xcluded from candidates debate, hemp advocate says he's already being treated unfairly
AMHERST -Better known for hemp advocacy than his last run for federal office, Rick Simpson has become the second independent candidate in the race to represent Cumberland-Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley in the House of Commons.
Simpson, 58, of Little Forks, Cumberland County filed his nomination papers Monday for the Oct. 14 federal election.
"I ran in the last election on the same issue," said Simpson, a former power engineer. "They called me the one issue candidate but they were wrong, hemp is not just one issue."
He said using hemp is more than just about curing cancer, which he and his supporters claim he has been doing with the plant for years.
"It's not just medicinal," Simpson explained in a telephone interview from his home. "It's capable of producing energy, creating jobs and supporting industries that won't be harmful to the earth.
"We have to get people back to the land," he said. "If the economy collapses, which it's close to doing, cities will become war zones. At least in the 1930s (during the Great Depression) most people lived off the land."
Simpson acknowledges his way of thinking flies against society's accepted norms, but is undeterred.
"Today we have fossil fuels and corruption," he said, "and the fossil fuels are almost gone."
Last February, after being fined $2,000 for production of marijuana, possession of marijuana, and possession of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) for the purpose of trafficking, following an incident in 2005, Simpson pondered leaving the country.
"After five years of trying to bring this medicinal oil to the people, I'm very disillusioned as to how this country is being run. It seems the health and welfare of Canadians means nothing to Ottawa," Simpson told the Amherst Daily News.
Now he is trying to evoke change from the inside, but says he is facing an uphill battle.
"The Truro Chamber of Commerce has already called me to say I'm not welcome at their candidates debate.
"It's not fair," he said. "You pay your $1,000, collect your 100 signatures and you're not allowed to speak."
The Truro chamber, which is hosting a candidates' debate for the riding on Oct. 2, sees it differently.
"Mr. Simpson is a one issue candidate," said executive director Tim Tucker. "We will be debating a broad spectrum of issues."