5 people killed in Alberta

The Canadian media are full of reports of 5 people killed in a shootout at a marijuana ‘grow-op’. 4 police officers conducting a raid were killed by a gunman, who himself was killed by return fire.

All deaths are tragedies. Murders are particularly horrible. Preventable murders are still worse. People affected, the families, should have time to mourn. And yet the deaths are already being used to justify policies that will produce more such deaths and compound the tragedies.


The Canadian media are full of reports of 5 people killed in a shootout at a marijuana ‘grow-op’. 4 police officers conducting a raid were killed by a gunman, who himself was killed by return fire.

All deaths are tragedies. Murders are particularly horrible. Preventable murders are still worse. People affected, the families, should have time to mourn. And yet the deaths are already being used to justify policies that will produce more such deaths and compound the tragedies.

Take the Globe and Mail’s story today:

Appearing on CTV’s Canada AM, Tony Cannavino, president of the Canadian Professional Police Association, said his group has lobbied Ottawa for tougher laws to deal with grow-ops.

Mr. Cannavino also said the shootings send a message that the current laws are not a deterrent on grow-ops, which he says operators view as cheap money makers.

He said Canada needs stronger legislation, offering tough sentences for those involved in such schemes.

As well, he said, courts need to recognize that giving small fines in grow-op cases reinforces the notion that operators can earn significant amounts of money at a small cost.

The suggestion is to move closer to the US model of a war on drugs, rather than the direction that one hopes Canada is slowly moving in, which is towards legalization.

Mr. Cannavino is completely right that grow-ops are viewed as cheap money makers. If marijuana was legal, controlled, and regulated, with full education and information as to its effects, the business would be handled by people who would, instead of taking guns to agents of the state, be beholden to the state and its police officers for protection. By putting the trade outside of the law, all we do is guarantee that the people involved in the trade must be violent in order to keep their share of it. And since prices are set by risk, legalization would bring the prices down and grow-ops would cease to be ‘cheap money makers’.

The human tragedy that is the war on drugs in and from the United States has locked millions of people up, it has militarized cities, it has devastated schools, it has devastated peasant agriculture and biodiversity in countries all over the Americas, and it has ensured that people who do use drugs use them in the most unsafe conditions and are exposed to ruthless and violent institutions. It has also been a complete failure, as Mike Gray’s book ‘Drug Crazy’ documents.

I think a lot of Canadians are upset about these deaths. But we should not let anyone use those feelings to make policies that virtually ensure that more deaths ensue. Alcohol and tobacco are far deadlier than marijuana and are legal. The marijuana trade should never have been in the hands of someone like James Roszko. Police should not have to raid marijuana grow-ops. All the people who’ve suffered and died in drug wars deserve better.

Justin Podur

Author: Justin Podur

Author of Siegebreakers. Ecology. Environmental Science. Political Science. Anti-imperialism. Political fiction. Teach at York U's FES. Author. Writer at ZNet, TeleSUR, AlterNet, Ricochet, and the Independent Media Institute.

2 thoughts on “5 people killed in Alberta”

  1. The man was very, very
    The man was very, very mentally unstable. But they will still blame marijuana.

Comments are closed.