Harper swings and misses on Insite - Macleans.ca

Harper swings and misses on Insite

The PM came close to shutting down Insite, only to be reminded there are still some limits to his reach

Swing and a miss

Andy Clark/Reuters

The limits of Stephen Harper’s power are becoming as interesting as the extent of it. Most days, life looks pretty good. His MPs form a comfortable majority in the Commons. Three of the caucuses he faces have no leader. The leader of the fourth, Elizabeth May, has no caucus. He inherited and did not ruin a well-performing economy. Even Americans envy Canada’s fortune.

But there is a clinic in Vancouver the Prime Minister cannot shut down by the hair of his chinny chin chin. The clinic is called Insite, and every morning drug addicts line up waiting for it to open. They keep it full until evening, injecting their veins full of heroin and other drugs. This just seems wrong to the Prime Minister. Three times he has sent federal government lawyers to court to say so. Each time they come up snake eyes.

Last week it was the Supreme Court of Canada. Two justices Harper named joined the unanimous decision against his lawyers’ arguments. Insite will stay open. Other supervised-injection sites may follow. (That last part isn’t clear. We’ll walk you through it in a minute.)

This autumn there are two new vacancies on the top court for Harper to fill. But surely the thrill is gone. If his judges think like Liberal judges, why go to all the fuss?

The Supreme Court’s decision on Insite is structured like a tease. The clinic provoked more than one kind of disagreement between Harper and the government of British Columbia. Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin and her colleagues take Harper’s side at first, and then again. Only in the last instance does McLachlin pull the football away. Like Lucy and Charlie Brown.

Insite is administered by the City of Vancouver with the blessing of the B.C. government, which sees the clinic (or drug den, if you prefer) as part of its provincial health care system. The case for Insite is that people are already addicted to heroin before they line up outside, and it is better to give them a clean place to use their drugs, with doctors at the ready in case they overdose, than to fill their syringes with puddle water and risk infection or worse.

After thinking about it for a couple of years after they were elected in 2006, Harper’s government decided this was no good. They have a responsibility to enforce the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, Canada’s main drug law. The Constitution, which gives health to provinces and criminal law to the feds, must not let the provincial right trump the federal. And McLachlin agreed. “I conclude that the criminal prohibitions on possession and trafficking in the CDSA are constitutionally valid and applicable to Insite under the division of powers.” It was a direct rebuke to B.C. government lawyers.

On to the Charter of Rights. Section 7 of the Charter protects everyone’s “life, liberty and security of the person” against government action. Insite’s defenders said the CDSA itself is the sort of thing the Charter was written to defend against, because if an addict can be arrested for trying to stay alive long enough to beat the habit, his life and security aren’t worth much in the balance.

Not so fast, McLachlin wrote: the act contains a “safety valve” because it gives the federal health minister the ability to grant exemptions from the act’s penalties if an exemption would be “in the public interest.”

So the Supremes side with Ottawa on federalism and, again, with Ottawa on whether the drug law as a whole is Charter-proof. That’s when McLachlin pulls the ball away. An exemption would provide a safety valve but the minister—Tony Clement at the time—failed to use it. Discretion isn’t absolute, and a minister who uses discretion in a way that cuts off life-saving services is being “arbitrary and . . . grossly disproportionate.” That violates Insite users’ Section 7 rights. The Supremes ordered the minister—Leona Aglukkaq these days—to produce an exemption “forthwith.”

It’s actually pretty common for governments to bluster before a Supreme Court decision and meekly comply after. Aglukkaq followed the template, taking barely two hours to announce she’ll grant the exemption as ordered. But now what happens next?

McLachlin notes that federal lawyers described “the spectre of a host of exempt sites, where the country’s drug laws would be flouted with impunity.” Not so, she insists. Her ruling isn’t “an invitation for anyone who so chooses to open a facility for drug use under the banner of a ‘safe injection facility.’ ”

And yet, further along, she writes: “Where, as here, the evidence indicates that a supervised injection site will decrease the risk of death and disease . . . the Minister should generally grant an exemption.”

