Pubdate: Wed, 18 Jan 2006
Source: Goldstream Gazette (CN BC)
Copyright: 2006 Goldstream Gazette
Author: Rick Stiebel
Bookmark: (Safe Injecting Rooms)


Liberal Senator Larry Campbell waded in on the issue of safe 
injection sites Thursday at incumbent Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca Liberal 
MP Dr. Keith Martin's Colwood Corners campaign office.

Campbell, the former mayor of Vancouver and a driving force behind 
Vancouver's safe injection site, blasted Conservative leader Stephen 
Harper's stand on the issue.

"There's a clear difference between the two parties, especially after 
Harper said no to money to fight the drug problem," Campbell said. 
"Harper's attitude is it's a criminal offense, they're bad people and 
should be put in jail."

Campbell pointed to the war on drugs in the United States, which he 
says has the highest percentage of incarcerated people in the world, 
with the majority of those in jail for drug offenses comprised of non 
Caucasians marginalized by poverty and a lack of education.

The safe injection site in Vancouver has reduced the risk of disease 
spread by the estimated 3,000 addicts who live there, Campbell, 
pointing out that there are now 600 injections a day taking place in 
a safer environment.

"There's been a hundred overdoses at the site, and no one's died," he 
said. "The Canadian view is that nothing's more important than life 
- -- if it saves one life, it's worth it."

Martin agreed, adding that he's been working on a harm reduction plan 
with Victoria's chief medical officer Dr. Richard Stanwick.

"One of the reasons that I left the Conservatives was because they 
would kill initiatives of that nature," Martin said.

When asked about safe injection sites at an all candidates meeting a 
night earlier, Conservative candidate Troy DeSouza said he is opposed 
to safe injection sites.

"I'm not convinced that's the way to go," DeSouza said, adding that 
'it's far too early" to say if the one in Vancouver has been successful.

Green Party candidate Mike Robinson agrees with harm reduction 
strategies such as safe injection sites, but considers them a 
Band-Aid solution, at best a temporary fix.

"Until we deal with the social and poverty issues, we're attacking 
the symptom but not the root cause," said Robinson, who would push 
for more youth leadership initiatives and education.

NDP candidate Randall Garrison said, "it's absolute madness to oppose 
safe injection sites."

"We all pay the costs in illness without them," he said, pointing out 
the additional burden to health care from treating addiction could be 
lessened by dealing with the cause rather than the result.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom