RCMP and the truth about safe injection sites

The Mounties were set to publicly acknowledge the benefits of projects like the Insite facility. Then they backed away.

Austin Andrews/Zuma/Keystone/ Arlen Redekop/The Province/ Tom Hanson/CP

It would have been quite a news conference, and it very nearly happened. Last fall, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the British Columbia Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS, after months of intense, private talks, agreed to face the media together to declare their agreement that research shows the “benefits” and “positive impacts” of supervised injection sites for intravenous drug users.

For the RCMP, making such a statement would have been a turning point: the Mounties would have had to distance themselves from dubious studies, commissioned by the force itself, that were critical of Insite, Vancouver’s pioneering safe injection facility. And that would have been a politically awkward move for the federal police, since Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservative government is firmly committed to shutting down Insite.

But senior officers seemed ready to take that dramatic step. “I can confirm we are good to go from our end,” said Chief Superintendent Bob Harriman, a top RCMP drug enforcement officer in Vancouver, in an email he sent on Oct. 28, 2009, to Dr. Julio Montaner, director of the B.C. centre. Harriman’s email included “proposed messaging for [a] joint media release” of the RCMP and the research centre. The RCMP would acknowledge “an extensive body of Canadian and international peer-reviewed research reporting the benefits of supervised injection sites and no objective peer-reviewed studies demonstrating harms.” As well, Harriman said the RCMP would admit that “reviews” commissioned by the force, which contested the centre’s research, “did not meet conventional academic standards.”

The proposed joint media release was never issued. Nor did the RCMP officers and the centre’s doctors appear together for their planned news conference. According to Montaner, two days before the scheduled event last December—after a venue had been booked at the University of British Columbia and “the banners were ready”—he received a telephone call from Deputy Commissioner Gary Bass, the most senior RCMP officer in British Columbia. “He said, ‘Julio, can’t do it,’ ” Montaner recalls. “I said, ‘What do you mean, Gary?’ He said, ‘I’m really sorry, I’ve been ordered not to go ahead with the news conference.’ ” Montaner says Bass made it clear that the order came from RCMP headquarters in Ottawa.

Even after that setback, Montaner pursued his grievance further up the RCMP chain of command. He’s known for his tenacity. Along with heading the research centre, Montaner is a professor of medicine at UBC, and it was announced recently that he will receive the Order of British Columbia for his groundbreaking AIDS work. A charismatic figure in the international movement to combat the disease, Montaner straddles science and advocacy. When his negotiations with Bass didn’t pan out, he pressed on early this year to develop what he describes as a remarkably productive relationship with Deputy Commissioner Raf Souccar, a high-ranking RCMP officer in Ottawa, who is responsible for the force’s federal and international operations, and has an extensive background in drug investigations.

Despite forging those key links, Montaner finally failed to get the RCMP to agree to publicly admit any mistakes on Insite. On June 24, his centre instead filed a complaint with the Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP, hoping that the watchdog body would, among other remedies, order the force to acknowledge that it had wrongly tried to discredit the centre’s legitimate research demonstrating Insite’s benefits. However, the commission sent him a letter late last month saying that sorting out this tangled episode went beyond its mandate. At that point, Montaner told Maclean’s his story in an interview and his centre provided key documents supporting his version of events. The RCMP declined to make a senior officer available to be interviewed for this article or to answer any questions.

Insite has been controversial ever since it was established in 2003 as North America’s first legal facility where drug addicts could go to inject themselves. Located in the heart of Vancouver’s troubled Downtown Eastside, Insite has 12 booths where users inject the illegal drugs they bring in with them, with nurses standing by. They’re given clean syringes, cookers, filters, water and tourniquets. More than 400 overdoses have occurred at the facility, but nobody has ever died there from one. Counsellors and social workers are available to help addicts who want to make a bid to change their lives.

The former Liberal government allowed Insite to open by exempting it from drug enforcement laws for three years. Health Canada provided funding to evaluate it as a sort of pilot project in harm reduction.

Montaner’s centre took on the bulk of that research. Although he’s emerged as a forceful advocate for Insite, he denies his centre set out to produce supportive findings. “We honestly came into this without knowing if it would be all good, all bad, or somewhere in between,” he says.

The main conclusions of more than 30 articles published in peer-reviewed journals, including the New England Journal of Medicine in the U.S. and The Lancet in Britain, were overwhelmingly positive. For instance, addicts who used Insite were found to be more likely to go into detox than those who didn’t.

The amount of drug-related litter, like used needles, in the neighbourhood around the site decreased measurably. Insite’s nurses treated a lot of injection-related infections.

From the outset, though, Conservative politicians were uncomfortable with Insite. Tony Clement, who is now industry minister but was health minister from 2006 to 2008—the key period when the government’s position against the facility hardened from skeptical to staunchly opposed—once called it an “abomination.” Active RCMP officers also occasionally voiced skepticism, but the extent of opposition to Insite inside the force wasn’t clear. However, the documents assembled by Montaner’s centre for its filing to the RCMP complaints commission suggests at least some Mounties were actively seeking to raise doubts about the centre’s research, without drawing attention to the force’s involvement.

According to the centre, the RCMP commissioned four studies reviewing the stack of articles published in medical and scientific journals. The first two, delivered in 2006 by consultants Raymond Corrado and Irwin Cohen, didn’t offer much ammunition to criticize the mainstream research into Insite. Corrado found that the researchers’ methodology was “appropriate” and that the “policy inferences made were generally carefully presented.” Cohen uncovered no serious problems, but stressed the need for “further empirically sound evaluations.”

The RCMP asked for two more reports, by Garth Davies, a criminology professor at Simon Fraser University, and Colin Mangham, research director of the Drug Prevention Network of Canada, a group opposed to Insite’s harm-reduction model, founded by former Conservative MP Randy White. Both were sharply critical of the academic literature. Mangham faulted the research into Insite for failing to discuss the fact that “only a small percentage of IV drug users use Insite for even a majority of their injections.” Davies cast doubt on the statistical validity of the whole body of research into safe injection facilities, including those in Europe. But neither review was published in a peer-reviewed journal, the usual sign that an academic paper stands up to expert scrutiny. Instead, they appeared in 2007 on a website called Journal of Global Drug Policy and Practice, a site supported by U.S. groups that advocate a strict line on illicit drugs.

The RCMP’s involvement in commissioning the Mangham and Davies reports was subjected to a burst of publicity in the fall of 2008, when the Pivot Legal Society, a non-profit lawyers’ group based in the Downtown Eastside, released emails it obtained under the Access to Information Act. In them, police officers discuss strategy surrounding the studies. “Dr. Mangham’s report has now been published,” reads one email from an RCMP drug enforcement officer. “As per our request, the report has no reference to the RCMP.”