So in cases like Insite, the Supremes warn against a federal stonewall. But they hint broadly that there won’t be a lot of cases like Insite. The saw-off seems to be: where an injection site is supported by a provincial government and local community, Ottawa mustn’t block it. Despite the understandable enthusiasm of a lot of activists, I think it’s fair to predict there won’t be many such cases.

But there is at least one. All of Harper’s lawyers and all of his appointees couldn’t shut it down. Nobody wins every time. If it’s any consolation, the people at Insite needed a win more than he did.


Harper swings and misses on Insite

  1. The current government’s approach here – ignoring all the evidence and being prepared to allow addicts to die in the streets in order to satisfy their “law and order” base – is why I’m unlikely to ever vote for the Conservatives.

    • If we’re going to actually follow the science, then it is time to end the war on drugs. 

      We should tax and regulate access to safe dosages of most currently banned substances.

      For instance, Steve Jobs was just one of many people who have found great insight and inspiration from taking LSD. Would the world have been better off if he had been imprisoned?

      Addictive substances like heroin and cocaine need to be medicalized and made available to addicts in safe dosages in a medical way. Doing this would drastically reduce all drug-related crime and health problems.

      If we continue to intensify the fight against people who smoke pot or use other drugs, we will end up like Mexico, where the drug war is a real war and the death toll is higher than Afghanistan.

      End prohibition, end the drug war, and we’ll see crime drop, addiction drop, public health and safety will increase, and the world will be a better place.

  2. As long as Harper insists on being on the wrong side of history, he will lose.

  3. “Where, as here, the evidence indicates that a supervised injection site
    will decrease the risk of death and disease . . . the Minister should
    generally grant an exemption.”

    Too bad the evidence was flawed, even falsified, as has been reported by Barbara Kay. 


    This is why judges should not be politicized.  They should follow the law, they should not be making their own scientific judgments and political judgments.  It’s not their job to decide what are the risks of death and disease.  So now we have a flawed and harmful judgment that has weakened the rule of law and benefited nobody, since there is no evidence that Insite benefits anyone, except for the worldwide estimate that such a site saves 1 life per year, according to an international team including three Australian doctors, B.C. drug-prevention expert Colin Mangham and Dr. Robert Dupont, president of the U.S. National Institute of Drug Abuse.

    When you weigh that against the benefit the money could be providing to other elements of the health system, or society in general, Insite is a failure. But the worst aspect of this is the fact that activist judges have once again inserted themselves into the political process.

    • Amazing that govt lawyers never noticed that. Perhaps the problem lies with Barbara Kay.

      • Even Wells has said the government lawyers did a bad job. As for Kay, her sources are well-documented, so you can shoot the messenger all you like, but it’s a flawed tactic as usual.

        • I don’t know where Barbra Kay is getting that chart, but she refers a study done by the Lancet, so here is a link to a study by the Lancet that shows Fatal overdoses are down 35%.


          If it’s dollar value you’re after, another study in the International Journal of Drug Policy shows that it prevents 35 new HIV infections per year with a cost benefit of $6 million. 


          With the staff at insite intervening on more than 300 overdoses in the facility itself, with zero fatalities why are we even arguing? Oh, that’s right Stephen Harper, and Barbra Kay like to attach a dollar value to a persons life.

          • Yeah, that first link you provided is what Kay is talking about.

            Of course there is a dollar value to a person’s life in this story.  We could spend the money on Insite and save 1 life per year, or we could spend it on other more effective health initiatives that save far more lives per year. 

            DB likes to attach a dollar value to peoples’ lives – he would prefer to waste money due to his ideology and therefore cost many people their lives.

          • Yes the link to lancet is what Kay was talking about except the link to the lancet the findings show a 35% reduction in fatal overdoses since the clinic was open.  Not a marginal increase which is what Kay was saying in her article. 

             The point I made is that 35 people this year will not be infected with HIV, saving the healthcare system $6 million in treating them.  So how is the money being wasted again?  Where is the cost in lives from this program?

