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Insite, foresight, hindsight


 

The B.C. Court of Appeal’s ruling on Vancouver’s Insite shooting gallery for heroin addicts makes for interesting reading. We are all so busy arguing over the merits of harm reduction, and the wisdom of the Harper government’s attempt to shut down the clinic, that it is easy to forget the big constitutional issue that was the chief concern of the court here. You would think that Canadian jurisprudence had developed a clear objective rule for settling even the trickiest “double aspect” issues, wherein both federal and provincial governments can claim that some crumb falls within their respective spheres of constitutional power.

You would, apparently, be wrong.

Or, at the very least, you might be outvoted two-to-one on a three-judge panel attempting to decide the question. Justice Daphne Smith, writing in dissent, argues that recent Supreme Court “double aspect” caselaw has in fact created a clear objective rule for all but a handful of established special cases. That rule is “Ottawa wins”. The other two justices, however, read the same cases and reach the opposite conclusion: that the subsidiarity principle is alive and well in Canadian federalism. Provinces, they reckon, have the power to resist federal intervention in cases like the Insite dispute, where the matter being addressed by some policy is clearly local and where recognizing federal paramountcy would do more damage to provincial policymaking capacity than upholding the province’s supremacy within its own sphere would do to the tapestry of federal law.

To put it another way, Justices Huddart and Rowles just didn’t think that letting Insite workers supervise jabbing junkies does much harm to criminal law. Letting the federal government stop them would, on the other hand, do a lot to inhibit B.C.’s ability to set health policy.

How is it possible to account for such a head-to-head disagreement on a fundamental constitutional issue? It is baffling that this should still be an open question. I’m not a lawyer, so everything I say here should be taken with an even greater sprinkling of salt grains than usual, but I’m aware that Canadian law has seesawed on this issue over the long run, and that major changes in our constitutional status in 1931 and 1982 had a tendency to reset the discussion.

That the issue still has a political nature, rather than purely a jurisprudential one, is clear from the rulings by both Justice Huddart and Justice Smith. Smith, the “centralizer” on the panel, complains that when the strong norm of federal paramountcy has been in relative abeyance, double-aspect questions have been beset by “difficulties, inconsistencies and ‘confusion’.” She knits together a long string of vaguely disapproving adjectives used by past courts to refer to the principle that the provinces and Ottawa enjoy mutual “interjurisdictional immunity”. Huddart, the subsidiarist, emphasizes that B.C. needs the flexibility to deal with a B.C. problem (“law-making is often best achieved by the level of government closest to the citizens affected”) and appeals, in an even woollier manner, to the idea that “Canadian federalism must remain responsive to the actual needs of the public”—safe injection sites being, presumably, one of those “needs” vis-à-vis the Lower Mainland.

One senses that Justice Smith dislikes harm reduction and that Justice Huddart, by contrast, considers it a matter of simple logic. But they don’t come right out and say it, and each person’s own opinions on federalism may not line up neatly with his views on drug policy. Indeed, if you are a strong centralist when it comes to Confederation AND you loathe the Harper government, or you’re just a centralizer who favours harm reduction, it seems to me that the Insite controversy has painted you into a rather awkward corner.

As far as I can tell, we are not having the kind of debate that would force such a person to say “I hate that those anti-science Conservative nutbars are trying to crush Insite, but they certainly have the right to do so.” Nor are we hearing from decentralizing socons who might say “I sure hate the idea of doctors getting paid good money to hover over diseased vermin while they irrigate their veins with poison, but as much as I like the Prime Minister, he should damn well stay out of B.C.’s business.”

I would add that this fundamental constitutional question is all the more important because, unlike many fellow libertarians and supporters of harm reduction, I don’t really believe that the value of safe-injection clinics is something that can be settled by a simple appeal to the authority of science. Science is well-placed to answer narrow, specific measurement questions about drug policy: “Did Insite reduce the number of overdose deaths in the region between years X and Y?”, for example. By answering such questions, it can provide the material for a broader assessment of the worth of such programs. But it cannot decide by fiat.

