When Rona and Justin Sound the Same on Legalization…

There’s a scene in George Orwell’s 1984 where, during a rally for Hate Week, the country of Oceania switches enemies and allies. One minute Oceania is at war with Eurasia, the next minute, the enemy is Eastasia and they’ve never been at war with Eurasia.

People holding anti-Eurasia signs become embarrassed and blame the scapegoat, Emmanuel Goldstein, for sabotaging their efforts.

I can only imagine this is what Conservative Party supporters must have experienced in the last week since interim leader Rona Ambrose came out in support of Justin Trudeau’s legalization plans.

As Minister of Health, Rona wasn’t exactly pro-pot. She called the Supreme Court ruling on cannabis extracts “outrageous” implying that terminally ill patients should instead inhale smoke into their lungs.

Not to mention violating a western legal tenet that law transcends politics. That law is distinct from the state and not an instrument for the political class.

The Conservatives also spent more than $7 million dollars on anti-cannabis propaganda campaigns while they were in power. Stephen Harper called cannabis “infinitely worse than tobacco.”

I could go on — mandatory minimum sentences, the MMPR and ban on personal cultivation, threatening to sic the RCMP on Vancouver’s dispensaries, as well as increased funding for the drug war — but we all know how bad the Cons were on cannabis.

But now, Ambrose has declared legalization to be inevitable and that Justin’s plan “will keep it out of the hands of kids.”

She said: “I’ve never been in favour of the legalization writ large, the way Mr. Trudeau envisions this industry moving forward, but it’s incumbent on him to come forward with a plan to show how he will keep it out of the hands of kids.”

Control, restrict and regulate, just like with alcohol — never mind the statistics on underage drinking.

When Justin Trudeau and Rona Ambrose are spouting the same rhetoric, you know this country is in trouble.

Perhaps legalization is not about ending prohibition. The way the authorities are using the term, “legalization” now refers to a new form of prohibition.

This is a textbook example of Orwellian newspeak in which assigning the same name to two different concepts narrows the range of thought.

If legalization is identified with this new form of prohibition, then no one will seriously ask whether legalization results in the end of prohibition.

The identification of legalization with prohibition is not a trivial matter. It is exactly how Rona Ambrose is getting away with support for Justin’s plans.

By appealing to authority and emotion, the Conservatives are embracing the collectivist notions behind Justin’s legalization scheme.

I’m reminded of Murray Rothbard, one of the great intellectuals of the 20th century, who wrote about why conservatives will always fail to stop the statist agenda:

“In fact, one of the reasons that the conservative opposition to collectivism has been so weak is that conservatism, by its very nature, offers not a consistent political philosophy but only a “practical” defense of the existing status quo, enshrined as embodiments of the American “tradition.” Yet, as statism grows and accretes, it becomes, by definition, increasingly entrenched and therefore “traditional”; conservatism can then find no intellectual weapons to accomplish its overthrow.”

Indeed, without principles based in self-ownership and private property rights, the Conservatives under Ambrose are compromising with the Liberals over this new form of prohibition everyone keeps calling “legalization.”