British Columbia does an about-face

The major element that changed regarded restoring powers to the police to restrict drug use in public. Pictured: B.C. Premier David Eby. Photo Credit: David Eby/X. 

It’s amazing how a pending election focusses the mind. Last week, British Columbia’s NDP Premier, David Eby, reversed some of the most contentious elements of the province’s highly controversial policy which provided free drugs to addicts and permitted open drug use as a part of the so-called “safe supply” approach. This policy was implemented in the belief that a safe source of drugs coming from the government would be used to replace street drugs whose composition and risks were unknown and overdoses could be greatly reduced. This is quite a turnaround for a government that vociferously defended safe supply policy up until very recently. 

The major element that changed regarded restoring powers to the police to restrict drug use in public. Previously, the Supreme Court of B.C. had ruled that drug users could openly use drugs in public areas – even in children’s playgrounds – as Justice Christopher Hinkson ruled that it would impose irreparable harm on drug users if they were warned away from public areas. Huh? Seems that as far as the courts are concerned, drug users are running the country. This has now sensibly been reversed. However, drug users and dealers are still permitted to transport and store their drugs without intervention, and drug injection sites can still remain in B.C. hospitals, which is ridiculous to say the least. 

Unfortunately, both the B.C. NDP and federal Liberals continue to support the distribution of taxpayer-paid opioids to addicts. All of the evidence indicates that addicts use these government-provided “safe” drugs to sell on the street so they can buy the more dangerous drugs like fentanyl because they get a better “high” from the street drugs. There are also indications that the “safe” government-supplied drugs are often sold to students and others who become new addicts and add to the overall problem. Policies in other provinces and countries that focus on treatment and recovery of addicts have a much better track record than governments doling out free drugs. 

Eby made a big deal out of appealing to the federal government to once again ban public drug use, which he now says should have been in place all along. Eby now seems to be concerned about the compromising of public safety by open drug use, something that was previously not a priority for his government. The province will, however, continue the pilot project of decriminalizing the possession of small amounts of opioids, heroin, fentanyl, cocaine and methamphetamines, which many addiction experts consider the wrong way to go. 

The whole “safe supply” approach is yet another leftist policy where the facts have been ignored – and repeatedly and vehemently denied by proponents – until the negative impacts became so overwhelmingly obvious they could no longer be rejected. And we still have a long way to go to achieve a policy that truly helps addicts while protecting other citizens. What undoubtedly motivated Eby to change direction was that he faces an election this fall, which was supposed to be a slam dunk for the NDP. But recently, policies like safe supply had so offended voters that the provincial Conservatives have been running ahead of the NDP in public opinion polls. 

So many other leftist policies have these same characteristics. One example is climate policy, which continues to adhere to outdated information that has been disproven many times over. Yet many “experts” and academics continue to be highly paid for promoting a climate crisis which is not supported by any factual data. For the last 50 years or so, we have been warned by climate zealots that we were about to freeze to death, boil to death, be fried because of the loss of the ozone layer and other climate emergencies. Yet none of these extreme scenarios have come to pass. 

Other issues have similar narratives. The leftist Trudeau government has taken a “soft on crime” approach, where criminals are given the benefit of the doubt and released on bail only to offend again. Horrific murderers like Paul Bernardo and Luka Magnotta have been moved from maximum security into the much more comfortable medium security prisons. Many innocent Canadians have been subjected to burglaries, assaults and even murders because of these foolish policies that release criminals that should remain incarcerated. 

As well, courts under Trudeau have been instructed to give more generous treatment to criminals who belong to certain racial or ethnic groups, as they have been deemed to be disadvantaged so should not be treated comparably to other criminals. I doubt the victims of crimes by these “disadvantaged” criminals feel much better that these individuals are treated more generously by our criminal justice system. 

It would be a better approach to take an objective view of these many important issues, consider the hard evidence and the historical facts, and have governments decide accordingly which way to go. But unfortunately, partisan influences always come into play and skew the facts in their preferred direction. On the safe supply issues, however, the overwhelming weight of evidence is that governments providing free drugs to addicts creates many more problems than it solves, and a focus on treatment and recovery is much preferable and to the benefit of many more citizens. It took some bad poll numbers for Eby to start to reverse his policies on this issue, but at least it was a step in the right direction.

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