Friday, October 05, 2007

There Goes That Program...

If the Con$ remain in power, look for the Vancouver Insite safe injection site to be shut down - in spite of significant evidence of success in the first innovative approach to street drugs that Canada has seen in decades.

Why do I say this? Simple, PMSH's own commentary yesterday when announcing the Gnu Government's "Vewy Own Wah On Drugs":

The government this week extended funding to that program but only for six months so it can be further studied.

"I remain a skeptic that you can tell people that we won't stop the drug trade, we won't get you off drugs, we won't even send messages to discourage drug use but somehow we will keep you addicted but reduce the harm just the same," Mr. Harper said of the Insite program. "If you remain a drug addict, I don't care how much harm you reduce, you are going to have a short and miserable life."

The blinding ignorance of those statements of Harper's is amazing - ranging from the obvious loathing and fear he holds for poverty (and those caught in the cycles it produces) to his obvious ideological choice to ignore the following from Insite itself:

But Thomas Kerr, a professor in the University of British Columbia's Department of Medicine who has studied Insite and its effect on the prevention of the spread of HIV-AIDS, said Mr. Harper is ignoring the facts.

"The government continues to misrepresent the science around harm reduction. In the case of Insite we have shown that there has been a 33-per-cent increase in the rate of entry into detox programs," Dr. Kerr said. "In no way is the facility perpetuating addiction. In fact, it's helping people quit drug use."

... and from the people who work on the front lines every day trying to help people whose lives are disrupted by drugs, disease and poverty:

Leon Mar of the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network said education programs, such as the one proposed by the government, have previously proved ineffective. Health Canada's own review of the Drug Abuse Resistance Education program implemented widely across Canada, he said, has shown that the program does not prevent or delay drug use.

Success doesn't matter to Stephen Harper - it's all about ideology for the man - and he doesn't give a damn who he steps on in his relentless drive to turn Canada into George Bush's America.

What PMSH rolled out yesterday is such a transparent copy of the "war on drugs" approach of "gettin' tough" it's not even funny. The ineffectiveness of mandatory sentences and harsher laws in handling drug problems is clear - one only has to look at the United States to see the evidence - where drugs continue to be a major problem, even though more and more people are incarcerated for ever-longer periods of time - for simple possession.

Like most Neo-Con social policy, the "get tough" line only works in a limited sense. Most people get the message early enough in life that the consequences of using drugs like heroin or cocaine are understood to be undesirable. A few don't, or wind up in situations so desperate that drugs become the only way they can "escape" - even for a few hours. Until we learn, as a society, how to deal with those problems, illicit narcotics will remain a fact of life. Where enforcement is concerned, our job is to make sure we are going after the scum who profit from drugs. Not so much the street dealers, but the organizations that manufacture and distribute the materials.

Simply slamming more people into rehab and prison isn't going to work. Nor is denying the documented successes of programs like Vancouver's InSite.

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