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MARIJUANA PARTY JOINS THE RACE

By Alfa · May 17, 2005 · ·
  1. Alfa
    MARIJUANA PARTY JOINS THE RACE


    Nelson-Creston Riding: Just Under The Wire, Philip McMillan Files Papers To Bring Total Names On The Ballot To Four


    A new candidate has come out of the weeds at the last minute hoping to shake up the provincial election race for the Nelson-Creston riding.


    Philip McMillan of the British Columbia Marijuana Party became a registered candidate Friday, bringing the number of candidates to four. Nominations close tomorrow at 1p.m.


    McMillan, whose only other political experience was an unsuccessful run for mayor of Nelson in 2002, is a late replacement for another candidate who backed out.


    McMillan feels that running for the Marijuana Party, often criticized as being a one-issue party, actually gives him an advantage.


    "There's obviously the cannabis issue," McMillan told the NDN. "I run the Nelson Cannabis Compassion Club so I am a big supporter of medicinal cannabis. But I also want to talk about some new things.


    "Because I am a one-issue person I can put out whatever I want and I want to be the carrier of a message - basically just how bad off people really are. I'm a one-in-a-million-odds candidate so you can imagine what kind of a message it would be to send me to Victoria."


    McMillan also spoke about a need for change in health care.


    "What we need to do is isolate it from capitalist society. The last numbers I saw showed that 73 per cent of health care funding goes to pharmacare. You know, corporations making money off of pills. I'm a capitalist myself, I love making money. But I'm an ethical capitalist. I do not put money before human life or the environment."


    McMillan feels his affiliation with the Marijuana Party makes him similar to an independent candidate.


    "Basically we're independents," he said. "I'd love to see every seat filled by an independent."


    He hopes his message will resonate with people who normally do not vote.


    "I don't want to split the vote. I want the 45 per cent that didn't vote. A lot of my friends are going to vote for the first time in their lives just because I'm running. If anything, if I can get one person to vote who has never voted before, I'll be happy."


    McMillan's passion for politics comes from his father.


    "My dad worked for a lot of government watchdogs when I was growing up," he said. "I've been watching the government mistreat people for a long time."


    A former support worker for street youth in Vancouver, McMillan has lived in Nelson for six years. He is, however, a bit of a mystery to the other candidates.


    "I don't know Philip, but I do know that the candidate who ran last time was a very smart, well-spoken individual who added a lot to the debate,"


    said Liberal candidate Blair Suffredine. "He brought a very interesting perspective on things and tended to lighten up what otherwise would have been a very serious debate."


    NDP candidate Corky Evans also does not know what to expect from McMillan.


    "I don't know the guy and I have no knowledge of what his thoughts are,"


    said Evans.


    Green Party candidate Luke Crawford said he was a little surprised that the Marijuana Party has entered the race. Crawford said Marijuana Party leader Marc Emery has indicated that his party would not be running candidates in ridings where candidates from other parties have taken a strong pro-pot stance.


    That said, Crawford is not too worried about McMillan's decision to run.


    "I don't know about cutting in, but I'm just surprised," Crawford said when asked if McMillan will take votes away from the Green Party. "But I wish them the best."

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  1. Alfa
    BRIERE CAMPAIGNS FROM JAIL


    A B.C. Marijuana Party candidate currently in prison kicked off his campaign for a Surrey provincial seat Monday.


    Don Briere, incarcerated in Abbotsford for violating parole, has decided to take another run for the riding of Surrey-Tynehead.


    "I'm a victim of the war on marijuana and Ottawa's failed criminal prohibition," Briere said in a release Monday. "My time in prison has only reinforced my belief that our laws need to change, and change quickly."


    Elections BC's Jennifer Miller confirmed there's nothing prohibiting Briere from running, and District Electoral Officer Jerry Della Mattia said Briere's nomination is just being reviewed. All 25 people who nominated him must be eligible to vote in the riding.


    Miller said she isn't aware of any other time in history that a candidate for B.C. office has run from behind bars.


    A representative from the Office of the Clerk refused to comment on how Briere would conduct office from prison.


    This is Briere's second run at the riding and he suggested to The Leader four years ago at his sentencing that he would be back.


    Briere was sentenced to four years in jail on Oct. 10, 2001 for running a highly sophisticated marijuana growing and cross-border pot smuggling operation that generated millions of dollars in illicit profits.


    He served 14 months and was free on parole when he was arrested last year with what Vancouver Police said was six pounds of marijuana and $6,000 in cash.


    At the time, Briere was involved with the "Da Kine Smoke and Beverage Shop"


    and had told The Leader that the store was set up by the Canadian Sanctuary Society.


    The Commercial Drive store was subsequently shut down after repeated raids by police.
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