Pressing the RCMP to come clean on its role in generating these reports was one goal of Montaner’s protracted talks with senior officers. Their conversations started soon after Pivot went public with the incriminating emails on Oct. 8, 2008. Montaner said he was stunned. He called Deputy Commissioner Bass’s office, but couldn’t reach him until a Saturday. They met that day at Montaner’s home. “To his credit,” Montaner says, “he showed up at my place not knowing what to expect.” That first two-hour meeting ended, he says, with Bass agreeing to look into RCMP involvement in the studies. Many more meetings followed, bringing Bass and his officers together with Montaner and his AIDS researchers.

By last October, the RCMP seemed ready to fess up to the shortcomings of its bid to generate critiques of the centre’s research. “Soon after Insite was opened, the RCMP commissioned several reviews on the impact of supervised injecting facilities, including Insite,” Harriman said in his email proposing “messaging” for a joint media release. “These reviews, conducted by Cohen and Corrado, concluded that supervised injecting facilities, including Insite, were associated with positive impacts. Subsequent reviews were commissioned by the RCMP or one of its affiliates (i.e. the Addictive Drug Information Council) to provide an alternative analysis of the existing [supervised injection facility] research. The RCMP recognizes that these reviews did not meet conventional academic standards.” Harriman’s email admits the police should never have waded into the debate: “The RCMP is not qualified to comment or engage in discussion over the merits of this research.”

After the stage seemed set for a coordinated public event to clear the air, Montaner says he was shocked when Bass called to tell him the RCMP wouldn’t be issuing that mea culpa or participating in any news conference.

Unwilling to give up, Montaner arranged a meeting with an even more senior Mountie, Deputy Commissioner Souccar from the force’s Ottawa headquarters, early this year.

Montaner again laid out his case against the RCMP’s covert actions. At their first meeting, Souccar repeatedly said he couldn’t accept that version of events. But, according to Montaner, Bass, who also attended, repeatedly interjected on points of dispute, saying, “Dr. Montaner is right.”

Montaner says Souccar soon came around to sounding more sympathetic to the centre’s viewpoint. But on Feb. 12, Souccar dashed the physician’s hopes again with a letter. “After considerable reflection, I must respectfully decline any further involvement of the RCMP in any joint media release with your organization relating to supervised injection sites,” Souccar wrote to Montaner. He did, however, seem to acknowledge in the letter that the RCMP should never have sought out anti-Insite research in the first place. “I sincerely regret,” Souccar wrote, “that the RCMP’s best intentions to participate in finding solutions to such an important social issue, unwittingly took us down a path outside our mandate.”

Even though Souccar pulled the plug, once and for all, on the idea of a joint news event, he didn’t sever ties with Montaner. In fact, Souccar invited Montaner to address a meeting last winter in Vancouver of the leadership of major North American drug enforcement agencies. And Souccar went even further—asking Montaner to set up guided tours of the Insite facility for the same skeptical law enforcement leaders. “It was a great experience,” Montaner says.

His respect for Souccar and Bass leaves Montaner suspecting others are to blame for the ultimate failure of his centre and the RCMP to come to terms. “The [centre] draws a very strong distinction between the co-operative response provided by the RCMP leadership in B.C. and Raf Souccar, and the cancellation of the media conference by Ottawa,” the centre declared in its statement filed on June 24 with the complaints commission. But exactly who in Ottawa made the decision to cancel is far from clear. A spokesman for Public Safety Minister Vic Toews, the minister responsible for the federal police force, said his office doesn’t know anything about the matter.

Closing down Insite, though, remains a fixed priority for the Conservative government. Senior RCMP officers might have been ready back in 2008 to acknowledge the “extensive body” of studies on the benefits of supervised injection sites, but federal cabinet ministers have never accepted anything of the sort. A key figure in the saga is Clement. At the 2007 annual meeting of the Canadian Medical Association, he took the doctors to task over the CMA’s support for Insite. Clement claimed there was “academic debate going on” over the research into supervised injection, and alluded to new studies “questioning of the research that has already taken place.”

It’s likely he was referring to the critique of Insite produced for the RCMP, given that his remarks came a few months after Mangham’s review was posted on the Internet. Still, Clement appointed his own expert advisory committee to review the research, too. That committee’s April 2008 report found that Insite encourages drug users to seek counselling and treatment, and that its public image is positive.

On the facility’s local impact, the committee concluded that Insite cuts down on shooting up in the surrounding neighbourhood, without increasing petty crime. However, Clement zeroed in on certain of its findings about Insite’s limited impact, such as mathematical modelling that shows the facility probably only saves one addict a year from death by overdose, and an estimate that only five per cent of Downtown Eastside drug injections take place at Insite.

Clement wouldn’t renew Insite’s exemption from the federal Controlled Drugs and Substances Act beyond summer 2008, which would have forced the facility to close. But the group that manages Insite took the issue to court and won a reprieve. That complex legal battle continues. Early this year, the B.C. Court of Appeal upheld the initial decision of a lower court that allowed Insite to stay open. The court ruled, in part, that Insite provides a health service, which brings it under the province’s power over health, although there are overlapping federal jurisdictions, including criminal justice. The federal government appealed that ruling to the Supreme Court of Canada, which agreed in late June to hear the jurisdictional arguments. (The RCMP cited this ongoing case, along with the centre’s application to the complaints commission, as reasons for not answering questions from Maclean’s.)

There’s a striking contrast between the government’s waging of a public campaign against Insite, while top RCMP officers simultaneously engaged in private bridge-building sessions with Montaner. As the politicians sought the power to close Insite, senior Mounties quietly learned about the research into supervised injection. They seemed—based on Harriman’s email to Montaner on Oct. 28, 2008—to accept the centre’s findings supporting Insite. And they appeared—based on Souccar’s letter to him on Feb. 12, 2010—to regret the RCMP’s attempts to cast doubt on that research. The question now is whether these revelations about the undisclosed evolution in the RCMP’s perspective on the Insite experiment will have any impact on the government’s determination to end it.




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RCMP and the truth about safe injection sites

  1. " A key figure in the saga is Clement."

    Surprise surprise…

    • Has the man ever shown even the slightest understanding of, or even the desire to learn about, any of the portfolios he's been given?

      Signs are beginning to point unequivocally to "No".

      • "Signs are beginning to point unequivocally to 'No'."

        You must not be from Ontario because those signs have been there for some time now.

        • Guilty as charged!

          Or does not being from Ontario make one innocent?

          • Not being from Ontario doesn't make one innocent but may mean you may not fully be aware of what happened here (in Ont.) during the Mike Harris years and missed the opportunity of an early introduction to Clement, Baird and Flaherty.

  2. I think a bunch more Mounties are about to be sent for French training.

    The Stupid Conservatives can't handle the truth.

  3. Good grief, what do you even say about this anymore?

    While I really do appreciate the moral perspective some attempt to embody, good public policy must be measured by its effectiveness and ability to actually achieve the goals it is designed to respond to.

    The "war on drugs" has been an unmitigated failure in this regard, and has done far more to aggravate the problem than solve it.

