Wednesday, May 11, 2011

A Harper Majority: Please Don't Let the Facts Get in the Way

In an unprecedented move, the Conservatives have told the Supreme Court to ignore the facts, when determining the future of Vancouver's safe injection site.
The Harper government has asked the Supreme Court of Canada to ignore mounds of evidence trumpeting the success of North America’s first supervised injection site for drug users, warning that the court should avoid becoming a “super legislature” by ruling on the wisdom of federal policy decisions.

The caution is contained in Justice Department legal arguments filed in the Supreme Court for a hearing Thursday that will determine the fate of Insite, the safe-injection site located in Vancouver’s notorious Downtown Eastside. Insite is an eight-year-old facility where addicts can inject their drugs using sterile needles under a nurse’s supervision.
This after a recent study showing that: Vancouver injection clinic cuts overdose deaths
Overdose deaths in Vancouver's troubled Downtown Eastside have dropped by more than a third since the creation of Insite, the neighbourhood's supervised injection clinic, according to a study in the British medical journal The Lancet.

Researchers with the B.C. Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS studied the number of overdose deaths around the injection facility before and after its creation. Insite has operated since 2003 with exemptions from federal drug laws, first allowed by the former Liberal government.
If it won't fit on a bumper sticker, it has no merit.

But demanding that the high court ignore facts in their decision is troubling to say the least.

Welcome to a Harper Majority. Leave your senses at the door.


  1. I've been so proud of Vancouver, my home city, where I worked for many years, because it dared to allow the safe injection clinic. A progressive move in the face of naysayers, and now this.
    If the Supreme Court listens to Harper, we're all goners. Another step down from democracy to dictatorship. Certainly if he can boss the Supreme Court around, the next step will be bossing the rest of us around.
    Let's not let him.

  2. As inane as this sounds, I think it is a legitimate legal argument. The government is saying that the court should only be able to rule on legal grounds, not on the grounds of whether a policy is effective. Which I think is true -- we shouldn't allow courts to judge whether or not a given law has been effective. That's what elections are for. In a functional democracy, anyways, which I suppose ours isn't...

    At least they didn't trot out the argument used in the Abdelrazik case, that when a minister makes a decision the privileges he's been granted by the Queen means that the Constitution doesn't apply. Or maybe they did try that one, too. I haven't read the briefs.

  3. This project is very near and dear to my heart and those of some very close friends (who met, fell in love, and married while working on it). This program is so important, and does so much good, that it sickening and indecent to think of it being cancelled.

    Cancelled because of ideological rigidity, cancelled in the face of compelling evidence that it should be continued.

    This is sickening...