Pubdate: Wed, 04 Jun 2008
Source: Penticton Western (CN BC)
Copyright: 2008 Penticton Western
Author: Stockwell Day
Note: Stockwell Day is the member of Parliament for Okanagan Coquihalla and
minister of public safety in Ottawa


Drug addicts in Vancouver can shoot up while being supervised in North
America's only facility legalized to do that. The Insite project
operates with a special legal exemption. The debate has been fierce on
whether such a policy is a good thing or not. My column today is not
going to get into the debate per se. I do, however, want to give you,
my constituents, an update on what has occurred this past week.

First, a B.C. court has ruled that drug addicts have a right to a
facility like this. This ruling came just before our federal
government was to have made a decision as to whether this activity
should continue. The federal minister of health announced this week
that the government will challenge that ruling.

For the purpose of reporting to you I thought the best thing to do was
to quote verbatim exactly what the minister of health gave as his
reason for challenging the B.C. court decision. I'll just give it to
you word for word so that you can see the federal rationale, whichever
side of the argument you are on.

Here is what the minister 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

"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."

That was his statement.

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 rehabilitative action towards youth with substance
abuse issues. They recognized there is a local problem of young people
getting involved in drugs, gang and related criminal activity. When
they approached me on the issue I explained the broad government
policy on this problem.

We basically are 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 they
have joined forces with the Merritt Walk of Stars Society to reach out
to vulnerable Aboriginal youth and their families. In conjunction with
educational and occupational counselors 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

While I'm talking about Merritt I can't help but tell you of a special
award I received at the annual Merritt Country Music Walk of Stars. I
do their fundraising auction for them. The organizers totally
surprised me by getting me to do my handprint in cement to be placed
in a star alongside the country music greats who have performed here
over the years.

It was a real honour for me. And since the 'star' will be placed on
the sidewalk anyone who wants to stomp their feet on me is free to do
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MAP posted-by: Steve Heath