Friday, May 30, 2008

What's a few dead junkies?

After coyly denying for months that any decision about the fate of Insite had been made and clearly planning to leave the safe injection site's operators and clients hanging in limbo until the last minute, suddenly the federal government discovered urgency when the BC Supreme Court took the decision out of their hands.

Health Minister Tony Clement argues that Insite saves only one life a year - this is undoubtedly a significant low ball as Insite's staff report intervening in more than 336 overdoses since 2006. Even if Clement's caviler dismissal of '1 life per year' were accurate it would still mean that the Stephen Harper government is comfortable with those lives not being saved because of their ideological objection to harm reduction.
Dr. Keith Martin, a British Columbia Liberal MP and former Reform Party star, is also a former substance-abuse physician. He admits that Clement may succeed in closing Insite: "But in doing that they will be essentially committing murder."
And it is an ideological objection, let there be no doubt about that, it flies in the face of Insite's support from all levels of government in BC, the Vancouver police department, health professionals and over 25 peer reviewed studies that all agreed that Insite was saving lives and money.

Put against the Harperites distaste for the people being saved none of it matters.

It even contradicts the Conservatives fair weather belief in devolving power from the federal to provincial governments - they're quite happy to cite provincial control over medicine if it means provincial government's undermining universal health care by allowing private clinics - not so much if it means saving the lives of people even Tony Clement admits have an illness.


KC said...

Agreed. Its totally a rigid ideology that you need to be "tough" on addicts to get them off drugs. That policy has been thoroughly discredited yet the right clings to it like dogma. The science is clearly in one direction and those with a stake in the matter (the province, the city, the Vancouver police, local businesses, etc.) are firmly on board. Still they'd rather throw mud about "lefty's" (Im no "lefty" and I support the site) "enabling" drug addicts. It just doesnt make any sense why conservatives would rather just continue bashing their heads against the wall.

Alison said...

I'm quite hopeful the Cons won't be able to pull this off. InSite has massive public support here, cutting across the usual party lines and beyond them.

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