I'm hoping that whoever takes over for the executive director -- and for his other cronies who believe in their own sense of righteous importance and entitlement -- will look again at these programs with clearer eyes and sharper minds. I truly hope we will soon see some positive changes in this long-running DTES agency that has served a lot of needy people.
Leveraging women's bodies became a political sport in Toronto this week. It began with the blurted out defence Rob Ford offered to reports that he sexually harassed a former employee, and sadly continued with Rosie DiManno's Toronto Star article about domestic violence. It's a mistake to focus on these issues.
Last week's controversy over Health Canada's funding of a program to give heroin to select addicts is like déjà vu. It's an awful lot like the conflicts the federal government has had with similar drug programs over the years. The Insite supervised injection clinic in Vancouver's renowned Downtown Eastside is the most famous example, where addicts can go to inject heroin under the supervision of nurses. Centres likes these are sometimes called "safe injection" sites, which is truly an oxymoron considering that these harmful drugs are anything but safe.
There has been much talk recently about the possibility of a safe injection clinic in Toronto. So our mayor -- surprise, surprise -- is against it. The provincial Liberals -- surprise, surprise -- have been ducking the issue. Since the feds are not on board, the Liberals have an excuse to sidestep rather than do the right thing and speak up (which would jeopardize their share of the redneck vote). Hey, Liberals will be Liberals. History will vindicate these efforts. History will condemn those who oppose these efforts. And, for the purpose of this article: history will not be kind to those who lag, stay on the fence, and do nothing. Toronto cannot afford to make that mistake.
Harper's government introduced Bill C-65, a Bill that may make it nearly impossible to build another safe-injection site. The government surely knows that the law may not stand Charter scrutiny. But the Conservatives don't care about that. They will push ahead with the Bill because it makes it sound like they care about (some) Canadians. But in doing so, the Harper government harms not only those with addictions, but all Canadians.
Imagine if your city government decided to take a public vote to determine whether you and your family members should have access to health care. Based on what the public decides about your mother and her illness, and not what her doctors think, your city government says it will pass a bylaw that prevents her and others in her situation from receiving that treatment in their home community. Preposterous and unreasonable? Absolutely.
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Walk around the inner-city of Vancouver, and the painful reality is clear. The parks are still strewn with needles; addicts are still lying on the sidewalks in drug-induced hazes; death is everywhere. I'm hoping to be proven wrong, but I suspect that in a decade, despite Insite's zealous staff working away, the problems will remain.