Insite has to be judged by its effects on many groups of citizens—not just the drug users who visit Insite, but the drug users who don’t and won’t; the families and loved ones of both groups of addicts; the dealers; the cops; the ordinary people who live near the clinic, and elsewhere in the region; the B.C. government, its treasury, and its taxpayers. (An environmentalist, or a Lorax, would even say that the non-human world should have a voice.) Within none of these groups are the effects simple or quantifiable by means of a single number, and all of the groups may have different claims to moral consideration, claims that there can be no universal agreement on. Moreover, the integrity of the criminal law and the public’s respect for it do count for something—maybe not much, but not zero—in this equation. The defender of Conservative policy would argue that this makes us all parties to the controversy, even outside B.C.

In short, science can’t provide us with a simple, scalar Benthamite answer to the net utility of Insite. To oppose Insite is not to be opposed to “science”, though a lot of scientists like Insite. Whether the clinic ought to exist is a question well-suited to be answered by political means: public and private argument, consensus-building, horse-trading, the consulting and balancing of moral principles, et cetera. Since this is the case, the question of what political unit should have the power to make the decision—the federation, or the province—is both crucial and urgent.


 

Insite, foresight, hindsight

  1. It's an interesting debate, to be sure. My understanding of the constitution is that it says a lot of things, not the least of which that health care falls within provincial jurisdiction, criminal law within federal jurisdiction, and unnamed portfolios – residual powers – fall to the federal government. Notwithstanding all of that, courts are run by provinces and we have the Canada Health Act.

    In policymaking, we are taught to consider whether the issue is regional (provincial) or collective (national) in scope, and if the solutions are regional or collective in nature, when thinking about who should be "in charge".

    My view – and lots may disagree with me – is that InSite is a localized occurrence, despite its national implications, and any policies applied to it are more or less regional in nature. Added to this, shutting down InSite would result in health care implications for its …clients?… and surrounding interests, while maintaining InSite would not require a change in the Criminal Code – rather a change in its enforcement as it pertains to InSite. As a result, I'm more inclined to think of this as a provincial issue.

    • "the Courts are run by provinces"

      You obviously don't know much about the Constitution. See: s.96, Constitution Act 1867.

      • "Section 92 gives the provinces authority to legislate in matters related to the administration of criminal justice and thereby gives the provincial Attorney General authority to prosecute offences under the Criminal Code."

        "A key component of the Attorney General's responsibilities to ensure the administration of justice in the province is the administration of the courts and as a result the responsibility for maintaining liaison with the judiciary."

        Both are quotes from the Ontario AG's "About" page.

        • Yes, administrative responsibilities. But to say the Courts are "run" by the provinces is plain wrong. All judges superior and above are appointed by (with their salary determined) the Federal Government, the provinces set civil procedure rules and pay for them.

  2. Wow… Really good take on the situation!

    In general, I agree with what you're saying…. There are many variables and affected people and that they should all be considered when making a decision.

    I think parts of last paragraph was bit of a cop-out and/or politicking, IMHO. Either that or you were just trying to wrap it up.

    Insite is bold program and bold programs rarely come out of "consensus-building" & "horse-trading"; A principled stand and significant change which challenges the norms requires risk taking and bold action.

    As you state it requires people to accept things they fundamentally disagree with and see if the situation improves. Those with “skin in the game” should have a disproportionate amount of the input as they will live with the situation/consequences.

  3. Anyone who saw the parliamentary committee that addressed this issue could not help but support Insite.

    You had a parade of stakeholders (HIV/AIDS experts, the chief of police, the mayor, public health officials etc.) all saying the same thing: Insite works, it should be allowed to stay open.

    On the opposing side? They had to fly a guy in from Texas, whose only credentials was that he wrote two articles on this matter in a peer reviewed journal. Oh yes, and the "peer reviewed journal" turned out to be a (really crappy) website that he ran.

    The CPC has used this issue to wedge ill informed (on this topic) suburban voters against the expert opinion of virtually everyone who has looked at the matter.

