10/12/2013 01:13 EDT | Updated 10/12/2013 02:04 EDT

Sensible BC Petition Falls Short


Sensible BC needs to bounce back from a slack start.

The campaign that is pushing for a referendum on decriminalizing marijuana has only collected 65,000 of the 80,000 petition signatures it hoped to have in its first month, leaving volunteers with the arduous task of gathering 335,000 more by Dec. 9.

Spokesman Dana Larsen blamed the shortcoming on difficulties involved in signing up canvassers and he admitted campaigners will have to do better in the coming months.

"In order to get back on track, we'll need to get about double what we got in the first month and the second month," he told The Huffington Post B.C.

"So if we can get about 130,000 signatures in the second month, that'll bring us to around 200,000 total, and if we're coming into the third month with around 200,000, then I'll feel pretty good that we'll be able to double that again."

Larsen has seen an increase in the number of canvassers he's been able to sign up since the campaign started. Sensible BC had 1,300 volunteers ready to collect signatures before the petition window opened and those numbers have since swelled to over 3,000, he said.

But that's not such happy news according to Bill Vander Zalm, a former B.C. premier and leader of the successful Fight HST movement. He had all of his canvassers ready on the anti-tax initiative's first day.

"When we did the HST campaign, we had to make absolutely certain that we had an organization in every constituency," he said.

"People stood on street corners collecting signatures. And I've been looking on street corners to see where Dana was with his campaign and I haven't seen any people on street corners with clipboards and that's what it takes."

Vander Zalm didn't completely dismiss Sensible BC's chances, but he said the initiative has a great deal of work to do before the deadline.

"They can't continue as they've been doing because the weather is only going to get nastier, and the best time to do it is when the sun is shining" he said.


Larsen appears to have calmed matters with the transit police after filing a complaint against both the force and TransLink when canvassers were ejected from fare paid zones on the SkyTrain system.

He said that volunteers would no longer gather signatures in the zones after two canvassers set up a table inside the fare gates at Surrey Central station and one of them was seen taking names on the Commercial Drive station platform.

Canvassers are allowed to campaign on the transit system, but TransLink prohibits the activity in fare paid zones.

"The main issue about fare paid zones is they're busy areas, people are trying to get going," Larsen said.

"We don't want to push anybody out of the way or make it dangerous."

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