            I’m not attaching a dollar value to people’s lives, I’m saying an investment of $2 million into a program to not only save $6 million, but also save lives is money well spent.  I think BC’s failed attempt at introducing the HST was a far bigger waste in money, and makes the cost of insite a drop in the bucket.

          • If you know of more effective health initiatives please share them. 

    • And I did not say the feds’ lawyers did a bad job. Refusing to introduce joke science at court is not a professional failure; it’s an admission that your clients have handed you a dog to defend.

      • Joke science? At least it was not the flawed so-called science that was published by pro-Insite supporters.

        It’s pretty easy to see from a graph like this one that their study was flawed:

        Where’s the 35% decrease in mortality? In the fevered imagination of the authors, that’s where. There’s joke science for you. It’s too bad when reality interferes with the flawed conclusions of such studies.

        Only an ideologue or a fool could look at that data and conclude there was a 35% drop in mortality due to Insite, or even any statistically significant drop in mortality at all. So either that data is dead wrong (which it’s not), or it clearly shows the pro-Insite studies were the real joke science.

        If the government lawyers had no peer-reviewed research to refute those flawed studies, they should at least have printed that graph on a sheet and handed it to the Supreme Court judges. But no, they deferred to the sound expertise of the leftist ideologue “scientists”. Where’s Matlock when you need him?

        • “If the government lawyers had no peer-reviewed research to refute those
          flawed studies, they should at least have printed that graph on a sheet
          and handed it to the Supreme Court judges.”

          I think that’s the point that Paul Wells was making; they had the graph available and chose not to use it. That probably tells you something about their estimation of the usefulness of that data in pursuing their case.

        • The flawed-science you speak of that was published by pro-insite supporters, was peer reviewed, which means the study went public to be put under scrutiny by a larger community, and that study stood up and was published. The peer-reviewed process by it’s function makes the Flawed data correct,  this data is not in dispute. The information the government chose not to use was not peer reviewed, which means it has very little likely-hood to standing up.

            The 35% decrease in mortality comes from the same study that barbara kay refers to in her article. Why not go to the lancet page and look it up yourself.  I’ll quote:

          “The fatal overdose rate in this area decreased by 35·0% after the
          opening of the SIF, from 253·8 to 165·1 deaths per 100 000 person-years
          (p=0·048). By contrast, during the same period, the fatal overdose rate
          in the rest of the city decreased by only 9·3%, from 7·6 to 6·9 deaths
          per 100 000 person-years (p=0·490). There was a significant interaction
          of rate differences across strata (p=0·049).”

          This can be found: http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736%2810%2962353-7/fulltext

          They go on to say: “SIFs should be considered where injection drug use is prevalent, particularly in areas with high densities of overdose.”

          Insite has saved over 300 people from overdosing on it’s property, people which would probably otherwise have overdosed in a back alley otherwise, and likely would have not had immediate attention. 

          S_C_F  I don’t know why you are still arguing, I’m not an “ideologue” I’m just looking at the facts, and they add up to Insite works, Insite has reduced deaths in the DTES, Insite has helped more people find the tools they need to quit, and they also help to prevent increased incidents of HIV and HepC.  I fail to see what is wrong with that.

  4. From Harper’s point-of-view, does it really matter to him if he won or lost the Insite case?  Isn’t the fight just to delineate a values line-iin-the-sand for voters.  Losing the Supreme Court case actually might be a win politically.  

    • You are probably right. Harper did what he thought was right but it sure helps him in his tough on crime argument with the Canadian people. I suspect many Canadians find it passing strange that you can set up a clinic where addicts can get their fix but then devote millions of dollars fighting drug crime in the country. Watch for these clinics to start popping up across the country. It will be like the medicinal marijuana shops.

  5. While Insite provides a valuable service I guess it seems incongruous that you would allow people to shoot up when drugs are illegal in the country and much of our police resources are battling drug crime everyday. However, as Harper said way back in 2004 the judiciary will keep any Conservative government in check. I guess he was right again.