    You cannot argue with science. Whatever legal justification the courts had to use was simply an instrument to come to the morally and logically correct outcome.

    • "You cannot argue with science".

      But you can argue about how it is applied. In this case, I agree with you that InSite is clearly a positive health good – and the science supports that – and I can't see any strong counter-argument, so science helps me in deciding to support InSite. But we should be wary of letting science settle all of our policy debates because there is a lot more at stake.

      "Whatever legal justification the courts had to use was simply an instrument to come to the morally and logically correct outcome."

      And this is the absolute worst reason to like this decision. The outcome should not drive judicial reasoning, especially constitutional jurisprudence. It sets a bad precedent.

      Canada is already the most decentralized country on the planet (Switzerland being a possible exception). This decision only further weakens the federal government's ability to fulfil its constitutional mandate. As much as I do not like this particular result, I still think it is a bad decision or at least the grounds for it appear weak and damaging.

      • That last sentence should have read: "As much as I may like this particular result…"

    • Science can tell you whether the clinic is effective in harm reduction. It cannot tell you whether harm reduction should be the goal of drug policy. Not everyone is a strict utilitarian, nor are utilitarian ethics self-evident or scientific.

      Of course, I've got slightly more positive feelings towards Insite than negative ones, and thus I support it. It could be though that the way it plays out I'll decide later that there are other concerns that are more important or more numerous than simple harm reduction among the addicted or general public safety.

  4. I think using the words "Harper" and "wisdom" in this case is a stretch, but perhaps that's your bias showing again…

    • Did you even make it past the second sentence, which you don't seem to have read correctly?

  5. '…Provinces, they reckon, have the power to resist federal intervention in cases like the Insite dispute, where the matter being addressed by some policy is clearly local and where recognizing federal paramountcy would do more damage to provincial policymaking capacity than upholding the province's supremacy within its own sphere would do to the tapestry of federal law…''

    So, will this apply to every issue where Feds and Provinces have shared jurisdictions,
    such as the Environment…?
    Liberals dragged constitutional lawyers into the enviro committee debating 'water quality re: the oilsands'.
    They were challenging Alberta's right of jurisdiction over enviro laws.

    • The environment is constitutionally a "residual" power, and could be vested entirely with the federal government; with that being said, environmental issues are more than just a "national" concern, so it would appear that the convention is to involve everyone at the decision-making table to craft policy.

      • The Supreme Court of Canada said that "environment" (not being explicitly mentioned in the Constitution) is both provincial and federal. See Friends of the Oldman River Society v. Canada (Minister of Transport), [1992] 1 S.C.R. 3:

        . "environmental management" does not, under the existing situation, constitute a homogeneous constitutional unit. Instead, it cuts across many different areas of constitutional responsibility, some federal and some provincial. And it is no less obvious that "environmental management" could never be treated as a constitutional unit under one order of government in any constitution that claimed to be federal, because no system in which one government was so powerful would be federal.

        • This is where I say that the Supreme Court doesn't write the constitution, they interpret it.

          It's not the only residual power to be shared between the provinces and the federal government (nor if I recall, was it the first).

          • LynnTO wrote:

            "This is where I say that the Supreme Court doesn't write the constitution, they interpret it. "

            Obviously, LynnTO……you haven't been paying attention. Find out what "Read In" means…….and then comment on your earlier statement.

    • Yeah, unfortunately you can't "firewall" smokestack emissions/toxins that settle downstream in Saskatchewan, and waterborne emissions that flow north into the NWT and ultimately the Beaufort. This provides them the jurisdiction.

      These provinces/territories lack the natural benefits of the Rocky Mountains which provides effective blockage to Albertans of upstream industrial pollution from BC, and provides the source for potable water for most of Alberta's residents. Calgary, if I'm not mistaken, has some of the best air/water quality in the world – sort of a disconnect from out of sight, out of mind elsewhere.

  6. "(An environmentalist, or a Lorax, would even say that the non-human world should have a voice.)"