    Ideally we should strive to create a society in which we can all make our own choices without forcing others to live with the consequences.

    Instead we still seem to embrace the notion that what we merely don't like in others is justification to ostracize them from society.

    Seems to me the prohibitionists are confusing the debate over how best to cope with drugs in society with the argument of the whether or not these drugs should exist at all.

    They do. Let's just admit it and get on with doing what we can to mitigate the effects and protect people.

    Criminalizing addicts isn't one of those things.

    • Phil, this has nothing to do with prohibitionism. It has everything to do with the big chunk of my paycheck that the government takes for taxes every week.

      I work hard for my income. There's no way that any of my hard earned money should be used to help somebody shoot up. I think you'll find most Canadians have a moral compass whose needle won't move over for that one.

      Even if the social impact of Insite is positive, it still doesn't make it right. The end result is that our hard earned tax dollars are helping someone (who has made lazy poor life choices, by the way) to shoot up.

      Let's be more creative here and find ways that work which don't involve crossing the line.

      • Because you'd much rather the alternative, where you have to pay for additional street cleanup, additional police presence, additional court duty, additional jail cells, and, of course, for their treatment when they catch AIDS. Yeah, I'm sure all that is *much* cheaper than insite.

        Do you have to work at being that short-sighted?

        • You exaggerate the effect that Insite has. There could be 20 Insite facilities in a downtown urban area and you'd still have the same street cleanup, police presence etc. Addicts who use insite will also get their junk from dirty, used needles elsewhere. Insite, at best, will only be a small part of the fight against drug addiction.

          Insite, if accepted and implemented, will be like the gun registry. Millions of dollars spent with only minor positive effect. From a fiscal perspective it just isn't efficient.

          Having a finger on the pulse of the situation is not being short-sighted.

          • Pele I have to add you to my post somewhere below. Don't be so moralistic. What everybody wants is a reduction of crime and pointless punishment. You think such a program is going to soak up your tax dollars? Ever see how much a punishment style prison costs?

            The real crime is the dollars stolen from our country by narcotics dealers, gangsters and corrupt politicians and
            police.

            The moralistic attitude of Harper and his born-agains – and you – is just what will drive everything further underground.

        • Maybe we shouldn't give them treatment when they catch AIDS from a lifestyle choice.

          • Because only perfect people like you deserve to live? Because people you don't like deserve to die? Because if someone asks for help we should just let them die?

          • what about the children being born to the addicts? they deserve a chance, and treatment. What about the police that gets stuck by a dirty needle, or the nurse treating an HIV positive patient. Everyone, not just the drug users are affected by their infections…If we could help prevent the number of cases of infectious disease withing the drug using community we can help keep our police and health care workers safe too.

      • With respect, F- you. Having had an opportunity to visit Insite just over a week ago, it is awfully clear that almost without exception the people making use of its facilities have significant histories of personal trauma – they have little to no resources, no supports, and little capacity to gain them. These are generally middle-aged people who never chose the lives they have now, and your self-important self-righteousness is decidedly out of place. They aren't "helped" to shoot up either, but rather shown how to do it safely (and, no, using drugs is not, in itself, unsafe, regardless of what Nancy Reagan would have you believe). In the meantime, they are referred to rehab programs, such as "Onsite", located just upstairs from Insite. In fact, there's actually something of a waiting list, as they lack the capacity to accept everyone who wants to go into detox right away.

      • Injection drug users cost Canada $1.37 billion in tax dollars because of the street clean up, policing, and most of all health care due to HIV and Hep C. In Alberta alone a single drug user cost tax payers $49,000 per year, now if you look at the cost of running a place like Insite which is $3 million per year (roughly $14 per drug user) would you not say thats a considerable savings? According to data collected from the Vancouver police there was a decrease in public injection, petty crime, and drug related crime in the area in which Insite operates, not to mention the reduction of HIV and hep C cases within the vancouver east side.

    • If the sight is indeed resulting in greater efforts by addicts to kick the habit than I would be in favour. However if it would be found that such a sight would make the drug culture easier to thrive in the area in question than I would remain vastly against it's existence.
      Decriminalizing would just pass the charges to petty theft or another misdemeanour in all too many cases and not reduce the number of convicts. Add on the number of fines for "using" or being high in public and it really won't make the courts any less congested. Some provinces now fine for cigarettes being smoked in the proximity of children so it seems odd to ease up on illegal drug use.

      • I don't think Insite was ever intended to have people kick habits, although perhaps Onsite might help a few. What it does is eliminate illnesses that are transmitted by dirty needles and that is all it was hoped to be – supported by the Chief Medical Health Officer at the time, Dr. John Blatherwick, whom I know personally to have been a first clalss public health officer.

        Do you think making "the drug culture harder to thrive" is effective? All it does is force the price up and put more money in the pockets of gangs and the corrupt.

        Did oyu ever read anything about Prohibition in the States (and for a brief time in Canada? You should because the economic effect of prohibition am,de millionaires out of crooks.

  4. Drugs are used in large part because human suffering exists.

    No matter how much you may wish for people not to use the stuff, it's practically impossible to stop someone who is suffering from finding a way "out."

    All the moralistic grandstanding in the world can do nothing to prevent it.

    You can't legislate away human suffering, that is madness!

    • [This] is madness!

      Madness? This is SPARTA!

      [With my apologies for making you envision Stephen Harper in a cape and red Speedo briefs so close to dinnertime]

    • Do you mean suffering like the stock broker who gets wasted on blow because he is stressing about the big deal he's trying to close or the teenager who's bored on the weekend and gets toasted with her friends to pass the time. Or do you mean suffering like the villager in Pakistan who lost his family in the flood and deals with that stone cold sober.

      • Way to put some things into perspectie Larry; I agree to some extent. But, the people using Insite aren't stockbrokers, nor are they experiencing what villagers in Pakistan are right now (or anytime, in fact). But these addicts are still in their own private hell.

        • Who's to say his fictional stock trader wasn't abused as a child and uses blow to pretend otherwise in order to cope with reality and the stress of his job causes it to get worse.

        • Chicken and the egg. Which came first? The suffering and sense of lose or the drugs?

      • I take it that's your way of dismissing something you don't understand. As good a rationalization as any, I suppose.

        However, here is an explanation from somebody who works with these people:

        [youtube _-APGWvYupU http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_-APGWvYupU youtube]

        • Cog, I owned a contracting company in Toronto for years and often employed laborers who struggled with drug addiction and mental issues. I paid them well and tried to get them to appreciate the freedom of an honest, clean lifestyle.

          I'll never forget what one rather introspective addict said to me. He said "It's not about the crack or the heroine, It's about the ME." I understood what he was saying because I had, at one time, strayed too far into drug use.

          Drug addiction is essentially hyper-selfishness. Just like the wife-beater who plays the victim when the cops take him in, a drug addict likes to play the victim even though he/she is the perp. The whole "escape the pain" thing is just an excuse to be hyper-selfish. The tough love thing really works. However, it requires toughness (which liberals don't have) and love (which conservatives tend to lack)

      • Actually, addiction is a huge problem in Pakistan.