    • Perhaps we should forget the War on Drugs then.  Prohibition never works.

      • Sure lets allow our kids to become pot heads, meth users etc. etc. that will really allow society to evolve into something we can be real proud of. Of course there are many people in this world who have a tough time dealing with reality. Maybe if they were comatose on drugs that would make their lives easier. Sheesh Emily

        • Well I guess that makes you Carrie Nation then, because the exact same things were said about alcohol by the folks who pushed Prohibition.

          • I agree prohibition didn’t work. However, are you suggesting there is a moral equivalency to alchol and meth or whatever hallucinogenic drugs the kids may be doing today. Our society is already sick and we want to add drugs. No thanks.

          • They’re all drugs hollinm…including alcohol.

            Our society is not ‘sick’

            And no drug should ever be banned or illegal. That’s stupid.

          • Emily…our society has become decadent, ungodly and greedy. Kids are drugging themselves up because they cannot handle the day to day problems that life throws at them. Many families are dysfunctional with latch kids, lack of money, no father or mother etc. etc. I could go on. If this is not sick I don’t know what is.

            So if we already have a problem with booze why would we add to the problem with drugs.

          • We already have a problem, with drugs.  Prohibition certainly hasn’t prevented it and is no doubt making it even worse. 

        • Uh, but isn’t the problem that some of our kids have become pot heads, meth users, etc. NOW, in spite of the great amount of time and money we’ve spent on police resources batlling drug crime every day?

          Something about when you do the same thing over and over and expect a different result . . .

          • Of course lets just give up. Let everybody do whatever they want. Doesn’t matter whether they are in their right minds. Are you actually suggesting that we should legalize all drugs and allow people to get high all the time.

          • Are you actually saying we shouldn’t try anything else, anything that might work, because you like spending resources, time and people’s lives on something that has proven not to work.

          • If the issue was as simple to solve as you suggest i.e criminal element then it would be solved. If you have the idea how to solve the drug problem I am sure the government would like to hear it. However, because a problem is tough to solve it doesn’t mean you throw up your hands and give up.

          • You really ought to watch that Ken Burns documentary Prohibition that’s currently airing on PBS.  There is no point in having laws on the books that are being that frequently disobeyed and that so many people disagree with.

          • Thanks for the tip. I will watch the show next chance I get. However, I think that if there was a referendum held about decriminalizing drugs I doubt the majority of Canadians would agree that they should be decriminalized.

            I don’t understand why people need illicit drugs to get by in life. I think it is because life has become so complicated for some people they are looking for an escape. There are many laws on the books which are disobeyed for example speeding. However, many people do not agree with speed limits and disobey them all the time. That is not an excuse to allow excessive speed on the highways.

        • Do you actually think that the law is the only thing stopping your kids now. If the law changed tomorrow would you start doing meth right away?

          • I don’t know what kids are thinking these days. However, I think drugs are bad and do nothing to enhance ones life in a positive sense. As I have said those that decide they want to take drugs are having difficulty handling what life hands them. They use it as an escape. Similar to alcholism and smoking. The latter is a habit which people use to handle stress of daily life and despite the negative proven impact on ones health they still do it.

            So do I think people will begin taking drugs if the law was changed. I have no idea but lets not try it. Frankly I am having a great deal of difficulty understanding the position of those on this board who want to promote a hedonistic society. We have enough issues going on to argue for legalizing drugs is really asking to open a can of worms.

          • That can has been open for a long time. Your war on drugs is a massive and expensive failure. Why do you want to keep wasting my money?

        • Typical bible-thumper response. What drug prohibition is is just legislating against what some find distasteful.  The more taboo you make something, the more desirable it is.  Why don’t you go back to church where your priest can safely fondle your kids.

          • Well aren’t we a smart a$$. Take your opinions and shove them. It is wrong to encourage anyone to take drugs that ultimately will hurt their overall health over time. You may like paying the extra healthcare costs I don’t.

