(This column was published in the North Shore News on Dec. 4, 2002)


COPE invents injection-site offshoot

 By Leo Knight

Reading the Vancouver Sun on Saturday, I noticed the first sign of something insidious.


The municipal election in Vancouver was all about the Downtown Eastside and cleaning up the festering wound that neighbourhood has become.


Central to the issue was the so-called Four Pillars approach to the drug problem involving treatment, enforcement, harm reduction and education.


All of that sounds OK to a point.


The so-called harm reduction component was the stickler though. Described throughout the campaign as "safe injection" sites for heroin users, the topic generated much of the debate until finally, all the candidates jumped on the bandwagon until all were touting exactly the same thing. Damnedest thing I ever saw in an election.


Everyone on the ballot saying exactly the same thing, espousing the same platform.


Such was the way the political left hijacked the campaign.


In some ways, the ability of the COPE-NDP to do that had everything to do with the missing women case and the perceived failure of the police to crack the case earlier than they did.


The political left jumped on the fact that the victims were drug-addicted prostitutes and somehow, because of that, they were marginalized by police and for that reason nothing was done.


Of course that's all nonsense. But, the COPE-NDP managed to gather society's revulsion at the indescribable crimes and turned the election debate into a knee-jerk response - safe injection sites.


The perception being that providing a clean, safe place to inject poison into one's veins would somehow have prevented those women from doing some of the things they did which resulted in their sudden and untimely demises.


The COPE-NDP managed to ride that horse, coupled with a mayoralty candidate who had a credibility nobody else on the left did, all the way to 12th and Cambie.


That was all fine enough. But reading the Vancouver Sun Saturday sent a chill up my spine.


In a piece comparing Larry Campbell's sweep to that of Art Phillips in 1973, reference was made to "safe consumption" sites.


Whoa! Now that's a significant change and where the heck did it come from?


How did it get from the vernacular of the election campaign, "safe injection sites" to "safe consumption sites?"


That's a hell of a jump.


Does this mean that what was a "safe injection site" can now be expanded to be a "use whatever the hell you want, party on dude" site?


Oh, I can see this a mile away.


Want to inject some heroin? No problem, step right in to our brand spanking new, deluxe, taxpayer-funded dope house. Bring whatever you want, there are no recriminations here.


The COPE-NDP Vancouver municipal government says you can all get whacked out your brains and there's nothing the police can do about it.


Smoke a little crack? No problem, they will probably clean your pipe.


They will bend over backwards to ensure those who choose to live on the other side of the law can do what they will to their heart's content with all the protection the state can afford.


PCP? MDMA (Ecstasy)? Meth? Coke? Bring it on!


What kind of message is this sending?


Are we, as a society, going to condone the stupefaction of our youth?


Is that the ultimate result of electing the COPE-NDP?


Coast guard commissioner John Adams made national headlines with his statement that the coast guard is unable to adequately protect Canadian waters.


He went on to say the only way we know if a foreign ship is in our water is, "if they want us to know."


What a stunning statement especially at a time when this country is engaged in a war against terrorism and has been clearly identified as a target by al-Qaida.


But of course this is not really new.


Last year, when testifying before the Public Accounts Committee in Parliament, he told the government the same thing at length.


Adams told the committee, "We have no capability of monitoring our waters," on Oct. 23, 2001.


Yet only two weeks ago in the House of Commons, Adams' boss had this to say,- as reported in Hansard - in response to a question by the Official Opposition on the Canadian Coast Guard's abilities being hampered by budgetary restraints.


Hon. Robert Thibault (Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, Lib.): "Mr. Speaker, once again he continues in his comedy of errors. The coast guard is fully fuelled. It is capable of going to sea if needed. In an effort to save expenses, to be responsible with our budget, we asked that unnecessary movements be curtailed."


If needed? Unnecessary movements?


What an incredible display of the federal government's blatant disregard for the protection of this nation.


It underlines, of course, what will be the real legacy of the administration of Jean Chretien.


What a disgrace.






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