Busted pot politician plans carving giveaway
“They trade pot and money, and I get their carvings.”
The leader of Nunavut’s Marijuana Party said last week he wants to donate a big collection of Inuit carvings to the territory.
Ed deVries said he’s acquired more than 600 works of art from Igloolik carvers, in exchange for cash, and pot.
“A lot of them are potheads. So they come to me, they trade pot and money, and I get their carvings,” he said in an interview last Thursday.
“I don’t want to sell these. I’m not an opportunist. I give them more, sometimes far more, than they ask me for it.”
DeVries is set to appear in court next month, for longstanding charges of trafficking marijuana and laundering the proceeds of crime.
Earlier this year, a man alleged to be deVries’s accomplice, Andrew Macdonald, pleaded guilty and is serving 90 days in prison for shipping a filing cabinet full of marijuana north in December 2003, allegedly to a company owned by deVries.
Business has been brisk over the last few years for deVries, 48, who works as a self-described “traditional healer” and “therapist.”
So much so, he said when Revenue Canada audited his “natural pain relief” business — by which he means marijuana sales — for the 2002 to 2004 fiscal years, they found him to be $240,000 in arrears.
“I opened up all my books to Revenue Canada for everything. I have nothing to hide. I was sitting there wearing my marijuana T-shirt as they were doing it. I was like, ‘I’m the Marijuana Party leader. What do you think I do?’” he said.
“I have a really good relationship with Revenue Canada right now. All my income taxes and GST statements are based on income.”
He said he still owes the taxman about $80,000. “I pay $10,000 in income tax each month, right through my RBC account,” he said.
“I said to them, you have to realize, I have to continue in my practice of providing pain relief to people in this way, in order to provide such an enormous amount of money.”
Since moving from Iqaluit to Igloolik last fall, he said his exchange with local carvers has benefited the community.
“I help young mothers feed their babies, and I help young men buy tools for their work.”
He said his collection of carvings includes priceless artifacts, such as tiny ivory figures once carried by nomadic Inuit, an ancient carved walrus skull, the shoulder blade of a bowhead whale that holds nine separate works of art, and a six-foot-three narwhal tusk held up by two carved drum dancers.
Right now they’re all lying around in the kitchen cupboard of his Igloolik home, he said, but he wants to donate them to the Government of Nunavut, to be preserved for his children and grandchildren.
“I would love to donate this, at this time, to the arts council or the Government of Nunavut, for permanent display, for Arctic youth.”
DeVries said he isn’t worried about his upcoming trial. He’s asking to be tried by a jury of his peers.
He figures the odds are in his favour that most jury members will be potheads, like himself.
“Find 12 of them that haven’t smoked my pot,” he said, laughing.
During the federal election last winter, Nunavut’s Marijuana Party received 7.8 per cent of the vote, more than Green Party. DeVries estimates that 80 per cent of Nunavut’s population smokes dope.
DeVries has also asked the trial be moved from Iqaluit to Igloolik — something the Crown has denied.
He’s to appear in court next on August 8, to have a date set for his preliminary inquiry.
DeVries also said he’s become “a man of God,” with the full title of Rev. Brother David Eddie deVries.
He said he become ordained by the Church of the Universe in March, and has established his own chapter for Nunavut.
“Find the web page, sign the declaration, send them the money. It is that simple,” he said.
The church, formed in 1969 by Walter Tucker of Ontario, promotes the smoking of marijuana.
“I minister to the sick. I give the cannabis medicine to people who need it. I work with Canada’s leading experts in cannabis research, to provide the very best for the people. I’m not a drug dealer, I’m a healer, and I’m going to keep on doing it, and I’m going to heal communities,” deVries said.
He said anyone who wants to join the church could receive a membership card from him, for free.
“If they’re challenged in court over their simple possession of marijuana, they’ll have sworn before a man of God that they used cannabis for their own personal, spiritual practice,” deVries said.
The Church of the Universe became founded at a water-filled former quarry in Puslinch, Ontario, between Hamilton and Guelph. The site became known for biker parties, and the unexplained appearance of a corpse in 1975.
The Church of the Universe also promotes nudism — a practice that DeVries distances himself from.
“What it is, is the teaching that the human body isn’t a dirty thing,” he said.
“It’s not about me getting every Inuit to walk around naked. It ain’t going to happen. It’s too… cold around here.”