        [youtube OrIb3QI6me0 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OrIb3QI6me0 youtube]

        In all likelyhood your flood victim persona will turn to opium if they weren't already an addict. One person's suffering does not deny anothers anyway.

  5. "The Harper government is looking more and more like a dictatorship"… Really, you just woke up to the government stealing individual freedoms now? The western liberal state has been robbing its subjects of freedom since its inception, start with Tocqueville if you need a historical perspective.

  6. I just don't get the Cons on their drug policy. I mean, these guys are true morons.

    And if one already believes that the RCMP are deeply corrupted and irreversibly politicized – this will simply confirm it.

    • It's called 'policy-based evidence-making.' Conservatives are very familiar with that concept: they accuse global warming activists of engaging in it. Now, they've been caught doing the same thing. I guess Harper really is a stealth liberal!

  7. Is that slander lawsuit that the researchers launched against the RCMP, Colin Mangham, and some American anti-drug groups still ongoing?

  8. Mr Geddes, why is there no mention of the Vancouver Police Department (VPD) in your article? The Insite Facility is clearly within the jurisdiction of the VPD and NOT in the geographical jurisdiction of the RCMP. This is NOT an area where the RCMP have any presence. Why are the RCMP involved at all? Even if they are legitimately involved in some way, your article would benfit from the experience of the VPD officers who patrol in this community. I know from personal experience that VPD officers believe the Insite Facility has an overall positive impact on reducing drug use, harm reduction, addict recovery and protecting the community. Please investigate and report on this aspect.

    • The RCMP should not have been involved at all, you are correct. These days, VPD refers all calls regarding InSite to Vancouver Costal Health, per the BC COA ruling that this is a health matter, not criminal (as it should be!)

    • the VPD officially support InSite and have for a while.

      THe RCMP got involved because of the federal drug law and the Tories wanted it politicized so trot out the mounties to "get their man" as it were.

      Every jurisdiction in Canada has mounties for drugs and other federal stuff whether there is a local police presence or not.

  9. So much for Harper claiming his political agenda doesn't affect the RCMP.
    I'm not as skeptical towards claims that the RCMP officer being reassigned before giving out a speech in favour of the gun registry was a politically and ideologically motivated act prompted by the government.

  10. Just another case of Harper and his henchmen playing political games in areas where they shouldn't go.

  11. Keep up your valiant efforts Montaner! Hopefully, some day, decent RCMP like Souccar and Bass will be recognized for their integrity and overall desire to do what's right!.

    • How is my hard-working tax dollars paying for some guy to shoot up right?
      Why not a government sponsored brothel clinic so that the street walkers can have access to safe-sex facilities? All funded by our hard earned tax dollars. Just what do you think government is?

      Insite may or may not have a positive impact. I suggest it may have an immediate positive impact because of the clean, monitored facilities. However, I can foresee it being the forerunner of a whole "harm reduction" industry sponsored by billions of tax dollars which will require addicts to stay afloat. (and be supported by the nefarious studies of the "experts")

      Let's not open Pandora's box here.

      • How does throwing these addicts in jail @ $50k – $100k a year of our tax dollar save us anything?

        • Actually, the councilling and recovery programs should run through our jail systems. They should also operate along the lines of a "tough love" approach where counsellors will help the addicts go clean "cold turkey". (with the necessary security) Remember, the addict is the perp and the victim at the same time. You need to help the victim escape the perp, not give the perp utensils, nurses and a nice clean facility to continue hurting the victim.

          I think that you'll find most hard-working Canadians with good life experience have a big problem with paying for an addict to shoot up.

          • Thanks for speaking for all of us Pele. Those of us who have seen it firsthand might not agree with you. But that's the thing with you conbot chickenhawks. Too afraid to check it out yourself

          • So why are the Stupid Conservatives shutting down the prison farms? I don't know if they deal with addicts in particular, but I would expect them to help rehabilitate some.
            http://saveourprisonfarms.ca/

          • Holly Stick…….Stupid Conservatives are shutting down prison farms so lefties like you have something to criticize. Some of you people are insufferable. You can't have an intelligent conversation without name calling. Is it not possible that some people have a different opinion than people like you? The problem with the nanny state supporters is they are great at name calling but little else.

          • Now why would you think it's name calling? After all, she specifically left out the intelligent conserva… oh.. nevermind. I see now.

          • Jon, I lived in Toronto's Parkdale for 12 years. I recently moved to downtown Hamilton. I have often contributed to helping the professionals (i.e. the counsellors at CAMH, Good Shepherd etc.) as they deal with addicts and people with mental disorders. They'll all tell you, it is messy, frustrating (but fulfilling) work.

            There is addiction in my own family, which is difficult. Also, as a younger man I went too far into hard drugs and had to pull out. I also owned a renovation company in T. O. and went out of my way to hire laborers with addiction issues so as to try to help them. (e.g. hiring from Cash Corners at Queen, Sherbourne)

            Paying for an addict to shoot up isn't the answer. The relativist mentality behind that is all wrong.

          • You aren't "paying for an addict to shoot up." You are paying to support medical services which helps them not get sick, helps them get support to quit drugs, helps them stop committing crimes to support their addiction, and helps them stay out of very expensive jails. It's very smart use of tax dollars.

          • Oh, go kick an old soccer ball – typical self-righteous, intolerant, lemon-sucking C.R.A.P.er

          • Guest…..another one who hasn't got an intelligent thing to say and so resorts to name calling. The subject is about safe injection sites. Do you agree or not agree. State the case for your position or simply be quiet if all you can do is name call. You sound like a second grader.

          • Save me with this "taxpaying,, hardworking" crap. We all are and some of us believe it or not, know a thing or two. I would even opt for a haven where real addicts (not children who should be in treatment.) can live have drugs supplied gratis as long as they are citizens and as they voluntarily stay voluntarily in whatever the residential facilities are. I can suggest a whole bunch of former asylums as a possibility, converted. These facilities would also run detox and treament programs for those who really want to kick the habit voluntarily.
            Insite is a partial model of the right direction

            Results:
            1. Probably a lot of happy, spaced out junkies of no harm to anybody. What junkie would be interested in anything but such a haven.

            2. A few hundred, maybe thousand police actually doing something about crime.

            3. An instant reduction in all levels of crime, including political corruption. There is no crime if there is no money in it. .

            4. A few pi**ed off people like Blue and Steve who are offended I guess by almost anything they can't control by criminalizing and building more prisons for.

            5. A reduction in VD and AIDS.

            If you don't like that kind of haven, put it up at Resolute Bay, make the inmates wear shackles and irons, l.et them hunt for seals for food, Nobody will escape to offend your sensitivities; in fact the "residents" won't last long. There is not much diffence in tghat from what you would love to do, give them compulsory detox IN PRISON for Satan's sake.

