Pubdate: Sat, 11 Oct 2008
Source: Intelligencer, The (CN ON)
Copyright: 2008 Osprey Media Group Inc.
Author: Brian Conway


When Daryl Kramp became our Member of Parliament a couple of years
ago, he said he wasn't interested in being a long-term politician. He
was just going to Ottawa to solve some problems for the people of
Prince Edward-Hastings.

He proved himself a man of his word when he stood up against
government mumbo-jumbo in the Picton post office problems.

And when he and his family organized passport workshops to help us
cope with the problems of travel after 9-11.

He was a citizen representative in the best tradition of democracy so
I voted for him in the next election. But then something terribly
changed him.

Last fall I received a questionnaire from him, asking for feedback on
how the Conservative government was doing. So I sent him a letter
explaining a serious problem which his government was not helping to
solve: addiction.

Drug addiction painfully touches one Canadian family in four. It
plagues this riding; it has almost destroyed my family.

Every addict is someone's child, sibling. spouse or friend. Addiction
is a family problem. Experts agree that the tendency to addiction is
genetic; like many illnesses, it is inherited. And only the emotional
ties of family and friendship can motivate an addict to fight the illness.

Federal Health Health Minister Tony Clement stated the Conservative
government's policy: "The party is over. We will put drug dealers in
jail and offer rehab programs to addicts who wanted to get clean."

That statement shows no understanding of the problem. Here is

1) Anyone who has seen the despair, self-loathing and physical agony
of an addict knows that addiction is not a party.

2) Police need good arrest statistics so they nab the easy to catch
lawbreakers -- street dealers who are mostly young addicts desperate
for money to feed their craving. Theft, petty crime and dealing: this
is how they survive with their addiction. Major players walk and young
addicts go to jail, where emptiness exposes them to more drugs.

3) Rehabilitation is not achieved through a short spell in detox, as
the tabloids suggest. A recovering addict must make huge personal
changes and solve the psychological problems which led to drug
dependence. Rehabilitation requires at least one full year of
treatment, with intensive follow-up. There are some extremely
expensive private rehab clinics.

But if you are not wealthy you must search for a program which takes
OHIP. There are very few, and they have huge waiting lists. An addict
who is inspired to get clean usually gives up because of the long wait
to enter treatment.

The public rehab programs Clement said he would offer just aren't

So in my letter to Kramp, I asked him to talk to his government about
setting up a separate ministry to deal with addiction or to find a
health minister who understood addiction well enough through research
or family experience to come up with policies to help heal this
terrible illness.

I thought that Kramp, with his stress on family and solving problems
for people in his riding, would help. After all, he had asked for my

Sadly, he did not even answer my letter. (I suppose his government
likes approval, not suggestions.) Instead these things happened.
Health Minister Clements publicly attacked the doctors of Canada for
supporting harm reduction therapy, the only public program shown
successful in making addicts want to change.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced plans to get tough on crime by
naming and imprisoning young offenders. (Who will there be to work and
pay taxes if much of our population has a criminal record?)

And Kramp sent me another flyer; this one showing two senior citizens
holding hands. It named the Conservative, Liberal, NDP and Green party
leaders and asked me to mail Kramp my response to this question: "Who
do you think is on the right track on taxes?"

In case my senior citizen mind was too feeble to understand what the
different parties had done or intended to do, the mailing applauded
seven things in the Conservative policy, and said nothing about the
other parties.

Last month, Kramp went on a government paid trip to the Middle East,
although he has no foreign affairs duties.

What happened to Kramp, the citizen MP who had no patience for
government mumbo-jumbo and cared about the problems of Prince

So in this election I will not vote for Kramp because we need a
citizen MP who works to solve the problems of Prince Edward Hastings,
not a political yes-man who works for his Conservative party master.

And I think Kramp might thank us if he is not re-elected. The last
mailing he sent was a cheap photocopy; it did not reflect a person who
was happy in his job. Maybe if we don't send this good man back for
more mind-bending in Ottawa, he will regain the passion for truth and
the social concern he showed when we first elected him.

Brian Conway

Cherry Valley
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