Pubdate: Fri, 06 Jun 2008
Source: Merritt Herald (CN BC)
Copyright: 2008 Merritt Herald
Author: Stockwell Day
Bookmark: (Supervised Injection Sites)
Bookmark: (Insite)


Drug Addicts In Vancouver Can Shoot Up While Being Supervised In 
North America's Only Facility Legalized To Do That.

The In-Site 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 I would quote verbatim 
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.

"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 
In-Site's injection program saves, at best, one life per year. A 
precious life, yes. I believe we can do better and must.

"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 rehabilitive 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 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.

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 so.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom