it?

After all, Canadians are a proud lot. A recent study I just made up shows that 9 out of 10 Canadians polled know that Alan Thicke is Canadian. On Neil Young’s “1971: Live at Massey Hall” the Toronto audience can be heard cheering to the line “Now I’m going back to Canada”. Why then, did our Federal Government allow the American Drug Enforcement Agency to set up satellite shops on our sovereign land while they hunted Marc Emery? Why did our Federal Government agree to allow Marc Emery, a Canadian citizen, to be arrested on Canadian soil on trumped up drug trafficking charges?

These questions, though worthy of debate, are in the past. The present question is not why did they allow his arrest in the first place, but if they will accept his repatriation under incarceration. For a non-violent, bass-playing offender of the moralistic War on Drugs, Mr. Emery at the very least deserves to spend the remainder of his sentence near his friends and family.

Photo courtesy of designwallah via flickr

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Todd Fanter Political Contributor to Vancity Buzz in spite of personal view that politics are the worst.
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