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Ferry workers pass joint, Hahn passes buck - The Province - Oct. 18, 2007

Ferry workers pass joint, Hahn passes buck

Fleet's boss should show some leadership instead of finger-pointing

Michael Smyth, The Province

Published: Thursday, October 18, 2007

News that reefer madness was running rampant on B.C. Ferries' northern routes had the big shots ducking for cover faster than you can hum the first three notes of "Smoke On The Water."

B.C. Ferries president David Hahn was making weaker excuses than a teenager whose mom just found his stash, like this half-baked gem: "B.C. Ferries has had a zero-tolerance policy for all crew members since 2005."

Wow, two whole years? And you thought the Bush administration was tough on drugs!

It's clear now the Queen of the North crew had as much "zero tolerance" as the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers in an Amsterdam coffee shop. "A number of crew members regularly smoked cannabis between shifts, both on board and off the vessel," said a Transportation Safety Board report that body-slammed the ferry corporation yesterday like a triple bong hit.

Hahn officially ignored the TSB's call for a full investigation of pot use on all northern vessels and instead tried to blame -- who else? -- Ottawa. Why don't the feds allow mandatory drug testing for ferry workers like they do in the states? Hahn pleaded.

Here's the problem: Traces of THC, the psychoactive ingredient in pot, can stay in the system for days or even weeks.

Just ask snowboarder Ross Rebagliati, temporarily stripped of his Olympic gold medal after testing positive for marijuana he inhaled at a party over a week earlier. (Second-hand, of course.)
Look, I don't care if a ferry worker "smokes a fatty for Rebagliati" while he or she is off-duty. This is British Columbia. We smoke joints like Toronto smokes Players Lites.

But I do care if the ferry my wife and kids are on is being steered by someone who's stoned out of his gourd.

Does Hahn understand this? Apparently not, because B.C. Ferries supervisors are turning a blind eye while the crew gets high.

"Not all senior crew members aboard the Queen of the North consistently took sufficient action to ensure the company's no-tolerance policy was strictly adhered to," said the report.

Great. First it was rock music on the ship-to-shore radio, then the rumoured booty calls on the bridge, and now this. Sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll have their place, but not when other people's lives are on the line. How about some leadership instead of fingerpointing, Mr. Hahn?

The same must be said of Premier Gordon Campbell, who yesterday refused to say what his personal opinion is on mandatory drug testing. Like Hahn, he passed the buck to Ottawa.

Not good enough. Campbell knows more than most the dangers of operating heavy machinery while impaired.

Not surprisingly, the Opposition NDP didn't touch the issue in question period. The New Democrats are so in bed with the ferryworkers' union they wouldn't say a peep if Cheech and Chong were named crew captains.

Then there's the slow-motion performance of the TSB. The Queen of the North sank 19 months ago and they're telling us this now?

But let's hope B.C. Ferries crewmembers learn something from this little bad trip: For your passengers' sakes, please don't inhale and sail.

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