            My god, Mr. Clean, you are a number!

  12. Excellent work. I think there are only twentyish comments because there is nothing to add. It's all there.

  13. The job of the police is not to advocate but to serve and protect. That's it. If a policeman wants to be an advocate then resign and become an advocate. You can then have all the freedom you need to speak your mind. However, for the police force to be taking positions on political issues is a recipe for disharmony within the ranks and in the population.
    The fact is the government is elected to govern. They will make decisions some will agree with and others we don't. However, it is the Canadian people who utimately decides whether they agree with the government's policies not the police or any other organization who happens to not agree with government policy.

    • When the upper reaches of RCMP officers support the gun registry we are supposed to set aside any questions regarding motivations and just accept the wisdom of the police. In fact some get right upset that the police officers might not be allowed to advocate on this public policy. When the RCMP thinks giving junkies a place to shoot up might be a bad idea we must immediately tell them to shut up because civil servants shouldn't be making policy. Yeah, progressives are very consistent thinkers.

      And just for those who think the RCMP doesn't have jurisdiction in Vancouver, the RCMP is the federal police force. Vancouver is part of Canada hence the RCMP has jurisdiction. In fact the idea that city police answer to local politicians is problematic as they seem much more responsive to some nutbar mayor like Gregor Robertson than to the law of Canada.

      • In the case of Insite, the RCMP went looking for, and funded, studies which would support their beliefs and wished to ignore those studies which show Insite is beneficial. In the case of long gun registration, the RCMP have stated that it is useful and makes their jobs safer. This is also the opinion of a majority of Canadian police forces.

        There is a difference in advocating for something from the basis of ideology and ignoring reality and advocating from the position of reality.

      • The RCMP fill three roles in BC. The first as the national police in support of the Criminal Code which gives them jurisdiction everywhere in Canada. Second, as Provincial Police under a contract with the BC Attorney General. Under this they serve a number of roles such as Highway Patrol and as the police in non-organized areas. Third, as municipal police where the community contracts with the Attorney General in Canada and where they often enforce community by-laws, I believe. As a consequence, BC probably has the lion's share of the Mounties. They also have the lion's share of personnel shortages, and many who come here may have language problems and be at the earler stages of their training and experience.

        For example, in the Sutton case theu were acting as the municipal piolice in Burnaby and Port Coquitlam. So it is no wonder that people are confused when their local cop actually has national jurisdiction. It would be interesting what protocols they have to sort things out. I hardly think they would operate in Vancouver in confusion/competition with the Van City Police. The latter know who has ultimate drug jurisdiction in Canada and it would seem to me to be efficient if both cooperated closely.

    • Thank you, holinm, for your inteltigent comment. Reading it is like finding a silver dollar in the gutter that constitutes the tripe that one finds usually in the comment columns.

    • The problem is that this is not a political issue at all. The decision to make exceptions is a health issue. The end result is that drug users would survive long enough to seek treatment or be less likely to become infected with hepatitis or HIV.

      This is a political issue only because the Conservative party has made it into one. They contend that it doesn't matter if it works or not. It is morally wrong to support the evasion of Canada's drug laws. I believe that human life is more important than ideological purity. That is why I support Insite.

      • "That is why I support Insite"

        I don't support Insite because I work hard for my tax dollars and don't feel that the government has any right to spend them on some guy or girl shooting up. (at 10 in the morning when he/she should be at work like the rest of us)

        Don't give me this "I believe that human life is more important than ideological purity" baloney. Addicts tend to be very intelligent at playing people and abusing systems just so that they can get high. They'll tell you anything that you want to hear. Helping addicts is a messy business, but it starts by realizing the cunning nature of drug addiction. Tough love is the only answer for lasting effects. (not spineless capitulation)

        Insite is the product of a hyper-liberal, morally relativistic, socialist ideology. If you support it you are pushing your ideology over your good sense.

        • OK then — which are you more supportive of: your tax dollars paying for Insite and a safe injection, or your tax dollars paying for 20 years of healthcare-related costs for an addict who contracts HIV/AIDS or Hep C through an unsafe injection?

          Related question: Which do you think consumes more of your tax dollars over that 20-year period?

          • The first question is flawed. Most insite patrons will shoot up somewhere else as well. It will be really hard to gauge just how many addicts will be spared HIV from Insite. I suggest that it is only a tiny portion.

            I can't see the government clawing back on Healthcare spending to accommodate the added costs of Insite.

            Finally, there's the moral issue of paying for someone to shoot up.

          • "…Most insite patrons will shoot up somewhere else as well…" Do you have evidence or is this just your prejudiced view?

          • Here's one set of predicted costs if Insite is closed:

            Failure to Prevent 22 overdose deaths: based on a 5% mortality rate among 453 overdoses treated at In Site, if these had occurred in the community.

            Failure to Prevent 112 hospitalizations for non – lethal overdose deaths: based on a 25% hospitalization rate (including psychiatric) among 453 overdoses treated at In Site, if these overdoses occurred in the community. At a 2–5 day average length of stay for each such admission, this yields 224–560 extra hospital bed days and estimated costs (at $ 500/day) would total $112,000 to $280,000

            Failure to Prevent 2000 Emergency medical visits for injection mishaps: Emergency room treatment of abscesses and other bacterial infections associated with unsafe injecting cost $1000 – $3000 per incident – annual savings $2 – 6, 000,000)

          • Failure to Prevent 100 Hospitalizations due to bacterial infections: Based on 5% rate of hospitalization for the 2000 bacterial infections seen at Insite. Each such admission has an average length of stay of 15 – 20 days with a cost (at $500 per day) of $7500 – 15,000 per admission and a cost per year of $ 750,000 – 1 million

            Failure to make 100 referrals to Methadone treatment: with savings of $10,000/year/client in criminal justice and medical costs = $ 1 million

          • The economic cost of closing InSite will far exceed the cost of operating it – by millions of dollars per year. The available data on the economic impact of Insite (in addition to the preventable deaths and disease that the programs closure will cause) indicate that the end of the program will cost Vancouver and British Columbia between $3,862,000 and $8,780,000 in additional health care expenses over the next two years. In addition to the increased demands that InSites closure would place on already scarce health care resources, Insite's termination would also lead to thousands of additional arrests (which cost more than $10,000 apiece) court adjudications (another $10,000) and all the jail and probation time (not to mention public displeasure) associated with a return to public drug use by this large group.
            http://www.harmreductionjournal.com/content/3/1/2

        • I think 'Insite' is a good idea.
          I seen a '60 Minutes' episode on a program in Switzerland. The stats were impressive. Crime went down over 50% and the job rate of addicts went from 3/10 to 7/10. Then the fact that there were much less used needles littering the parks.

          As far as wasted tax dollars go, there are a lot of other areas I'd target.

        • "If you support it you are pushing your ideology over your good sense. "

          The same could be said of your neoconservative, morally questionable, authoritarian slightly lizardlike ideology Pele.

