But there's an elephant in the living room. You know: the one everyone knows is there, but no one wants to talk about.
Two elephants, actually.
One is that the gangs are fuelled by drug money. Drugs. The bottom line.
And who's responsible for the drug trade?
We -- as a society -- have sent mixed messages to people. We're down on drugs, but don't want to do what it takes to keep people off them -- or get people off them. We send mixed messages, wringing our hands at the demon of crystal meth, crack and heroin, but taking a laissez-faire attitude towards addicts.
This is where the right-winger in me comes out, big-time. We've tried to infiltrate the drug underworld and nail "Mr Big" (in singular or plural form) for years, without trying to deal with the "demand" side of any economic equation. But so long as the demand is there -- so long as people shoot up, snort or smoke -- and we not only turn a blind eye but advocate giving them "a safe place to shoot up", there will always be dealers. We arrest one Mr Big (along with the attendant media frenzy over just how much money the guy was bringing in, how big his house is, how many Mercedes-Benzes he has and how glamorous a lifestyle he was leading), and 20 more will figure it's worth risking a stretch in the slammer.
But take away the belief among the users that they can smoke up in full view of the law and they won't face any consequences, and just watch what happens to demand. Even the rather off-beat ECON 100 class with Larry Boland at SFU told me the lineup to become suppliers would start to dwindle.
But how do we bust the users? What would we do with them? Send them to jail? In a trice (that's the Imperial measure: the metric is augenblick) there'd be some sharp lawyer on the line, finding some Charter right that's being violated. Force them into rehab? Even less feasible: one thing from the past four years in that area is, they have to want to be free of the addiction, or they'll just fall into it again as soon as their term was up.*
You can't -- in other words -- force someone to do the right thing. They have to make that choice themselves. But how?
*How many psychiatrists does it take to change a light bulb? ANSWER: Just one, but the light bulb has to really WANT to change.
** ABC = Anybody But Christ (also called "Jesus Without")