    Colby, this is a well-researched and well-written piece. I don't understand why you undermine your own work with such a fatuous attempt at snark. Right smack in the middle of a thought-provoking article, you briefly channel Jonah Goldberg?

    • How's it snarky? A Lorax would actually say that, wouldn't he? That book inspired generations of environmentalists. Jesus, this blog entry is already as relentless and unfunny as I could make it, and you still find a wisp of humour to object to?

      • I'm not talking about the Lorax reference. Your joke, as I understand it, was that some people are so focused on a single issue that they would drag that issue into the Insite debate where it doesn't belong. In other words, 'some stupid hippie would think this in an "environmental" issue.'

        Did I misunderstand?

        • Yeah, and I think it's entirely a function of your preconceptions. The point was that an environmentalist would recognize even more "stakeholder" categories than I included in my list.

          • Ok, I still don't follow – it sounds like a complete non-sequitor. Doesn't matter, I still think it distracts from the piece in a very Jonah Goldberg manner, which is a shame since you obviously did lots of research.

          • I can only speak for myself, but I wasn't distracted by that parenthetical aside in the slightest.

          • I think this speaks a lot more to your broad personal loathing for Jonah Goldberg than anything Cosh said here and now.

  7. Actually, I had the pleasure of having one of these "Clinics" (aka Shooting Gallery) open just a block away from my home. The area went from nice place, quiet neighbours, and relative calm, to an area of junkies crapping on the sidewalk, sleeping on the porch, pissing on your front door, breaking into your car, and littering the kids playground with used needles (which, according to the insite folks was supposed to stop). There was even one pleasant group of junkies who thought the kids sandbox made a GREAT place to dispose of their disease and filth infested syringes. Just something for the kiddies to play with no doubt…

    Sorry…but insite is only a temporary means to make Liberals and lefties feel better about themselves. For those of us who have to live near it…..it's sheer hell.

    • I'm surprised to hear that because I thought that Insite was located smack in the middle of the Downtown East Side. Wtf?

      • It is.

        • I should have clarified. I was not referring to the Insite in Vancouver, I was speaking about the Victoria Equivalent on the Island. The one I had open near my home was more of a needle exchange….and as soon as the needles were provided, people stepped out the door and shot up in the street for the whole world to see. The results are predictable.
          What most people don't know…..is that the first thing most junkies do after shooting up, is throwing up. Kinda messy….and not good for the property values.

          • So that's not at all equivalent to In Site, where the injections are supervised and contained inside.

            Sounds like you should be lobbying for a more comprehensive harm reduction strategy for your city, not opposing the solution.

          • The "solution" you refer to is simply a way to enable the taxpayers to pay for junkies to continue breaking the law.

            I would imagine that if it was one of YOUR kids who jabbed themself with an AIDS infested or HEP C infested needle you would be in a far less forgiving mood. In fact, unlike you, I tend to side with the Non-junkies who actually make a contribution to society, not the parasites that debase it.

            There are only a few solutions to junkies running the streets. I'm in favour of locking them up in a secure facility where they are FORCED to get clean. No visitors, no TV….only medical help, mental help, training and basic lessons in human civility. (ie. Don't shit on your neighbours yard or piss against his front door)
            Sadly, we can't force people to go clean as it is against their "Charter Rights"….but at the same time we can't decide whether we want our tax-dollars to pay for this crap, as not paying taxes for enabling schemes is not a charter right.

  8. Very eager for the current Supremes to get a crack at this. Not because I give a fig about harm reduction, but because it's sheer hell to give clients advice on the interjurisdictional immunity issue, and their last stab at things in the Canadian Western Bank case was pretty good.

  9. What an interesting post. I likewise find it amazing that judicial intuition is the basis for settling jurisdictional disputes.

    • some caution should be exercised before drawing that conclusion too forcefully Jack. the federal purse strings are more often than not a final arbitrator in these matters whether first decided by judiciary or other.

