Pubdate: Wed, 04 Jun 2008
Source: Kelowna Capital News (CN BC)
Copyright: 2008, West Partners Publishing Ltd.
Author: Stockwell Day
Bookmark: (Supervised Injection Sites)


Drug addicts in Vancouver can shoot up while being supervised in North
America's only facility legalized to do that.

The In-Site facilty operates with a special legal exemption. The
debate has been fierce on whether such a policy is a good thing or

My column today is not going to get into the debate per se. But I do
want to give you, an update on what has occurred this past week.

First, a B.C. judge has ruled that drug addicts have a right to a
facility like this.

His ruling came just before the federal government was to make a
decision as to whether this activity should continue.

The federal health minister announced this week the government will
challenge that ruling with an appeal.

For the purpose of reporting to you, I thought the best thing to do
was to quote, verbatim, what Tony Clement said was his reason for
challenging the court decision. so you can see the federal
rationale-whichever side of the argument you are on.

Here is what Clement said: "In my opinion, supervised injection is not
medicine. It does not heal the person addicted to drugs. Injection not
only causes physical harm, it also deepens and prolongs the addiction.
Programs to support supervised injection divert valuable dollars away
from treatment. Government-sponsored injection sends a very mixed
message to young people who are contemplating the use of illegal
drugs. The evidence is that Insite's injection program saves, at best,
one life per year. A precious life, yes. I believe we can do better
and must. (do better). My job as health minister is to balance that
one life against any possible negative effect of supervised injection
that might take one life elsewhere."

Meanwhile, back at the ranch right here in our own constituency, a
group in Merritt has come up with their own approach to taking
preventative and rehabilitive action towards youths with substance
abuse issues.

It recognizes there is a local problem with young people getting
involved in drugs, gangs and related criminal activity.

When they approached me on the issue I explained the broad government
policy on this problem.

We are basically taking a two-pronged approach-the long arm of the law
and the open arms of the community.

The long arm of the law means a tougher approach to those committing
the crimes and more help for the law-abiding citizens who are the
victims of those crimes.

The open arms of the community refers to our belief that local groups
and agencies can play a vital role in putting together prevention
programs that can intercept kids at risk before they plunge themselves
into destructive behaviours.

The Merritt Youth Mural program is such a group.

In a unique way it hasjoined forces with the Merritt Walk of Stars
Society to reach out to vulnerable Aboriginal youth and their families.

In conjunction with educational and occupational counsellors, the
Youth Mural project will help up to 60 at-risk young people.

Through a variety of means they will teach the young people about
taking responsibility, learning job skills and how to contribute in
real and positive ways to the community in which they live.

I was able to assist the group in getting federal funds for the
program and I look forward with confidence to the future results of
kids turned away from drugs and crime.
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MAP posted-by: Larry Seguin