Macleans: Libby Davies leaves Ottawa

On the first day of the new Parliament in 1997, Libby Davies found herself walking to the Senate to hear the Speech from the Throne, a tradition she was not entirely familiar with, and in the immediate vicinity of Allan Rock, the newly appointed minister of health. Davies—a former city councillor in Vancouver, co-founder of the Downtown Eastside Resident Association and a long-time activist in Canada’s most infamous neighbourhood—wanted then to talk to Rock about what havoc heroin was wrecking in her riding. “I introduced myself and I said, ‘Can I come and meet you? This is a life-and-death issue; people are dying of drug overdoses; we’ve got to stop criminalizing them; we need help,’ ” Davies recalls. Rock, she says, said he was delighted to meet her and that she could come and see him any time. “So I thought, ‘Well, this is amazing,’ ” Davies says. “I got back to my office and we wrote an email. We wrote a letter; we started phoning. Of course, they totally ignored us,” she continues. “After about a month or so, I thought, ‘Well, what would I do in my neighbourhood? How would I handle this?’ And I thought, ‘Okay, I know what I would do.’ So I went to his office and I walked in and I sat down and I said, ‘I’ve been trying to get an appointment for over a month. You haven’t replied, so I just want to let you know I’m not leaving until I get an appointment.’ ” She smiled, then took a seat.