  10. Well, I have to say good slogging to go through that decision. I read a bit, but not much.

    This is just anecdotal, but over the years I've gotten the impression that the Court of Appeal in BC overturns a lot of Supreme Court of BC decisions, which then are appelaed and ultimately overturned by the Supreme Court of Canada. I don't know why I have that impression. Maybe BC pushes the envelope on issues such as this one which ultimately ends up in the Supreme Court due to its novelty.

  11. I didn't realize that not many people were talking as I do, as Colby attests, on the Insite issue. I'm perfectly willing to stand up and say that the federal government should keep its nose out of B.C. and Vancouver's business. After all, as a public health issue is it is a matter of responsibility for the provincial government, and the location of Insite is a matter of local concern. It is after all dealing with the local drug problem that InSite is trying to address and thus the operation of Insite should be a local issue. It simply isn't a national concern.

    Of course, I'm generally of the opinion that when it is good governance to devolve power to the local level whenever practical, rather than keeping power to make decisions concentrated in a distant capital.

    • Not to pick a fight. But local governance is taking its own sweet time cleaning up the downtown east side…what are we, going on 40yrs or more now?

    • How about hunting and gun control? Should a province be allowed to issue gun permits or waive the requirement for gun permits/training/registration for hunters in bear country? That is local and hunting is clearly exclusively a provincial matter.

      I can think of dozens of examples where local/provincial interests might conflict with criminal law. But the Constitution is pretty clear here: criminal law is the purvue of the federal government.

  12. I'm torn. Although the reasoning on what consideration to give to provincial matters where the encroachment on the federal jurisdiction is small is dealt with differently in each case, I found both compelling. As such, I'm loathe to chalk it up to "result based reasoning". Of course, that concept has been so overwrought by pure charlatans like Levant and Morton that discussing it reasonably is almost impossible.

    The input of stakeholders is of interest but it takes a back seat to which level of government can pass the law in the first place. Respect for the criminal law, for instance, only comes into play once its confirmed the Criminal law is validly passed.

  13. Although my first instinct was to say that this is a public health issue, and should be left to B.C on those grounds, I am wary that such a precedent could be misused in the future.

    Colby is correct to point out that there are other stakeholders here (perhaps even some outside of B.C).

    The Lorax thing was funny too, don't let em tell ya different.
    I think this might be Mr.Cosh's best article yet on Macleans.

    Thou I generally support the notion that, "it is good governance to devolve power to the local level whenever practical",
    when I hear that from TedTylorEzro, I get a bit nervous about where that could lead.

    • Hunting is clearly a provincial government issue. Should the provinces be allowed to make their own exceptions to gun control laws?

      Education is clearly a provincial jurisdiction. If a drug came out of China that ensured 140 IQs for everyone, should the province get to distribute the drug without federal approval?

      Here's a more salient example: another epidemic hits and some experimental drugs are available. Clearly this is in health and therefore overlaps with provincial jurisdiction. But this approach would cause serious havoc to drup policy and distribution across the country.

  14. Just a note: Nobody is saying it isn't a provincial health issue. But it is also a valid Federal Criminal law. It's not about choosing one or the other, it's about how do we figure out which prevails when it is both.

  15. Do i have to be the one to point out, that if one tenth the resources – both human and financial – that have been expended on; court cases; consensus/stakeholder stuff; inter-govermental sqabbles; had been directed at the downtown east-side, we might not still be talking about this issue? Sometimes democracy sucks.

    • Enjoy how non-democratic countries deal with the drug problem, much?

      • Ah…the process man speaks. What happens when we get nothing but process?

  16. Insite´s federal funding was $3.2 Million annually. Four former mayors fully endorse Insite naturally. Four former mayors did very very little to alleviate any problems in the downtown eastside. The solution is to throw money at it and do little if any measuring of results. But we´ve already been scolded, that high and mighty results do not matter. What matters is that 600 needles (not users) are provided to users daily. There are well over 10,000 roaming addicts not using Insite.

