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Conservatives avoid taking a position on supervised injection sites

Photo: Christine Muschi The Canadian Press Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre was in the riding of Mount Royal on Wednesday evening to present his candidate for the next election.

Stephanie Taylor – The Canadian Press in Ottawa

Posted at 11:33 a.m. Updated at 1:02 p.m.

  • Canada

Although the Liberal government's drug policies have been the subject of numerous debates in the House of Commons, the Conservatives offer few insights into the strategy they intend to implement if they form the next government.

Would a government led by Pierre Poilievre consider changing the application process for the opening of an injection site ? The party spokesperson in terms of drug addiction, Laila Goodrige, says she cannot speculate on the future.

“But I believe that this subject has been politicized in such a way as to pit various perspectives. “It's not very helpful,” she says.

At an injection site, users can consume drugs under the supervision of a team that can intervene in the event of an overdose. These centers often provide drug testing, clean equipment to prevent the spread of disease, and refer patients to drug treatment centers.

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Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre has already expressed his opposition to any form of harm reduction strategy aimed at limiting the opioid overdose crisis, including decriminalization which aims to prevent users from ending up in prison or programs offering pharmaceuticals as an alternative to drugs sold on the streets.

Mr. Poilievre prefers to free addicts from their dependence on drugs by emphasizing treatment and recovery. In 2022, he promised to create a national program to distribute naloxone nasal sprays to counter the effects of opioids.

And injection sites ?

Ms. Goodridge points out that the Supreme Court has already ruled.

“I recommend that you read its judgment.” , she says.

In 2011, the Supreme Court ruled that the closure of the first injection site had violated consumer rights guaranteed by the Charter.

Poilievre's office declined to say whether supervised injection sites would feature in his strategy to address the hard drug crisis.

He did not respond to a question about an alleged statement Mr. Poilievre made at a rally in northern Ontario in January. According to the daily Sault Star, the Conservative leader said he was not ready to subsidize supervised injection sites.

It is also unclear whether Mr. Poilievre would order a review of the activities or operating conditions of the injection sites.

“It’s as if the Conservatives were trying to please everyone, which is impossible,” says a former advisor to former Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Benjamin Perrin, now a law professor at the University of British Columbia. “We either support the sites or we don’t support them. »

Four years after the Supreme Court decision, the Harper government adopted the Respect for Communities Act. This notably required applicants for authorization for a supervised site to consult the local population and the police as well as to provide information on the rate of minor offenses near the location.

Once in power, the Liberal government adopted a law aimed at facilitating the opening of supervised sites. Currently, there are 39 across the country, according to Health Canada. Ten requests are being considered.

Earlier this year, Mr. Poilievre asked his supporters to oppose the upcoming opening of a “new drug site” in Richmond, British Columbia. He then accused the Liberals and New Democrats of “forcing the hand” of the Chinese community, some members of which opposed the proposed location.

Conservative critics have criticized the Conservatives for sending mixed messages about supervised consumption sites.

In April, Medicine Hat–Cardston–Warner, Alta., MP Glen Motz told the House of Commons that supervised consumption sites were utopian. Meanwhile, his colleague from Cariboo–Prince George, Todd Doherty, suggested the party had yet to develop a firm position on the issue.

“Not one Conservative, not our leader or ourselves — not one of us — has talked about supervised consumption sites. In any policy, in any conversation, there are many tools in the toolbox,” he said at a health committee meeting in early June.

Mr. Perrin believes that a future government could circumvent the Supreme Court ruling by using the Charter's override clause.

Mr. Poilievre has already said he is ready to use it to pass his reform of the judicial system. His office has already tried to clarify that the notwithstanding clause would only be used for criminal law.

“It’s a criminal law issue,” Mr. Perrin on the subject of supervised sites.

The firm refused to say whether it agreed.

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116