Pubdate: Tue, 07 Mar 2017
Source: Chatham Daily News, The (CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 Chatham Daily News
Author: Mark Bonokoski
Page: A4


While it seems out of context for a career progressive, Ottawa Mayor
Jim Watson has gone law-and-order rogue in his quest to stem the
plague of fentanyl overdoses and deaths in the nation's capital.

He wants manslaughter charges laid against drug dealers if the illicit
narcotics they peddle end up causing death. And he is not wrong in
wanting this. The time is now to stop whistling past the graveyard,
and ignoring the fact there is a fentanyl crisis that is not going
away anytime soon - aided by the fact the lethal drug, 50 to 100 times
more powerful than heroin, is being laced into counterfeit pain
killers disguised as known prescription narcotics of specific strengths.

The typical liberal response of education and prevention, which has
thus far made not a dent in the rash of fentanyl drug overdose deaths
across this country, needs some teeth added. Manslaughter convictions
would do the trick. "(These drug dealers) are killing people," Watson
said during a recent radio interview. "We see it, certainly, in large
numbers in British Columbia, and we're seeing it here, about a couple
of dozen in the last year who have lost their lives as a result of
drug overdoses.

"I think we have to send a very strong signal to those people who are
going to be engaged in illegal activity.

"They have to pay a much stiffer penalty," said Watson, a former
cabinet minister with the Ontario Liberals. "Otherwise the deterrent
is not there, and they stay in business and continue to poison kids."

The image of Ottawa as a milquetoast government town dominated by
politics, its demographic largely white and middle-class, belies the
fact that its young people are just as susceptible to experimenting
with drugs as young people anywhere.

This obviously troubles the mayor to the point that he wants the
Criminal Code tweaked to deal with drug dealers who kill.

In mid-February, Ottawa drug cops arrested a dozen people for running
a distribution network for counterfeit pills containing fentanyl.

"We seized thousands of pills, so the potential was there for mass
casualties," Staff-Sgt. Rick Carey told the Ottawa Sun.

"We're trying to make sure this doesn't hit the street, because it's
being accessed by youth who aren't aware of what's going on."

The sad news is that some young users are dying with their first
adventure, their bodies having no tolerance for a high-strength opioid
like fentanyl, often brewed haphazardly in China's black market, which
is being mixed in with counterfeit pills marked to appear as
legitimate doses of prescribed opioids like Percocet or OxyContin.

Bottom line, no one can become an alcoholic after one drink, but can
become very dead after one pill.

The law regarding drug dealers needs to be toughened.

As it stands now, they're getting away with murder.
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