    Insite we are told also ensures that HIV AIDS can be better kept in check. Fair enough but is anyone measuring results? No. Insite is an attempt to DO something at least. For my company it is far too late. We grew so tired of feces and needles on our doorways, people sleeping under our cars, daily verbal insults and cries for connection, we just wanted to get the hell out of there. None of our personal and company initiatives ever seemed to have an affect and calls to city hall were always received ever so politely.
    Three mayors ago (hello I´m not into politics Larry C.) Vancouver had 34 detox beds for thousands and thousands of addicts. Now in 2010 we still have just 42 detox beds and if a needy person needs help he must be straight for 72 hours first. How in the hell does that make sense? Insite is a bandaid at best I´m sorry to say and we are loathe to use a heavy hand in deciding what should be done to arrest this truly abysmal situation.
    PS I will not miss the stoplights near work where everyone on every street corner is sticking their tongues out to show their rocks of crack for sale. Anyone walking or driving anywhere in the area gets these offers all day and all night.

    And another company leaves the area and their 32 employees no longer will be a part of a possible solution. There´s hardly any choice but to eventually leave.

  17. Right then. Let's all enjoy the defence strategy of the next pusher. But, I was merely supplying the raw material to be consumed in a provincially licensed legal health care facility! Are you prosecuting B-D for selling the syringes?

    • Stop looking for problems that don't and may not exist…if you don't like insite…what's your solution?

  18. Just asking for a shining non-democratic example on how to help protect drug addicts from their addictions, and the rest of society from the addicts and the drug trade in general. Eager for an example to study.

    • Non sequitur…i did not reference non democratic solutions…merely the tedious never ending process we've chosen to use. One might almost conclude that the powers to be aren't particularly fussed…not enough middle class kids dying, yet!

      You still have'nt answered my question.

  19. Stop looking for problems? Hello? It is now legal to use this taxpayer-funded facility to consume a product that is illegal to obtain and possess, from a supplier that is failing to declare and pay taxes on the income from the sale — taxes that are supporting his customer's consumption of said product.

    The solution is to legalize, regulate, and tax. War on drugs go poof. Most of us reality-based people would decline to pollute our brains anyways. Junkies still junkies. Organized crime scum might have to find a real job.

  20. Anyone else a little tired of this game…povince – 'it's our patch, butt out! We'll fix it! Oh by the way you gotta fund it if you want anything done." Ok oversimplification…but i'm tired of the feds are the bad guys, that is until it's time to pay.

    • kcm wrote: "Are you seriously claiming insite is encouraging crime"

      Insite doesn't encourage crime, kcm, being a heroin addict does. If Heroin addicts are offered a place to shoot up the junk purchased with my former stereo system or computer…then I have a right to be disgusted by appeasement to criminal behaviour under the guise of health care. This is one of those strange cases where if you take away a junkies "medicine" they get better.

      The junkies need to be locked up until they're clean, and the FEDERAL GOVERMENT should certainly stop funding insite. If BC is happy having an entire section of a major Canadian city filled with pestilence laden junkies and hookers, then let the citizens of BC pay for it.

  21. At the risk of completely revealing my ignorance here…who is this mysterious supplier? I was under the impression this was govt run all the way – presumeably the issue of taxes would be moot.
    In any case i'd suppoert legalization if i thought it would do the things you claim…but then i'd also support manditory rehab and possibly enforced life terms for convicted pushers…scum indeed!

  22. The users bring their own drugs. The clinic supplies ONLY clean works and medical care and oversight. This was rather important to the case for the clinic and the intervenors.

  23. You accuse democracy of suckitude, and I'm the one who's s'posed to answer your follow-up question?

    • C'mon MYL. You get context every bit as well as i do. Democracy sucks sometimes was clearly a comment on the drawn out process…my follow up was…what happens when there's noting but process.
      It's been fun, i gotta sleep. By the way who keeps on giving you thumbs up? Not rewarding thyself are you? I can't, i'm not plugged into the system.

      • If you're registered you get an automatic +1 each time you comment. There, another +1 for me!

        • Really! What a scam. :) Guess i wasn't so far off. Thanks.

        • Oh yeah? Well they can't make ME register my comments!

