Poilievre repeats misinformation about B.C.’s safe drug supply

I just watched Conservative leader Poilievre’s tacky video set in front of a tent city in Vancouver. For dramatic effect, his video is interspersed with drive-by shots of street people. Grainy effects, except when Poilievre speaks, are added to provide a supposed gritty vérité.

image: The Hill Times

He makes sweeping statements in which he claims these people in the background are hooked on drugs. And some probably are.

But it’s more likely they are homeless because they have no homes: they can’t afford to buy and the rents are outrageous.

Rather than exploit the homeless as props for his populist rant, he could explain just who the homeless are. Rather than characterizing them as drug users, he could tell the truth but that wouldn’t suit his sensationalized video. The fact is that Vancouver’s homeless are overrepresented by indigenous Canadians and racial minorities.

The sad reality is that the homeless are victims of racial discrimination.

Despite accounting for only 2.5 per cent of Vancouver’s population, Indigenous people make up one-third of all those experiencing homelessness.

He could point out that Blacks and Latin Americans are disproportionately represented among the Vancouver’s homeless population.

But no, Poilievre prefers to ignore the racial and Indigenous discrimination represented by the tent city in his seedy video. He exploits those already discriminated by further tarring them all as drug addicts.

Poilievre spouts more populist drivel when he claims and that the “tax funded” safe supply of drugs is a failed experiment.

The opposite is true.

Prescribing drug addicts a safe supply of drugs saves tax dollars. The drugs are far cheaper than the cost of policing and to our health care system of treating addicts who overdose.

In fact, no one has died from a drug overdose at a safe consumption site. The BC Coroners Service looked into illicit drug toxicity deaths between 2012 and 2022 and found that no one had died of an overdose at a supervised consumption site. They said there was “no indication” they were contributing to the rise in narcotic-related fatalities. In fact, 56 per cent of overdose deaths in B.C. this year happened in private residences.

The safe supply of drugs to addicts saves lives because it lowers the rates of overdose and reduces in the use of fentanyl and other street drugs. It reduces the cost to the taxpayer of health care for addicts through reduced hospital admissions and emergency room visits. It improves connections to care and treatment for people who have not had support services in the past. The safe supply of drugs reduces police costs by decreasing criminal activity.

Poilievre adds to his misinformation but saying that injection sites are also to blame. B.C.’s safe injection sites do not use “tax paid drugs.” Users bring their own drugs and staff stand by in case of a bad reaction.

B.C. is leading the country in fighting the stupid laws that led to the problem in the first place.

Starting in January, 2023, adults in B.C. will not be arrested or charged for the possession of up to 2.5 grams of opioids (including heroin, morphine, and fentanyl), cocaine (including crack and powder cocaine), methamphetamine (meth) and MDMA (ecstasy).

Drug abuse is a medical issue. Shame on Poilievre for exploiting the homeless and spreading misinformation.

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