            You have no idea whether I am a bible thumper or not. Its none of your damn business.

        • Let people decide for themselves.  Individual choice is paramount.

          • Not if it is illegal. People need to follow the laws of the country and society. Otherwise we will have anarchy.

        • It’s easier for someone under 18 to get a bag of pot than it is to get a six pack of beer in this country.  The war on drugs does not work.  It puts money into the pockets of criminal organizations and does nothing to improve the community.  A system of legalized drugs could be regulated, and taxed.  It would be safer, and the monies generated could be put back into rehabilitation and education programs like those for alcohol, tobacco and gambling. 

          Prohibition does not work, it didn’t work in the 30’s and it’s not working now.  Who would you rather see the money go to.  Drug Cartels, Terrorist organizations and pharmaceutical companies, or local farmers and producers and their employees, local retailers and their employees.  The war on drugs does nothing but provide more money, and extraordinary powers to law enforcement, and the prison system, by cracking down on those using, and not the organizations that create and distribute. On the local level, people are still able to buy it easily, and if one dealer or supply line is taken down, another one will be there to take it’s place. 

  6. Who knew Vicky Pollard was Chief Justice? 

    All this ‘evidence’ is rubbish published by social scientists with an agenda. 

    People who are obese have stronger claim to genetics for their weight problems than drug addicts do for taking drugs. Health service would not think of opening an Insite for overweight people to eat as much as they want and have nurses on hand for when their hearts explode and it doesn’t make sense for drug addicts either. 

    Lower east side in Van is Sodom/Gomorrah while out of touch middle classes claim their policies are working and that giving drug addicts chance to take even more drugs is good idea. I think Lower east side is meant to drain undesirables from around BC and locate them all in one malignant area where they can be managed. 

    State should rehabilitate people, not enable their addictions. 

    StatsCan ~ Trends in Police Reported Drug Offenses: 

    The association between illicit drugs and crime in general has been well established by criminological researchers in Canada and elsewhere in the world. Research has shown that not only are many crimes committed by those who are under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol, but crime, particularly property-related crime, is often committed to obtain money to purchase drugs 

    British Columbia has consistently had a relatively high rate of police-reported drug offences. Regardless of the type of drug or the type of offence, the rates of drug crime in British Columbia have been among the highest in Canada for 30 years. In 2007, the total drug crime rate in this province (654 incidents per 100,000 population) was more than double the rate in Saskatchewan, the next highest province

    • The evidence is published in peer-reviewed journals, which are experts in the field agreeing with and supporting empirical evidence and quantitative results, the stance that harper takes and the opponents to safe injection sites has no such review, meaning that information is meant to further an agenda, it’s rhetorical and speculative, and has no basis in actual fact, the information in support of insite is meant to help people.  Insite does not provide illegal drugs to people, they provide a needle exchange and safe injection site, in addition to this they provide educational resources and counseling to those who wish to over come their addiction.  Insite is not meant to enable an addiction, but recognizes that people do have a problem, people will continue to use it, and a great number of these people have been converging on the DTES for years before insite was open.  In order to over come an addiction one first needs to want to beat it.

    • Yep, there is a link between drugs and crime. There is also a link between Insite (and places like it gobally) and a reduction in drug-related crime. That’s why the Van police support Insite. Or so I remember reading; too lazy at present to dig up the references.

      Ya gotta tell the WHOLE story, Tony.

      • No, he doesn’t.  What kind of a War on Facts would that be?

        • LOL!

    • TonyAdams writes:

      “People who are obese have stronger claim to genetics for their weight problems
      than drug addicts do for taking drugs.”

      Genetics play a very small role in what causes a drug user to become a drug “addict.”  It has much more to do with upbringing. 

      If you are implying that drug addiction is voluntary, it really isn’t.  Most of the addicts in the DTES are suffering from emotional and mental health problems, and are self-medicating those problems.  As the SCoC noted, these people are not using drugs “recreationally.”

      Obesity is a *much* larger public health problem than drug addiction. People who think nothing of criminalizing all drug user, be they casual or chronic, young or old, to prevent
      drug addiction, would never propose we criminalize all junk food consumers, fit or fat, to “send a message to young people” to eat a healthier diet.

      However, if we prohibited junk food, we could expect a violent black market to appear to meet the demand. Sweets would get sweeter because black markets have an incentive to make more potent products.

      “I think Lower east side is meant to drain undesirables
      from around BC and locate them all in one malignant area where they can
      be managed.”

      The DTES is the way it is for several reasons, perhaps the most significant is the low cost, uninhabitable housing.

      “StatsCan ~ Trends in Police Reported Drug Offenses:”

      When analyzing so-called “drug-related” crime, it is important to differentiate between
      systemic and pharmacological crime. 

      Alcohol is the biggest cause of pharmacological crime.  Half of all homicides and suicides, violence, domestic abuse, vandalism, hockey riots, etc., because alcohol is distinctly criminogenic and disinhibiting.

      Most crime associated with illicit drugs is systemic; dealers fighting over turf, ripoffs and bad debts, because they have no recourse to the law.  It’s the wild west. We don’t see Starbucks goons “driving by” Tim Horton’s.

      Addicts who have to raise large amounts of money every day to pay the gangs prohibition-inflated street prices often – but not always – commit property crime or prostitute themselves.  People rarely commit crimes simply because they are high, rather, it’s the withdrawal, coupled with poor impulse control, that aggravates systemic crime.

      Tobacco is arguably as addictive and difficult to quit as opiates and cocaine, yet there is very little tobacco-related systemic crime, because tobacco merchants are regulated and have recourse to the law, and tobacco is relatively affordable.

      Addicts provided with affordable opiates lead more stable, law-abiding lives, and are more likely to find employment, cut down, and quit.


      In other words, most so-called “drug-related” crime is really prohibition-related crime.

      If you don’t pay taxes in B.C., it isn’t your problem, and a large majority of British Columbians support Insite, because it increases uptake into treatment, and in addition to preventing the spread of disease among drug users and drug-abstainers they know, and preventing overdose fatalities, Insite reduces public disorder.  The net effect is a reduction in addiction, crime and, public disorder, and public health costs, which frees up resources for crime prevention, drug education and treatment.

    • Well, except that it’s not.

  7. The poverty pimps and proponents of Insite live in a very perverse world. They would rather see addicts have clean rigs than overcome their addiction. They would rather enable their addiction than help them onto the road to recovery and for their assertion of addicts dying in the streets and alleyways they haven’t given a moments thought about the long drawn out death sentence that addiction is.

    • You do realize that Insite provides education and assistance for those wishing to kick the habit in addition to the needle exchange.  Having “clean rigs” is in itself a step in the right direction, preventing the spread of disease amongst those who are having a hard time kicking the habit, or with no desire to recover.  You seem to complain about the proponents of insite yet offer no alternative to it.  The truth is insite is the alternative to a system that would rather criminalize someone for an addiction, rather than giving them the tools they need to beat it.

    • “That which can be asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence.”
      -Christopher Hitchens

      Consider your comment dismissed.

  8. “He inherited and did not ruin a well-performing economy.”

    He did however spend the surplus on his favourite hobby, making friends with the military.

  9. “This autumn there are two new vacancies on the top court for Harper to fill. But surely the thrill is gone. If his judges think like Liberal judges, why go to all the fuss?”

    Perhaps they are just following the law to its logical conclusion rather than letting ideology interfere with due process. This would imply that they are doing what Harper cannot bring himself to do, put aside his plan to do something correct and for the good of all, not just his friends.

  10. The supreme (?) court is simply wrong on this issue.  They say that shutting down Insite will jeopardize the health of addicts, but the very existence of Insite does the same thing.  Helping addicts consume illegal drugs is helping them kill themselves.  What addict extended their life by staying addicted to drugs?  The govt’s responsibility is two-fold; to prevent the consumption of illegal drugs, and to help addicts get sober.  Helping them get high is just irresponsible and harmful.

    • Wait, what?  How is the government helping people get off drugs?  Since insite has opened 400 people have overdosed on site, none of which resulted in fatalities, because there were people there to help.  What if these people overdosed in a back alley?  How many would have survived?  Insite isn’t in existence to help people get high, it’s a recognition that they are going to get high anyway and gives them a safe place, and clean needles to do so.  Additionally there is a greater number of people who enter into rehab who use insite than those who do not.  The government wants to shut it down, and their agenda is not meant to get people off drugs, it’s to maintain an antiquated prohibition law that has never worked.  Criminalize addicts, throw them into jail, force them to kick a habit they don’t want to kick, that doesn’t help anything.  The government offers no working alternative to something that works and is backed by peer-reviewed science as working, that is irresponsible and harmful.

  11. If Harper thinks it’s wrong he’ll do the wrong thing to make it right.  I’m sure he’d rather see these people kill themselves than see them have a chance at getting rid of addiction.  It’s the same way he treats the veterans.  One has to conclude that he’d rather they were killed in war than have to look after their broken brains and bodies for the rest of their broken lives.

    • Nobody’s stopping these people from getting help.  But heck, if you think it’s the government’s job to step in when somebody wants to inject a foreign substance into their bloodstream, then you have a pretty wicked outlook on society.  We shouldn’t need the government to tell us there’s something wrong with that kind of behaviour, and we shouldn’t need the government to get these people some real help, and when I say real help, I don’t mean this “harm reduction” mumbo-jumbo.

      And secondly, it takes a rather sick mind to equate Canada’s veterans with drug-addicted junkies. One group needs medical care due to their dedication to the country, the other group wants help to inject their bodies with drugs and harm themselves. Not exactly the same thing.

      • Now I’m really confused.  So you think the government shouldn’t step in when people who have a physical addiction like crack or heroin, but they should step in to stop programs that keep those same people safe, and when they are ready to kick the habit put them on to a path that will help them.  The government used to get them “real help”, they used to lock up drug users, and wants to again.  I don’t know how much more we need to go over this.  Locking users up, forcing them to get clean, does not work.  It hasn’t worked for the last 70 years, and it’s not likely to in the future.  Yet time after time, study after study, shows harm-reduction strategies work.

        Your view point is really shallow.  It’s not always someones choice that they became addicted, with poor education programs, that would rather put fear into children, instead of facts about drugs, they don’t know what they are getting in to when they first try it, and many become hooked very quickly.  These are drugs that make people very ill when they don’t get them, they often lie in agonizing pain, and the body begins to need the drug. 

        Do you know anyone who has suffered from addiction?  I’ve known several.  What would you rather pay for, a place that people can go to, to get needles that are free from disease, trained staff that should an overdose happen, not only prevent someone from dying, but also more often than not prevent a trip to the hospital (after all these all cost money), and then also provide information for those wanting to get clean.  Or would you rather have those same people sharing needles, catching diseases that would put a much larger strain on the health care system, have them dying in back alleys from an overdose, or if they are lucky getting an expensive ambulance ride to the hospital?

        It’s your type of viewpoint why the system isn’t working, there are too many people like you that push and push and push against something that your ideology doesn’t let you believe works, even in the face of provable facts.  If anyone is the “ideologue” it is you.  You are the one that is arguing for the flawed data, you have offered zero provable facts, you mention one article, which shows a chart, but leaves out the larger conclusions of the same study.  You mention a doctor whose work he doesn’t feel strongly enough about to submit for peer review. 

  12. THe writer is an idiot.

  13. Well now I suppose we can do a run around the Health Act and allow for profit health care after all the research is clear, for profit helps save lives and resources. 

  14. Drugs should be de-criminalized but not promoted by government. Addicts should be allowed to shoot up without anyone trying to stop them, and overdoses leading to death should be encouraged. Bye, bye druggies – then we’re all better off.  

  15. Even if Harper’s crusade against Insite is based on his belief that addicts should be punished rather than helped, does he really believe that it’s better to have used needles left lying around in the streets and playgrounds than left where they can be disposed of safely?

    • Yes he does.

    • Good point.  And the government should open brothels to keep those used condoms out of the playground. We should also give the mafia a nice safe place to conduct their gun battles to keep the streets clean of bullets.  And we should give arsonists government-funded buildings to burn down, to keep all those fires away from the streets as well. Perhaps also the government should build clean walls for people to spray-paint to keep that messy graffiti away from our pretty buildings.

      There are so many exciting possibilities with this brilliant display of intelligence you’ve provided. So many great new ways to spend taxpayer money. We should raise taxes to pay for these wonderful ideas.

      Are you for real?

      • Yes, if the government isn’t prepared to legalize and regulate private sector brothels, then if would be both pragmatic and fiscally conservative for the government to provide them, in that, like Insite, such brothels would result in a net savings for taxpayers, by reducing crime, public health problems and related social costs.

        If we re-prohibited alcohol, then it would make fiscal sense to provide supervised drinking sites where alcoholics can get clean classes, taxis, condoms, stomach pumps for the wood-alcohol and medical attention when they overdose or hurt themselves or others. 

        Designated graffiti walls have been tried and work well.

        I don’t see how supervised arson or gang warfare would have a positive cost/benefit ratio. Besides, supervised gun battles would be unconstitutional.

        • Wow, lots of crazies around here. Is there anything you don’t think taxes should be spent on? How about porno films for sex addicts? Is that a good tax expenditure? How about pianos for everyone? Ice cream stands on every corner? Every kid gets a free hamster? Everyone gets an annual allowance of helium balloons? Tax subsidies for haircuts?

          So many wonderful possibilities. We could turn the country into a circus.

          • There are lots of things I don’t think taxes should be squandered on.  The war on drugs springs to mind.

            Harm reduction makes fiscal sense when the social costs associated with a prohibited activity can be reduced, especially when most of the social costs are a consequence of the prohibition, not the activity. Porno, pianos and hamsters are not prohibited, and even if we prohibited pianos, its hard for me to imagine the social costs of an unregulated market for pianos being very high.  Carpel tunnel syndrome from poorly made keyboards?

            If criminal prohibition is the optimal policy response to public health problems, then we should use it to tackle obesity, which kills far more Canadians than all drugs combined.  Criminalize all junk food producers and consumers, be they fit or fat, to send a message to the kids to eat a healthy diet.

            So many wonderful possibilities.  We could turn the country into a nursery school.

  16. “Not so fast, McLachlin wrote: the act contains a “safety valve” because it gives the federal health minister the ability to grant exemptions from the act’s penalties if an exemption would be “in the public interest.”

    Whoever wrote that exception is one smart cookie. It’s safe to assume they wont be writing anymore good laws. They’re probably snowed under trying to relieve the back log at immigration or something.

    “So in cases like Insite, the Supremes warn against a federal stonewall. But they hint broadly that there won’t be a lot of cases like Insite. The saw-off seems to be: where an injection site is supported by a provincial government and local community, Ottawa mustn’t block it. Despite the understandable enthusiasm of a lot of activists, I think it’s fair to predict there won’t be many such cases.”

    Evdence…now that isn’t Harper’s strong suit…but saw- offs now…that is something he knows about.

  17. Why is just drug addicts who get a safe place paid for by the tax payers?

    Why can’t hookers have a place too? I am SO tired of paying for midget escorts, only to find out in person that they mislead me in their pictures. I demand that our government setup brothels to end this false advertising once and for all!!!

  18. Judge Jim Gray
    on The Six Groups Who Benefit From Drug Prohibition
    In 1992, Jim Gray, a conservative judge in conservative Orange County, California, held a press conference during which he recommended that we rethink our drug laws.  Back then, it took a great deal of courage to suggest the war on drugs was a failed policy.