          • Good, at least you're admitting guilt. Let's call it "opinion" rather than "ideology" and enjoy the open market of shared opinions that we have here.

            I don't mind "neo-con". Reminds me of the Matrix. My morals are as consistent as a fallible human can make them. I have a "live and let live" motto that is hardly authoritarian. The reference to a lizard reminds me of Jim Morrison. I'm cool with that.

          • "… I have a "live and let live" motto that is hardly authoritarian…" This is a lie, as you are determined to impose your morali beliefs on people who do not share those beliefs; for instance your argument above: "…Finally, there's the moral issue of paying for someone to shoot up…"

    • Wise words from holinm !

  14. Only to somebody who has a hyped-up, exaggeratied and unreasonable bias. To the rest of us he seems like a centre-right conservative who is fairly competent.

    In fact, it's the RCMP who came close to overstepping their mandate.

    • bull. This clown show of the Cons is no different from any government run by a cabal of party lawyers trying to get a fistful of government cheques.

      A blundering and incompetent gang that couldn't shoot straight. Just like the Libranos before them.

      This nation is truly lost.

      • Harper is the first non-lawyer to be PM since Pearson. But Pearson had had a real job as a diplomat.

        • And Nobel laureate.

      • There's a lot of people who'd just like to hit the reset button and see a new group of Parties to vote for. Still, politics tend to attract a certain type of individual. We'd probably become just as disenchanted with the new ones.

        All this being true, your comment about the nation being "truly lost" is a little over melodramatic.

  15. The RCMP are a disgrace to any informed thinking person.

  16. The people who brought in these prohibitions were a certain dominant strain of Evangelical Christians. They and their supporters will never back down for they see this as one of the ways to turn society into their own image. One that is intolerant of others and one in which church and state are one. They are invested in the idea that their god made these illegal and if they become legal again then it hits their beliefs hence the pushback.

    Oh and smoking pot can make one more enlightened and a better person in a lot less time and with a lot less trouble than sitting in a church/mosque/temple listening to some loon drone on about hellfire and how you must behave like some micromanaging megalomaniac, then hand out a tray so you can put your money in after being berated for two hours.

    Pot and psychedelics create more good in this world than a million churches and they know it.

    PS: A Christian laundry owner stole my vapor room pot t-shirt when I dropped off my laundry and he knew I was moving to Toronto the next day just recently. Truly hateful and sinister. The tee was unique and out of print now – a keepsake and now gone because some loon thought he had the right to eliminate it. He's the guy on Main near 11th in Van.

    • Yeah, and you die of emphysema or lung cancer at an early age.

      Christian morality teaches that stealing is sinful.

      • Nope sorry Pot has been shown not to cause Cancer and can actually prevent certain types of cancer. Vapourizers completely eliminate any emphysema eventualities.
        http://current.com/news/90184652_marijuana-does-n

        "What we found instead was no association between cancer and smoking marijuana and even some suggestion of a protective effect,“

        Stealing was frowned upon by all human societies prior to rise of the christianity.

        I don't hate you for hating me and others who wish to live a joyous healthy life, but the venom that has infected your mind. It's not your fault, but the preachers and other haters who wish to demonize life and people like me so they can continue to profit and gain power over others.

        • When I was young, my group of friends all smoked pot. One of us started acting weird and withdrawing from reality. Within a few months he had developed full-blown schizophrenia and he was completely delusional. At the time, we put it down to coincidence. Now a recent study has confirmed what our parents suspected those 35 years ago: pot can trigger mental disorder.

          By the way, this discussion is about heroin, in case you missed it.

          • no actually this is about The Harper Tories forcing the Mounties to lie to appease their willfully ignorant base. Heroin indeed but I was explaining why so many simply refuse to adhere to reality.

            Your one anecdote about one friend is not true for me or about 99 % of pot users.

            The mental illness pot link has been thoroughly debunked as well as the cancer thing
            http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19560900
            “[T]he expected rise in diagnoses of schizophrenia and psychoses did not occur over a 10 year period. This study does not therefore support the specific causal link between cannabis use and incidence of psychotic disorders. … This concurs with other reports indicating that increases in population cannabis use have not been followed by increases in psychotic incidence.”

            Your friend had serious underlying problems that needed treatment regardless of the pot.

          • "The mental illness pot link has been thoroughly debunked"

            Maybe you should make it clear what link you think has been debunked. The link hasn't been debunked. That one research article simply shows that the evidence cannot support the hypothesis that cannabis causes psychotic illness. However, since the link still exists (the link comprises evidence found in other research, for example: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16319402), all that means is that other explanatory hypotheses still need to be explored. The study you cited, once again, simply means that one hypothesis – one possible explanation – could probably be dismisseed. It doesn't mean that the original data finding a link no longer exists.

            As for the "cancer thing" there has been no "thorough debunking." At best, the limited studies that have been done openly acknowledge that with the limited data there's simply not enough evidence to show that smoking cannabis causes lung cancer. No study has found that cannabis can't cause cancer.

            Please learn a little on the basics of science, logic and reasoning before spewing gibberish and citing the abstract of a single research article as though it corroborates that gibberish. My guess is that you didn't even read the article. You just found an abstract on PubMed and cited the conclusion, without really understanding what it means.

          • JohnnyD – A young man that I knew and loved also developed schizophrenia, not so coincidentally, after smoking pot for a period of time. He ended up shooting himself in the head at age 22. You and I both know there is a strong possibility it was triggered by pot use. Unfortunately, we will never be able to make any headway against this huge pro-pot crowd. At least we can get on a national forum, have people read it, even if its going to get overwhelmingly negative response. They like to use all of these "studies" to say pot is harmless. You can make a study go anyway you choose to, I don't believe them.

          • Sure you can make up a study to say anything you want, but if you just make up a study with garbage methodology or falsified data then it's either not going to be published in a reputable scientific journal or will be discovered as fraud sooner or later.

            What "studies" are you talking about that "they" use say that pot is harmless? When I look at the scientific literature, it's pretty clear that cannabis use DOES have some risk associated with it. I've never seen a research or review article that says that cannabis is harmless. You're ignorant.

            As for the person you knew, to say that "there is a strong possibility" that cannabis caused his psychotic illness is ignorant and commits the logical fallacy _post hoc ergo propter hoc_ ("after this, therefor because of this"). Do you have any actual evidence that his cannabis use had anything to do with his psychotic illness? Maybe he was using cannabis to self-medicate early symptoms? Maybe they really had nothing to do with each other.

            You don't seem to care about whether or not there's scientific evidence either way, so I wonder how you make rational, informed decisions about the world. Just because you say there's a link doesn't mean there was. How about evidence? You don't seem to realize that the "studies" that you say "they" use don't actually say that pot is harmless. Some do suggest a possible link between psychotic illnesses and cannabis use, yet I've seen many people insist that such studies are faulty. I can't stand it when the "pro-pot" crowd dismisses real evidence showing that pot isn't harmless, but I also can't stand when "anti-pot" (? like you ?) people pretend there's no need to provide evidence to support their claims about the supposed harms of cannabis.