          Well mabye the short ones, even though I do use those for sport commenting. No way on the long ones though. I use those for farm protection! They are a part of my rural heritage!

  24. Thankyou.

    So it's just somewhere safe to shoot up and maybe get some help if you want it. Fair enough…if the alternative is doing it anyway, and maybe dying in some back alley…or catching and passing along something awful. I really don't see the downside.

  25. Why do East Side Vancouverite addicts deserve a Criminal-Code-Free-Zone? How many city blocks away from the place does it become illegal to possess again? Won't anybody think of the poor chemical dependent in Abbotsford?

  26. Presumeably it's only acceptable to bring your own stuff in side the clinic – pushers outside aren't tolerated or are fair game…why are you so intent on finding a thread and pulling on it? There are no perfect solutions. No one's succeeded in cleaning up the area up until now…insite or not…or do you have evidence that insite is encouraging more criminal behaviour?

    'Won't anybody think of the poor chemical dependent in Abbotsford?"…are you serious? Catch a bloody bus…open another clinic…where numbers warrant – that constitutional enough for you?

  27. It is provincially funded (and NEW and IMPROVED: judicially sanctioned!) criminal activity in a single location.

    How do you think you get "your own stuff" — the tooth fairy?

  28. How do you think you get "your own stuff" — the tooth fairy

    Now you're being obtuse..Are you seriously claiming insite is encouraging crime…that users buy/acquire more than they otherwise would because insite is there? They're going to use it somewhere anyway…why not in an approved clinic? If the odd one is effectively helped there it's a small victory.

    '…criminal activity in a single location'

    As opposed to what? All over the downtown east side?

    • I think the opposing point of view is that InSite does nothing to reduce the crime & disorder resulting from junkies looking to obtain their next fix. There's also the question of whether we really do these people any good by making it easier or safer to continue feeding their addiction. Of course, the drug addicts are willing to live at such a disgusting and depraved level of degradation that it's arguable whether anything is sufficient to deter them.

      • But "the opposing view' is empty unless accompanied by an alternative.

        Traditionally that has been more law enforcement, but that's what has been tried and shown todo "nothing to reduce the crime and disorder from junkies looking to obtain their next fix." The law enforcement solution has had the added detriment of making life even more miserable for the addicted.

        In most provinces treatment options are limited and addicts sometimes have to wait to weeks to be accepted. In the meantime there are needle exchange programs here and there, but a whole lot of effort and expense going into criminal law enforcement.

        Shouldn't we be helping the people who want to change first, and catching the bad guys second?

        Progressively expanding harm reduction, coupled with increased funding for treatment looks like an actual solution to me.

  29. "shooting gallery……..jabbing junkies" Yes, you're quite right. Science has very little to do with your judgement. Your imagery says a good deal about the manner in which you "analyze" this problem.

  30. No one's claiming that the safe injection site is the answer to addiction – it's exactly what it claims to be – harm reduction

    A real solution to addiction would be great, but until there is such a thing, reducing the impact of addiction on those who are afflicted by it and the community around them is the only responsible thing to do.

    Those who are nearest the site know that it does just what it was intended to do and support it.

    Those on the other side of the country really need to stop trying to save us from ourselves when they just don't have a clue and refuse to let go of their ignorance on the matter.

    Harper Eliminates Addiction!

  31. Valuable info and the comment posted by Jones impressed me a lot.
    nyone who saw the parliamentary committee that addressed this issue could not help but support Insite.

    You had a parade of stakeholders (HIV/AIDS experts, the chief of police, the mayor, public health officials etc.) all saying the same thing: Insite works, it should be allowed to stay open.

    On the opposing side? They had to fly a guy in from Texas, whose only credentials was that he wrote two articles on this matter in a peer reviewed journal. Oh yes, and the "peer reviewed journal" turned out to be a (really crappy) website that he ran.

    The CPC has used this issue to wedge ill informed (on this topic) suburban voters against the expert opinion of virtually everyone who has looked at the matter.

    You cannot argue with science. Whatever legal justification the courts had to use was simply an instrument to come to the morally and logically correct outcome.

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