The Week – February 24

Sexing up BC politics, getting rid of medical-cannabis raids, surveying homelessness and more.

Which would interest you more: cheese or nudity?

Sexy times in Liberal landIn an effort to make politics more sexy, one Monday reader wrote in with the idea that all those stuffy politico wine-and-cheese fests should be replaced with a nudist party: “Imagine the photo opportunities,” wrote Joe Mothersill. “The motto would be ‘nothing but the naked truth’.” We liked the idea, so Monday decided to take it upon ourselves to see what those racy BC Liberal leadership hopefuls would think of such an idea, along with less steamy terms, like raising voter participation.

Turns out the idea scared most of the candidates off — though we couldn’t tell if it was the nudity or voter participation — as only one of the (then six) candidates returned our repeated requests.

Moira Stilwell, MLA for Vancouver-Langara who has since backed out of the running, called us back to say “I don’t think hosting a nudist party would help advance my career.” Though she did have a few sultry thoughts about how to get people more engaged — something she says she’s worked hard to promote, especially with her own 20-something kids.

“I usually think that if people aren’t engaged in a discussion, it’s because the topics aren’t interesting to them — so we really have to focus on what people want to talk about, what matters to them,” Stilwell says. “People are very interested in celebrity, but we tend to flatten politicians.”

If our flattened options are any indication, we may not be seeing “the naked truth” for some time to come.

Bang that pot

If you missed International Medical Marijuana Week (which ran from Feb. 13 to 20), fear not — you can still catch Ted Smith in action down at City Hall this Thursday.

Smith, founder of the Victoria-based Cannabis Buyers’ Club of Canada and president of International Hempology 101, will be making a presentation to Victoria City Council at its Thursday meeting, asking for the City’s assistance in creating a program to grant an “Exemption #56” from the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act to medical cannabis providers. The exemption would help facilitate greater access to clients in need of medical-use cannabis without fear of police raids. Smith is asking the City to submit a formal request to Health Canada on behalf of local dispensaries and compassion clubs.

“This exception is something the province and the City has authority over,” Smith says. “Currently, the clubs are disjointed and unorganized. It would be much more appropriate if the government had the ability to work with us on the issues more and … help us facilitate our own type of harm reduction strategies.”

City councillor Chris Coleman says council has always been open to Smith and the Buyers’ Club.

“However, there will likely be some questions about the details — what do the results actually look like?” says Coleman. “We’ve always been supportive of medical marijuana use … where that goes is hard to say, though.”

Survey says housing good

Always wanted a chance to go off about Victoria’s homelessness issue — how it affects you, your business or your city? Now’s your opportunity. Victoria Cool Aid Society has partnered with McAllister Media to conduct a survey in an effort to learn what the public and local businesses really know about homelessness.

“We spend more money allowing people to stay homeless than providing them with the housing they need,” says Alan Rycroft, Cool Aid’s community relations guru. “In my time here I’ve come to realize that ending homelessness is about informing the public and getting a sense of what people understand to be true.”

Tracy McAllister, director of marketing with  McAllister Media, says while many people know about the issue, few know the statistics, or even what exactly Cool Aid does.

“In order to best fix a problem, we have to find the discrepancies between what people think and what we know to be true,” she says.

Help by doing the survey: coolaid.org/survey.

Show some pink

It’s activism time in the city, and one of the season’s annual events is today’s Pink Shirt Day, which acts as a cohort to Anti-Bullying Day. If you miss the day, celebrate the week by wearing as much pink as you can to recognize the efforts of students and adults across B.C. to build communities that foster respect, fairness, equity and compassion. Feel like going one step further? Think about the underdogs in your community — organizations, people, creatures — and what you could to do make someone’s life easier.

“To know that Pink Shirt Day began with the actions of just two high school boys in Nova Scotia and is now celebrated by thousands in Canada from coast to coast shows that we as adults can learn from our students,” says Education Minister Margaret MacDiarmid, adding that she encourages people to understand what counts as bullying — such as name-calling and unwelcome teasing or taunting — then show zero tolerance and educate others.

Now, if only our own government would take the cues.

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