        • Smoking pot, even through a vaporizer, will have adverse health effects.

          By the way, I'm all for legalizing marijuana as a recreational drug. It seems hypocritical to me that alcohol is legal but weed isn't. However, highly addictive drugs like heroine, methamphetamine, cocaine etc. should remain illegal.

          I hitched across Canada in the early 90's smoking pot all the way. I played in a band called "The Tender Hauling Creed" (THC) which sought to spiritualize marijuana. Goodness me, you've got me remembering the lyrics of some of our tunes; "they cultivate their money, but I can't grow my weed, tell me whose God makes more sense, a bowl of ginja's what they need".

          Glad I grew out of all that juvenile nonsense.

          • well I hope when you are older and feebler you go back and discover some of the major health advantages, especially for old folks.

            Personally I would rather benefit from it's positive health and mental effects while mitigating the negatives – which everything in life has, it just how you deal with them.

          • Potheads tend to exaggerate the benefits. There are really no health advantages other than getting stoned which can be pleasurable. The problem is when recreational fun turns into a daily way of living.

            If you smoke up all day, everyday, something is wrong. It's time for an intervention. The potheads I know try to bend over backwards to justify their perpetual weed use. There's nothing healthy about it; physically, mentally or emotionally. Besides, it ruins your sperm count.

          • and those opposed go out of their way to drum up hysteria and maintain a steady level of ignorance never bothering to check facts or realize that not everyone behaves the same way, has the same intelligence level or reacts the same.

            All day everyday is not helpful unless maybe in chronic medical need or retired, however mid-day or end of day it is very helpful – much better than either a bevvy or coffee. Or the weekend – absolutely nothing wrong with a good all day high when you are off work.

            Many a day I've come home from work exhausted consumed some cannabis and then no longer be exhausted and get two to three more hours of work done at home.

            Here is some work I did while totally high – note high vs stoned. Amazing how if one does not have negative mindset, how much one can benefit. I'm also one of those who get more active once imbibed and wants to exercise afterwards.
            http://web.me.com/star.tripper/Welcome/My_Albums/

          • You seem to be a straightforward guy arguing rationally about drug policy in this country, and presenting facts about substances, rather than outdated propaganda, or myth.

            yet, the moralists and statists are of a fixed reference point.

            How delusional must some be to deny another the use of a benign substance, in an act of personal choice and freedom.

            Wait until these people realize saving their health care system is dependent upon the revenue streams (taxes) that will flow once legalized :-)

            Many more rationalizations to follow….

          • I agree with Pele that potheads do tend to exaggerate the benefits. Many even seem to talk about pot as though it were a magical cure-all without any risks at all. Cannabis use has risks. Sure, for most people, the risks are minimal, but it does carry risks of negative consequences. Cannabis is addictive (something that many pot smokers do vehemently deny – which I find baffling – as I smoke pot and so do many people I know and they all agree that cannabis is addictive). I personally find, and so do a few others I know, that smoking pot more than two days in a row has a very negative effect on my energy and mood.

            I don't think pointing out that cannabis use can have negative consequences is "drumming up hysteria." I just wish that people would acknowledge and accept the facts.

          • well since you wish to remain wilfully ignorant, not read the links supplied and not p[ost your name you are simply full of it with your claims of smoking pot.

            No one is denying any negative effects we simply see the positives outweigh them.

            who is this my deranged mother – who knows who cares.

            Tea and coffee are addictive too. Make a choice live with it – don't throw people in jail for flowers that grow on the Earth.

          • So, you used to be a musician who smoked marijuana, and now you're a guy who complains on the internet about drug users getting his tax dollars.

            Glad you think you grew out of your "juvenile nonsense", but if you have the experience you claim to have, you'll know that people who quit one vice frequently replace it with another, often unaware they are doing so.

          • If cannabis should be legalized then so should heroin, methamphetamine,etc. That's how I see it. It's prohibition that's the problem: it puts profits in the hands of organized crime in some instances, puts the user at greater risk due to lack of regulation in terms of purity of the drug and marginalizes the drug users. I don't think the government has any right to prohibit me from possessing cannabis, LSD or heroin. Sure, heroin might be the riskiest of those three, but combating the harms associated with drug use should be done – at least in part – by providing prospective users with honest, accurate, practical information about the drug. Scare tactics and propaganda are counterproductive.

      • Christianity (not "Christian morality") teaches that greed is sinful; and it praises generosity; and it tell its adherents not to judge others.

        • This is not reality as can be seen by the massive slave-trade by Xtians, the crusades, the fact that most major cities in Canada have vast tracts of land owned by various relgious groups, the handing out of trays seeking money, and btw have you seen Glenn Beck or any Christian Political group – the GOP – in the states – it's all about preventing wealth transfer and holding on to every iota of it themselves.

          The behavior does not match the words – or do you believe Islam is the religion of peace as well?

          The monotheistic religions preach a good PR line but act far differently mainly because they are chosen by god and thus justified doing whatever they want to any "other" cohort they are demonizing.

  17. Government, not a clandestine police force nor judges should be making these types of decisions. Don't like it, vote them out. You can't do anything about a police force or judges who are untouchable. I know which one I want making the decisions–the ELECTED ones.
    OH yea, truth…and the RCMP…..in the same sentence. HAR HAR HAR.

  18. The RCMP, and Harpo, the fat clown are a disgrace to any thinking person.

  19. Michael Thomas….you sir are the clown. Making comments like these do nothing for furthering the dialogue and simply shows you level of intelligence which is not very high.

    • one cannot make your conclusion without further dialog with the author you so quickly dismiss.
      insults don't unify nor do they bring anything worthwhile to the table of enlightment or debate.
      your comment has backfired on you.

  20. I appreciate your insight (no pun intended) and you're opinion. The thought that Insite provides a tool for studying drug use is valid, maybe the best argument I've heard yet.

    The needle on my moral compass is twitching, but I still can't get over the whole "spending my hard earned tax dollars on someone to shoot up" thing. Canadians work too hard.

    • Then think of it this way: your tax dollars are being used to provide services that will keep addicts from contracting diseases which may result in costly long-term treatment, to facilitate them getting help they may need to quit, to keep them from going to jail and languishing in expensive jails. Compared to the failed war on drugs strategy, it's a bargain for taxpayers.

  21. Safe injection may not go far enough. Addicts also need a safe place to steal money to pay their dealers. And the dealers need a safe place to conduct their transactions, God knows things can go awry with drug deals. And the drug gangs also need a safe way to settle their differences. We have all seen what happens there. Naturally, the opium farmers need protection from the national police force. Oh, and the Taliban need a safe haven to practice their particular form of enlightenment, and also to exploit the opium farmers.

