Canadian government to appeal safe-injection site ruling

Health Minister Tony Clement has made clear the Canadian government’s position on Insite, the safe-injection facility in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. The Canadian government intends to appeal a BC court ruling that would allow the site to continue operating beyond June 30, 2008.

Insite is operating as a pilot project under a legal exemption originally granted by the previous government that allows people to carry, traffic and inject illegal drugs in the supervised facility.

The Conservative government extended the legal exemption until June 30, 2008 in order to conduct more research into the the program. Meanwhile, a British Columbia court has ruled that Canada’s current drug laws are unconstitutional when they prohibit possession and trafficking of illegal drugs by those looking for help at facilities such as Insite.

I cannot agree with Canada’s submission that an addict must feed his addiction in an unsafe environment when a safe environment that may lead to rehabilittion is the alternative.

– Mr. Justice Ian Pitfield

Clement said the federal government will appeal the recent BC court decision, saying supervised injection sites are well-intentioned but ultimately medically unethical.

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16 thoughts on “Canadian government to appeal safe-injection site ruling

  1. I’m not an expert on this field although I’ve worked as a physician in detox and substance abuse 12 step program. There are truly some patients who wouldn’t avail themselves of treatment. They would live in the most unhygienic conditions and would use the dirtiest syringe/needle. The key is harm reduction. The people in Vancouver BC are lucky (low crime, low cost on health care of these hopelessly addicted persons, cleaner streets).

  2. All I can say is that what Dr Hedy Fry said is the truth. The downtown east side in Vancouver HAS been cleaned up due to the safe injection site. It HAS led to addicts seeking treatment. It HAS prevented unnecessary overdoses that would land addicts in hospital, taking up beds for innocent people. The safe injection site, to my amazement (I was very much opposed to it), HAS worked.

    And Tony Clement didn’t answer Dr Fry’s damn question! Shame on the Conservatives and kudos to Dr Hedy Fry!

  3. Tony Clement has a huge communications problem
    On you tube he says “i believe in needle sharing ” during his misspeak
    lets give Harper a reason to put tony down for his lack of communications skills

    OTTAWA – A tape recording at the centre of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s $3.5-million defamation suit against the Liberal party was not altered as the prime minister has claimed, a court-ordered analysis of the tape by Harper’s own audio expert has found.

  4. I can not believe that this issue is even up for debate! I do understand that addiction is a disease, but it is intentionally brought upon themselves. I can certainly think of better places to put the tax dollar and it isn’t giving it to druggies to get high repeatedly. Force them into rehab- if they don’t want to accept the help, then I don’t think giving them drugs is the answer. Your child doesn’t want to brush his teeth so you give him candy as a reward? It is ridiculous that politicians are afraid to say what is absurd and what is practical for the taxpayer to pay for. I’m addicted to food. Maybe you wouldn’t mind paying for my liposuction?

  5. Instead of focusing on places letting people continue using drugs, why not focus on rehab? Or on education and teach the patients and our young people not to do drugs in the first place? I think that’ll be a much better use of our tax dollars.

    I don’t think as taxpayers we should pay for people to continually harming their bodies in ways that they know are harmful to them. So this is certainly an issue to look into, and I can’t wait to see some of the debates on this coming up.

  6. I actually don’t think Tony’s doing a disfavour in appealing the injection site ruling. Afterall, the injection site being kept open sends the message that the people can continue to use hard drugs and harm their bodies.

    Recently Tony made a similar argument in the sense that should doctors continue allowing their patients to harm their bodies instead of recommending treatment, they’ll be considered unethical. So if it’s unethical there, then it’s certainly worth considering a parallel here.

  7. I agree with you about decriminalizing prostitution and soft drugs – liberty is the freedom to do whatever you like as long as others aren’t harmed. If there is no victim other than oneself, there should be no crime. Government should limit itself to guarding our liberties and protecting us from harm.

    But dispensing narcotics (hard drugs) harms the addict and is against the law, so unless we want to decriminalize narcotics then this is the only viable position the government can take.

  8. “crime”and”abuse” wouldn’t be there if prostitution was legal. you choose your profession and everyone else should choose they’re own( no matter what you choose(depending on the money involved… and there is money involved). Freedom Baby! Like it or leave it. Drugs are the “medication” just like the medication that is sold legally for depression, but without all the “supposed” side-effects. Stop looking at the act and look at the “guilty” consequences instead. one connects to the other….

  9. Ya Hedy Fry says every life is precious to her and acuses the conservative minister of dismissing someones right to life, but, wait….don’t the liberals SUPPORT abortion? HHMMMM…..well that’s strange, a useless drug addicts life is more important to her than, an unborn babie’s life is, does that make any sense whatsoever?

  10. One last thing I’d like to say is that Hedy Fry, the Liberal asking questions in the clip, says that the safe injection sites were set up for people who do not access their healthcare. To that I would say that we can make the healthcare available to everyone who needs it, but we can’t make people go. If drug users chose not to be treated for medical problems, that’s their own problem. Or at least, it certainly isn’t my problem.

  11. I can’t quite decide where I stand on this, but I do know that safe injection sites shouldn’t be a federal issue. I would be more comfortable with municipal governments taking 100% of the burden with this one, (and allowing the existence of such sites be determined locally,) and completely supportive of it if charity organizations stepped up to the plate and took charge of the issue.

  12. I essentially agree with a lot of Tony Clement says in his presentation. HOWEVER, while it is great to say that we should be providing the right support for addicts in the Downtown Eastside to OVERCOME their addiction, it is not something that has been in place, nor will be in place overnight. So to shut down Insite (by eliminating the exemption), we immediately place the lives of those who are most vulnerable to addiction in this area in danger.
    Until we actually see funding and implementation of the types of programs Clement speaks of us in place, Insite needs to continue to operate.

  13. I would be furious as a tax payer if I knew people were getting high on my tax dollars. Working in the human services field for 4 years I find safe ejection sites like the methadone clinics here in the states. They started out with a good purpose because they were required counseling along with treatment. however now they are just injecting sites and they do not really serve a positive purpose.

  14. This is a tough issue to take a firm position on for me. I can see both views clearly, and I simply don’t know the answer.

    I do, however, find drug laws to be draconian anyway, especially marijuana laws, and I have seen stats that show disease decreases in needle exchange cities (Europe), but I wonder who takes advantage of these sites to simply get high in a comfortable place. Again, tough issue.

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