Pubdate: Thu, 01 Mar 2001
Source: Edmonton Sun (CN AB)
Copyright: 2001, Canoe Limited Partnership.
Contact:  #250, 4990-92 Avenue, Edmonton, Alberta, T6B 3A1 Canada
Fax: (780) 468-0139
Author: Dan Palmer


The ball is in Alberta's court if it wants help from Ottawa to set up a
provincial drug court, says the federal justice minister. "This is up to the
province to take the lead," Anne McLellan, MP for Edmonton West, said

A drug court would allow addicts, facing non-violent charges such as
trafficking, property and prostitution offences, to avoid jail by agreeing
to mandatory treatment and monitoring.

Although McLellan received a letter on the subject in December from Alberta
Justice Minister David Hancock, she said she's waiting until after the
provincial election to talk about it.

"Once the election is over, I assume the attorney general will bring the
issue up with me," she said.

Toronto has had a drug court for two years, funded through Justice Canada's
Crime Prevention Fund. Vancouver is expected to have one by April.

Toronto will receive about $1.9 million from Ottawa over four years to help
run the program, and Vancouver will get a similar amount of cash, McLellan

The minister wouldn't say how much money Alberta could receive if it wanted
to start its own drug program in Edmonton.

"I couldn't commit myself to the abstract," she said.

Drug courts are an important component of an overall drug strategy, she

"If we want to prevent them from going back on the street, doing break and
enters to support their addiction, we have to get them off the street," she
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