    I think we should start with better prisons, that can do a better job with drug addiction. Less punishment, more compassion. These people need help, not a "safe" place to slowly destroy themselves.

    • Yes JohnnyD – great post! A little bit of common sense amongst the fog stupidity!

  22. Just thought I'd point out that government's root meaning is to control the mind, and parliament's is to speak-lie.

    Politicians are ventriloquists' dummies. We get the charismatic liars we deserve. We vote for them even though they're selected for us while we're lead to believe we made a choice…

  23. farmers in many south east asian countries grow opium poppies as a solid cash crop suitable for marginal farmland.

    why can't our government buy opium ,at the farm gate so to speak, and distrbe the refined products through the existing doctor- perscription system.?

    There are many high functioning opiate users,including some doctors,If a clean supply was made available at low cost, then users could lead a "normal life" and perhaps choose to quit.. if they choose to remain addicted ,then they can commit the slow suicide they signed up for with first time usage

    With a clean cheap supply available it would out compete the street quality and price. and cancel out the need for annoying small time criminal acts to finance the habit.
    .
    The war on drugs is a wasteful sham, lets concentrate on removing the criminal need for constant cash for drugs and allow these people to marginalize themselves without the current cost to society.
    Some years ago I saw several instances of this as North American Addicts partied and died in the land of 5 dollar grams of pure china white heroin.

    • You have no idea what you're talking about. Opiate addiction is not necessarily slow suicide. Pure heroin, clean morphine, etc. actually don't do any damage to the body, so being addicted to opiates doesn't necessarily mean that you're going to die early. Get a clue.

      • no its the methadone thats killing people just to make people money

    • FARMERS HAVE TO KEEP GROWING POPPIES BECAUSE north americans still need painkillers and methodone is just a money maker for drs and pharmacies ,even though morphphine is so abused in the prairies it still works for some patientsbetter than anything else we still need legal poppies

  24. Once again, the white elephant in the room that everyone chooses to ignore while they promote their precious pilot project – is that many of the addicted people have mental illness…….they do not need a place to inject drugs into their system……they need a facility to help them with their illness….. I think there is alot more harm being done than good for many of these people.

    • How do you get those people to voluntarily commit themselves to a mental health facility before they kill themselves and possibly others? And even if it was the case that you could round up addicts like cattle and deposit them in CAMH without resistence, what about the utter lack of budgetary support that our governments give to mental health and addiction services? It has always been the case that mental health services have been the first go when money is tight.

      This all stems from a general deficit in the public's understanding of mental disease. We sometimes lack the ability to empathize with people who are sick when the illness is related to the mind. We need to get away from the idea of the mind as some ethereal passenger in the body, seperate and self-actualizing, and instead begin to understand it as another manifestation of our material physicality, just as vulnerable to negative external forces as our bones and organs.

      And stuff like that or whatever. You know?

      • I do agree with you wholeheartedly, it is a shame our government chooses to close down existing facilities and hopes the problem will just disappear. Well we all know where many of them disappeared to – don't we? And now look at how we are trying to help them……. It is so shameful.

  25. having just lived for four months in a city that has taken an even more progressive, and controversial, approach to heroin addiction it is uber frustrating that we can't get our head around Insite and get on with helping people that need help. In Utrecht, after a decade with experimentation with free, supervised provision of heroin to addicts nearly everyone seems content with what was once viewed skeptically (or worse): http://www.rnw.nl/english/article/free-heroin-bri

    More info here: http://www.ccbh.nl/ENG/indexN4.htm

  26. To hollinm: What dialogue? What needs to be discussed? And how does your name-calling retort referring to someone's intelligence level further the 'dialogue'? The in-your-face fact of the matter, the thread that runs through and through news events this summer and back to his 'firewall around Alberta', is that Stephen Harper will continue to try to impose his view of the universe on Canadians, and will -as is more and more apparent – go as far as he can to do it. Accountability? Transparency? This government is by far the most secretive and controlling Canada has ever experienced, and despite comments that I've read that the site is the responsibility of the Vancouver Police Force and thus the RCMP should have had nothing to do with it, SOMEONE pulling strings in Ottawa has clearly gone to some lengths to hush up the positive research, which by the way comes from many sources around the globe, not just here in Canada.

  27. John talks about the Drug Prevention Network of Canada on page 2; more about it: http://creekside1.blogspot.com/2010/08/who-muzzle

    The "privately funded" (according to its President) organization has a website here: http://www.dpnoc.ca/default.html

    Funny thing though, when you click on the link for Scientific Studies & Reports, you get crap. The website as a whole looks pretty astroturfy to me, like the "Friends" of Science or something. I wonder who is funding it? Do any of our tax dollars make their way to it, say through REAL Women or other parasites on the Government of Harper? Or do they get contracts to do secret studies that the government never releases to the public?

  28. While I understand the logic behind them, it seems to me that using tax dollars to fund anything which supports criminal behavior is not right.

    • Is the point of public services to impose someone’s idea of what is or is not right, or is it to reduce harm, violence, and suffering in society?

  29. I said it time and time again , poverty pimps are leading you all to believe they are a great service. Its time Coastal Health look after this health problem and bring the the heath care that is truely needed by health care workers , instead of so called none-profits cashing in and playing cut throat with each other, a prime example would be the Contact Center that was closed as a direct result of the Portland Hotel Society wanting the money that was allowcated to the Contact Center to be diverted to the Washington Needle Exchange and to Insite $200,000 Dollars for each project , this also leaves breeding ground for addicts to be exploited to keep these projects operational ,each addict that works a shift handing out needles and crack pipes recieves $ 27.00 for the their efforts . There are a number of east side society's all fighting for the money that is given out to keep this viscous cycle perpetual. I hear alot of talk about marginalized people but when they are incarserated or in the courts not one of these gutless wonders are there to represent them or to show thier support.

  30. Okay. I understand I’m a very late arriver here, but…..  I’d like someone to explain what is being solved by these “safe injection sites.” There is no treatment, no counselling, unless requested, and no future that I can see. It would seem that this is a place where drug addicted people can spend what is left of their lives doing illegal drugs with no fear of jail time. I see it has been said here that its of no concern to the taxpayer. WHAT???? Maybe…if you don’t pay taxes. Where do you think the building, the maintenance, the running of, etc. comes from? The tooth fairy?
    I have a license to use marijuanna, due to an injury suffered that has caused CRPS. I do use it…very occasionally. Many reasons why I don’t use it more. One is I am not an advocate of drug use. Secondly, I can’t afford it. Yes, I’m legal, but I still have to purchase the product.
    If there was some plan to help junkies “kick” the habit, as well as the required help, I would be a strong supporter. I can well imagine there are many that are addicted that would give almost anything to be clean. Of course, theres also some that have no plans to ever give up the habit. I have no reservations with trying to help those that really wish to once more become productive citizens. I’m concerned that these sites are generally viewed as a hang out for junkies, where the law can’t touch them. Go and sit outside one of these buildings for a while, and then give me your impressions.

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