Ms. Libby Davies (Vancouver East, NDP): – Mr. Speaker, health and addictions professionals across Canada are bracing themselves for the worst when the Conservative government reveals its so-called new drug strategy that will sacrifice the successes of harm reduction and a balanced approach to drug use, for a heavy handed US style enforcement regime.
Time and again, empirical evidence has proven that harm reduction works. Programs like needle exchanges and Vancouver’s safe injection site, InSite, are reducing the transmission of HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis C, and increasing the number of people accessing treatment.
I am alarmed that despite this evidence, the government is accelerating the criminalization of drug users. The 2007 budget quietly removed harm reduction from Canada’s new drug strategy. It now reads like a carbon copy of George Bush’s war on drugs- which has seen drug use rise, along with skyrocketing social and economic costs of incarceration.
In 2006, the Conservatives refused to renew the exemption that allows InSite to keep its doors open until pressure from the community forced them to grant a temporary extension. We know the Health Minister and the RCMP are now resorting to propaganda tactics to try and close InSite.
Attacking InSite and adopting US drug policies will fail as dramatically here as it has in the US.