Pubdate: Fri, 04 Sep 2015
Source: Simcoe Reformer, The (CN ON)
Copyright: 2015 Sun Media
Author: Kristy Kirkup
Page: 8


Coderre Says Move Is About 'Public Safety'

Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre didn't hold back during a joint news 
conference with Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau on Thursday, promising 
to ensure proposed drug-injection sites open in the city - even over 
federal objections.

The mayor, who met Trudeau to discuss issues including safe injection 
sites, has previously said he would give the federal government until 
the end of the summer to approve four locations in Montreal.

Coderre made it clear he will move ahead regardless.

"I will do it anyway," Coderre said.

Pressed for specifics on timing, the mayor said to stay tuned.

"It is coming; check the memo, you'll receive it," he said.

The Supreme Court, Coderre said, has been clear on the effectiveness 
of safe injection sites.

In a 2011 ruling, the high court ruled Vancouver's Insite location 
saved lives and improved health without leading to higher drug use or 
crime in the surrounding area.

The court said the government should "generally grant an exemption" 
required to operate a supervised injection site legally if evidence 
indicates the site will cut the risk of death and disease, and have 
little impact on public safety.

The Conservative government proceeded to pass the Respect for 
Communities Act, which sets out 26 criteria for reviewing an application.

Several health groups, including the Canadian Nurses Association, 
believe the new law is designed to block the creation of the injection sites.

"It's about public safety," Coderre said. "It is about public health. 
And all we are asking is to be consistent with what the Supreme Court 
has said."

Trudeau praised Coderre's approach.

"Denis has an obligation to the citizens of Montreal to bring forward 
solutions to make people's lives better, to keep them safe, and I 
applaud him for moving forward on this," Trudeau said.

"I look forward to supporting him once we form the next government."

Cactus Montreal is a community group that is expected to operate the 
city's first safe injection site.

Louis Letellier de St-Just, who chairs the board of directors, said 
the mayor is doing "what he should do."

"He is pushing this dossier forward," he said.

"But the financing has to come from somewhere, and it's not the city 
who will take it on - it's the Quebec government which will finance it."

The Quebec government has approved Montreal's proposal but it is 
unclear if money will flow if the feds do not provide the legal green light.

Stephen Harper's Conservatives adamantly opposed the sites.

Health Minister Rona Ambrose has used the issue to take aim at 
Trudeau for pledging to open "drug-injection houses."

Coderre said he has a meeting scheduled for Friday with Green party 
Leader Elizabeth May to discuss the issue, as he is trying to reach 
out to all political leaders.

- - with files from Giuseppe Valiante
- ---
MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom