Musings from the ever-changing, ever-amazing and occasionally ever-baffling Fort McMurray, Alberta.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Do You Know What I Want For Christmas?

Well, people, it's that time of year, and I get to tell Santa (and all of you), what I want for Christmas. You know what I want this year? I want headlines and stories like this to end already :


‘Alberta lifestyle’ sometimes wastes lives: judge

Cory Hurley
Published on December 13, 2011 
Cory Hurley  RSS Feed 
Topics : 
RCMP , Canada PostAlberta , CORNER BROOKBaie Verte
CORNER BROOK — A provincial court judge says this province, and the courts, are seeing too much of the negative side of the “Alberta lifestyle.”
Judge Kymil Howe sentenced a 26-year-old Baie Verte man to a $6,000 fine Monday after he was busted for mailing himself 413 grams of marijuana from Fort McMurray in February.
Andrew Bailey claimed he mailed the drugs for him and his friends while he returned home for an extended winter stay. He was originally charged with trafficking in marijuana and conspiracy to traffic marijuana. The latter charged was dropped, and he pled guilty to trafficking, in August.
While Howe accepted the drugs were not for commercial use, she did caution the young man about the path such behaviour could lead him on. She said young people who go to work in Alberta often have a significant amount of money at their disposal and a lot of free time to spend it. Sometimes, according to the judge, that sets people on the wrong track.
She said often times those people end up back in Newfoundland as drug addicts, after losing their jobs and with no money — a “wasted human being.” She said it often starts with softer drugs, like marijuana, before leading to cocaine and crack addictions.
Howe told Bailey if he was caught and sent to court, and it changed him from that kind of path, that is one of the biggest impacts it could have.
In addition to the $6,000 fine, Bailey must pay a $900 victim fine surcharge. He was sentenced to a year’s probation, including refraining from the possession or consumption of non-prescribed drugs and partaking in any assessments, counselling or treatment deemed appropriate by his probation officer. A mandatory 10-year firearm prohibition was also put in place.
Bailey did not address the court, but his lawyer Jamie Merrigan said it was a major wake-up call for him. The attorney said his client did not understand the consequences of his actions. He referred to the shipment as “party favours.”
Merrigan said Bailey “stepped into the deep end of the pool without knowing how deep the water was.”
Bailey, who is expecting to return to Alberta this week, was given 14 months to pay off the fines.
Canada Post workers alerted the RCMP in St. John’s to a suspicious package, which was then turned over to the RCMP in Corner Brook. Police executed a controlled delivery of the drugs to the Baie Verte address, and arrested Bailey after he opened it. Two other small quantities of marijuana were seized at the location, along with a large quantity of drug-related paraphernalia.


Yes, again, people. The story, from The Western Star, came to my attention on Twitter, like so many of these do, and all I could do was shake my head, sigh, and sign in to write another blog post.

I'm a little bit frustrated in that I feel like I just fought this battle with an Ottawa journalist and a Toronto accountant. I'm a little suspicious that the judge's comments about having a significant amount of money and a lot of free time to spend it sound an awful lot like the comments that Toronto accountant made in the Sun Media article (an article which ran nationally, and which makes me wonder if the judge might have picked up the Sun paper that day). I'm a whole lot annoyed that it seems the "Alberta lifestyle" is getting blamed instead of personal responsibility for  buying, using, and mailing drugs (and who in their right mind mails drugs through Canada Post?!?). 

Look, people, the Alberta "lifestyle" is no different than the lifestyle in every other province I've ever lived in, and I've lived in a few. There are drugs in Alberta, Ontario...and yes, even in Newfoundland. To lay the blame at the Albertan doorstep is just once again avoiding responsibility both provincially and personally. Alberta didn't buy those drugs, it didn't wrap them up in a package, and it sure as hell didn't mail them to Newfoundland. The individual charged and found guilty did that, so how about he shoulders the blame instead of trying to blame our province, our economy, and our community again?

I don't show the Intrepid Junior Bloggers articles like this. I don't want them to think that judges are explaining or somehow excusing criminal behaviour by assigning the blame to outside forces. I don't want them appearing in court one day using the defense that they were speeding because car manufacturers make such fast cars - or that they are using and mailing drugs because the province they lived in made it financially easy for them to do so. That's not an excuse, it's not a reason, it's not an out, and it's not acceptable on any level. Even my kids know better than that.

I have nothing against Newfoundland. I've met many lovely people from there, I have a family member who lives there and loves it, and I've heard it's a beautiful place (and one I would like to visit some day). What I don't think is that it is some drug-free, problem-free, utopian province that can blame it's woes on the "Alberta lifestyle". Just maybe this judge in Newfoundland should be assigning the blame to people who choose to purchase, use, and mail drugs. Just maybe it should be about personal responsibility, not about blaming another province for such issues. Who knows? Maybe the individual in question was using and purchasing drugs before he even arrived in my province, thus bringing his lifestyle with him and impacting my community. But I'm not about to blame Newfoundland and their lifestyle for that, people. I prefer to think the responsibility lies with the individual who bought and mailed marijuana. I know, crazy talk, eh?


  1. This has already been given more energy than it deserves. Continue doing the great work of promoting and sharing stories of the greatness and kindness that IS Fort McMurray.

  2. Karen, thanks for the comment. I absolutely will continue to write about all the great things in Fort McMurray, but I also feel I must answer these sorts of criticisms when they arise. I blog about what captures my attention, whether it be positive or negative, and today this story is what came to the surface. I prefer to keep the focus positive and my intent is to continue to do so. I can't promise however that I will ever stop tackling articles such as this as I think we need to both counter negative perceptions as well as trumpet our successes. I'm hoping the balance in the end will be more towards trumpeting and less towards countering ;)

  3. Is there anywhere in this article that points to the judge blaming the people of Fort McMurray or albertans in general for the mans mistake in trying to smuggle home drugs?.. Did he say that albertans were bad people..or is there anywhere in there that says all newfoundlanders think albertans are bad people and drug addicts..why are you so eager to go off on newfoundland as a whole?..we all know there are substance abuse problems in newfoundland just like anywhere else in the world.. The judge stated the boom money, not living within your means and drugs..has ruined a lot of is the fault of newfoundlanders themselves and not being able to resist the temptations of the boom town lifestlye.He didnt say it was the fault of the people of alberta. One thing i have noticed about alberta is that the oil has made it one of the best places in the world to better yourself fincially if you are focused on that alone..the health care here is top knotch as well as all public infrastructure. Everyone who wants to work can make a decent income and actually be paid well to work. Things are good here yet i have never met so many bitter angry people. You'd have to be blind to not realize that without labour imported from other regions of canada alberta just could not boom like it has. It seems that the need for labour is forever growing yet many albertans resent the people who come here to fill those jobs and hold a lot of hatred for anything east of manitoba. But back to the article, why would you be so sensitive about something that was likely taken out of context from what the judge actually said..I know all about that and how one sided news stories can be after reading the edmonton sun for a number of years...My point is why are people so angry here when the economy has always been the best in canada and where did the notion come from that the east wants to hold back the west...what would we as a country do if there was no oil just doesen't make sense..yet the PC manipulated media here always spins things as "the rest of canada is out to get us..example is it really that big of a deal if you have to register your weapons..ive heard people go off about that here for years. There are some here who seem angry because of people moving can't have growth without importing labour thats just how it is. Imagine if you lived in an area where every essential service was being shut down or if whenever a person came up with a business idea there was red tape to prevent it from happeneing and the whole town suffers,then you might have something to be truly angry about..we realize the alberta oil sands are feuling the economy of canada and are glad to make a good income from it. Has pc propaganda made you paranoid and overly sensitive over the years?..Just because one judge in newfoundland has a narrow minded view of the world dosent mean you should take this as an attack by all newfoundlanders against albertans. The way you wrote your article will make great lunchroom talk..there must have been a few fired up rednecks after reading

  4. Anonymous, if you read carefully you will note that I state clearly that I have nothing against Newfoundland at all, and rather take issue with individual judge assigning blame to the "Albertan lifestyle". Again, I made no reference to "all" Newfoundlanders or the province in it's entirety, just this one judge who happens to preside over a court there. I have never thought all of Newfoundland attacks Alberta and wrote no such thing, so I am genuinely not sure how you derived that from my post. I will state again, very clearly, that I have many many wonderful people from Newfoundland, think they contribute greatly to our community, and would love to visit the province one day. I just happen to take issue with the way this particular judge chose to assign blame in a case that clearly has to do with personal responsibility, not Alberta or Newfounland.

  5. no..i realize that you dont have a problem with newfoundland but there are a thousands of rednecks who do, and they also have problems with quebecors, blacks, asians, arabs etc.i read your blog and it sounded intelligent and rational..yes i agree the guy was a complete idiot for mailing home weed.and i do admit there are narrow minded impressionable red necks from newfoundland as well as alberta.but i wrote my above comment in response to any redneck who might have read the westernstar article or your blog and will gladly interpret it as an attack from all newfoundlanders on alberta...thats not what it is , its one old probably partially senille judges narrow minded view and a journalists desparate attempt to get a story out to meet the papers deadline.

  6. Ah, thank you for the clarification, Anonymous! I certainly didn't want anyone to think I have an issue with people from Newfoundland, as I certainly don't (I think they are quite essential to both the economy and fabric of our community). I truly appreciate you taking the time to both read and comment on my post - I enjoy a good dialogue and I am always open to comments and discussions! :)

  7. A few points if I may...

    1. Having grown up in small town southern Ontario, I can say that Alberta certainly does not hold a monopoly on red-necks. It always amazes me that so-called educated people like I assume this judge is, can say such foolish things and not be challenged on them. I wonder what exactly is the "Alberta lifestyle" she refers to as this province, like any other, is hardly a monolith.

    2. The judge's reference to people having a lot of free time here is laughable at best. Coming from someone who sits all day and surely doesn't work a 10-12 hour day, maybe this is understandable.

    3. Racism exists everywhere. Fort McMurray hardly has a monopoly on it. I encounter it at work on a daily basis. But I certainly got good doses of it in Nunavut, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, the Northwest Territories and home town Ontario.

    3. As to the mistrust with the "East".that is simple. There is a history of decisions being made regarding this province that have not been popular. If you think otherwise, you have your head in the sand. I'm not saying I agree or disagree with but control of Crown land, the National Energy Program, and the Wheat Board Monopoly have at various times put a bad taste in some people's mouths.

    4 Finally, and cutting right to the heart of the matter. If you chose to engage in illegal activities, you're an idiot. The judge need not look across the country to place blame but only across the court room at this young man.