Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Free Pass to Lake Louise and Nakiska? Just Wear Your Work Uniform

Also available at mises.ca

In Banff, Alberta there is a ski resort called Sunshine Village. On a run called “Jack Rabbit” right after the first right turn, through some trees and a bit off to the left – there’s a shack known to the locals and ski-bums as the “puff shack.” This is a place where boarders and skiers go to smoke marijuana. However, if the Royal Canadian Mounted Police get their way, it’s likely that innocent stoners arriving at the shack will find an armed boarder in full uniform ready to confiscate their property.

Eight RCMP officers are patrolling Lake Louise and Nakiska in resurrection of a failed government program circa the 1990′s. In Alberta there is no provincial police like in Ontario and Quebec. This role has always been assumed to the RCMP, the federal police bureaucracy. Being from Ontario, it’s strange to see the RCMP patrol the town of Canmore. I like to compare it to the absurd notion of the FBI performing basic police functions in any one of the fifty American States. Nevertheless, this is the way it has always been. Ever since the RCMP were called the NWMP and protected the State’s interests in building railroads by oppressing the First Nation communities opposed to the violation of their property.

But as I was saying – right now eight RCMP goons are hitting the slopes to bust ski-bums with measly amounts of marijuana and water-bottles filled with watered down vodka. “We were hearing a few things about people smoking marijuana, drinking in the gondola, reckless skiing, and we wanted to be proactive in consultation with senior management of ski hills and ski patrollers,” says Jeff Campbell, an RCMP detachment commander taking part in the volunteer patrol program. It’s important to note that reckless skiing is much like reckless driving – one does not need to be under the influence to act stupid. Stupid people are going act stupid, whether high, drunk or sober. Also, “proactive” enforcement might as well be called what it actually is: pre-crime. All skiers are guilty until proven innocent.

The other important thing to note is the nature of this program: it’s volunteer work. The RCMP are required to volunteer some of their off-duty time in the community. Typically, this has been in soup-kitchens or at the Salvation Army. It seems that eight guys with guns have found a loophole to this pesky community service problem by creating a “need” for police presence at ski-hills. A place where there is absolutely no need for this kind of enforcement.

Are there skiers and boarders that drink alcohol and smoke marijuana? Absolutely. My “friend” often takes a couple tokes on the slopes because he finds himself more relaxed and in control when gravity forces you down at 45 miles per hour. And I don’t know a single person who doesn’t pack a warm can of beer for a celebratory drink at the bottom before taking the lift back up the mountain. All this and more but never have I come across a drunkard unable to function or a skier on a bad acid trip. In every other scenario, the ski resorts’ own private enforcement have patrolled the hills sufficiently.

According to the Calgary Herald, “on their first day, officers came across people smoking marijuana, seized three joints and escorted those individuals off the hill…Campbell said he’s hoping to expand the program to Norquay, Sunshine and other ski hills, and is looking for other Alberta Mounties who are interested.” Interested in getting free lift tickets to all the major ski hills by wearing your work uniform? Who wouldn’t? All that’s required is the enforcement of arbitrary laws regulating plant and alcohol consumption.

Is this another unfortunate case of the creeping police state developing here in the Western world? Or is it merely eight RCMP thugs that hate volunteer work and wish to justify their love for free snowboarding? Well let’s see, I’m still free to write: “The RCMP are armed gorillas incapable of coherent thought.” But for how long?

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