Pubdate: Fri, 05 Oct 2007
Source: Province, The (CN BC)
Copyright: 2007 The Province
Author: Ian Austin, The Province
Bookmark: (InSite)
Bookmark: (Harm Reduction)
Bookmark: (Mandatory Minimum Sentencing)
Bookmark: (Supervised Injection Sites)


Sullivan Pleased Injection Site Now a Priority

B.C. politicians say Prime Minister Stephen Harper is adopting a 
U.S.-style approach to drugs in a strategy he unveiled in Winnipeg yesterday.

Harper promised mandatory minimum jail sentences for dealers and 
compassion for users in a long-awaited $64-million anti-drug strategy.

"Currently there are no minimum prison sentences for producing and 
trafficking dangerous drugs like methamphetamines and cocaine," said 
the prime minister.

"But these are serious crimes; those who commit them should do serious time."

While Vancouver Mayor Sam Sullivan praised the government's move to 
keep the safe-injection site open for another six months, MP Libby 
Davies, the NDP deputy leader, said Harper is simply aping U.S. 
measures that haven't worked.

"I think the government is headed in completely the wrong direction," 
said Davies. "They are eliminating harm-reduction, something that has 
been very successful, and are adopting a U.S.-style war on drugs 
focusing on enforcement. It didn't work in the U.S., and it won't work here."

Former B.C. premier Ujjal Dosanjh, now a Liberal MP, also said the 
plan is a mirror of failing U.S. strategies.

"These plans are essentially clones of the U.S. war on drugs," said 
Dosanjh. "I was pleased to see more treatment options, but this is 
more about ideology and politics than drug prevention or crime prevention.

"If you want mandatory sentences, get ready to build more jails. In 
the U.S., you have 26 states with the death penalty, and those 26 
states have the highest crime rates."

Harper, in what many see as a pre-election speech, said the 
government's response will be two-pronged, focusing on drug addicts 
on one hand and on drug producers and dealers on the other.

"Drugs are dangerous and destructive. If drugs do get hold of you, 
there will be help to get you off them," he said. "But if you sell or 
produce drugs, you will pay with prison time."

Harper's move to keep the Insite supervised-injection site open for 
at least six months was endorsed by Premier Gordon Campbell and 
Vancouver Mayor Sam Sullivan.

"Initially there was a lot of public resistance, but over time we've 
seen a growing consensus, from the premier down to the local shop 
owners," said Sullivan. "I'm pleased that this has become a priority." 
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