Canadian Member of Parliament James Moore is taking a stand against a weapon that is far too close to student life at U of T. Though not conventionally considered a weapon, date rape drugs are being used on and off campus all over North America. Moore intends to change the conventional perspective by presenting a bill that will have the drugs classified as dangerous weapons in Canada’s Criminal Code. In his Sept. 23 member’s statement, Moore stated “date rape drugs have become a violent weapon used to victimize women in cowardly assaults. It is long overdue for the government to act.” Moore began his research about date rape drugs some time ago, with his first news release and presentation to the House of Commons dated early June of this year.

Consider the hypothetical situation posed here: a woman outside a club or party is hit over the head with a baseball bat and raped while unconscious. Now replace that bat with a little white pill slipped into an unsuspecting woman’s drink. She too is raped while she is barely conscious. With the same act of violation committed against both victims, is this pill not considered a weapon? Moore, of the Canadian Alliance party, believes that Rohypnol, GHB, and other date rape drugs are indeed dangerous weapons, and he is working to have them classified in the Criminal Code as such.

The date rape drug topic often doesn’t hit close enough to home to be noticed or fully understood. Watch your drink being poured and never leave it alone, partygoers are told. But with approximately one out of every four women being assaulted at some time in her life, and many of these cases related to date rape, these idle warnings just don’t seem to be enough. “It’s just like ether and a rag [being held over someone’s face],” says Ben Milam, co-coordinator of U of T’s Sexual Education and Peer Counselling Centre. “The only difference is that it’s less invasive.”

Following in the footsteps of Carleton University’s recent demonstration to support the bill, U of T’s Canadian Alliance Campus Group will be launching a petition drive for the support of Moore’s bill at the beginning of October. The Alliance Campus Group is involved in raising awareness of political issues like the criminalization of date rape drugs.

Says group member Gordon Aitchison-Drake, “It’s certainly a direction that the party hasn’t really taken before, in the sense that it’s an element of law and order that I think most parties generally tend to shy away from. I think James Moore is taking up this endeavour because he himself is young and only out of university a few years.” Aitchison-Drake adds that the bill endeavours not only to make Rohypnol and GHB legally listed as dangerous weapons, but also to establish task forces, in conjunction with the RCMP, that will collect evidence on the use of date rape drugs. “We can develop a real national strategy to combat this problem. To criminalize it, not just as a drug like cocaine, but as a real weapon used to victimize people.”

Whether or not Moore’s bill is passed and even after, university students will have to pay attention to their friends and to their drinks. Being alert and well informed is the only way to protect oneself from the potential dangers of date rape drugs.

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