Drug Strategy or Bust
Source: Drug Strategy or Bust
February 10, 2006
White wants to make peace with those fighting war on drugs.
Abbotsford's outspoken former MP may be retired from Parliament Hill, but the 57-year-old Randy White is far from idle.
After 13 years away from the hardwood court, White is back playing racquetball ["I'm still good at it, but I'm 12 years slower"], throwing rocks at a local curling rink, and polishing his RV to get it ready for some fun road trips with wife Marty, also newly retired.
To keep his management accountant's skills sharp, he's signed on as a director with an investment and equities firm, Vecten Corporation.
He's polishing his Espanol in preparation for volunteer work in Guatemala later this year.
At the invitation of Stan Hindmarsh, of Hallmark Independent Living, the Whites travelled to Guatemala last year to assist the Abbotsford philanthropist.
"We were down at a seniors' home, and it was bed on bed on bed. They got two meals a day, mostly black beans and cornbread," he said.
He fed disabled children and was overwhelmed at times by what he saw at a volunteer-run orphanage for children with AIDS.
"Some of the things I did there changed me completely - that and my trip to Afghanistan and the drug issues," he took on while he was a MP, he said during a coffee interview on Tuesday.
"You realize how much people here complain unnecessarily. It certainly made me want to give back to other societies," he said.
But White is saving his considerable energies for a new career, as president and the chief executive officer of the Drug Prevention Network of Canada, which he helped found last June.
Modelled after the Drug Prevention Network of the Americas in the United States and the National Drug Prevention Alliance in Britain, it aims to prevent the use of illegal drugs and the misuse of legal drugs through education, to promote healthy drug-free lifestyles, to advance abstinence-based treatment and to oppose legalization of street drugs in Canada.
The idea of the network was born at a 1994 United Nations conference on drugs for non-governmental groups.
Nations were encouraged to establish such networks. Like the DPNA, the Canadian version runs on private donations.
Based on what it's received so far, White expects the group's budget to exceed $600,000 this year.
Some other board members are George Glover, president of Teen Challenge, a Christian-based rehab group, Barry Berger, also of Teen Challenge, Ben Jenkins, who was on the DPNA board, and Gwen Landolt, the vice-president of REAL Women Canada.
While the board seems stacked with "right-leaning" members, White insists the DPNOC is non-partisan.
However, if governments are making errors in their view, White said he'll speak up.
"I'm not saying it won't be political. The organization should have some kind of notoriety, but if a government is wrong I'm going to say it," he said.
On the DPNOC to-do list, White returns to a goal left unfinished from his political days - to press the federal government, along with the provinces, to establish a national drug strategy.
The agency will gather current studies on drugs and treatments from around the world for the public and governments to use, and it also wants to create a directory of drug treatment facilities across the country for desperate parents and others seeking help. There are plans for campaigns aimed at kids to promote drug-free lifestyles.
White also has a goal to develop a reputation for being objective and factual and he won't "throw out rhetoric without some substantiated facts" to support it.
He rebukes Sen. Larry Campbell for encouraging Victoria to open a supervised injection site, based on the high-profile Vancouver experiment.
Campbell uses "questionable data" to back up his position, said White. The DPNOC doesn't support such harm reduction practices, however, White says it won't be his job to compete with that approach.
Instead he wants to establish some dialogue between the two camps.
"There is a war going on in Canada, but it's not the war on drugs. It's a war between those who support harm reduction and those who don't - and that's got to stop.
"Kids are getting addicted every day, but government is not leading, it's following and we have to come up with some solutions.
"Quite frankly it's a big challenge, a really big challenge, but I think it's worth it," he said.
For more info on the DPNOC go to www.dpnoc.ca.